Uttarakhand has always remained the heart of adventure activities in India. Considered one of the most popular mountain passes for trekking in India, Uttarakhand has the Borasu Pass, lying at an altitude of 17,880 ft. in the Garhwal region. The pass divides the states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh and used to function as an ancient trade route between the valleys of Har-ki-Dun and Kinnaur. The pass remains a favorite for trekkers who love to take up an expedition here. The Borasu Pass trek starts from the village of Sankri in Uttarakhand and ends at Chitkul, in Himachal Pradesh, covering a span of 7 to 8 days in the scenic vistas of the Himalayas.
The Dhumdharkandi Pass in Uttarakhand comes with an arduous topography and is considered to be one of the more challenging mountain passes to trek in the Himalayan region. This pass connects the Hindu pilgrimage sites of Gangotri to Yamunotri and passes through steep valleys, and snow-capped mountains. Trekking through the pass will take a total of 12 to 14 days to complete. One of the most beautiful mountain passes in India, at a height of 18,012 ft. this pass takes one through the glaciers of Kalanag, Swaragrohini, and Banderpunch. With unpredictable weather and rough terrains, trekking through the Dhumdharkandi Pass is only something experienced trekkers should undertake.
Sitting at an altitude of 18,307 ft. Parang La is best known for connecting the regions of Himachal Pradesh with Ladakh. This beautiful mountain pass, spread over two states, offers a thrilling trek for the experienced ones. Taking a total of 10-12 days to complete the trail, trekking on the pass provides scenic views of the mighty Trans-Himalayan ranges, extensive meadows, local villages, deep gorger, and the beautiful lake of Tso Moriri. The route of Parang La will also takes you through streams and rivers that need to be crossed on the trek. An important mountain pass of India, Parang La acts as a bridge connecting the regions of southeastern Ladakh and Spiti Valley of Himachal.
One of the most popular mountain passes in India, the Karakoram Pass lies at a height of 18,172 ft. and forms a part of the Karakoram Range. Located along the ancient silk route in Ladakh, between the countries of India and China, this pass has always been remarked as one of the most difficult mountain passes of India to travel due to rough weather. The speeding winds and inhospitable conditions that prevail on the pass make it harder for trekking. Despite such weather conditions, the pass is considered easier to travel due to its gradual ascent. Though an important mountain pass for the two countries, the Karakoram Pass is not a motorable pass.
Set at an elevation of 17,753 ft. Sasser Pass is an ancient summer caravan route that starts from Leh in Ladakh to Yarkand in the Tarim Basin in China. The trek across this mountain pass begins from the Nubra valley in Ladakh via Sasoma and takes approximately 14 to 15 days to cover. Among the highest mountain passes in India, the Sasser Pass has rough and steep terrains that make trekking here difficult, but a rewarding experience. Set amidst the Karakoram Range, the Sasser Pass is among the most scenic mountain passes to explore in India. Lying on the golden sands of Ladakh, the Sasser Pass lies at a distance of 37 km southeast of the Siachen Glacier.
Ladakh, an abode of high mountain passes in India, has another beautiful pass called the Phirtse La. Lying at an altitude of 17,880 ft. the pass is a fun escape for adventurers from all over the world and makes for an exciting trekking expedition. The actual trek for the pass begins from the Darcha village in Himachal Pradesh, an ideal place for camping and then continues the expedition through Baralacha La, Phirtse La and Padum valley, surrounded by the mesmerizing landscape of clear skies, rocky terrains, and vast valleys. This scenic mountain pass takes one over the Zanskar region of Ladakh and is a worthwhile trek to take on.
Kalindi Khal Pass
Kalindi Khal Pass, one of India’s highest trekkable mountain passes, is situated at 19,494 feet above sea level in Uttarakhand. The terrain that must be traversed makes hiking via the pass one of the most challenging trekking adventures. Trekking the Kalindi Khal Pass will take you across rugged glaciers, snow-capped peaks, and glacier paths. The trek commences from Gangotri in Uttarakhand, moving through the meadows of Tapovan and Nandanvan and follow Khara Pathar, Sweta Glacier till the camp of Kalindi Bhamak. After passing through Nandanvan, the route becomes difficult due to the sharp bends and ascents along challenging glacier paths.
