Mountain Passes in India

India's most prized possession, the Himalayas and its rocky terrains, have become home to an uncountable number of Mountain Passes in India. There is a mix of all kinds - easy and dangerous, accessible and restricted, low and high, for trekkers and mountaineers. A lot of these mountain passes pose as significant routes connecting one place or the other. Some of them are located on the boundaries of India's neighbouring nations and are, therefore, heavily disputed lands with high military security. What all of these have in common is a pleasant ride, picturesque views, fresh breeze, and time well spent.

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Here is the list of 41 Mountain Passes in India

1. Auden's Col, Gangotri

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Auden's Col is one of the high altitude mountain passes in the Garhwal Himalayas, which connects the Rudragaira valley and Bhilangana valley and forms a bridge between north west ridge of Gangotri III and the ridge coming from Jogin I on the east.  Auden's Col is a mountain pass which connects Jogin I (6465m) and Gangotri III (6580m) peaks and is reportedly situated at a height of around 5400m.

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2. Rohtang Pass, Manali

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When planning a trip to Manali, a day off to the vista point of Rohtang Pass is the ultimate and almost essential attraction of the itinerary. Located at a distance of just 51 kilometres from the main town, Rohtang Pass can be reached only by road. The pass is located at a massive height of 3978 metres, the way up the hills is a treat to the eyes.

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3. Baralacha La, Spiti

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The Baralacha La, also known as the Baralacha Pass, is a high mountain pass that is located at the height of 16,040 feet above the sea level and is situated in the Zanskar range. This 8 kilometres long pass connects the Lahaul district in Himachal Pradesh to Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir and is located along the Leh-Manali highway.

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4. Chanshal Pass, Shimla

Also known by the name of Chanshal Valley, the Chanshal Pass is a refreshingly beautiful destination located in Himachal Pradesh, precisely 160 kilometres in distance from Shimla. Whether you work a tiring desk job or simply want to get away from the pollution and chaos of a metropolitan city, this gorgeous mountain valley is the perfect spot for your weekend getaway -- even if you are a traveller on a budget.

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5. Goecha La, West-sikkim

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Goecha La is a high mountain pass located at a height of 4,940 m and acts as the base camp for the southeast face of Kanchenjunga. This place can only be accessed by trekking from Yuksom and it roughly takes 7-8 days for a person to reach Goecha La and come back to Yuksom.

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6. Haldi Ghati, Rajsamand

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Located at a distance of 40 km from Udaipur city, Haldighati is a mountain pass in the Aravalli range joining two districts _ã_ Rajsamand and Pali of rajasthan. Due to the tumeric colour of the mountains, these are called Haldi-Ghati. These narrow mountain plays very important role in defending the honour of Mewar dynasty.

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7. Indrahar Pass Trek, Kangra

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The trek to Indrahar Pass is a fairly easy one, being the most picturesque trail starting from Mcleodganj, covering Lahesh and Triund Caves, and lasts about 14 km single way. You can easily spot the Pit Panjal range and other smaller ranges on either sides. The scenic beauty of this trek is so spellbinding, even the simplest conifers and mountain ranges appear majestic.

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8. Jalori Pass, Tirthan-valley

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Almost 80 km. from Kullu, Jalori Pass is a stunning place for trekking and picnic at an altitude of 3120 m above the sea level. Pack your bag, lunch and gear up your shoes to enjoy the stunning view of the great Himalayas with Dhauladhar stretched in a line peaking from far behind.

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9. Khardung La, Ladakh

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Khardung La, also known as Khardzong La, is a high mountain pass in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, near Leh. It has been wrongly claimed as the highest motorable road in the world in Guinness World Record at an elevation of 5602 metres. However, according to various researches, the actual elevation is 5359 metres.

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10. Kunzum Pass, Kaza

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An entryway to Spiti Valley from Lahaul, Kunzum Pass is situated at an altitude of 4551m. A temple on the top of the pass dedicated to Goddess Kunjum (Durga) is said to guard the pass and ward off the evil.

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11. Nathu La Pass, Gangtok

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Nathu La, one of the highest motorable roads in the world, is a mountain pass in the Himalayan peaks that co-joins Sikkim and China. Situated on the Indo-Tibetan border 14450 ft. above sea level, Nathu La is one of the most important Himalayan passes in the country. Nathu means 'listening ears', and La means 'pass'.

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12. Sela Pass, Tawang

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One of the most breathtaking places in the Himalayan vista, Sela Pass is a lifeline for the people of Arunachal Pradesh, and it is as heavenly as it gets. The Sela Pass and Himalayas combine to enchant one and all by their mystic beauty. One of the most stunning gifts of nature to the North-East, Sela Pass is a lifeline for the people of Arunachal Pradesh as it is the only way that connects Tawang district of the state to the rest of the country.

