When it comes to Khardung La, the first things that tourists want to know is its height, challenging weather, how to reach from Leh and things to do after getting there – all of which has been outlined here. A sign board welcomes you to Khardung La claiming its height to be 18,400 ft above mean sea level and the highest motorable road in the world. Though this has been disputed, Khardung La remains an exciting attraction for all visitors to Ladakh and is a favourite destination for bikers and die-hard cyclists not only due to the challenge of reaching there but also for the fantastic scenery that one gets to experience.
This pass is the gateway to Nubra Valley and leads to the strategically important Siachen Glacier. Historically it lies in the major caravan route which at one time connected Leh to China and Central Asia.
Preparing to go to Khardung La
Be aware that Khardung La’s weather combined with its high altitude pass and altitude sickness is a serious hazard. Make sure that you are properly acclimatised before you leave Leh. It may be advisable to carry a small portable oxygen cylinder just in case of an emergency especially for senior citizens. Basic first aid is available at a nearby Army camp.
Weather is very unpredictable and can change quickly without warning. Snow storms, avalanche and landslides are common occurrence so be prepared with a backpack full of dry fruits, chocolates and water. Make sure you have enough warm clothes which must be water proof if you are going to be exposed outside.
How to reach Khardung La
The pass is about 40KM north of the district capital Leh. You can easily hire a taxi or motorcycle to visit the pass. Shared taxis are also available at Leh. The road is winding and steep at places so taking an experienced local driver is recommended.
Usually the road is one-way between North Pullu and South Pullu so make sure it is open in the direction you want to go before you leave Leh. Be very careful while driving because the road is winding and mud with ice may form a dangerous combination which makes driving hazardous.
On the way to Khardung La
On the road to Khardung La landslides and snowfall are common in any season. Some delays now and then are to be expected even though the Border Roads Organization is constantly at work to keep it open. This being the main link to strategic border areas long winding Indian Army truck convoys are common. Expect traffic jams in peak tourist season. Carry proper identification and permits.
As you leave Leh you will see breathtaking views of the valley below sometimes with a sheer fall of more than a thousand feet. Enjoy the beautiful winding roads and high mountain views.
There is a nice view of the pass from South Pullu check post. Spend some time enjoying this beautiful location.
Things to do at Khardung La
This place offers beautiful picturesque views of mountains and valleys. At several places you will also find colourful prayer flags fluttering in the strong winds. Most people cherish a selfie right next to the sign board indicating height of the pass. Don’t forget to take one of yourself. The air at Khardung La is very thin and lack of oxygen may result into fatigue and dizziness. If you feel uncomfortable, sit down and breathe deeply while help arrives.
Everything at the pass is the World’s Highest. Plan to enjoy the following:
1. A cup of hot Ladakhi tea is very welcome. You can try it with some snacks at the World’s Highest Restaurant.
2. There is a Souvenir Shop which claims to be the World’s Highest. Do buy some for yourself and to gift them to your loved ones. Prices are reasonable for the location.
3. Move around the pass and enjoy the beautiful views of mountains and valleys.
4. A weak but usable BSNL mobile signal is available at places on the pass so do not forget to send SMS from the World’s highest motorable road to surprise your friends.