As a kid who up grew in absence of internet in the early phases, the auto magazines were the only source information for the places to ride.
At one point every other magazine tried reviewing a bike by taking it to the highest motorable road in the world i.e Khardung La in Ladakh. But the funny thing was it was Zoji La pass which was described as the most deadly.
As most of the travellers prefer the route via Manali they miss this fiery pass totally. Some pass through it in on the return via Srinagar, all too dog tired to take notice.
Zoji La Pass- An Accident Prone Pass:
Not that the road is extremely narrow, but also because of the strong winds and unpredictable weather that often affect the region. Driving/Riding on Zoji La will test your skills on any given day and you say your prayers to the rain gods beforehand to spare you on this route.
Having said that conquering this pass will deepen your conviction in yourself and your machine as well.
[Dangerous Roads of Zoji la Pass]
[Traffic Jam at Zoji La Pass]
Location, Availability and Altitude:
Zoji La pass is at a staggering height of 3,528 metres (11,575 ft) is situated around 15 Kms from beautiful hill station of Sonmarg. It is part of 425 Kms long Srinagar-Leh Highway(National Highway 1) separating breathtaking Kashmir valley from cold desert of Ladakh.
It acts as a lifeline for the Ladakh region as it connects Ladakh with rest of world but the route is closed due to heavy snowfall during winters.
[Snow Cutting Machine at Zoji la Pass]
Every year Border Road Organization (BRO) tries to open this pass around 1st week of May. The pass usually closes for traffic during last week of October every year.
The first town after crossing this mighty pass is Drass which has the distinction of being the 2nd coldest inhabited place on earth. And contrary to belief Zoji La is not the highest point on Srinagar-Leh Highway but it comes after Fotu La which is the highest point on this highway.
Things you should keep in mind:
The testers in the magazines of yore sometimes went unsupported and wrote their ordeal in the review as well. Due to bone-chilling temperature and thin air at the high altitude places like Zoji La comes with its share of baggage.
As per the medics, it is not advisable to stay at the top for more than 20-25 mins. The body needs to cover, especially the ears fully with appropriate warm clothes.
[A Majestic View of Zoji La]
Also, warm water needs to consumed frequently to bear the extremely cold climate which can dehydrate the body. Also must is a kit with medicines for nausea, high altitude sickness, headache etc.
“Sometimes the road less travelled is less travelled for a reason”- Jerry Seinfeld.
Places to See around:
- The beautiful hill station of Sonmarg.
- Baltal the 2nd base camp of holy Amarnath Yatra.
- Drass the second coldest inhabited place on earth.
- Kargil War memorial.
- Kargil Town.