Khardung La pass in Ladakh is a dream destination of adventure seekers from around the globe. Situated in Greater Himalayas, the highest elevation of Khardung La as per the readings of modern gadget and equipment is 17, 582 feet which challenges the traditional reading of the highest elevation which is 18,379 feet. The road sign atop the Khardung La Top which is maintained by Border Road Organization still claims that Khardung La is the highest motorable pass in the world with elevation of 5,602 meters which the modern GPS equipments contradict. Now even facts point out that the record is broken as Umling La Top becomes the highest motorable road in Ladakh itself.
Controversies apart, Khardung La used to be an important pass since time immemorial. It was a vital section in caravan trade route which connected Leh with Kashgar in Central India. Nowadays, the pass is strategically important to Indian Military as it’s the only route to reach Siachin by Road. Khardung La also connects Leh Town from Nubra Valley which is a popular tourist place in Ladakh. Safari in the high altitude semi-arid desert on two Humped Camels considered to carry the legacy of yester years of caravan trade is a popular activity in Hunder which is located in the interiors of Nubra Valley in Ladakh.
To reach and travel to Khardung La, it is important that a tourist first undergoes proper acclimatization in Leh town to avoid acute mountain sickness (AMS). It is always advisable to keep two days for acclimatization and getting use to the high altitude air pressure conditions and low levels of oxygen in atmosphere. Even after acclimatization, if a tourist traveling to Khardung La either by Jeep or Motorcycle detects any symptoms of AMS, then it is strictly advised that they descend immediately to lower altitude to avoid any major sickness.
The road to Khardung La from Leh Town is considerably well maintained by BRO considering the high altitude, difficult terrain and frequent landslides. The road is closed annually from approximately October to May due to snow but it can be closed anytime when the access is not cleared of snow. With such a high summit altitude the road can be closed anytime due to snowfalls. The zone is prone to heavy mist and can be dangerous in low visibility conditions. Do not travel this pass in severe weather conditions. Avalanches, heavy snowfalls and landslides can occur anytime, being extremely dangerous due to frequent patches of ice. It has a well-deserved reputation for being dangerous because of unpredictable snowstorms and blizzards, and driving under these conditions, can be extremely challenging. The road is primarily loose rock, dirt, and usually covered in snow. Altitude sickness is guaranteed on this journey and there is no medical support along the route!