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13. Zoji-La Pass, Sonamarg

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What runs through the Kashmir valley and Ladakh bringing them and their own corners closer, is a high mountain pass, Zoji-La Pass at an altitude of 3528 m above the sea level. Given the altitude, and the places it travels to, the pass is known for its extraordinarily beautiful views and landscapes.

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14. Banihal Pass, Kashmir

A significant mountain pass that connects the rest of India to the Kashmir valley, Bannihal Pass is located at the height of 2832 m across the Pir Panjal Range. The pass is only functional during the summer season while in winters, it is extremely risky due to heavy snowfalls and landslides.

15. Dehra Compass, Aksai Chin

This mountain pass is located on the controversial territory - Aksai Chin which is under Chinese control from 1961 after the Chinese occupation but is still claimed to be a part of India. Dehra Compass, also known as Dehra Kompas, is also named after a survivor - Kompas-Walla. It is located at the height of 5450 m from sea level.

16. Debsa Pass

Debsa Pass, located between Spiti Valley and Parvati Valley, is a mountain pass in the Himalayan region at the height of 5360 m. It was discovered during 1993 by Joydeep Sircar but only in 1995 was it crossed and completed. The Pass isn’t much famous, but it crossed Debsa River and Parvati River on either side and is shorter than Pin - Parvati Pass.

17. Diphu Pass

A mountain pass located at the triple point junction of the three countries - India, Myanmar and China, Diphu Pass has an elevation of 4587 m. It is a strategic route for Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and south Tibet. The pass is a highly disputed territory as China and Myanmar demarcate it as their boundary while India marks the watershed 5 miles north to the pass as its boundary.

18. Dongkha La, Sikkim

One of the highest mountain passes in the country, Dongkha La, also known as Donkia Pass, is located at the height of 5534 m. It connects Sikkim in India to Tibet in China such that one can get a beautiful view of the Tibetan Plateau from this pass. The pass is prone to strong winds and rapid changes in the atmosphere due to its elevation. The Indian Army currently occupies it and getting permits for civilians can be difficult.

19. Fotu La, Leh

The highest mountain pass on the Srinagar-Leh highway, Fotu La, at the height of 4108 m, boasts of tall brown mountains in its surroundings as it is located in the Himalayan Zaskar Range. It is famous for surpassing Zoji La. The mountain pass is picturesque, and one can find a Parasar Bharthi television relay station when descending towards Lamayuru.

20. Jelep La, Sikkim

Jelep La, which means “lovely level pass” stands at the height of 4267 m and connects Sikkim and Tibet through a route to Lhasa. The mountain pass, rich with history, provides a scenic view of rhododendrons and hamlets. Menmecho Lake passes below Jelep Pa. In India, it is connected through two routes - one in Gangtok, another in Kalimpong.

21. Kongka Pass, Chang-Chemno

Kongka La Pass is a highly restricted region in the Chang-Chemno Region. Its elevation is around 5171 m, and it falls in the Line of Action Control between India and China. It stands as a disputed area such as that heavy patroling from both nations make it difficult for civilians to get a permit. The pass has also been connected with many UFO theories.

22. Lanak La

A significant mountain pass, Lanak La Pass is considered as the boundary point of India in concern with China. China considers Kongka La Pass as its boundary. This has resulted in this region as heavily disputed and patroled and theorised upon by both the governments.

23. Lipulekh Pass

At an elevation of 5200 m, Lipulekh Pass serves as a trading post between India and China, Border Personnel Meeting point between India and China and stands at the border of Uttarakhand in India and Tibet in China. It is also under use by the Mansarovar pilgrims as the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra covers this pass during the journey.

24. Lamkhaga Pass, Kinnaur

One of the most isolated and toughest treks, Lamkhaga Pass, connects Kinnaur district in Himachal Pradesh to Harshil in Uttarakhand. At the height of 5282 m, one finds dense forests of deodar, pine and bhojpatra along with meadows of Kayarkoti while crossing the pass. It is an impressive trail, and the first person to ever complete this stretch was named Marco Alexander Pallis, a Greek-British author and mountaineer, in the year 1933.

25. Marsimik La, Kashmir

One of the highest motorable passes in Kashmir, Marsimik La is located at an elevation of 5582 m and a distance of 42 kms from Pangong Lake. One needs to be an experienced driver to cover this pass on a car because it is a wild ride full of sharp turns, and even the roads are not in terrible conditions.

26. Mana Pass, Uttarakhand

One of the highest vehicle-accessible passes in the world, Mana pass is an ancient route that connects Uttarakhand and Tibet. It is located at the height of 5632 m and is also referred to as the Dungri La, Cirbitya La. It derives its name from the ancient Mana town, covers the road National Highway 7 through its route, and is the only point to reach the Chaukhamba peak.

