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Seven facts about Khardung La

Ladakh, the land of high passes holds special attraction for tourists. The dramatic mountains and beautiful landscapes make it an unforgettable experience to travellers. It’s a Paradise on Earth. This beautiful region in the state of Jammu and Kashmir always surprises its visitors with its amazing towering peaks, snow-capped Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges and lush green valleys.

  • Khardung La (Khardung Pass, la means pass in Tibetan) 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.
  • Khardung 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.

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