Khardung La

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Khardung La
खार्दूंग ला
Khardung La, Ladakh.jpg
Khardung La
LocationLadakh, India
RangeHimalaya, Ladakh Range
Coordinates34°16′42″N 77°36′15″E / 34.27833°N 77.60417°E / 34.27833; 77.60417Coordinates: 34°16′42″N 77°36′15″E / 34.27833°N 77.60417°E / 34.27833; 77.60417
Khardung La is located in Ladakh
Khardung La
Location of Khardung La
Khardung La is located in India
Khardung La
Khardung La (India)

Khardung La (Khardung Pass, la means pass in Tibetan) is a mountain pass in the Leh district of the Indian union territory of Ladakh. The local pronunciation is "Khardong La" or "Khardzong La" but, as with most names in Ladakh, the romanised spelling varies.

The pass on the Ladakh Range is north of Leh and is the gateway to the Shyok and Nubra valleys. The Siachen Glacier lies part way up the latter valley. Built in 1976, it was opened to public motor vehicles in 1988. Maintained by the Border Roads Organisation, the pass is strategically important to India as it is used to carry supplies to the Siachen Glacier.

The elevation of Khardung La is 5,359 m (17,582 ft).[1] Local summit signs and dozens of stores selling shirts in Leh incorrectly claim that its elevation is in the vicinity of 5,602 m (18,379 ft)[citation needed] and that it is the world's highest motorable pass.

History[edit]

Khardong La is historically important as it lies on the major caravan route from Leh to Kashgar in Central Asia. About 10,000 horses and camels used to take the route annually, and a small population of Bactrian camels can still be seen at Hunder, in the area north of the pass. In the early 1950s, William O. Douglas described "the trail, after crossing the Indus, divides, one fork going south along the river's edge to Spitok, Khalatse and Khargil, the other turning north to Leh, the Khardong Pass (...), and Yarkand, an ancient trading center of Sinkiang."[2] He continues, "Leh is on a historic caravan route that leads not only to Yarkand in Sinkiang but to Lhasa in Tibet. (...) the stream of trade. Wool, silver, felts, tea, candy, skins, velvets, silk, gold, carpets, musk, coral, borax, jade cups, salt came down from the north. Cotton goods, shawls, brocades, opium, indigo, plumes, shoes, pearls, ginger, cloves, pepper, honey, tobacco, sugar cane, barley rice, wheat, corn came up from the south."[3] During World War II there was an attempt to transfer war material to China through this route.[citation needed].

Location[edit]

A memorial at Khardung La
Khardung La office and shop

Khardung La is 39 km by road from Leh. Earlier, the first 24 km, as far as the South Pullu check point, were paved. From there to the North Pullu checkpoint about 15 km beyond the pass the roadway was primarily loose rock, dirt, and occasional rivulets of snow melt. Now, all the way is properly paved. The road approaching the Nubra Valley is very well maintained (except in a few places where washouts or falling rock occur). Hired vehicles (two and four-wheel-drive), heavy trucks, and motorcycles regularly travel into the Nubra Valley, though special permits are required to be arranged for travellers.

The 5,359 m (17,582 ft) elevation measure from hundreds of GPS surveys matches SRTM data, ASTER GDEM data, and Russian topographic mapping. It is broadly consistent with numerous GPS reports.

Access[edit]

The nearest sizable town is Leh. Leh is connected by road from Manali and Srinagar, and daily flights are operated from Delhi. From Leh, a daily bus service to Nubra Valley passes over Khardung La which may also be reached by a hired car with an experienced driver or by motorcycle. The two bases on either side of Khardung La are North Pullu and South Pullu.

An Inner Line Permit (ILP), which can be acquired at the District Commissioner’s office in Leh, is required for tourists (not needed for Ladakh citizens). People are required to check in en route and must provide photocopies of the permits to be deposited at each checkpoint.

Altitude sickness is a serious health concern for people not acclimatised to high altitudes. Prophylactic altitude-sickness medication such as acetazolamide may be necessary for some as there are no emergency medical facilities to treat altitude sickness along the route.

The road is closed from approximately October to May due to snow and is often subject to long delays due to traffic congestion on narrow one-lane sections, washouts, landslides and road accidents.

Climate[edit]

Khardung La has an arctic tundra climate (ET) with short, cool summers and long, very cold winters.

Climate data for Khardung La
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) −19
(−2)
−18
(0)
−14
(7)
−11
(12)
−5
(23)
1
(34)
7
(45)
7
(45)
1
(34)
−8
(18)
−14
(7)
−18
(0)
−8
(19)
Average low °C (°F) −36
(−33)
−34
(−29)
−31
(−24)
−25
(−13)
−15
(5)
−9
(16)
−6
(21)
−6
(21)
−10
(14)
−18
(0)
−25
(−13)
−31
(−24)
−20
(−5)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 29
(1.1)
41
(1.6)
53
(2.1)
38
(1.5)
28
(1.1)
9
(0.4)
9
(0.4)
8
(0.3)
8
(0.3)
8
(0.3)
13
(0.5)
22
(0.9)
266
(10.5)
Source: [4]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ DGPS Document supplied by the Cartographic Institute of Catalonia
  2. ^ Douglas, William O. (William Orville), 1898-1980. (1953). Beyond the High Himalayas. [An account of a journey to Afghanistan and Ladakh.] London. OCLC 559521308. the trail, after crossing the Indus, divides, one fork going south along the river's edge to Spitok, Khalatse and Khargil, the other turning north to Leh, the Khardong Pass (18, 380 feet), and Yarkand, an ancient trading center of Sinkiang.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Douglas, William O. (William Orville), 1898-1980. (1953). Beyond the High Himalayas. [An account of a journey to Afghanistan and Ladakh.] London. OCLC 559521308. Leh is on a historic caravan route that leads not only to Yarkand in Sinkiang but to Lhasa in Tibet. (...) the stream of trade. Wool, silver, felts, tea, candy, skins, velvets, silk, gold, carpets, musk, coral, borax, jade cups, salt came down from the north. Cotton goods, shawls, brocades, opium, indigo, plumes, shoes, pearls, ginger, cloves, pepper, honey, tobacco, suger cane, barley rice, wheat, corn came up from the south.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ https://www.meteoblue.com/en/weather/forecast/modelclimate/khardūng-la_india_1266938