Ladakh, a land of surreal beauty, exotic locations, and landscapes that look so unrealistic yet so real.
The steep valley, stomach-wrenching twists and turn and gorgeous serene filled flora and fauna add to the beauty of this spot.
Leh Ladakh is said to be the land of high mountain passes. You can explore and witness the land of highest motorable roads here, traverse through these challenging passes and explore the untouched hidden retreats of nature.
All the roads and passes in Ladakh are built here and are marked under the category of the Himank project of BRO (Border Road Organisation)
This started in August 1985 and Himank is responsible for the construction, maintenance, and development of roads in the Ladakh region.
The maintenance and infrastructure of few passes are also under the supervision of Himank, these are said to be the highest motorable roads, Umling La Pass, Khardung La, Tanglang La, and Chang La passes.
Each of the passes in Ladakh has a tale, a story that comes from far behind time. There are passes where soldiers have fought, putting their life at risk for the country.
Some passes are not mere roads but a cultural symbol and traditional heritage.
There are dozens of passes but only a few of them are accessible. Visitors visiting Leh Ladakh are sure to cover a few of the common ones.
While few daredevils cover some enthralling routes and pass in Ladakh that gives near-death experience. So stay tuned!
We have covered some and listed a comprehensive outline of the mountain passes in Ladakh. This will allow you to understand the adventure one gets at each pass so you can plan out your journey accordingly.
List of Passes in Ladakh
1. Khardung La Pass | Falsely Claimed as Highest passes in Ladakh
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Undoubtedly this is the best known and most popular pass of all in Leh Ladakh. Khardung La is located about 40 km north of Leh, this links to the capital of Ladakh with the road to the Siachen Glaciers.
This particular pass use to be the world’s highest motorable pass that stands at a height of about 18,380 ft above sea level. This magnificent pass is 11th highest passes in the world with a view that gives one chill.
One can enjoy the spectacular yet thrillful view from the top, sipping the tea at the tea spot on the top. You will have experience standing on the top of the world and enjoying the view down.
This pass is a gateway from where one can reach spots like Nubra and Shyok Valleys.
The mighty mountain and bone-chilling winds won’t allow you to spend maximum time here. The view is simply amazing and especially popular amongst bike expeditions.
This part is strategically important to India as it carries the supplies to the Siachen Glacier and it is maintained by BRO. Being built in 1976 and opened for motor vehicles only after 1987, this road has gained huge popularity since then.
2. Chang La Pass | Beautiful Passes in Ladakh
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On the way to Pangong Lake falls one of the highest mountain passes in Ladakh is called the Chang La pass.
Situated at an altitude of about 17,590 ft, which is 5360 meters above sea level. It also claims the 10th spot in the list of World’s Highest Motorable Pass in the world.
This particular pass gets its name after the Sadhu Changla Baba, and to whom the temple on the pass is dedicated to. It is a beautiful pass, driving you across the valleys, breathtaking sceneries, and pleasant surroundings to comfort your heart and give your eyes a treat.
Roads are narrow, bad, deserted, the cool mountain breeze touching you, leaving you in awe and the extreme steepness will give bubbles in your stomach.
It is like you are on a roller coaster, where you are excited, nervous and your heart is popping out but at the same time you are mesmerized with heaven-like beauty offered.
Crossing this pass gives you the most enjoyable view of the yak rides as well as army tea stalls in the region. It is like a pass with all the natural beauty and the added advantage of enjoying it with a cup of hot tea.
For a couple of minutes, you can halt by and relish the view, soak some fresh air, positive vibes, and energy to brace yourself for the further journey to Pangong lake or Changthang plateau.
3. Baralacha La Pass
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Situated at the Zanskar range is another most horrifying yet enthralling passes in Ladakh called the Baralacha La Pass. This pass connects Ladakh to Lahaul and is a gateway basically to the Ladakh region.
The panoramic view of Himalayas is a real treat, so surreal, refreshing but the routes are immensely challenging to cover at the same time. The peace and stillness offered here won’t be experienced elsewhere.
This breathtaking route holds a historical significance, being the trade route in the past. The vibe here is so different and vivid that one gets here, which can only be felt not expressed in words.
