Top 5 Hills & Valleys In Leh Ladakh

1. Umling La Pass, Leh Ladakh

If you are a motorbike enthusiast, you would be surprised to know that Umling La is the world’s highest motorable road. It is filled with a lot of adventure and thrill. Umling La Pass is the most famous highest motorable road situated at an elevation of 19,300 feet, around 105 km from Hanle Village, located 275 km from Leh in the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir. This fascinating pass stretches over 86 km, connecting two quaint villages lying on the Indo-China border, namely Chisumle and Demchok. Umling La Pass is a scenic place located in the most beautiful part of India. Situated at such a great height, this place is a must-visit for adventurous souls and nature lovers.

Apart from its altitude, the reason that makes Umling La Pass unique is the fact that this place is devoid of civilization and lies completely barren. It is spread prolifically and beckons people to explore its beauty. The continuous cold wind that blows here will make you feel refreshed, and the state of this place in its raw glory will make you awestruck. Since it is the highest motorable road, Umling La Pass is famous for motorbiking. You can take your motorcycle and have a ride through the Umling La. The picturesque landscapes and variegated rocky mountains will add to the experience of a motorbike and make the journey even more magnificent.

Best Time To Visit Umling La Pass

Situated at such a high elevation, the temperature in Umling La remains minus throughout the year. In the months of November to Mid-May, the roads are snowbound, as a result of which many people don’t visit Umlingla Pass in those months. In the month of June, the weather is clear. The road to Umling La is also kept open, which makes it an ideal time to visit.

Umling La Pass Permit

To travel to Umling La, you need a special Inner Line Permit (ILP), an official travel document issued by the Government of India to allow travel to the restricted area. This travel permit can be obtained in advance in Leh. Without this permit, you would not be allowed to travel to Umling La. So, make sure to obtain this permit well in advance for hassle-free travel.

How To Reach Umling La Pass

There are three ways in which you can reach Umling La.

Route 1: Leh to Hanle

This is a general route that people follow to reach Hanle. The total distance is 275 km, and it takes about 9-10 hours to reach the destination. To reach Hanle, the following route has to be followed:

Leh- Karu-Upshi-Kumdok-Chumathang-Mahe-Nyoma-Loma-Hanle

Route 2: Pangong Tso Lake to Hanle

There exists a direct route between Hanle, Tso Moriri, and Pangong Tso. One can exit Ladakh from Tso Moriri towards Manali-Leh Highway after visiting Hanle and Tso Moriri without returning to Leh. The following route has to be followed:

Pangong Tso-Man-Merak-Kakstet-Chusul-Tsaga La-Tsaga Village-Loma-Hanle

The overall journey culminates at 176 km and takes 8-9 hours. However, it must also be kept in mind that the above route is meant for Indian citizens as foreigners are not permitted to proceed beyond the Man-Merak Village route and must opt for alternative routes to reach Hanle.

Route 3: Hanle- Tso Moriri

After visiting Hanle, one can opt to go towards Tso Moriri through different routes. They are:

Hanle-Loma-Nyoma-Mahe-Sumdo-Tso Moriri

Hanle-Salsal La-Charchagan La-Tso Moriri

Hanle-Salsal La-Kyon Tso-Thitzorbit La-Nidar-Nyoma-Mahe-Sumdo-Tso Moriri

The total distance takes 161 km and about 8 hours to reach the destination in the first route. The latter two routes take less time, but permits through these routes are complicated to obtain. Hence, the first route is always preferred.

Vehicles To Opt For

Due to the journey, higher ground clearance vehicles are preferred, and 4*4 vehicles will surely add much-needed comfort and peace of mind. The road ahead of Hanle towards Photi La has some tricky sections in between, and then further to Umling La Pass, there could be few water crossings which could be nasty at times. The same goes for the route which goes via Ukdungle as well. Due to the above reasons, either a Sedan, Hatchback, or an SUV is preferred as all the vehicles above offer the required space and avoid any obstacle coming in the way, which is essential for the journey to Umling La Pass.

Accommodation Near Umling La

Since Umling La Pass is located very far from places in and around Ladakh, the closest accommodation would be available in Hanle Village. Many guesthouses and budget hotels are situated over there. To book the guesthouses/hotels, a person needs to contact the concerned Online Travel Agency(OTA) and reserve the rooms in advance to avoid overbooking.

Food At Umling La Pass

The nearest food joints that a person finds near Umling La Pass are Hanle Village, Koyul, and Demchok. A person mostly finds local dhabas in those regions or near army camps located at Umlingla Pass. If a person is staying in an accommodation in Hanle, they can request the guest house or the hotel in that region to pack some food for the journey ahead.

Acclimatization & Medical Facilities

Since Umling La Pass is far from significant places in Jammu and Kashmir, medical facilities may not be available in many places. The nearest care is available in Hanle Village or Rhongo Village, which is not very far from the former village. There are various army camps set up in that region. In case of an emergency, they may provide medical care as well.

