Leh, Ladakh: Umling La is now the world’s highest motorable road at an altitude of 19,300 feet recently constructed by the Border Roads Organisation(BRO) in the union territory of Ladakh. The BRO constructed and completed the blacktopping the 52-km long tarmac road through the Umling La pass in Eastern Ladakh making it fit for commercial vehicles to travel. The road at Umling La is at a higher elevation than the Mount Everest base camps, with the South Base Camp in Nepal being 17,598 ft and the North Base Camp in Tibet being 16,900 ft.
With the completion of blacktopping of the road over the Umling La, the strategic road built under ‘Project Himank’ now will help all types of vehicles travel and connect with Chisumle and Demchok villages lying on the other side of the pass. This road now offers an alternate route connecting Chisumle and Demchok from Leh. The local population will benefit from the gradual enhancement of their socio-economic condition. This road built over the Umling La will also promote tourism in the Chumar sector of Eastern Ladakh in days to come.
Project Himank is a project of the BRO being implemented in the Union Territory of Ladakh. This project started in the year 1985. Under this project, BRO is responsible for the construction and maintenance of roads and related infrastructure along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), including a few of the world’s highest motorable roads across the Khardung La, Tanglang La and Chang La passes. Project Himank ensures access to military areas near the border including the world’s highest battleground at the Siachen Glacier and Pangong Tso Lake.
Reaching Umling La
There are three routes available to reach Umling La Pass now. The first route considered as one of the most beautiful and surreal goes through Fukche, Koyul, and Demchok. River Indus flows all along the route enhancing the already colorful landscape. This route offers you the views of the Chinese roads on the other side of the border just a stone’s throw away from this place. Travelers and tourists will require various special permits signed by the District Magistrate of Leh to travel on this route.
The second route is the most preferred route for the people traveling to Umling La Pass. This route takes travelers straight from Leh to Photi La via Hanle which is famous for its observatory. A regular permit obtained from Leh is enough for traveling on this route. Interestingly, civilians are not permitted to descend to Demchok from Umling La Pass as it requires a special permit.
The third route from Hanle to Umling La via Ukdungle takes the travelers through the second water crossing without crisscrossing the first bridge. The travelers need is a normal permit for traveling on this route as of now.
The best time to travel to Umling La is during June or just before October before the closure of the road. Umling La Pass, located at an altitude of 19,300ft, is characterized by extremely thin air making it difficult to breathe normally. Carrying extra supplementary oxygen is always recommended. Everybody is advised to acclimatize first according to the low oxygen level and then embark on the journey to Umling La lying at a distance of 230 km from Leh.
The road through Umling La is close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and will now allow quick movement of troops and defense equipment. The next high pass in India now is the Khardung La Pass near Leh is at an altitude of 17,582 ft connecting Leh with Nubra Valley.
Border Roads Organisation
The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is a road construction executive force in India that provides support to and is a part of the Indian Armed Forces. Formed in the year 1960, BRO develops and maintains road networks in India’s border areas and friendly neighboring countries.
Ladakh became a Union Territory on October 31, 2019, following the passage of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act. Before that, it was part of the Jammu and Kashmir state. Ladakh is the largest and the second least populous union territory of India.
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