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Mountain Passes on the Manali-Leh Highway

It is the mountain passes on the Manali-Leh road that makes the journey adventurous and exciting. The Manali-Leh Highway has some of the highest mountain passes in the world. Here are five mountain passes that you need to cross on your journey to Leh from Manali.
Rohtang Pass
The first mountain pass you cross on the Manali-Leh Road is Rohtang La or Rohtang Pass. Rohtang means pile of corpses and the pass got its name because a large number of people used to lose their lives while crossing the pass, especially during bad weather. It is located at an altitude of 3,978 meters (13,051 ft); 50 km from Manali. This is the pass where you will have to brave the heavy traffic as the area around here is prone to landslides and at times heavy vehicles get stuck blocking the road.

Bara-lacha Pass
As you move further, Bara-lacha La welcomes you at 4,892 meters (16,050 ft); 7 km from Sarchu. It is perhaps the longest pass (8 km) on the Manali-Leh highway. It is among the very few passes on the Manali-Leh route where many roads meet. This pass connects Lahaul and Spiti districts of Himachal Pradesh with Leh Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir. In fact, it is where the routes from Ladakh, Zanskar and Lahul meet. When crossing the Bara-lacha La don’t miss to look down the Chandra and Bhaga rivers that flow parallel to the pass.

Naki La
Naki La is the third pass on the route to Leh from Manali. A word of caution, one should not spend too much time on mountain passes especially at such dizzying heights. Nakila Pass is at an altitude of 4740 meters. The next pass on the Manali-Leh Highway, Lachung La is 13 km from Nakila Pass.

Lachung La
Lachung La or Lachung Pass is 54 km from Sarchu. It stands at an altitude of 5,059 meters (16,600ft). Lachung La is the second highest mountain pass that you need to cross on Manali-Leh highway to reach Leh. Pang is 24 km from Lachung La and it is the only place after Sarchu and before Upshi where you can get food and shelter.

Tanglang La
Tanglang La at 5,325 meters (17,582 feet) is the last mountain pass on the Manali-Leh Highway. Once you cross More Plains you’ll be welcomed by Tanglang La.
Upshi is the major town after Tanglang La.

The two most difficult passes on the Manali-Leh Highway are Rohtang Pass and Bara-lacha Pass. It is advisable to cross these two passes in day light. One should not spend too much time on the high mountain passes as it may lead to nausea, dizziness and headache.

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