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Khardung La - 5 Things to Know Before Visiting

Mountain Peaks
Mountain Passes

About Khardung La

Khardung la located in the Indian union territory of Ladakh, is undoubtedly one of the monumental mountain passes all over the world though its exact elevation is still a controversy. The mountain pass not just serves as the gateway to the remote Nubra and Shyok valleys but also offers astonishing views of the twisting roads up the mountain and the awesome valley.

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Khardung La is a mountain pass in the Ladakh region of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The local pronunciation is "Khardong La" or "Khardzong La" but, as with most names in Ladakh, the romanised spelling varies.

The pass on the Ladakh Range is north of Leh and is the gateway to the Shyok and Nubra valleys. The Siachen Glacier lies part way up the latter valley. Built in 1976, it was opened to public motor vehicles in 1988. Maintained by the Border Roads Organisation, the pass is strategically important to India as it is used to carry supplies to the Siachen Glacier.

The elevation of Khardung La is 5,359 m (17,582 ft). Local summit signs and dozens of stores selling shirts in Leh incorrectly claim that its elevation is in the vicinity of 5,602 m (18,379 ft) and that it is the world's highest motorable pass.

Khardong La is historically important as it lies on the major caravan route from Leh to Kashgar in Central Asia. About 10,000 horses and camels used to take the route annually, and a small population of Bactrian camels can still be seen at Hunder, in the area north of the pass. During World War II there was an attempt to transfer war material to China through this route.


Khardung La is 39 km by road from Leh. Earlier, the first 24 km, as far as the South Pullu check point, were paved. From there to the North Pullu checkpoint about 15 km beyond the pass the roadway was primarily loose rock, dirt, and occasional rivulets of snow melt. Now, all the way is properly paved. Road approaching Nubra Valley is very well maintained (except in a few places where washouts or falling rock occur). Hired vehicles (two- and four-wheel-drive), heavy trucks, and motorcycles regularly travel into the Nubra Valley, though special permits are required to be arranged for travellers.


The nearest sizable town is Leh. Leh is connected by road from Manali and Srinagar, and daily flights are operated from Delhi. From Leh, a daily bus service to Nubra Valley passes over Khardungla which may also be reached by a hired car with an experienced driver or by bike. The two bases on either side of Khardong La are North Pullu and South Pullu.

An Inner Line Permit (ILP), which can be acquired at the District Commissioner’s office in Leh, is required for tourists (not needed for Jammu and Kashmir residents). People are required to check in en route and must provide photocopies of the permits to be deposited at each checkpoint.

Altitude sickness is a serious health concern for people not previously used to high altitudes. Prophylactic altitude-sickness medication such as acetazolamide may be necessary for some as there are no emergency medical facilities to treat altitude sickness along the route.

The road is closed from approximately October to May due to snow and is often subject to long delays due to traffic congestion on narrow one-lane sections, washouts, landslides and road accidents.

The world's highest motorable claim

Khardung La is at times incorrectly cited as the highest vehicle-accessible pass in the world. A well-graded Indian road (visible on 2011 imagery on visual globe systems such as Google Earth) reaches 5,610 metres (18,406 ft) 250 m west of the 5,545 metres (18,192 ft) Mana Pass on the India-Tibet border. It connects with an equally well-constructed, slightly lower Chinese military road based on SRTM data at posting intervals of 30 m. There are also higher motorable passes at Suge La, west of Lhasa, 5,430 m (17,815 feet), and Semo La 5,565 m (18,258 feet), between Raka and Coqen in Central Tibet.


Content retrieved and modified from Wikipedia: Khardung La. Work released under CC-BY-SA 


Attractions Near Khardung La

Magnetic Hill

Magnetic Hill

26.22km from Khardung La

Objects and cars on this hill road may appear to roll uphill in defiance of gravity.

Diskit Gompa

Diskit Gompa

29.44km from Khardung La

The monastery has statue of Cho Rinpoche (Crowned Buddha) in the prayer hall, a huge drum and several images of fierce guardian deities.

Nubra Valley

Nubra Valley

45.44km from Khardung La

Nubra valley (valley of flowers) located to the north east of Ladakh valley is a high altitude (3048m above sea level) cold dessert. The valley was once part of the historic Silk route which connected once connect south to central Asia. It's now predominantly a sensitive military zone as it shares boundaries with Pakistan and China.

The Lamayuru Monastery

The Lamayuru Monastery

76.31km from Khardung La

The Monastery consisted originally of five buildings, some remains of the four corner buildings can still be seen. Lamayuru is one of the largest and oldest monasteries in Ladakh, with a population of around 150 permanent monks residing. It has, in the past, housed up to 400 monks, many of which are now monasteries in gompas in surrounding villages.

Taglang La

Taglang La

87.07km from Khardung La

High mountain pass at an elevation of 5,328 meters. Although claims to be the worlds second highest motorable pass, it is actually 12th or so highest motorable pass.



97.89km from Khardung La

Nestled in a remote corner of Ladakh, the Zanskar Valley is one of the most enchanting places to visit. It is located in the eastern corner of Jammu and Kashmir and is separated from Ladakh by the Zanskar Mountain Range. It is a part of The Tethys Himalayas which is formed with weekly transformed sedimentary series. Zanskar Valley is known for its wide views and sceneries, cave monasteries and mostly travelled to for its trekking trails and river rafting experiences and the Suru Valley, the two

Discover More Attractions in Ladakh, Home of Khardung La



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Ladakh is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and culture. Most of it lies in the Himalayan mountain ranges, at an average height of 3,000 meters. One of the sparsely populated regions in India

Where is Khardung La

What Visitors Say About Khardung La


2 Reviews

Subash Ckd

Subash Ckd

Khardung La is the highest motorable road in the world at 18,380 ft. The pass on the Ladakh Range lies north of Leh and is the gateway to the Shyok and Nubra valleys. The Siachen Glacier lies part way up the latter valley. The views around are incredible. If you pay attention, you can spot a frozen water fall as well. it can snow at any time of the year at Khardung La.
Sanjay Bhaskar

Sanjay Bhaskar