The strategic location of a few destinations makes them even more interesting. And one such location is the Khardung La Pass. Visiting the Khardung La Pass is a must if you are visiting Ladakh. This is a location that would offer you a picturesque backdrop that is going to be a jaw dropping site for sure. This is a popular tourist destination at present that the tourists visit because of the pristine view here. However other than that this location is also known for its strategic location and high altitude as well. This is a perfect destination for adventure enthusiasts. For adventure lovers who love a mountain biking trip this can be the ideal spot.
With challenging road conditions, breathtaking views and such high elevation Khardung La is like an ultimate dream destination. And if you don’t know much about this spot then you don’t need to worry at all. In this article I will mention each and everything that you probably need to know about visiting Khardung La Pass. There are actually a lot of intricate details that you need to keep in mind before visiting here. And I will mention all of it in this article, so keep on reading. This is going to be a helpful read for you if you are planning a trip to Khardung La Pass.
Khardung La Pass
Overview of Khardung La Pass
This beautiful location Khardung La Pass is a strategically important location in India. If you are wondering Khardung La Pass is in which state then let me tell you it is located in the Leh district of the Indian Union Territory. What makes this location an attractive location is the Khardung La Pass altitude. The Khardung La elevation is as high as 5359 metres. This also makes Khardung La Pass highest motorable road with such an elevation. It is a favourite destination for many tourists and especially adventure lovers. Khardung La Pass connects the towns of Manali and Leh and also connects Nubra and Shyok Valleys. Along with that it also connects the major route linking Leh to Kashgarh in Central Asia.
This pass came into being in 1976 and the general public could access it from 1988. It is considered an important pass as it carries supplies to the Siachen glacier. Historically also this pass holds a lot of importance. During the Second World War this route was used to pass war well to China. At present the Border Roads Organization maintains this high altitude pass.
How to reach Khardung La Pass
Khardung La is located 39 km away from Leh and you can reach there by road. To reach Khardung La challenge mainly lies on the road. The road condition varies throughout the journey as well. The nearest airport to reach here is Leh and from there you will have to take a taxi or a bike to reach the pass. If you are taking a car then it would take around 1 hour 25 minutes to reach Khardung La from Leh. And if you are taking a bike then it would take around 1 hour and 15 minutes to reach here from Leh.
Another option is to take buses which are available from Nubra Valley. Khardung La to Nubra Valley distance is around 120 km and if you are taking a car then you can reach here in about 3 hours and 20 minutes. The nearest town from Khardung La is Leh and you can easily reach Leh from Manali and Srinagar as well. Manali to Khardung La distance is 465 km and it takes around 11 hours to reach there by road.
Road conditions to reach Khardung La Pass
Distance between Leh and Khardung La Pass is around 40 km and the road is a little patchy. Majority of the road is muddy and challenging. It would definitely require a very experienced driver to navigate through such roads. Otherwise to drive on such a high altitude with so many challenges is not something very easily done. The first 24 km of the road that leads from Leh to the pass till South Pullu Checkpoint is a better roadway because it is a concrete road. So this journey will be better accessible. After that the next 16 km till the North Pullu is uneven. There are many bad patches with broken roads. And the route even deteriorates with the water streams from the melting snow.
After going towards the Nubra Valley the road remains bad. And after crossing the post it somehow gets a little better.
Best time to visit Khardung La Pass
Khardung La Pass weather is most comfortable during the months of March to May and from September to October. From March to May it is the summer season here with temperatures around 21 degrees. However the nights sometimes get really chilly with temperature in Khardung La coming down to 7 degrees. So if you are visiting during the summer it would be ideal for all sorts of outdoor activities. You will be able to enjoy the trip along with exploring the whole area. From September to October also the temperature remains comfortable for a visit.
However Khardung La winter can be very challenging as the location tends to get really cold. Khardung La Pass temperature during winters goes to sub zero as low as -40 degrees and it is almost inaccessible during that time. At times during snowfall the whole area gets wrapped in 10 feet of snow. Thereafter the Border Roads Organizations works effectively to clear the snow for commuting. Often the pass even remains closed during months of November to February which are the peak months for snowfall. But still some people prefer to visit here from January to February. In case you are visiting during that time make sure you are keeping a tab on the weather conditions.
Another time Khardung La becomes completely inaccessible is during the monsoon months of June to August. The location receives incessant rainfalls during this time. Also the road conditions completely get worse during this time. And it would practically get impossible for you to explore the area so avoid visiting during this time.
Khardung La Pass Permit
To visit some portions of Ladakh and Leh permits are required. Permit for Khardung La Pass would grant you a permission to visit this protected area. Basically you need an Inner Line Permit and it is an official document that the India Authorities issue and stamp. It is a compulsory document to visit the restricted area. You can get this document from the Deputy Commissioner’s Office in Leh. For a foreigner this permit is valid for 3 weeks and for Indians you have the right to specify when the period of validity starts and when it ends. For foreigners the name of the document is Protected Area Permit and for Indians it is the Inner Line Permit. However both of these are just the same.
How to obtain Inner Line Permit
You need to follow some very simple steps if you want to obtain this permit.
First you need to have one working day for the processing of the document. Sometimes it takes even less time, but 1 day is the general time.
From Mondays to Saturdays the Permit Office remains open. And during spring season even on Sundays the office is open.
For an Indian citizen, you need to submit a valid identity proof like driving license, voter card, passport, pan card or aadhar card. And for foreigners a valid passport along with a Visa or OCI Card is needed.
There is no limit in the number of times you can visit the protected area.
Also there is a fee for the permit as well. There is an environmental fee of Rs. 400, Red Cross Donation of Rs. 100 and for Wildlife Protection there is a fee of Rs. 20 per day. Also there is an additional fee of Rs. 200 if you are not going yourself to get the permit stamped from the office of Deputy Commissioner.
Things to keep in mind before visiting Khardung La Pass
The altitude of Khardung La Pass is really high and therefore the oxygen level and air pressure levels will be extremely low. So make sure you give yourself some time to adjust to that. Also indulging in hardcore strenuous activities can lead to breathlessness, sickness and nausea so be careful.
Do not spend more than 15 to 20 minutes at the topmost location. Otherwise you might feel sick because of the very high altitude.
Before heading on to Khardung La Pass you must stay at Leh or any similar higher altitude location for at least 3-4 days. This would let you adjust to the higher altitude and you will get accustomed to the altitude in Khardung La.
While going up if you feel you are having trouble do not continue ascending towards the location. Immediately take action and descend back.
It is advisable to check the vehicle as well as the driver before starting this journey so that the journey is hassle free.
You must go through a full body check up before visiting a location like this. Make sure you are fit enough to visit this spot. And people with medical conditions like breathing trouble or heart issues must avoid visiting here.
This location is short of proper infrastructure and also lacks proper medical aid. So make sure you are carrying your own basic first aid kit and necessary medicines.
Petrol pumps are located in Leh and Nubra Valley and beyond that you would not find it anymore.
There are no ATMs in the area so make sure you have enough cash with yourself. The nearest ATM is located in Leh.
A location like Khardung La Pass brings in with itself a lot of excitement and thrill. From the location to altitude to views to backdrop, everything you see here will leave you awestruck. You will feel surprised at every other point and the challenges of visiting a location like this would keep you engaged too. This is one of a kind of a destination that packs with itself a lot of punches. It would require proper planning and preparation to visit a spot like this. But everything that you experience will be totally worth it and that I can guarantee. So tell me when are you planning a visit to this pristine location? Also do not forget to tell me if this particular article on the Khardung La Pass is helpful for you in planning a trip to this spot. I would love to know that from you.