Apart from majestic mountains, lush greenery, emerald beaches, diverse wildlife, incredible landscapes, spectacular temples, and rich culture, India is also blessed with some highest motorable mountain passes in the world. A motorable mountain pass is a pass that can be driven by a vehicle having a high ground clearance or a motorcycle. From Ladakh to Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh to Uttarakhand, most of the motorable mountain passes are found in the Himalayan region, and are one of the top places to visit in India, especially for adventure enthusiasts. Tough and harsh yet glorious and fascinating, these passes are constructed and taken care of by the Borders Road Organization, a part of the Indian Army. Mountaineers and adventure enthusiasts from all over the globe aspire to scale the lengths of these mountain passes to experience the maximum beauty of the mountain ranges as part of India Tour Packages. Here goes that list of some of the motorable mountain passes in India.
Marsimik La (5679.6 m)
Lies at an altitude of 5679.6 m in the Chang Chenmo Range of Eastern Ladakh, Marsimik La is one of the highest motorable roads in India, and among the best places to visit in Jammu & Kashmir. Also called Lankar La, the pass connects the villages of Chushul and Hanle in the eastern part of the Ladakh region, and it also has great strategic importance due to its proximity to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China. The pass offers stunning views of the surrounding Himalayan range, including the peaks of K2, Nanga Parbat, and Gasherbrum. The road to Marsimik La is a challenging one, with steep inclines, sharp turns, and narrow stretches that require skilled driving hence it is not recommended for inexperienced drivers or those who are prone to altitude sickness. Known for its rugged terrain and extreme weather conditions, the pass is only open from June to October, when the snow has melted enough to make the road passable and is closed during the winter as the region experiences heavy snowfall and sub-zero temperatures.
Dungri La or Mana Pass (5608 m)
Popularly known as Mana Pass, the Dungri La is a high-altitude motorable passthe located at the Indo-Tibet border in the state of Uttarakhand. This pass connects India with Tibet through Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve of the Zanskar mountain range. Placed at an altitude of 5608 m, it is the second highest motorable road in the world, and the highest motorable road in India. Earlier, this pass was used as a trade route between Uttarakhand and Tibet. As per an agreement between China and India dating back to 1954, this pass is officially used by the pilgrims and indigenous travelers who travel between India and Tibet. It is accessible through Badrinath, among the best places for pilgrimage in India. Civilians need special permits from the Army and District Magistrate’s office to drive through this road. However, Civilians are allowed to drive till the Mana Village during summer and monsoon season as part of Uttarakhand tour packages.
Khardung La (5359 m)
Situated at an elevation of 5,359 m, Khardung La is one of the highest mountains passes in the world situated in the Leh district of the Indian union territory of Ladakh. It is one of the most popular places to visit in Ladakh, and one of the major passes of India. Popularly known as the gateway to the Shyok and Nubra valleys, the road was constructed in 1976 and was opened to public in 1988. Maintained by the Border Roads Organization, the pass is strategically important to India as it is used to carry supplies to the Siachen Glacier. It is not for fainthearted as one will have to navigate through several twists and turns and rugged terrains amidst snow-clad Himalayas. The pass offers some fine panoramic views of the snow-clad Himalayan Peaks.
Chang La (5320 m)
Lies at an altitude of almost 5,320 m, Chang La Pass is another high mountain pass in India and is one of the most frequented mountain passes in Leh. Situated on the famous Leh-Manali highway, it is a gateway to the Changthang Plateau, and the majestic Pangong Tso lake. The place is named after the famous saint called Chang La Baba. Known for its breathtaking beauty & gorgeous views, the pass is 15 km long and is maintained by the Indian Army. Besides, Chang La is home to the world’s highest research station, established by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) at a height of 17,500 ft. The barren landscape, snowcapped peaks, and picturesque valleys add to the adventure of Ladakh tourism.
