Mountain passes we crossed in the Himalayas

In our three months in North India, we spent most of our time in the Kashmir valley, Zanskar valley and the ever so stunning Ladakh.

It was a time when we called the Himalayas our home and the navigating the mountain passes was our daily commute!

This is a photo essay of the high altitude mountain passes that we experienced.

Sinthan Pass

Sinthan Top, Kashmir, India

Perennial snow cover is the main attraction of this pass. On the right of this photo, the zigzags of this road are seen.

Read “South Kashmir circuit: Non “touristy” fit for all travelers”.

Zoji la

A relatively short mountain pass of 13 km that starts right after Baltal, the first and dangerous pass on the Srinagar Leh highway, NH-1 D, the shortest access to Ladakh sees a lot of bikers when it opens up in the summer months.

The Greater Himalayas on one side and the Indus deep down the other, the graveled uneven roads makes this one of the most dangerous Himalayan passes.

Its tough to imagine, that in the not-too-distant past, a ferocious war was fought right here.

Read “Why visit Drass?”

Why visit Drass? Journey to Zanskar

Penzi la

Our truck trudges through Penzi la, the only pass on the only motor-able road that connects Zanskar valley to the rest of India. Read more about Mountain passes we crossed in the Himalayas.

The only pass on the only motor-able road that connects Zanskar valley to the rest of the country.

On a regular day, one wouldn’t cross more than 15 vehicles throughout the stretch of the 250 km gravel road that connects Padum in Zanskar with Kargil.

Read “Travel and backpack through Kargil and Suru valley”

Namika la

The first pass after Kargil on the Srinagar-Leh highway, also a part of NH1-D.

Namika la on Srinagar - Leh highway, Ladakh, India

Fotu la

Fotu la is the last and the highest mountain pass on the Srinagar-Leh highway. The roads are in an excellent condition and it is a pleasure to drive.

The last and the highest pass on the Srinagar-Leh highway. The roads are in an excellent condition and it is a pleasure to drive.

Read “Lamayuru, the moonland of Ladakh”

A small pass on the way to Tso Moriri

We saw many unfinished bridges on our way to Tso Moriri, a high altitude mountain lake in Ladakh. What we also saw, were purple mountains. Yeah, that's right, purple! Read about our visit to Tso Moriri at Mystical magical Tso Moriri lake in Ladakh.

This motor-able pass, mostly gravel, connecting Leh to Tso Moriri – the high altitude mountain lake, doesn’t have any specific name.

What it does have, are purple (yes… purple) mountains!

Tso Moriri: A mystical magical lake in Ladakh Tso Moriri: A mystical magical lake in Ladakh

Read “Tso Moriri: A mystical magical lake in Ladakh”

Tanglang la

Tanglang la, is the first pass of the 470 km long Leh-Manali journey. We crossed the highest point of our entire trip, over 5300m atop the Tanglang la.  Read the story of our journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

Read “The Leh Manali route – an epic journey”
Just as you start to realise the magnanimity of the Leh-Manali, 470 km journey, the Tanglang la starts.

This was the highest point we crossed in our trip, at over 5300 m (17480 ft).

Try spotting the road in the picture!

Lachung la

Lachung la or Lachulung La or Lāchālūng La or Lungalacha La. The second pass of the Leh-Manali route, it is a long meandering pass with its peak at 4891 m.  Read the story of our journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

The second pass of the Leh-Manali route, it is a long meandering pass with its peak at 4891 m.

Mountains the shades of browns you didn’t know and land formations you didn’t think possible are the characteristic of this pass!

Nakee la

By the time we reached Nakee la, our third pass, we had come to terms with our “heart in mouth” condition. Every glimpse of the Indus river flowing below brought with it a green oasis. Read full story of the 470 km Leh Manali journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

The third mountain pass on the Leh-Manali highway is the Nakee la at 4792m.

The Indus and the oasis it creates along its flow faithfully follow you all through.

The Gata Loops

The Gata Loops a series of hairpin bends. It was a roller coaster ride we will never forget. Read full story of the 470 km Leh Manali journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

Yes, the landscape is mind blowing. Yes, the roads look unreal. Yes, the heart is in your mouth all through!

Baralacha la

The Baralacha la was our last pass of the day. We were now one state lower, in Himachal Pradesh. Deep valleys, hairpin bends and steep curves were now “just another day in office”. Read full story of the 470 km Leh Manali journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

The first pass in Himachal Pradesh and your last pass of the day on the Leh-Manali journey.

By now your heart is used to being in the mouth, and hair pin bends steep curves through deep valleys are “just another day at office”!

Rohtang Pass

Rohtang Pass. The crowned prince of the Leh-Manali route. Or a dreaded monster! “If the bus falls off now, at least I have seen the most majestic place on earth.” Yes, this did cross our minds. Read full story of the 470 km Leh Manali journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

So you think you are almost there. Its a new day. Before noon, you’ll be walking along the Beas in Manali.

But before that – there is the Rohtang. A monster of a pass on the Leh-Manali route. A pass no driver will cross in the night, the most talked about stretch in the entire journey.

The journey through the entire Rohtang Pass, is not something you will forget…EVER!

These blogs will help you plan your travels to Ladakh

Tso Moriri, the high altitude mountain lake in Ladakh

Drass, the second coldest inhabited place in the world in Kashmir, India

Lamayuru, the moonland of Ladakh

Leh Manali roadtrip in Ladakh

And Zanskar too…

Journey to Zanskar valley

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Sandeepa and Chetan. Married. Indians. Exploring Travel as Lifestyle. Featured by National Geographic, Yahoo. We hope that through our travel stories we inspire others to make their dream into a reality.

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Comments

8 thoughts on “Mountain passes we crossed in the Himalayas

  1. Mohit

    AweSome pics yaar, please help me in answering some doubts
    I am planning to go to leh Ladakhwith my wife for two weeks from 5september via Srinagar and come back via manali, is it the right time to go for self drive and is there any group which we can join

    We want to drive from keh to manali, is there any self rental conpany

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Hello Mohit, sorry your question got overlooked. We hope you had a great trip to Ladakh. September should be a good month to drive to Ladakh and cover all the mountain passes. We traveled using public transport, so no first hand information regarding self-drive. You will be able to fine very useful information on forums on the sites of Tripadvisor, Indiamike, or our favourite resource for the Himalayas, devilonwheels.