This one is perched on the top at a height of about at 16,600ft (5,059m), the rocky height and the heart-wrenching views will leave you awe-inspiring.
The steep valley and the great elevation often results in breathlessness, which is a common health issue that most bikers face. Thus there are various precautions needed to consider before traveling to any of the passes in the Ladakh region.
Looking for some adventure? You will get a lifetime of fun and adventure while you embark upon the journey to Ladakh’s Baralacha La Pass. Lesser tourist crowd, more peace & fun!
4. Taglang La Pass
After Khardung La Pass ranks on the 12th spot of Highest Motorable Passes in the World known as Tanglang La Pass.
Perched at an altitude of 5,328m above sea level, it is resident for the nomadic tribe who are primarily in the business of cattle and herds.
It got famous amongst the bike expeditors with its staggering height, exotic view, and sweeping plain, which makes it a marvelous journey worth visiting.
Upshi and Sarchu are the neighboring settlements and the pass is at a closer distance to Leh. If you wish to visit this place, you can cover it together in a day.
Tanglang La Pass is unique amongst all other passes considering the cultivation and green land that you see surrounding your route. Make your stop here for a while and explore the green sides of Ladakh.
Explore sheep and goat grazing in the field while you are en route on the journey to Ladakh via Manali. The ambiance of the pass is so soothing and appealing that you will be lost in the charm.
5. Fotu La Pass | Magnificent Passes in Ladakh
On the Srinagar Leh highway lies the highest pass, the Fotu La Pass, which seems to be a magnificent trip for bike adventure seekers. The fantastic view offered here couldn’t be compared to any of the routes.
Zigzag roads, brown mountain, cross-cutting routes will leave you in awe. Driving through this route is like adding the experience of a lifetime, it is one of the most magical passes in Ladakh!
This one stands tall at an elevation of about 13,478ft (4,108m), this is the highest point on the highway and shows the view worth watching, but at the same time, the chilly winds are so strong, giving one a feeling of blowing away.
Ladakh offers some majestic views and mystic trails that will raise your heart rate but please your mind. Fotu La Pass has its breathtaking, refreshing, and highly engaging offering to go through.
The mountains that accompany you throughout the pass is a fantastic piece of rock, shapes in a manner that creates an illusion. Also one can visit the Lamayuru Monastery located nearby the pass, you will have a great experience.
This is one of the most gorgeous passes in Ladakh, which will show you the view so mesmerizing and give your life a new vision.
6. Lachulung La Pass
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One of the most famous passes in Ladakh that lies in the Zanskar region, perched at a height of 16,600ft (5,059m) is the Lachulung La Pass.
The undulating hills and the steep valley is a thing to cherish on the trip, you will be horrified and stunned as well. One of the most challenging yet scenic passes in Ladakh.
It is located on the Leh Manali highway and about 54 km from Sarchu. One can consider it as the easiest pass to cover, as it doesn’t take you through challenging or risky routes.
The road is very beautiful, offering vivid views and quite soul-satisfying too. It can be traversed cross-country by moving through the Nala which is on both sides.
Acclimatization and health issues like breathlessness are pretty common as you have to cover a journey that requires high elevation to cross.
This one also stays tall being the Ladakh pride for centuries now and considered to be located at a great height with jaw-dropping views.
The descent is pretty smooth and simple to handle, you will be enjoying your time till the end.
7. Namika la Pass
One of the most prominent, soul-satisfying, and enjoyable mountain passes in Ladakh is the Namika La Pass. This is named as the “pillar of Sky Pass” for a reason!
The view offered from the top of the neighboring peak is mesmerizing, the time spent here will be memorable throughout your life.
It is like a destination that doesn’t make you feel like you are in India.
It gives you a feeling of living somewhere beyond boundaries, there is a new world with only flora and fauna and nature being dominated completely.
The pass falls on the route to the Mulbek valley and has become a popular halt spot on the way to the Ladakh region. One of the most iconic passes in Ladakh.
Sightseeing and views are unlimited, anywhere your eyes reach, you will get a pleasant view around, the pass has gorgeous visions to store it in your camera, so keep your phone handy.
Also, you can witness the ancient rock carving of the Maitreya Buddha that will be visible to you on the Buddhist Gompa.
