Ladakh - Land of Passes

Ladakh is an exotic destination where a high plateau, steep mountains and valleys abound. The route to Ladakh by road is through several scenic passes. 'La' in the local Ladakhi language means Mountain Pass and 'Ladakh' therefore means 'Land of Passes.' You can find some of the highest motorable roads in the world in Ladakh, which traverse these high passes and take you to exotic hidden locations high in the Himalayas.

Some of the mountain passes you can travel through, while on tours of Ladakh, are:

If you travel to Ladakh by road from Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir, you can see panoramic vistas of the Himalayan landscape. The 434 Km long road crosses the Zoji La Pass which is 11,500-ft. or 3,505 m high. As you cross the pass, there is a striking change in the landscape, since the forested hills of Kashmir are left behind and the bare mountains of the Drass region appear. The Zoji La Pass is snowbound in winter and this route is only open during the summer months from June to September.

The high Baralacha-la Pass is also along the Manali-Leh Highway, This pass is at the lofty height of 16,050 ft or 4,892m. It is situated at a tri-junction of three roads, one from Manali, one from Leh and one from Spiti. The view from Baralacha-La is spectacular with the Himalayas extending along the horizon, as far as the eye can see.

Khardung La located 40 Km north of Leh links the capital of Ladakh with the road to the Siachen Glacier. It said to be the world's highest motorable pass at 18,380 ft or 5,602 m. The spectacular view and a cup of tea from the tea-stall at Khardung La, will make you feel you're on top of the world.

Situated at a height of 12,200 ft or 3,719 m Namika La is on the road from Mulbek Valley to the Lamayuru Monastery. In Mulbek you can see an immense rock carving of the Maitreya Buddha and a Gompa perched high on a cliff overlooking the village.

Located at an altitude of 13,432 ft or 4,094 m, the Fotu La Pass at the beginning of a descending road that leads past the Lamayuru Monastery down to the Indus River. This winding road descends almost 4,000 ft or 1,219 m from the pass to the river.

A pass on the Zanskar Range, Lachulung La at 16,600 ft or 5,059 m is a rocky height with views of the undulating hills and Ladakh plateau below.

Also on the Zanskar Range, Taglang-la at 17,469 ft or 5,325 m is a resting place for nomadic Changpa herdsmen who can be seen with their flocks of sheep and goats, migrating in search of pasture.

If you travel from Manali in Himachal Pradesh to Leh you will cross the impressive Rohtang Pass, which is at a height of 13,000 ft or 3,978 m. This is one of the highest motorable roads in the world. The Rohtang Pass is only open in midsummer from mid-July to September.