Jan 9, 2024
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Umling La, the World’s Highest Motorable Road

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Umling La (Umlung La Pass) is a mountain pass in Ladakh, India, on the ridgeline between Koyul Lungpa and the Indus River near Demchok. At an elevation of 5,882 meters (19,300 ft) this road is the world’s highest paved and motorable road. It forms the source for the Umlung stream that drains into the Indus and a tributary of the Kiungdul river that drains into Koyul Lungpa. Umling La is higher than the base camp of Mount Everest  and is about 300 km away from the capital Leh. The Umling La pass is traversed by a road between Chisumle and Demchok.

LocationLadakh, India
Elevation5,882 meters (19,300 feet)
RangeHimalaya, Ladakh Range
CategoryWorld's highest motorable road
VillagesChisumle and Demchok

Driving Umling La

Umling La it’s a challenging road to drive, as the altitude is very high and the air is thin. However, the views from the pass are stunning and it is a popular tourist destination.

  • Start your journey early in the day, as the weather can change quickly in the mountains.
  • Be prepared for extreme weather conditions, including high winds, snow, and ice.
  • Carry plenty of warm clothing, food, and water.
  • Let someone know your travel plans and expected return date.
  • You should only attempt to cross the pass if you are an experienced driver and are in good physical condition.
  • Depending on snow, the road is usually impassable from late October through late June.
  • The altitude of the pass is 5,882 meters (19,300 feet), which is too high for most cars to operate safely.
  • The weather at the pass is often extreme, with temperatures as low as -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit) and winds gusting up to 100 kilometers per hour (62 miles per hour).
  • The road is narrow and winding, and there are many hairpin turns.

Where is the World’s Highest Motorable Road?

History & Construction

The road was constructed by the Border Roads Organisation of India and was completed in 2017. Building a road at such an altitude was no easy feat. The greatest challenge was the extreme weather. In winter, the temperature in this part of Ladakh drops to -40 degrees Celsius. The oxygen level here is approximately 50 percent lower compared to normal places.

For the construction of the road, the BRO had to give special training to the workers to acclimate to this altitude. The workers also regularly had to go to lower altitudes to recover. With road communication now established with several crucial cities in the Chumar sector of East Ladakh, including Leh and other locations, the government anticipates a positive impact on the socio-economic conditions of the entire area.

Here are some of the things to see and do at Umling La

  • Admire the stunning views of the Himalayas
  • Hike to the top of the pass
  • Visit the nearby village of Demchok
  • Enjoy the clear air and blue skies
  • Take photos of the unique landscape

Umling La is a truly remarkable place and a must-visit for anyone interested in challenging roads, stunning views, and unique landscapes.


The requirement for securing special permits to reach Umling La Pass varies depending on the route chosen. For those venturing through Fukche-Koyul-Demchok-Umling La, special permits signed by the Leh District Magistrate are mandatory. If traveling via the Hanle-Photi La-Umling La route, the ordinary permit obtained from Leh is adequate. A standard permit suffices for those traversing the Hanle-Ukdungle-Umling La Pass.

Lamborghini Urus at the Umling La

The Lamborghini Urus was tested at Umling La on October 8 and 9, 2022. The test was a major milestone for the Urus, as it became the first SUV to reach the top of the pass. The Urus was driven by professional driver Gaurav Gill, who had to face extreme weather conditions, with temperatures as low as -20 degrees Celsius and winds gusting up to 100 kilometers per hour. The test was a success for Lamborghini, as it demonstrated that the Urus is an SUV capable of handling even the most extreme conditions.

Here are some details of the test:

  • The Urus used in the test was equipped with a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine that produces 641 horsepower and 626 pound-feet of torque.
  • The test was conducted over two days, covering a total of 160 kilometers.
  • The Urus reached a top speed of 120 kilometers per hour at the top of the pass.
  • The test was a major achievement for the Urus, and it is a testament to the SUV’s capability and performance

Versión en español: Umling La Pass, la carretera más alta del mundo

Archived in:
Asia · India · Ladakh

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