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Khardung La Pass

Khardung La Pass: The Gateway to Adventure

Khardung La Pass, often referred to as the ‘Gateway to the Nubra and Shyok Valleys,’ is one of the highest motorable roads in the world. Situated in the Ladakh region of the Indian Himalayas, it stands at an elevation of 5,359 meters (17,582 feet) above sea level. Maintained by the Border Roads Organisation, this pass holds strategic importance and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountain ranges.

Originally built for military purposes, Khardung La has now become a popular destination for adventure seekers and tourists alike. It serves as a critical point for those looking to explore the remote valleys of Ladakh, as well as for the numerous biking and trekking expeditions that challenge its high-altitude terrain.

Top Attractions

1. Nubra Valley:

Accessible via Khardung La, Nubra Valley is known for its stunning landscapes, including the dramatic sand dunes of Hunder, the picturesque Diskit Monastery, and the confluence of the Shyok and Nubra Rivers.

2. Diskit Monastery:

 The oldest and largest Buddhist monastery in Nubra Valley, Diskit Monastery features a 106-foot tall statue of Maitreya Buddha and offers panoramic views of the valley.

3. Shyok Valley: 

Known for its rugged beauty, the Shyok Valley presents opportunities for off-the-beaten-path exploration and photography, with its winding river and remote villages.

4. Magnetic Hill: 

On the way to Khardung La from Leh, this gravity hill is a unique natural wonder where vehicles appear to move uphill against gravity.

5. Leh Palace:

Before heading towards Khardung La, a visit to Leh Palace in Leh town provides a glimpse into the region’s rich history and offers stunning views of the town.

How to Reach Khardung La Pass

Khardung La is most commonly accessed from Leh, the capital of Ladakh. Here’s how you can reach it:

By Air: 

The nearest airport is Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport in Leh, which is well-connected to major Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Srinagar. From the airport, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to Leh town.

By Road: 

Leh is connected by road to Manali (473 km) and Srinagar (434 km). The Srinagar-Leh Highway and Manali-Leh Highway are the two main routes. Buses and taxis are available from both Manali and Srinagar to Leh.

By Bike or Car:

For adventure enthusiasts, driving or riding a bike from Manali or Srinagar to Leh and then to Khardung La is a thrilling experience. These routes offer breathtaking landscapes and numerous photo opportunities.

From Leh, Khardung La is about 39 kilometers. Taxis and bikes can be rented in Leh for the journey to the pass. The road is well-paved up to South Pullu, but from there to North Pullu, it can be quite rough, especially due to snow and landslides.

Activities to Do

  1. Biking and Road Trips: Khardung La is a dream destination for motorcyclists. The thrill of riding through one of the highest motorable passes in the world is an unforgettable experience.
  1. Trekking: Several trekking routes start from or pass through Khardung La, including the trek to Nubra Valley. Trekkers can enjoy the stunning high-altitude landscapes and remote beauty of Ladakh.
  1. Photography: With its majestic peaks, vast valleys, and unique terrain, Khardung La is a paradise for photographers. The changing weather and light conditions offer endless opportunities for capturing spectacular shots.
  1. Sightseeing: Apart from the panoramic views, the pass itself is adorned with colorful prayer flags and offers a sense of serenity and spiritual tranquility.
  1. Adventure Sports: For the more daring, options like mountain biking down from the pass and exploring the off-road trails can add an extra layer of excitement to the visit.

Hidden Gems

Yarab Tso Lake:

Often called the ‘Hidden Lake,’ Yarab Tso near Sumur village in Nubra Valley is a serene spot surrounded by mountains. It is a sacred site for the locals and offers a tranquil escape.

Panamik Hot Springs: 

Located in Nubra Valley, these hot springs are believed to have therapeutic properties. The warm waters are a perfect way to relax after a long day of exploring.

Hunder Sand Dunes:

 Known for its white sand dunes, Hunder is a unique desert area where visitors can enjoy camel rides on the double-humped Bactrian camels.

  1. Turtuk Village: The northernmost village in India, Turtuk was opened to tourists in 2010. It offers a unique cultural experience, being a part of Baltistan and providing insights into the Balti culture and traditions.

Accommodation Options

While accommodation options at Khardung La itself are non-existent due to its high altitude and harsh conditions, nearby Leh offers a range of budget-friendly places to stay. Here are some options under INR 2000 per night:

  1. Zostel Leh: A popular choice among backpackers, Zostel offers dormitory-style and private rooms with a vibrant atmosphere and excellent amenities. Prices start around INR 600 for dorm beds and INR 1800 for private rooms.
  2. Hotel Ladakh Heaven: Located close to the main market in Leh, this hotel provides comfortable rooms with modern amenities and warm hospitality. Rooms start from INR 1800 per night.
  3. Reenam Hotel: Offering scenic views and modern facilities, Reenam Hotel is a great mid-range option. Rooms are available from INR 2000 per night.
  4. Sia-La Guest House: Known for its cozy rooms and homely environment, this guesthouse is a favorite among travelers. Prices range from INR 1500 to INR 2000 per night.
  5. Oriental Guest House: Located in the heart of Leh, this guesthouse provides basic but clean and comfortable rooms. Prices start from INR 1200 per night.

Tips for Visiting Khardung La


  • 1. Acclimatize Properly: Given the high altitude, it is crucial to acclimatize in Leh for a few days before heading to Khardung La to avoid altitude sickness.
  • 2. Carry Warm Clothing: Temperatures at the pass can be extremely cold, even in summer. Ensure you have adequate warm clothing, including gloves and a hat.
  • 3. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol to prevent dehydration, which can exacerbate altitude sickness.
  • 4. Check Road Conditions: Before planning your trip, check the road conditions and weather forecast. Roads can be closed due to snow and landslides.
  • 5. Carry Essentials: Pack essential items like snacks, a first aid kit, and necessary medications. There are limited facilities available en route.
  • 6. Permit: Indian tourists do not need special permits to visit Khardung La, but international tourists require an Inner Line Permit, which can be obtained in Leh.


Khardung La Pass is not just a destination but an experience that combines adventure, natural beauty, and a sense of accomplishment. Whether you are a biker, trekker, photographer, or simply a travel enthusiast, the journey to Khardung La and beyond will leave you with memories of a lifetime. With its unique blend of rugged terrain, cultural richness, and breathtaking vistas, Khardung La truly stands as one of the pinnacles of travel destinations in the Indian Himalayas.

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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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