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Khardung La - Highest motorable mountain pass

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Khardung La - Highest motorable mountain pass

Khardung La - Highest motorable mountain pass

Although it is mentioned in many places, including signposted, as the highest motorable pass in the world. This is not really true and probably a mistake made by the Guinness Book of Records. The indication of some 5,602 m / 18,380 ft, is just not correct. It reaches 5,359 m (17,582 ft) high as measured by Catalonian experts and confirmed by many GPS. The honour of the highest may belong to several other passes in the country, like Semo La or possibly another one in Bolivia. It depends on what you understand with motorable. Some of the others are either in a very remote and hardly accessible area, not open to the public as is the case with an Indian military pass or is just not motorable at all due to landslides. With accepting Khardung La, making it the highest motorable pass, taking out “World’s” we compromise a little as it has a historic importance and already many people have reached the top with that illusion and we like to keep that intact for all Mostpointers.


The historical aspect of the Khardung La is that it forms part of the major caravan route from Leh to Kashgar in Central Asia. Thousands of camels and horses took this route each year. Actually you can still see some Bactrian camels at Hunder, north of the pass. It is also a road with strategic importance because of the sometimes tense relation between India and China. Therefore the road is daily maintained by the army as small landslides and avalanches are common.

Although the route can be made a very long one, the typical MOSTPOINT is relatively short, 39.7 km / 24.7 mi, covering the part that runs from Leh, the capital of Ladakh  ("land of high passes"), the Jammu & Kashmir state of India, to the the top. The road then continues to the Nubra and Shyok valley but many cyclists turn around and go back to Leh.


It is also a real favourite among motorists as the pass cuts through the mountain peak offering great views of Leh and the mountains that surround the valley.

On top you will also find what claims to be the highest cafetería in the world.

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What else is there
Ladakh is the highest plateau of the state of Jammu &Kashmir with much of it being over 3,000 m (9,800 ft). It extends from the Himalayan to the Kunlun Ranges and includes the upper Indus River valley. The whole area has, beside natural, many cultural and spiritual richess. The capital Leh is dominated by the ruin of the Royal Palace but can be visited. Do not miss the Shanti Stupa, not only for its Buddhist importance but also for the great panoramic views.
We also recommend the Glacier Siachen in the Nubra Valley. In Kashgar, today´s largest statue of Mao Zedong in China, the tomb of Apak Hoja and the mosque Id Kah, the largest of the country.

Tourists need a travel permit to enter the Nubra Valley, just like for numerous other places while travelling in Ladakh. These travel permits are issued by the tourism department. One can easily get a permit from the travel agencies, though they are a bit more expensive. Altitude sickness can be a major problem for some travellers not previously acclimatized to high altitudes so consider bringing some medication with you. The pass is open for bicycles all year round although not for all traffic. The best time of the year to conquer it is from May till October.

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