One of the least explored mountain passes in the region of the Himalayas, perched at an elevation of 18,208 ft. sits the Manirang Pass in Himachal Pradesh. In the state, this mountain pass serves as a bridge between the valleys of Kinnaur and Spiti. A very difficult pass to conquer, the Manirang Pass features several dangerous and steep trails that inexperienced hikers should steer clear of. Along with the rough terrains, the pass also comes with challenging weather conditions and a desert-like region that make trekking a difficult task to accomplish. The trek begins from the Ropa Valley in Kinnaur through a narrow and steep gorge, leading to the Mane village. A less traversed pass, parts of the Manirang Pass can present to be dangerous due to occurrence of landslides in the region.
At an elevation of 18,208 ft. in Himachal Pradesh, Ghunsarng Pass is another mountain pass that offers a thrilling option for trekkers to explore the less ventured paths in Himachal Pradesh. The trek to Ghunsarng Pass follows the same route as of the Manirang Pass but thereafter dips down to Sopona followed by a steep climb to the Ghunsarng Pass. An exciting trait to follow, the mountain pass of Ghunsarng is equally challenging as the Manirang Pass, with each providing a rewarding experience to the trekker.
Sin La Pass
Another ancient trade route between India and Tibet that is perched at an elevation of 18,028 ft. in the Kumaon Himalayan region, Sin La is a paradise for trekkers, and connects the valleys of Darma and Kuti in the state of Uttarakhand. The trek to Sin La is one of moderate to difficult treks in the Kumaon region of the Himalayas and begins from the village of Pithoragarh, continuing through Pangu, with an uphill climb to Sosa, onwards to Narayan Ashram, with a steep descent to Budi, and Gunji which present the traveler with lush, green meadow. The Pass continues to Kuti, Jolinkong eventually reaching the Sin La Pass after a further trek through the scenic vistas of Uttarakhand.
Khardung La Pass
One of the most popular motorable high altitude mountain passes in India, is Ladakh’s Khardung La situated at an elevation of 17,582 ft. A mountain biking expedition through this pass in the Himalayas will lead you to the valleys of Shyok and Nubra, as you get immersed in the panoramic vistas of Ladakh. Covered in snow for most of the year, the roads of Khardung La may get difficult to travel along as the season gets colder with an increase in the snowfall. Due to the frost and snow that covers the pass, biking on the road can turn out to be quite dangerous, so it is always better to be cautious of the weather conditions when you travel to the beautiful mountain pass of Khardung La.
Fun fact: Although it is not the highest motorable mountain pass in the world, it is still believed to be otherwise by a lot of people.
Marsimik La Pass
Marsimik La at 18,313 ft. is one of the highest motorable mountain passes in the Indian Himalayan region of Ladakh, lying northeast to the Khardung La. The pass is an adventurous and challenging route for bikers that love to snake through several jolting, rocky and sandy tracks with steep inclines. Located in the Chang-Chenmo Range, the Marsimik La faces harsh weather conditions that make it harder for the travelers to traverse through. Therefore, it is important that if you plan to travel through the Marsimik La, you acclimatize yourself properly before taking on the journey to the Marsimik La for a safer trekking experience.
Also known as Dungri La, the Mana Pass is perched at an elevation of 18,477 ft. This mountain pass in the Himalayas is located within the periphery of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve and is another high altitude motorable mountain pass of India. As beautiful and majestic as it may be, unfortunately access to civilians is not easily permitted as it is only used by the Indian Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police for carrying supplies to border posts, since this mountain pass finds itself along the Indo-China borders. Even after obtaining permits from the local police, the local army and the district court, getting through this mountain pass remains at the discretion of the army.
Chang La Pass
This mountain pass in the Himalayas is considered to be among the highest motorable mountain passes in the world! The gateway to Pangong Lake, Chang La at an elevation of 17,585 ft. is yet another motorable mountain pass located in Ladakh. During the peak season of tourism, the pass gets busy when tourists flock to the union territory. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and the landscape of Ladakh, Chang La is a true beauty to behold that is sure to mesmerize its visitors. Due to the harsh climatic conditions of the region and its location at such a high altitude, it is not a road for everyone to take. The steep slopes of the mountain pass in addition, can make it harder to travel on, but can also be equally rewarding.
