Located at an elevation of 18,379 ft, Khardung La is the world’s highest motorable road and serves as gateway to Shyok and Nubra valleys in the Ladakh region of India’s northernmost state, Jammu and Kashmir. It is a high mountain pass is in the Karakoram Range to the north of Leh. Khardung La (in Tibetan, La means pass) is situated at about 40 km from Leh. The pass offers amazing views of the valley and the roads winding up the mountain. The clear air, scenic vistas and the feeling of being on top of the world have made Khardung La a popular tourist attraction.
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As a tourists’ favorite, Khardung La finds its way to the top of several travelers’ list of things to do in Leh-Ladakh. So much so that during the peak traveling season for Ladakh, Khardung La faces traffic that can soon turn into a nightmare. In order to make traveling through the pass smoother for tourists, vehicles from Leh towards Khardung La are allowed only from 9 am to 1 pkm and those form Khardung La to Leh are are allowed from 1 pm to 5 pm. It’s always advisable to check with local agencies or taxi drivers about the timings.
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The road from Leh to Khardung La is asphalted for about 24 km till the South Pullu check post but from there the road is made up of gravel and dirt track till the North Pullu check point. Tourists require the Inner Line Permit (ILP) to cross the pass which can be obtained from the District Commissioner’s office in Leh. Make sure to keep as many as six photocopies of your permit as every check point needs a copy of your permit before letting your through.
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The weather is highly unstable and can change surprisingly fast leaving you stranded for hours or even days so you need to come prepared for the worst when planning to visit Khardung La. There are no accommodation options at Khardung La unless you travel with your own tents that you can pitch along the road side.Since Leh is the closest town with plently of accommodation and eatery options, your best bet is to travel back to Leh or even stay at Nubra for one night. Do carry some food packets and munchies for the journey and keep hydrating yourselves. The best time to visit Khardung La is between May and October. During these months the pass remains open unless there is a sudden change in weather conditions.
Photograph courtesy: Aditya Sahay/Creative Commons
Opening hours of Khardung La:Closed now
May to October: Open all days 09:00 am to 01:00 pm
While traveling to Khardung la
May to October: 01:00 pm to 05:00 pm
While traveling from Khardung La
Entry fee for Visiting Khardung La:
Approximate visit duration for : 2 to 3 hours