Driving the challenging road to Se La Pass in the Himalayas

Se La is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 4,198m (13,772ft) above sea level, straddling the boundary between Tawang and West Kameng districts of Arunachal Pradesh, in India. It is one of the top tourist destinations in the area.

Sela La

Why is it called Se La Pass?

Named after a tribal woman, Sela, who supported an Indian Army soldier during the Sino-Indian war of 1962, the pass holds historical significance in addition to its natural beauty.

Is the road to Se La Pass paved?

The road to Sela Pass is called National Highway 13 (NH13). It’s the main route connecting Tawang with the rest of India. While the road is primarily paved, certain sections are gravel due to extreme weather conditions. This curvy and winding route provides stunning Himalayan views, but drivers should remain vigilant due to the challenging road conditions.

How long is the road to Se La Pass?

The pass is 100 km (62.13 miles) long, running from Jang to Dirang. The drive offers great views of snow-covered mountains. The thin air at this altitude can make travelers feel fatigued quickly.

Is the road through Se La Pass open year round?

The Sela Pass remains open for most of the year. However, heavy snowfall during winters or landslides can cause temporary closures.

How long does it take to drive through Se La Pass?

Completing the drive without stops typically takes between 3 to 4 hours. However, travelers are advised to make stops, such as at Sela Lake, before reaching Tawang. The picturesque Sela Lake, also known as Paradise Lake, is located near the summit and listed among 101 sacred lakes in the region, revered in Tibetan Buddhism.

The Future of Sela Pass Access

The Sela Pass tunnel, a new bi-lane road tunnel under construction, aims to provide year-round connectivity between Guwahati in Assam and Tawang. Expected to be finished by 2023, this Border Roads Organization (BRO) project will include two tunnels passing through two ridges west of Sela, along with supporting access roads.
Pic: Indranil Kundu