The routes over or through the mountains are known as Passes. These are the gateway through the mountain range that connects different parts of the country and also connects the neighbouring countries. These are often found just above the river source, constituting a drainage divide. A Pass is formed when the land between the areas of high terrain gets eroded. It may be short, consisting of steep summits or maybe a valley that stretches for Kilometers. In this article, we take a look at important mountain passes in India.
Important Passes in India
The most important mountain passes in India are Bara-Lacha La, Zoji La, Rohtang pass, Mana Pass, Shipki La, Nathu La, Lipulekh, Niti Pass, Banihal Pass, Jelep La, Dihang Pass.
Bara-Lacha Pass, the highest mountain pass in the Zaskar Range, is situated at an altitude of 4843 meters in Himachal Pradesh along the Leh-Manali Highway. It connects the Lahaul district in Himachal Pradesh to the Leh district of Ladakh. Being a high mountain pass, it remains snow-covered in winter.
Zoji La, situated at an altitude of 3850 meters in Jammu and Kashmir, is one of the highest passes in the Zaskar Range. It connects the Srinagar with Kargil and Leh. The Srinagar-Zoji-La road passing through this pass has been declared a National Highway (NH-1D). The responsibility of clearing and maintaining the road is given to the Border Road Organization (BRO). It’s also known as the gateway to Ladakh. Because of heavy snowfall due to high altitude, it remains closed from December to mid-may.
Rohtang Pass, the highest mountain pass in the eastern Pir Panjal Range, is located at an altitude of 3979 meters around 51 Km from Manali. It joins the Kullu, the Lahaul, and the Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh. The roads in this area are constructed and maintained by Border Road Organization. It lies over the watershed between the Chenab and Beas river basin.
Banihal Pass, a popular pass in Jammu and Kashmir, is situated in the Pir-Panjal Range, at an elevation of 2835 meters. It joins the Kashmir valley to the outer Himalayas and the plains of the south. It’s also called Jawahar Tunnel or Banihal tunnel, as the tunnel was constructed under the pass for round-the-year surface transport.
Mana Pass is one of the highest passes with vehicle accessibility in the world. It is situated north of Badrinath, at an elevation of 5611 meters in the Greater Himalayas, within the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve. It connects Uttarakhand state with Tibet. It remains covered with snow for six months during the winter.
Shipki La is located in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh, at an altitude of more than 4300 meters, through Satluj George. It joins Himachal Pradesh with Tibet. The river Satluj enters India through this pass. It’s also the border post for trade with China after Nathu La (in Sikkim) and Lipulekh (in Uttarakhand). It is also known as the “Gateway of Satluj“.
Nathu La is situated on the Indo-China border in the East Sikkim district. It connects Sikkim in India with China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. It also forms part of an offshoot of the ancient Silk route. It is one of three trading border posts between India and China. It also comes under the highest motorable passes in the world. Border Road Organization (BRO) is responsible for road maintenance.
Lipulekh, an important pass of India, is situated in the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand. It lies near the trijunction of India, China, and Nepal. It connects the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand with Tibet. It is India’s important border post for trade with China. The pilgrims to Kailas and Manasarovar Lake travel through this pass.
Niti Pass is situated at an altitude of 5068 meters in the northernmost region of Uttarakhand. It connects Uttarakhand with Tibet. During the winter season, the pass remains snow-covered.
Jelep La is an important mountain pass between India and Tibet situated at an elevation of 4538m and passes through the Chumbi valley. It connects the Sikkim (India) with Lhasa (capital of Tibet Autonomous Region).
Dihang Pass is situated in the North-eastern State of Arunachal Pradesh at an altitude of about 4000 meters. It’s an important pass between India and Myanmar, which connects Arunachal Pradesh (India) with Mandalay (Myanmar).
Mountain Passes in India (State-wise)
In India, mountain passes are mainly found in the Himalayan region of Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, North_eastern States, and the States of Southern India.
Mountain Passes in Jammu and Kashmir
Burzail Pass is located near the Line of Control demarcating India and Pakistan. It’s an ancient pass, which connects the Kashmir valley with the Deosai Plains of Ladakh. From the western slopes of Burzail Pass, the Astor River originates.
Pensi La is located in the Greater Himalayas at an altitude of more than 5000 meters. It connects the Kashmir valley with Kargil in Ladakh.
Pir Panjal Pass
Pir Panjal Pass is the traditional pass connecting Jammu and Srinagar. It provides the easiest and shortest metallic road access from Jammu to Kashmir valley. However, after the partition of the Sub-continent, the route has been closed down.