It is said to be the highest pass in the region that connects Leh from Kargil. Embarking on this journey will leave you mesmerized by the beauty of Ladakh so much that you don’t wish to leave the spot anytime soon.
8. Zoji La Pass
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If you have seen a picture of a pass that has a narrow road, and a truck passing by with sheep and goats blocking the narrow road.
This is exactly what one gets to witness on their way to the most soul-shaking route of Zoji La Pass.
This pass connects Ladakh to Kashmir, and the zest of the mighty mountain, with the breezy wind, is something everyone experiences here. One of the most beautiful passes in Ladakh.
The pass has a story that says that it was captured by Pakistan during the war that happened in 1947. Since then it became a very sensitive area with the military camp being lined up totally for defense.
One can stop here for an hour or two and enjoy how gorgeous the valley looks. The proximity of Sonamarg has led to the pass getting quite a popularity.
This is perched at a height of 11,500ft (3,505m) high with a striking landscape, forest hills of Kashmir, and bare mountain ideally creating a natural beauty that’s worth beyond words.
One can say it gets dual beauty from the Gorgeous Kashmir and the mystic Ladakh.
The route is usually opened in Summer and is accessible for the tourist to visit from June to September. And during Winter one can only witness the white snow bed wrapping the pass completely.
9. Umling La Pass | Highest Motorable Pass in the World
At an altitude of 19000 Feet or 5883 Mtrs, it flaunts the world’s highest motorable passes called Umling La Pass.
The inaccessibility, challenging rough patches to cover and made it the most dangerous pass of all. And only those who have the daredevil spirit or the urge to cross boundaries to explore the unseen land can cover the journey.
This seemingly impossible to cover feat has been achieved successfully by BRO, which is the part of the “Project Himank”.
Driving through the pass is an experience unique and special in itself. It is like giving yourself the challenge to defeat your fears and hurdles and cover a journey that only fewer riders have explored to date.
You will have your toes up all the time, and the roads are risky, full of hurdles, crossing one barrier will welcome another one. But one thing is sure, from all the hurdles the results will lead you in satisfaction.
Overcome your fear and be a daredevil, you will have a memory to save for a lifetime. It is like an achievement that you get which is beyond words, the proudest moment of your life.
10. Pensi La Pass
This gorgeous mountain pass is a gateway that connects one from Suru valley to Zanskar Valley as well as act as a watershed destination to the popular Suru River. Pensi La Pass is named as the “Gateway to Zanskar”
Owing to the high altitude, one can imagine the view offered from the top. Mostly ice patches will be very commonly witnessed on the route, so having warm clothes wrapped on you has to be a big deal.
Pensi La pass is said to be the beginner area to Ladakh on the Srinagar route, the changing landscape will make you fall in love. This is yet the most beautiful passes in Ladakh to explore.
There is no one similar view surrounding the route, but views that change and get better and better. You will feel like stopping by every time and clicking pictures, but the chilly wind won’t let you stay here longer.
Glacial lake and the Drang Drung Glacier also lie pretty close to Pensi La pass, which means you can witness the spot and see the magical white glacier lying on the side of the road.
If you have time and plan to witness the place in-depth, do not forget to visit Rangdum Monastery that is hardly 25 km from the pass.
You will love the soothing and comforting vibes here. It’s like a refreshing break to take after a challenging pass is covered.
11. Marsimik La Pass: World’s 4th Highest Motorable Pass
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A must visit and one of the most isolated mountains passes in Ladakh is Marsimik La pass. The name itself sounds so pleasing, and so is the route and the destination.
You simply shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit this pass when in Ladakh, your time will be paid with the valuable view offered here, also hot springs are something to witness, which is unique and special in its way.
One also gets the opportunity to witness the six-lane highway built by China that has extended up to the India-China border. One of the most gorgeous passes in Ladakh!
There are many things that one can cover on the route, so you get to witness Ladakh in a better way.
Driving and riding on the route is a very tricky task, you have to cross hurdles, and barriers, not once but many times. But the wait and the effort is worth it.
12. Saser La Pass
One can say it is an impressive pass, but a dangerous one. A journey that makes one feel special but also with the challenges can add a thrilling event to be believed.