Kunzum Pass (4551 m)
Located at an altitude of 4,551m, Kunzum Pass is one of the highest motorable mountain passes of India. Also known as Kuzum La, this pass serves as a gateway to the stunning Spiti Valley via Lahaul and Kullu. Once you are at the pass, you can get a panoramic 360-degree view of the second-longest glacier in the world, Bara-Shigri Glacier, a splendid view of the Spiti Valley, and a picturesque vista of Chandrabhaga Range. It is also a photographer’s paradise due to its enchanting views of the surrounding area. Also, a 15 km long trek to the famous Chandratal Lake (Moon Lake) originates from Kunzum Pass. Besides, the Kunzum Pass is home to the Kunjum Devi Temple that is visited by all the travelers and take blessings of Goddess Durga to travel safely through the rugged terrain. It is among the top motorable mountain passes in the Indian Himalayas, and among the must include places in Manali Tour Packages.
Nathu La Pass (4328 m)
Situated at an altitude of 4328 m, Nathu La Pass is a snow-shrouded mountain pass located in the northeastern state of Sikkim along the Indo-China border. It connects the Indian state of Sikkim with China’s Tibet Autonomous Region and is one of the three open trading border posts between India and China. Nathu La Pass was the place through which the famous Silk Route used to operate until 1962. The pass is one of the five officially agreed Border Personnel Meeting points between the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army of China. Flanked by mountains and pristine blue waters, this sight is indeed ravishing and the landscape is dotted with army settlements. As Nathu La is a protected area, Indians need to take a permit from the Sikkim Tourism Department in Gangtok through registered tour operators. Tourists are allowed to go close to the international border from where one can see Chinese soldiers on the other side as part of Gangtok tour packages.
Sela Pass (4175.8 m)
Positioned at an elevation of 4175.8 m, Sela Pass is a high-altitude motorable mountain pass situated between Tawang and West Kameng districts of Arunachal Pradesh. This is the getaway to Tawang Valley, and the pass carries the National Highway 13, connecting Tawang with the rest of India. Attracts large number of motor bikers, this high-altitude motorable pass is filled with adventurous and exciting memories as it is dotted with blue clear lakes and clouds portraying a dramatic scene over the horizon of the mountains. In addition, there are several hairpin bends that give you a thrilling ride. Sela Pass is open throughout the year unless landslides or snow require the pass to be shut down temporarily. One can also visit the nearby Sela Lake and Jang Waterfall as part of Arunachal Tour Packages.
Sits at an altitude of 19,300 feet, Umlingla is yet another high-altitude motorable mountain pass in the eastern part of Ladakh. Stretching over a distance of around 86 km, this pass is the highest motorable pass in the world that connects two beautiful villages of Chisumle and Demchok in the Chumar sector of Eastern Ladakh. The road was built at a greater elevation than the base camps of Mt. Everest. Constructed by the Border Roads Organization (BRO), Umlingla Pass is opened for civilians in 2017 and is now connected with a black top road to enhance socio-economic conditions and promote Ladakh Tourism. Boasts with some of the most adventurous turns and thrills, Umlingla is a paradise for mountain bikers. Also, Umlingla Pass received the Guinness World Record certificate for being the highest motorable road in the world in 2021. As it is a restricted area, visitors will need an inner line permit from the Indian Army to visit this pass during their Ladakh Trip.
Zojila Pass (3258 m)
Zojila is a high mountain pass located in the Kargil district of Ladakh, India. Situated in Dras, it is one of the world’s most dangerous mountain roads. Placed at an altitude of 3258 m, Zojila Pass is known for its breathtaking beautiful views and landscapes. Connecting Kashmir to Dras and Suru Valley, it serves as the getaway to the majestic Ladakh. Zojila Pass attracts many adventure seekers as well as bike riders for a thrilling and unforgettable experience. Tourists do not need any permit to visit Zojila Pass which is opened to tourists only during the late spring. Besides, one can also visit Zero Point located nearby which is covered with snow most of the year that makes this place a home for several adventure activities including sledding and ATV bikes.