27. Namika La, Leh

Namika La is a significant pass because it is one of the only high mountain passes in Leh and Kargil, it is the last pass before entering Kargil territory, it is also known as the Pillar of the Sky Pass located in the Himalayan Zanskar Range. It is situated at an elevation of 3700 m and helps to cross the Malbek valley.

28. Nama Pass, Uttarakhand

Once a busy trade route to Tibet, Nama Pass is located at the height of 5200 m in the easternmost parts of the Kamman region in the state Uttarakhand. It is a scenic pass in the Himalayan Range. It is rarely used for transport or any trade business.

29. Palakkad Gap, Kerala

A significant pass in the Western Ghats, the Palakkad Gap, also called Palghat Gap, serves as one of the only trade routes, transport channels, and VHF line of sight communications between Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu and Palakkad in Kerala. It is a significant wind-energy producing region as its a low range mountain pass which ultimately affects weather in Tamil Nadu.

30. Thamarassery Churam, Wayanad

Located with the help of a tribal chief of Paniya tribe, Thamarassery Churam is a mountain pass in the Western Ghats that connects Kozhikode and Wayanad districts since its search for a lesser distance between the two regions. It now serves as a significant tourist attraction for its flora, fauna, landscape and wildlife. It is fun to drive along the pass with nine hairpin bends.

31. Pensi La, Ladakh

The pass that is a doorway to Zanskar Valley and connects it to Suru Valley, the Pensi La Pass is situated at an elevation of 4400 m in Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir. One can also plan to visit the Rungdum Monastery which is at a distance of 25 kms from the Pensi La pass.

32. Rezang La, Chushul Valley

A brave history covers the Rezang La as the Veer Ahirs of the Indian Army won the battle of 1962 at this mountain pass without which much would have been given over to China. A UNESCO mention in most of the stories, Rezang La, is situated at the height of 4876 m in the Chushul Valley of Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir.

33. Sasser Pass, Nubra Valley

Located 37 kms from the Siachen Glacier, Sasser La Pass is a high mountain pass in the Nubra Valley at the height of 5411 m. It was deemed “notorious” by many passers due to its tricky terrains and dangerous turns. It is on the ancient summer route across Leh which then leads to the Karakoram Pass.

34. Shipki La Pass, Kinnaur

The Shipki La Pass is at an elevation of 3930 m in the district of Kinnaur, Uttar Pradesh. It is one of the more accessible passes than the Karakoram or the Sasser La, so it connects small local trades between India and Tibet. It is difficult to derive permits for this pass as its restricted only to residents of the nearby town Khab.

35. Shingo La

Shingo La is a significant mountain pass for trekkers and motorists as it is a pleasant drive across this mountain pass at the height of 5091 m. Recent road construction and minimal snow levels make it a must-visit for many mountain lovers. It is located at the border between Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh with a shallow lake 20 m from the pass.

36. Spanggur Gap

It is located in the Line of Actual Control between India and China. In the south of this mountain pass flows the Pangong river and in the east, Spanggur lake. It is from this pass, in the 1962 war, Indian soldiers were sent to the Chushul Valley to maintain the stronghold at Rezang La. The elevation of the pass is at around 4308 m.

37. Gyong La, Saltaro Bridge

High military vigilance is maintained at Gylong La Pass as it falls under a lot of geopolitical issues between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir conflict. The pass is located at an elevation of 5686 m. It has been the focal point of many military actions in the year 1984, 1989 and 1999. It is only from the year 1999 that it was retrieved from Pakistan and became a part of Indian territory.

38. Bilafond La, Saltaro Bridge

The Bilafond La shares the same military history as the Gylong La Pass. It still maintains high Indian Army fortifications as it falls under disputed territory. It is located on the Saltaro Bridge, west to the Siachen Glacier. It is at an elevation of 5450 m and getting a permit for this pass could be very difficult.

39. Sin La, Kaumaan

Covered entirely with snow all year round, the Sin La is a must-visit pass as one can view the Adi Kailash peak from this pass on a bright summer morning. The Pass is a bit difficult for trekking because of its steep edges and rocky terrain. It is located in the easter Kaumaan region with an elevation of about 5495 m.

40. Taglang La, Leh

Situated on the Leh-Manali highway, Taglang La is the 12th highest motorable pass of the world. It is located in Leh at the height of 5328 m. The pass makes for a pleasant ride, and one can view occasional streams passing through it during the ride or while trekking.

41. Traill's Pass, Uttarakhand

One of the most famous trekking points along the Himalayan mountains, Traill’s Pass, became famous because of many bungalows that were built to house trekkers and mountaineers for rest and food. It is at an elevation of 5312 m in Uttarakhand and leads to the Pindar Glacier which has been extremely difficult to cross. Until now, only 18 teams have been able to successfully cross the Pass since 1830while 90 teams have tried.

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Visit any of these mountain passes to enjoy the view of the endless plains and the scenic mountains from the top. The list is never-ending, make the wisest choices when picking some for your journey.

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