Taglang La Pass
Located at an elevation of 17,480 ft. Tagland La is among the highest motorable mountain passes in the world and lies on the Manali – Leh Highway in the union territory of Ladakh. With such a height, and winding roads, this mountain pass in the Himalayas can turn out to be an exciting challenge for the competent driver. The pass is often claimed to be the second highest motorable mountain pass in the world, but it is simply not true, though Taglang La does remain among the highest motorable mountain passes in the world. Surrounded by snowy mountains and clear streams, this mountain pass is a sight for sore eyes, and creates a landscape that is not easy to forget. One of the most beautiful passes in India, the Taglang La is a place that must be explored for those who are not afraid of heights.
Omasi La Pass
One of the least explored mountain passes in the union territory of Ladakh region is Omasi La or Umasi La, located at an elevation of 17,716 ft. Trekking through the pass is considered to be an extreme expedition due to the challenging terrains and rough weather that accompany. The journey through Omasi La is also strenuous due to it being located along glaciated paths of Ladakh, and therefore requires trekkers to have prior experience of trekking as well as knowledge of ice tools to trek. A trek through the Omasi La takes one through the villages of Ladakh, where the local culture and way of life can be viewed. The trek to Omasi La follows a gentle climb along a glacial river where one can also visit the Zongkul Monastery. Although the journey acquaints you with the barren and beaten landscape, one can still explore the wilderness and sight animals like yaks and horses.
Kanji La Pass
At an elevation of 17,946 ft. Kanji La is yet another less explored mountain pass in Ladakh. The pass connects the remote villages of Kanji with Rangdum and takes one through the offbeat tracks of Ladakh, through various gorges, forests, and rough terrains, amidst the snow-covered Himalayas. Some of the major attractions on the Kanji La trek are the Rangdum Monastery and the spectacular Kanji valley. Along the trail, one also gets to witness numerous rivers, which further add to the beauty of this offbeat mountain pass of Kanji La.
Poat La Pass
The ancient territory of Zanskar has always been a grapevine to travelers attracting countless adventurers from different parts of the world. At an elevation of 18,011 ft. Poat La is one of the least explored mountain passes in the Himalayan region that connects the Trans Himalayan ranges with Zanskar. A trek to the beautiful mountain pass of Poat La starts from Tiyul, a few hours’ drive from Padum and crosses various streams, meadows, and snow laden paths. Some of the major attractions on this trail are Bardan and Mune Monastery.The mountain pass of Poat La sits as a fence between the green Kishtwar and the dry, barren desert of Zanskar. Trekking to Poat La is perfect for those who love a challenging and offbeat destination to try on their next expedition.
Sersang La Pass
If you want to travel through the Trans–Himalayan ranges and maneuver to the Zanskar region, Sersang La, lying at an elevation of 16,732 ft. is one of the exciting mountain passes to take. The trek to Sersang La commences from Atholi, thereafter leading to Sho and Bistaun, following along the River Chenab, later turning to Ganmas from Dharwas. Another route to Sersang La starts from Raoli and passes through Purthi, Sach and Gosti before reaching Dharwas. Nonetheless Sersang La is also accessible by foot from Tiyul via Poat La.
Kang La Pass
Lying at an altitude of 17,408 ft, Kang La is one of the remote places in the Zanskar region, and is only accessible by foot. The trekking expedition to Kang La starts from the Miyar Valley in Lahaul, a paradise of wildflowers and goes through Kang La to reach the Zanskar Valley in Ladakh. Crossing streams and meadows, trekkers will encounter numerous vibrant green lakes formed by huge icebergs encircled by high peaks, snowfields, rocky terrains, and beautiful meadows on this challenging trek on the mountain pass of Kang La, lying between Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh. Some of the major attractions on this trek that you will see are Bardan and Mune Monastery. The other route commences from Urgus, which is drivable from Manali. From Urgus the trek ascends to Khanjar followed by Gumba Nala and Phalpu.