Mountain Passes in Leh & Ladakh
Aghil Pass is located to the north of the K2 peak in the Karakoram Range (part of Trans-Himalayas), at an altitude of 5000 meters. The pass joins Ladakh with the Xinjing Province of China.
Chang La is a high mountain pass situated in the Greater Himalayas, at an elevation of 5270 meters, connecting Ladakh with Tibet. It has a temple dedicated to Chang-La Baba, from whom the name of the pass has been taken.
The pass joins Ladakh with Tibet, but it has a difficult geographical terrain and steep slopes. Because of geographical difficulties, it remains closed during winter.
Khardung La is the highest motorable pass in the country, situated at an altitude of more than 6000 meters. It connects the Siachin glacier with Leh. The road through this pass remains closed during winter.
Khunjerab Pass is situated in Karakoram Mountains at an altitude of more than five thousand meters. This traditional Pass connects the Ladakh and the Sinkiang Province of China.
Lanak La is situated in the Aksai-Chin in Ladakh at about 5000 meters. The pass connects Ladakh with Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region.
Qara Tagh Pass
Qara Tagh Pass is located in the Karakoram mountains near the Indo-China border. The pass was also an offshoot of the Great Silk road.
Mountain Pass in Himachal Pradesh
Debsa Pass is one of the highest mountain passes in the Greater Himalayas. It is situated between the Kullu and Spiti districts of Himachal Pradesh, providing a shorter and easier alternative route to the traditional Pin-Parbati Pass.
Mountain Pass in Uttarakhand
Mangsha Dhura Pass
Mangsha Dhura Pass is situated in the Pithoragarh district. It joins the Uttarakhand with Tibet. The Pilgrims for the Mansarovar travel through this pass. It is also known for landslides which create a great problem for tourists and pilgrims.
Muling La is located north of the Gangotri in the Greater Himalayas, joining Uttarakhand with Tibet. It also remains covered with snow during the winter season.
Traill’s Pass is situated in the Pithoragarh and Bageshwar districts of Uttarakhand, at the end of Pindari Glacier. It links Pindari valley to Milam valley. This pass is difficult to cross because of the steep and rugged slope.
Mountain Pass in the Northeastern States
Bomdi La is located to the east of Bhutan in the Greater Himalayan region of Arunachal Pradesh. It joins Arunachal Pradesh with Lhasa.
Diphu Pass is situated in the eastern part of Arunachal Pradesh. It lies near the trijunction of India, China, and Myanmar. It connects Arunachal Pradesh with Myanmar, providing easy and short access to Mandalay in Myanmar.
Likhapani joins Arunachal Pradesh with Myanmar. The route remains open throughout the year for trade and transport.
Pangsau pass lies on the crest of Patkai Hills in Arunachal Pradesh, on India and Myanmar border. This pass provides the easiest route into Myanmar from the Assam Plains.
Mountain Pass in Peninsular India
Haldighati Pass is located in the Aravalli Range of Rajasthan, about 40 Km from Udaipur. It links the Rajsamad and Pali districts of Rajasthan. The geographical feature of the pass is its soft yellow soil, which, when crumbled, resembles turmeric (Haldi in Hindi). Another significance of the pass is its location, where the historic Battle of Haldighati took place in 1576. Haldigahti is also world-famous for its charity rose product and Mud art terracotta of Molela.
Bhor Ghat, also known as Khandala Ghat, is situated on the crest of the Western Ghats in Maharashtra. It connects Mumbai with Pune. The pass lies between the Khopoli and Khandala on-road route and between Palasdari and Khandala for railway in Maharashtra. It is one of three ancient ghats developed by Satvahanas for sending their goods to Syria and Egypt, after Palghat and Thal Ghat. It’s also proposed under the Golden Quadrilateral Freight Corridors.
Palghat, also known as Palakkad Gap, is an important mountain pass in the Western Ghats range, connecting Kerala with Tamil Naidu. The gap is the lowest pass through the Western Ghats, which acts as a corridor between the Palakkad district of Kerala and the Coimbatore district of Tamil Naidu. It lies between the Nilgiri Hills to North Annamalai Hills to the south.
Thal Ghat, also known as Kasara Ghat or Thul Ghat, is a series of mountain slopes in the Western Ghats, near the Kasara town in Maharashtra. The Ghat links Mumbai with Nasik. The railway line through Thal Ghat is the steepest in India, with a gradient of 1 in 37.
Shenocattah-Gap is located in the Western Ghats, and connects the Madurai city of Tamil Naidu with the Kottayam city of Kerala. It is the second-largest Gap in Western Ghat, located near the Shencottah town in Tamil Naidu. It is also known as the gateway to southern Tamil Naidu and Kerala.