is the first of the passes
on the Srinagar - Leh Highway which receives the heaviest
snowfall during winter and as such it remains closed to
traffic for nearly six months in a year. The accumulation of
huge quantities of snow over Zojila Pass, presents the biggest
hurdle to traffic on this road. The 434 km long highway is
Ladakh's lifeline and after Kargil skirmishes in 1999 with
Pakistan, the government has stepped up the pace of road
construction because of the strategic significance of the
area. The approach is a long haul across a slate mountainside
which looks a though it might sheer off at any moment.
At 18,380 feet, the world's
highest motorable road and gateway to Siachen Glacier is
Khardungla Pass. It is just about 40 kms. north of Leh by road
on the way to the Nubra and connects Leh to the Nubra Valley.
Although one needs a permit to visit the Nubra Valley itself,
but it is not necessary to have a permit just to ride to the
top of the pass. The ride itself is quite good, providing good
views towards Leh, and at the top one can see the Karakoram
range to the north of the pass, and then by turning 180
degrees see the Himalayas back towards Leh. The descent from
the checkpoint is fantastic because it is so long.