This pass connects the Ladakh region to Yarkand County in China. So one gets to witness the beauty of India and China both on the same route, isn’t it amazing?
Saser La Pass roads to the pass are steady, rough, and mostly not appropriate for soft-hearted people. The oxygen supply usually gets lesser the more you cover the journey so it becomes tough and risky.
All those who have managed to cover the ride successfully have said it to be their best journey of life. So undoubtedly there is a worth to experience out of all the challenges to cross.
13. Kaksang la Pass
Ask the locals of Ladakh and they will say one thing” this road is the road to hell” Why? The dangerous challenges that are possessed will give you a lifetime experience of both being too good and too bad.
Situated between Mahe and Chushul, offering a jaw-dropping view, but the elevation of 5.436m (17834ft) will give you chill. Undoubtedly it comes in the list of dangerous passes in Ladakh.
The road to the summit is a challenge in itself, linking small towns and takes you to several unnamed mountains.
The climb is pretty steep, it almost gives you an experience of your heart in your mouth. Some rocky terrain, landslides, the cold wind will welcome you every time, so embrace yourself and be ready.
The completely isolated route is a mountain road with lesser traffic and more challenges. Concentration on the road is the key to achieving and reaching a great height with full confidence.
14. Tsaga la Pass
After you have crossed Chusul village, you will explore the land that takes you to Tsaga La. Where one side is China and lots of army posts around, being a sensitive area, you have to be cautious on your route.
One can witness different shades of colors the mountain changes, the more you head ahead in the journey the more colors of Ladakh you will witness. No other passes in Ladakh can give you the excitement delivered here.
Most of the route will be a dirt track that you cover and it is a challenge in itself. You have to be ready to set up on a journey that only wants your adventure side out.
It is at an altitude of 4635 Mtrs, and the road condition is not that great always. So brace yourself before you reach the land where challenging roads are all set to welcome you.
15. Rezang La Pass
Rezang La is a pass situated in the south-eastern approach to Chushul Valley. It is 3,000 yards long as well as 2,000 yards wide, with the elevation of about 16,000 feet.
This was the site of the last stand of the 13 Kumaon, this was during the Sino-Indian war in 1962. This is again said to be the most horrifying passes in Ladakh with the route that will scare your soul but give you peace with the views.
This pass has got its popularity from Major Shaitan Singh who accompanies the Sino- Indian War and won the award of posthumous Param Vir Chakra for his bravery.
This place is said to have witnessed the death and sacrifice of many Indian brave heads who got defeated due to the Chinese attack.
This place is very interesting in its way plus the challenges to cover the route is fun in itself.
16. Tsaka La Pass
This one again is a high mountain pass standing tall at an elevation of 4.646m (15,242ft) above the sea level. This road gets miserable in Winter with heavy snowfall, landslide, and really risky patches of ice to cover.
The trail is pretty steep, it is like you are on a roller coaster with tough driving but one that gives you thrill and chills both at the same time.
Experienced wheelers will have a great time enjoying the ride as it is only possible for those who have interest and passion to cover the challenging path.
Also, people often get troubled with less oxygen considering the high altitude and breathing become difficult. But the road is highly gorgeous, breathtaking, with vivid views and notorious roads to cover.
You will fall in love with the route and also the climate is too unpredictable. Sometimes it’s raining, sometimes it’s sunny and sometimes snowfalls occur. One of the challenging yet most gorgeous passes in Ladakh!
Ladakh: The Land of Passes
The land of passes has a lot in store for the tourist who is only here in Ladakh to see the adventure and experience the thrill.
You will have excitement while visiting the place for not just its natural beauty, but the culture, traditions, and routes that are far better than the destination.
When in Leh Ladakh, it is the journey that amazes you and not the destination. The zigzag routes, challenging valley, steep slope, and snowy mountain everything sums up to making it an ideal destination.
The passes in Ladakh will surely steal your eyes and give you comfort, so visit the location and enjoy a lifetime of experience.
Have you ever visited Ladakh and the passes in Ladakh Leh? If yes, do not forget to share with us your experience, and which amongst the many in the list was your challenging route?
Also, if this is the first time you are going to Ladakh, do let us know which passes in Ladakh brought you excitement?
And if you have queries feel free to comment down and we will answer all your questions.