Khardung La pass, generally called as Khardzong La, is also known as the gateway to the Nubra and Shyok valleys of Ladakh. It is a mountain pass in the Leh district of the Indian union territory of Ladakh. It is a very important strategic pass into the Siachen glacier and claims to be the world’s highest motor-able pass at an elevation of 5,602 m. You can see Siachen glacier when traveling to Nubra valley.
The mountain pass is filled with travelers passing over from Leh and pausing to capture some astonishing photographs. Adventure bikers from all over the world visit this place in Leh district for an immersed experience.
Also known as the Pass of Lower Castle, it is the motivation for adventurous bikers and a ride to the pass is a never-ending expedition for them. When planning a Ladakh tour, it is one of the musts to visit places in Ladakh.
History of Khardung La pass
The road in the Khardung La pass was constructing under the supervision of Lt. General T. B. Nanda (retired). He was the Chief Engineer of Northern Command at the time of road construction. The world’s highest road is located about 40km from Leh City, the capital of Ladakh. The pass was formally opened for transports in 1988 and serves as a connection between Leh, Nubra, and Shyok valleys. Its diplomatic value is of high importance since it is being used to send supplies across the Siachen glacier, a conflictive area for being on the border with Pakistan. Besides being the highest motorable road, people drive there for its scenic beauty. You will get a panoramic view of Leh City from above.
Health and Saftey Measures
The lack of oxygen in Ladakh makes survival tough if your body is not acclimatized to high altitude. Hence, one requires to plan his/her journey extremely carefully to avoid acute mountain sickness. Altitude sickness is a health concern when visiting Khardung-la pass. It can affect anyone more than 8,000 feet (2,400 meters) above sea level. The faster you ascend to a high altitude, the more likely you will get acute mountain sickness. The thinner air means there’s less oxygen to breathe, resulting in low levels of oxygen in the body’s blood. Symptoms usually come on within 12 to 24 hours of reaching a higher altitude. Some may feel mild symptoms like a headache with swelling of feet, hands, and face. Others may have nose bleeding accompanied by headaches. Therefore, acclimatization is to be taken seriously, otherwise, you may end up dangerously ill.
Best time to visit Khardung La pass
The Khardung La pass(highest motorable road at an elevation of 5,602 meters) is open between May and October months and it is the best time for a visit. There are no accommodation options in the Khardung La pass. Although, there’s a cafe that serves coffee, tea, and instant noodles. There is a small hospital and a souvenir shop. Tourists are advised not to stay here for more than 30 minutes due to less oxygen at this height. There, you will also see a warning message on a board: ”Attention, due to the high altitude, we highly recommend you not to remain here for more than 30 minutes. Otherwise, you’ll get sick”. You can continue your journey to Nubra valley as well, the road falls directly to Nubra Valley, located at 110 km. Otherwise, you may return to Leh City.
How to reach Khardung La
You can reach Khardung La by road on the way to Nubra Valley from Leh. The road from Leh to South Pullu check post (about 24 kilometers) is in a good condition as it is asphalted, however from South Pullu to North Pullu check post is a dirty track. You should take around 2 hours to reach there from Leh. You can use the service of several private taxis and bus tour operators to reach there.