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Khardung La


Khardung La, Ladakh, India by Zoltan Szabo Photography, ShutterstockStand (almost) on top of the world at this pass along one of the earth’s highest motorable roads © Zoltan Szabo Photography, Shutterstock

Locally touted as the highest motorable road on earth (in reality it’s more like the 10th or 11th highest – but we can forgive some calculation errors at this altitude!), it climbs to 5,602m, so it’s not only the views that will leave you breathless. 

Khardung La is the top of the world, at least if you believe the signposts. Locally touted as the highest motorable road on earth (in reality it’s more like the 10th or 11th highest – but we can forgive some calculation errors at this altitude!), it climbs to 5,602m, so it’s not only the views that will leave you breathless. It’s a hugely popular destination for domestic tourists, the majority of whom come here on a day trip from Leh in order to snap innumerable selfies, but it’s also the principal route via which people access the Nubra Valley.

The principal attraction of Khardung La is the pass itself and the views from either side, either looking back towards Leh or down into the Nubra Valley. Glaciers are currently visible in two places (though given the rate at which they are melting they might not be here for too much longer) and on a clear day you have a fine view of the peak of Stok Kangri too. If there’s still air in your lungs you can scramble up to the small prayer-flag-strewn shrine overlooking the road, or browse the souvenir stand. Music and chanting blares out of the loudspeakers, creating a party atmosphere, and of course you need to stop and pose for a picture in front of one of the two road signs declaring the height of the pass.

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