Tips :

  • Being at such a high altitude, the air is skinny. So, if you suffer from any heart condition or respiratory disease, you shouldn’t travel to Umling La.
  • Pack enough clothes to keep you warm otherwise, the icy temperature here will freeze you to death.
  • Carry extra supplementary oxygen with you as it will help you breathe when the air is skinny.
  • Altitude Mountain sickness is pretty common here, so make sure that you are completely prepared before deciding to travel to Umling La.
  • It is recommended to everyone to pack all the necessary food items for the journey to Umlingla Pass as dhabas or local restaurants may not be available in nearby places.

2. Taglang La, Leh Ladakh

Taglang La, Leh LadakhThe Tanglang La is a high mountain road located on the Leh-Manali highway just a few kilometers from Leh. At the height of 5,358 meters, it is the second-highest mountain pass after Khardung-La Pass and the 12th highest motorable pass. This popular spot in Ladakh is known for being the second-highest mountain located in the Zanskar range. The pass summit is breathtaking and is adorned with several prayer flags.

The Tanglang-La has in the past served as a trade route and a religious center. Known for its unique and dramatic landscape, the Taglang La pass provides a blissful experience in the Himalayan trails with greenery.

The pass provides for a highly thrilling adventure, but it can be nerve-wracking for first-time riders because of its unpredictable turns and the extreme cold, which can often dip to -35 degrees Celsius. At these temperatures, oxygen supply can get dangerously low, and riders and tourists also often fall sick while driving to this pass.

Best Time To Visit

The best time to visit the pass is April to June as the place is opened up for tourists by the Border Road Organisation (BRO). It can, however, not be passed during winters.

Tips :

  • Keep in mind that this trip should be avoided if you suffer from respiratory or cardiac problems.
  • The drive is gorgeous, but also extremely dangerous. So it is advised to have with you someone who knows the place or has been before & can drive on mountain roads. As the Highway is used every day by locals who want to reach Leh, and hence, the driving can be stressful and dangerous.

How To Reach Taglang La

The Leh-Manali highway leading to Tanglang-La is paved, i.e., the ice has been cleared for vehicles to pass, except a concise section unpaved, just north of the pass. However, the pass itself is well-paved.

The ascent is where it gets tricky – the road to the summit is asphalted, which means that it consists of 20km of loose stone road and a decreased oxygen level, half of that at sea level.

The Pass can only be reached via the Leh-Manali Highway, which provides a scenic, beautiful landscape to feast your eyes on from every angle.

3. Nubra Valley, Leh Ladakh

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Nubra Valley lies in the union territory of Jammu & Kashmir, at a distance of around 140 Km from Leh. Located on the ancient Silk Route, the valley has Shyok and Nubra rivers snaking through it and some beautiful monasteries.

Most tourists travel to the Valley from Leh through Khardung La. The region is currently under military supervision because the road further leads to the Siachen base camp. And it happens to be the highest battlefield in the world. All foreign nationals need to get a protected area permit, and Indian travelers must obtain an Inner Line Permit to enter the Nubra valley. It would be best if you handed over the photocopies of your travel permits to the soldiers in the pass.

With arid mountains in the backdrop, Nubra Velly is famous for the Bactrian camel rides. Bactrian camels are of the rarest sort, having two humps, and were the primary source of transportation in the silk route. It is also famous for its Hippophae shrub, popularly known as Leh Berry.

In Diksit, you can buy some lovely Kashmiri or Tibetan artifacts, Pashmina shawls, woolen socks, almonds, apricots, apples, and other things that define Kashmir. Read More.

4. Zanskar Valley, Leh Ladakh

Zanskar Valley
Zanskar Valley

Located in the Kargil district to the east of Ladakh (around 105 km) lies the bewitching Zanskar Valley. Pronounced as Zahar or Zangskar locally. It is separated from Ladakh by the Zanskar mountain range, part of The Tethys Himalayas. Zanskar is known for raw landscape and is mostly traveled for trekking and river rafting.

The easiest way of reaching Zanskar is from Kargil through Suru Valley. The semi-desert region is flanked by snow-capped mountains and sparkling clean rivers along with distinct flora and fauna. It is cut off from the rest of the world for over nine months because of heavy snowfall in the region. The only way to reach Zanskar from December to February is to undertake the challenging Chadar Trek. Read More.

5. Magnetic Hill, Leh Ladakh

Magnetic Hill
Magnetic Hill

The famous Magnetic Hill of Ladakh is a cyclops hill. Here, vehicles defy the force of gravity and move upwards on the hill when parked at the marked location. To experience this phenomenon, park the car in neutral gear in the yellow box marked a few meters ahead of the Magnetic Hill road. From this point, the car starts moving at a speed of 20 km ph.

Even though there are some myths regarding the mysterious magnetic hill, the fact is that the layout of the area and the surrounding hills give it an optical illusion. The downhill road appears to be an uphill road that leads to the car slowly gaining momentum. It seems to be going uphill against gravity when it is rolling downhill. Read More.

For more information about Leh & Ladakh Tourism, visit https://leh.nic.in/tourism/

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Khushi Anand

Hello! Great to meet you! I’m Khushi Anand, a university student who’s always looking out for new places to explore and stories to tell. With my colorful creativity, I want to take you guys on the adventure of a lifetime. www.khushianand.com

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