Tar La Pass
Often acts as a col between Lamayuru and Alchi, Tar La at an elevation of 5,250 meters is yet another precipitous mountain pass in the union territory of Ladakh that captures the attention of several trekkers from different corners of the world. The trek through Tar La commences from Lamayuru and heads to Wanla followed by Urshi. The trail from Tar La descends gradually to Tar village from the expedition Mang Gyu and leads off at Alchi via Gera.
Shapodok La Pass
Another least explored trekkable mountain pass in Ladakh is the Shapodok La at an elevation of 18635 ft. The trek to Shapodok La stretches over days and is accessible from Stongde, which is motorable from Padum. The trek from Stongde heads to Stara Doksa and gradually climbs to Stongde La at 15,912 ft. Thereafter, the trail leads to Mola Sumdo followed by Niri and Niri Sumdo from where one can trail back to Padum following the same route, or continue to Yar La at 16,240 ft. if you want to explore a more thrilling expedition passing through some remote places like Lartsa, La Barpa, Tantse Sumdo, Dat, Dango and Oldong, following along the River Khamak Chu. From Yar La, the trail further leads to Zara wherefrom you can either drive to Leh or Manali.
Nygutse La Pass
The bridge between the villages of Wanla and Henaskut, Nygutse La at an elevation of 16,404 ft. is one of the major trekkable mountain passes in the union territory of Ladakh. The route to Nygutse La diverts from Kanji village and heads to Yokma La at 15,419 ft. From Nygutse La the trek can either lead off to Wanla, passing through Hanupata, Sumdo and Phanjila, one can choose to move to Honya via Sirsir La at 15,764 ft. followed by Photoksar, Bumitse La, Sengge La at 16,404 ft, Takti La at 15,124 ft. and Namtse La at 14,534 ft. From Honya the journey leads off at Padum after a drive via Stongde.
Stakspi La Pass
One of the breathtaking trekkable mountain passes in Ladakh that you will come across on the way to Alchi from Lamayuru is the Stakspi La at a height of 16,906 ft. The journey en route Stakspi La follows through the village of Sumdha Do and thereafter, Sumdha Chungun where one can pay a visit to one of the ancient gompas of the Indo-Tibetan living in the area. From Stakspi La the trek gradually follows a downhill trail to Alchi. As you trek along the Stakspi La, you will come across numerous dry and barren gorges, rivers, and the surrounding Himalayan Mountains that will add a beautiful touch to your trekking expedition.
Kyamayuri La Pass
Another least explored trekkable route in the Ladakh region that heads to Tso Moriri is through the mountain pass of Kyamayuri La, located at an elevation of 17,716 ft. The trek to Tso Moriri via Kyamayuri La begins from the remote village of Ryumtse and moves through Kyamar, which was once known as the ‘Salt Road’, due to it being the route for transporting salt in the earlier times. The trek will then include the green and brown, desert landscape of barren terrains that open up into a valley, which will then move to the saltwater lake of Tso Kar, moving further to the village of Nuruchan. As you move along you might come across nomadic settlements and then the beautiful Himalayan mountain pass of Kyayamuri La, after a steep climb in the barren land of Ladakh.
Yalung Nyau La Pass
The trek via Yalung Nyau La from Riyul follows the same track as that of the route via Kyamayuri La to Tso Moriri. Yalung Nyau La is a beautiful mountain pass located in the Indian Himalayas in Ladakh and is situated near Lake Tso Moriri. Yalung Nyau La Pass sits at a height of 17,847 ft. and falls on the way when you trek from Tso Kar to Tso Moriri. From a distance, Yalung Nyau La offers the first look of the captivating Tso Moriri Lake. Tso Moriri Lake shimmers a vibrant blue, from above, surrounded on all sides by soaring mountains blanketed in snow.
Morang La Pass
Morang La, lying at an altitude of 16,847 ft. should definitely be a part of an adventure tour if you are seeking to explore the picturesque Rupshu and Markha valley. Passing through entire trails of barren high landscape, mountain passes, beautiful gorges, green pastures and shepherd villages is bound to leave one enamored in the beauty of the mountain pass. During the journey, one can also have a chance to encounter several wild animals like Marmots, Bharal, Kiang, Snow Leopard and different varieties of birds.
