The road to Umba La is for drivers with strong nerves only

Umba La, also known as Umbala Top, is a high mountain pass standing at an elevation of 4.496m (14,750ft) above sea level. It is situated in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, nestled within the Suru Valley near the Line of Control (LoC), which delineates the Indian- and Pakistani-controlled territories of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Umba La

When was the road through Umba La constructed?

Several years ago, the pathway across Umba La served as a trekking trail for both local shepherds and adventure enthusiasts. Beginning from Dras, the trek would traverse Manman Top and Umba La passes before reaching Sankoo. However, following the events of the Kargil War in 1999, which led to shelling along sections of the main highway, a road was built through the pass. This road, intended as a shortcut between the two towns, significantly reduced the distance to approximately 65 kilometers and substantially shortened travel time.

How long is the road through Umba La?

The road to the summit spans about 60km (37 miles), stretching from Dras to Sankoo. It is predominantly unpaved, featuring not one but two passes along the route. The first is Manman Top, when approaching from Dras, followed by Umba La. Due to its elevation, the road is typically open for approximately five months annually, from June to October. It navigates narrow sections with perilous drop-offs, numerous twists and turns, and steep inclines.

Is the road through Umba La remote?

The road winds through uninhabited regions, lacking rest stops or other amenities compared to the original road. Currently, the route is primarily frequented by biking and trekking groups, with minimal general traffic usage.