Umling La is the highest paved road on Earth
Umling La is a high mountain pass at 5.882m (19,300ft) above the sea level, located in Jammu and Kashmir, in India. It’s one of the highest motorable roads in the world. The drive features a real risk of AMS (altitude-mountain-sickness) and death due to Pulmonary Edema and Cerebral Edema.
Where is Umling La?
The pass is located on the eastern part of the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, near the Line of Actual Control (LAC), 230km far from Leh, on the ridgeline between Koyul Lungpa and the Indus River.
Is Umling La pass motorable?
The road to the summit, also known as Umlung La, is 52km (32 miles) long, running from Chisumle to Demchok villages. It is navigable by all passenger vehicles. In 2021, the pass received, incorrectly, the Guinness World Record for being the highest vehicle-accessible pass in the world. Check here the list of the highest motorable roads in the world.
When was the road to Umling La built?
This strategic road was constructed in 2017 as a part of Indian Army ‘s drive to provide faster connectivity to the sensitive Demchok zone and assumes great strategic significance in consideration with recent disputes with Chinese military and advances being made by them along Indo-Chinese border. Built under ‘Project Himank’, the road allows quick movement of troops and equipment. In the initial days, when this pass came to public knowledge, a lot of people traveled to it in 2017 and early 2018. The road is managed by the BRO (Border Roads Organization). Infrastructure development in such harsh and tough terrain is extremely challenging with temperatures dipping to -40 degrees during winters and oxygen level is almost 50% less than at normal places. This makes the road at Umling La Pass a remarkable feat of engineering carried out by the Border Roads Organisation.
Can we go to Umling La?
As it is a sensitive area, the visits from tourists may be limited and restricted by the Army and due to its extremely close proximity to Indo-Chinese border, getting permits to access the area sometimes can become a problem. It requires permission from Leh DC office.
Is the road to Umling La paved?
The road was totally paved in 2021. The breathtaking scenery ranks as some of the most inhospitable terrain on the planet. It's one of the highest roads of the country. The area around the pass is just an endless expanse of barren terrain with no trace of civilization. If you do choose this route please check up to date information. It's a windy place and it's one of those places where you can feel hard winds coming from two directions at the same time. At the summit there is a small bar-cafe.
Is the road to Umling La open?
This road is usually impassable from late October through late June or early July (depending on snow).
Is the road to Umling La dangerous for health?
Due its extreme location, even normal breathing is very difficult. Owing to its elevation if you are suffering from respiratory problems or any other kind of heart condition, you should avoid traveling to this pass. AMS (altitude mountain sickness) is quite common, and you should acclimatize yourself properly before deciding to take a trip to the summit. Remember to carry extra supplementary oxygen, to use in case of any emergency.
Pic&video: Autocar India
Road suggested by: Hugh Wilson