Charang Ghati Pass
One of the important mountain passes in the Garhwal Himalayan region that falls on the Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama is the Charang Ghati, which is at an elevation of 17,198 ft. The trek through Charang Ghati from Kalpa to Chitkul involves a treacherous walk and occupies a picturesque horizon where one can capture some of the prominent peaks in the Kinnaur Kailash range including the Jorkanden Peak at 21,237 ft, Kinnaur Kailash Peak at 21,325 ft, Phawarang Peak at 20830 ft, and Saro Peak at 19,947 ft. Providing a spectrum of its bountiful surrounding, lush green meadows, streams, mountains and cattle farms the pleasing and colorful Sangla Valley remains another attraction on the trail.
At an elevation of 17,611, Tarsalamu Pass in Himachal Pradesh is one of the remote mountain passes in the Indian Himalayan region. This beautiful mountain pass enraptures seasoned trekkers and acts as a bridge connecting Darcha in Lahaul Valley with the Miyar Valley. The trek via Tarsalamu Pass starts from Darcha, moving along the trail that leads to Jankar Sumdo. From Jankar Sumdo the trek climbs up to Tarsalamu Pass, the most difficult part of the route, and follows a steep descent to Khanjar. Followed by Karpat and Chamrat, the trek leads off at Udaipur, where one can drive either to Manali via Keylong or towards the Pangi Valley.
We can say that Debsa Pass at an altitude of 17,588 ft. is one of the least explored mountain passes in the entire Indian Himalayan region, situated between the districts of Kullu and Spiti and connects the valleys of Spiti and Pin-Parvati. The first expedition to reach the Debsa Pass was made in 1992, which did not produce a fruitful result, and so, after several such expeditions, it was in 1995 that a route to reach the Debsa Pass was discovered from Manikaran to Kaja, passing through the remote regions of Kach, Bara Dwari Thach and Parahio Valley.
Pin Parvati Pass
Himachal Pradesh’s Pin Parvati Pass at an elevation of 17,457 ft. is one of the popular high altitude mountain passes in the Himalaya region that often attracts seasoned trekkers during the peak trekking season. The Pin Parvati Pass acts as a bridge between the greenscape of Kullu Valley and the wilderness of Pin Valley, offering a stark contrast to the trekkers. The journey through Pin Parvati Pass starts from Manikaran and passes through Kheerganga, Thaakur Kuan and Mantalai following a descent to Mudh along the Pin River, further followed by Sangam and Gulina.
Sara Umga Pass
Connecting the Kullu Valley with Lahaul and Spiti Valley, Sara Umga Pass at an elevation of 15,400 ft. is yet another unexplored trekkable mountain pass located in Himachal Pradesh. From atop the Sara Umga pass, one can capture the mighty peaks of Deo Tibba at 19,688 ft. and Indrasan at 20,410 ft. The trail leads you from the verdant Parvati Valley to the barren and raw Spiti Valley, passing through high altitude pastures, grasslands, steep valleys, boulders, and rocks. It also allows you to cross over a deep-fissured glacier to the gigantic pass. Only seasoned trekkers seeking a challenge are recommended to take this excursion.
Sia La Pass
Close to the Siachen Glacier and connecting Pakistani-controlled Kondus Glacier, Sia La at 18,336 ft. on the Saltoro Ridge, is one of the most beautiful mountain passes in the Himalayan region. Sia La, along with the nearby passes of Bilafond La, Gyong La and area encircling, has witnessed numerous border conflicts since 1984. The Sia La Pass, which links the Siachen Glacier to the Pakistani-controlled Kondus Glacier and valley to the west, is located close to the China border and is part of the Eastern Karakoram Range.
One of the major mountain passes in the Kumaon Himalayan region, the Lipulekh Pass at an elevation of 16,780 ft. connects the Pithoragarh district in India with the old trading town of Taklakot (Purang) in Tibet. The popular Kailash Mansarovar Yatra passes through this pass and hence is one of the most important mountain passes during the peak season attracting a lot of Hindu pilgrims. The trek through Lipulekh Pass starts from Tawaghat and passes through several small villages like Pangu, Gala, Malpa, Gunji, Kalapani and Navidhang. The Lipulekh Pass in Uttarakhand is located along the Dharchula Valley in the Pithoragarh district of the Kumaon area, where it connects to both Tibet and Nepal’s Vyas Valley.
