The Chang La (also known as Changla) is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 5.360m (17,590ft) above the sea level, located in Ladakh, in northern India’s Jammu and Kashmir state. It’s one of the highest mountain roads of the country. Altitude sickness is a common phenomenon here, so you are suggested not to stay there for more than 20 minutes.
The Changla Pass is the main gateway for the Changthang Plateau situated in the Himalayas. The pass is located on the 134 km-long (83 mi) road between the Pangong Lake and Leh. Road closures can be frequent, so check conditions before traveling to this area. It is falsely claimed that the pass is named after the supposed sadhu Changla Baba, a myth propagated by the dedication of a temple at the pass to the supposed Changla Baba. The road to the summit is mostly paved, with some gravel sections. It is driveable by all kinds of vehicles. The pass, guarded and maintained by the Indian Army (due its proximity to Chinese border), is covered with snow throughout the year. The best season to drive the pass is summer. The pass remains open for tourists from mid May to October, but the most pleasant months are May and June.
There are certain precautions necessary while visiting this place due the cold and chill climate and less of oxygen due to the altitude. 15 -20 minutes would be the ideal time one can spend on the Changla pass and enjoy the snow along with the views of the snowcapped mountains as many visitors experience breathlessness. Fully warm clothing with ears covered and appropriate footwear is a must and it is best to have warm water frequently to bear the extreme cold climate. It is best to carry a medical kit containing medicines for altitude sickness, headaches, nausea etc. as a precautionary measure. Some of the places to see around Chang La pass are the Pangong lake, Nubra valley, Tso Moriri lake and Hermis Gompa. Though the Changla Pass has extreme cold and chilly winds that can blow you away, the breathtaking views from this region leave any visitor speechless and will be a memorable adventure trip.
Pic: Cyril Poirier