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Chang La Pass

Chang La Pass – A Journey to the Third Highest Motorable Pass

Chang La Pass, nestled in the Ladakh region of northern India, stands at an impressive altitude of 5,360 meters (17,590 feet). It is one of the highest motorable roads in the world and serves as a vital link between Leh and the scenic Pangong Lake. For adventurers and travel enthusiasts, a journey through Chang La Pass is a thrilling experience, offering breathtaking landscapes and a glimpse into the unique culture of the region. This guide covers all the essential aspects to help travelers plan their trip effectively.

How To Reach 

By Air: 

The nearest airport is Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport in Leh, approximately 70 kilometers from Chang La Pass. Direct flights are available from major Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Srinagar.

By Road: 

The journey to Chang La Pass is typically undertaken from Leh. Travelers can hire taxis, or for the more adventurous, rent motorbikes. The route to Chang La is via the Leh-Karu-Tangtse road, which is well-maintained but requires cautious driving due to steep ascents and sharp turns.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Chang La Pass is during the summer months from May to September. During this period, the weather is relatively mild, and the roads are accessible. The winter months from November to April bring heavy snowfall, making the pass dangerous and often closed.

The Journey and Experience

Scenic Beauty

The drive to Chang La is a visual treat. Snow-capped peaks, lush green valleys, and the occasional sighting of wildlife such as yaks and marmots make the journey captivating. The road meanders through a mix of rugged terrain and serene landscapes, offering photographers and nature lovers ample opportunities to capture stunning vistas.

Road Conditions

The road to Chang La can be challenging. While it is well-maintained for the most part, travelers should be prepared for rough patches, especially after the winter season. The higher you go, the more likely you are to encounter snow and ice, even in summer months. A sturdy 4×4 vehicle is recommended.

At Chang La Pass – Altitude and Acclimatization

At 5,360 meters, Chang La’s altitude can affect travelers significantly. Symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) such as headaches, nausea, and dizziness are common. It’s advised to spend only a short time at the pass and to have a supply of water and AMS medication. Adequate acclimatization in Leh before ascending is crucial.

Chang La Baba Temple

A small temple dedicated to Chang La Baba, the guardian deity of the pass, is a key highlight. It’s customary for travelers to pay their respects here. The temple is believed to protect travelers and ensure their safe passage.

Tea and Refreshments

The Indian Army maintains a small hut at the pass where travelers can enjoy complimentary tea. It’s a warm respite in the cold and a gesture of hospitality that many appreciate.

Chang La Pass Nearby Attractions

Pangong Lake

One of the primary reasons travelers cross Chang La is to reach the breathtaking Pangong Lake, approximately 70 kilometers from the pass. Known for its ever-changing hues of blue, Pangong Lake is a must-visit. Camping by the lake is a popular activity, offering a surreal experience under the starlit sky.

Thiksey Monastery

On your way back to Leh, make sure to visit Thiksey Monastery, located about 19 kilometers from Leh. This monastery, resembling the Potala Palace in Lhasa, offers spiritual solace and panoramic views of the Indus Valley.

Hemis Monastery

A bit further from Thiksey, Hemis Monastery is one of the largest and wealthiest monasteries in Ladakh. Known for its annual Hemis Festival, the monastery is a repository of ancient Buddhist relics and scriptures.

Permits

Travelers require an Inner Line Permit (ILP) to visit Chang La and Pangong Lake. These permits can be obtained from the District Magistrate’s office in Leh or through registered travel agencies. Ensure you have multiple photocopies of the permit as they are checked at various points.

Health Precautions

Due to the high altitude, it is vital to stay hydrated and avoid alcohol. Carrying portable oxygen cylinders can be beneficial. Consult with a healthcare professional about AMS medication before your trip.

Conclusion

Chang La Pass is more than just a transit point; it’s a testament to the raw, untamed beauty of the Himalayas and the resilience of those who traverse it. Whether you are an adventure seeker, a nature lover, or a cultural enthusiast, Chang La offers an unforgettable journey that is both challenging and deeply rewarding. Prepare well, respect the environment, and immerse yourself in one of the world’s most awe-inspiring landscapes.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Ask Questions For Ladakh

Q. How can we reach Ladakh?

There are three ways to reach Ladakh:

  • The best way to travel to Ladakh is by flight. Leh Airport is well-connected with major cities like Delhi, Jammu, Chandigarh, Srinagar, and many other places through direct and connecting flights.
  • If you are traveling by road then there are two different routes lead to Ladakh – one from Srinagar and another from Manali. If you are traveling from Manali then you will cover the distance of 474 kilometers to Leh via Keylong with a night stopover. On the other hand, Srinagar to Leh will take you through Sonamarg, Drass, Kargil, Mulbekh, and Lamayuru. You will cover 434 km on this journey. All the roads remain open from May to October.

Q. Can we visit Pahalgam in one day ?

Distance Between Delhi to Ladakh 1023 kms.

Q. Which airport is close to Ladakh?

The Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport in Leh.

Q. Are there any ATMs in Leh?

Leh has four ATMs owned by Axis Bank, Jammu and Kashmir Bank, Punjab National Bank and State Bank of India.

Q. Does credit card work in hotels and restaurants?

Yes, the credit card is accepted in a few hotels and restaurants but a service tax is charged.

Q. When is the best time to visit Ladakh?

The Best time to visit Ladakh is during the summer season from the month of April to July during this time Ladakh temperature is between 15 to 30 Degree Celsius.

Q. What is famous about Leh ?

Leh is known for its stunning scenic locales, Buddhist temples and pristine environment.

Q. What are the places to see in Leh and around?

Leh is the district headquarters of Ladakh and its main town. It is a quaint town and has a very cosmopolitan vibe to it. The markets are quite colourful and full of life.

Q. Is Ladakh safe to visit?

Is Ladakh safe to visit?Ladakh, in general, is considered relatively safe for travelers, including women.

Q. What is Ladakh famous for answer?

Ladakh is most famous for breathtaking landscapes, the crystal clear skies, the highest mountain passes, thrilling adventure activities, Buddhist Monasteries and festivals.

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