Khardung La has its head in the clouds and its height in doubt. Khardung La is an amazing place and "only one in the world" experience. The sights on the way to and from this place are fantastic beyond words. Khardung La (la means pass in Tibetan) (elevation 5359 m) is a high mountain pass located in the Ladakh region, Jammu and Kashmir, India. The international spelling is used here, but it is locally spelt "Khardong La". The pass on the Ladakh Range lies north of Leh and is the gateway to the Shyok and Nubra valleys. The Siachen Glacier lies partway up the latter valley. Built in 1976, it was opened to motor vehicles in 1988 and has since seen many automobile, motorbike, mountain biking and Group Tour. Maintained by the Indian Army\'s Corps, the pass is strategically important to India as it is used to carry essential supplies to the Siachen.
Authentic Khardung La
Khardung La is historically important as, for centuries; Khardung La remained one of the highest points on any trade route anywhere in the world. The caravan trade (till the year 1949) used this pass to do business between Punjab and central asia. This route was a feeder to the famous "Silk Route" and could only be used in summer as the snow in winter would make it impossible to cross. About 10,000 horses and camels used to take the route annually, and a small population of Bactrian camels can still be seen in the area north of the pass, mute witnesses to history. During World War II there was a futile attempt to transfer war material to China through this route. Imagine the adventurers and traders of yester years travelling through these mountains with horses, mules, camels, sheep and yaks!
This pass challenges bikers from all corners of the world testing their metal. Thin air and low oxygen levels makes riding to this pass even more difficult. Flocks of tourists visit this pass in their SUVs each year during mid June to mid October. Weather conditions can be unpredictable, and snowstorms can happen even in the height of the summer. There can be a lot of heavy traffic on the road, especially Indian Army trucks. Acute Mountain Sickness is a serious risk, and visitors are not recommended to spend too long at the top.
It is probably a cliché to use the word breathless when you are referring to Ladakh. But it is not every day that you drive up the towering mountains beyond 17000 feet, amidst stunning landscape and then plunge down to 10000 feet to rest in a picturesque valley. Vehicles travelling to and from Khardung La are allowed only in one direction at a time: from 9am - 1pm in the Leh – Khardug La direction, and from 1 pm - 5 pm from the Nubra Valley via Khardung La towards Leh. It is best to check timings locally, though.
"Every generation needs a journey story; every generation needs a story about what it is to be transformed by geography, what it is to be transformed by encounters with cultures and people that are alien from yourself, and you know that age group 15 to 25, that's the perfect generation to get on a motorcycle, to hit the road, to put on your backpack and just go out." — José Rivera, screenwriter, NPR 
We are planning to explore the world's highest motorable road in the month of April/May 2012. Those who are likely to join our Group Bike Trip can post a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or you may even post your view and suggestion in http://wilsontom.blogspot.com/2011/09/planning-to-visit-khardung-la.html. The itinerary will be publishing after fixing the date.
Wilson Tom loves writing informative articles on various destinations around the world, especially about India. This time I am planning to explore Leh, Ladakh for more information visit http://wilsontom.blogspot.com/
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