Auden Col Pass
Connecting the Rudugaira Valley and Bhilangana valley, the Auden’s Col at an elevation of 18,011 ft. is yet another high-altitude mountain pass in the Garhwal Himalayan region that is not easy to undertake a journey on. The trek through Auden’s Col is an ultimate adventure for seasoned trekkers that connects the two most notable Hindu pilgrimages of Gangotri and Kedarnath and fetches a lot of pilgrims. The pass bears the name of John Bicknell Auden, who crossed it in 1939 and made the initial discovery of it in 1935 while working for the Geological Survey of India.
Panpatia Col Pass
A bridge between Badrinath and Kedarnath, two notable Hindu pilgrimage sites on the Char Dham Yatra, Panpatia Col at an altitude of 17,257 ft. is a legendary gateway that fetches several pilgrims from different corners of the country. The major attractions on the route are the Panpatia glacier as well as its surrounding mountain peaks. The trek through Panpatia Col from Badrinath passes through several small villages and temples covered with rocky tracks and deadly moraines making the journey one of the toughest treks in the Garhwal Himalayan region. Trekking through the pass requires one to be physically and mentally fit, and is meant to be undertaken by experienced trekkers due to the rough and dangerous terrain that Panpatia Col offers.
One of the least explored mountain passes in the Garhwal Himalayan region, Kankul Pass at an altitude of 17,158 ft. is the gateway to the Kagbhusandi Tal in Uttarakhand. The journey commences from Joshimath and leads to the village of Bhyunder where the trail further follows to Dang Kharak Glacier Camp after crossing Semartoli Bugyal. Thereafter, a steep climb leads to Kankul Pass which later descends to Vishnu Prayag via the Barmai Pass at 14,806 ft. The trek is an amazing experience as it travels through a variety of landscapes, including glittering glaciers, rushing streams, and a rich, colorful forest of pine and maple.
The Lamkhaga Pass at an elevation of 17,329 ft. is a bridge connecting the Garhwal region with Himachal Pradesh. The trek to the Lamkhaga Pass follows treacherous journeys involving steep climbs, sharp turns and walking over deadly moraines. The trek through Lamkhaga Pass starts from Harsil and follows through Kyarkoti and Sukha Tal before approaching the pass and often encounters several small streams, gorges and lush green valleys. From Lamkhaga Pass the trail heads to Shimla via Dumti, Ranikanda, Chitkul and Sangla. Since the Lamkhaga Pass Trek is so near to the border, it is perhaps one of the hardest treks in the Himalayas and also one of the least popular ones to be undertaken.
Dongkha La Pass
Dongkha La or Donkia Pass standing at an elevation of 17,998 ft. is one of the major mountain passes in the Himalayan region of Sikkim that connects Sikkim in India with Tibet. From atop the mountain pass one can capture the picturesque Tibetan plateau and further trek up to the beautiful lakes of Tso Lhamo and the Gurudongmar. Located within the Himalayan Mountain Range, it provides a view over the Tibetan Plateau. One of the hardest mountain passes to trek across, the excursion to Dongkha La is worthwhile due to the lovely surroundings and amazing vistas. Travel there requires an inner line authorization because of its close proximity to the Indo-Tibetan border.
A scenic mountain pass located on the Pir Panjal Range, the Kugti Pass in Himachal Pradesh at an altitude of 16,568 ft. is the bridge connecting the Bharmour region in Chamba district with Keylong in Lahaul valley. Filled with wilderness and adventure, the trek through Kugti Pass is no doubt a lifetime experience for every trekker. The Kugti Pass Trek offers a unique and remote journey that goes through miles of verdant meadows, pine forests, and acres of apple orchards on the lower routes. On its higher routes, the trail winds past icefalls, glaciers, and snowfields.
The Himalayan region of the country comprises numerous states which offer some of the highest passes in the entire world! These beautiful mountain passes can be either traversed through by foot or vehicles. Surrounded by the scenic ranges of Himalayas, these mountain passes are some of the most preferred places to explore among the youth, who take up expeditions through these passes via mountain biking, or trekking. Journeying through these passes also provide a chance to explore some of the remote places of the country and offer a glimpse into their lives and culture.
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