4.4 / 5

Zojila Pass
📍 Zojila PassView map ›

🗓 Best Time To Visit:May to October

⏰ Open Hours:Open 24 hours, but travel is recommended during daylight hours

🎯 Things To Do:Trekking, Photography, Snow Gliding, Sightseeing

💰 Budget:N/A

🧳 Traveller Types:Adventure Enthusiasts, Nature Lovers, Photographers

🔍 Known For:Being one of the highest and dangerous mountain passes, offering breathtaking views

📍 Distances:From Srinagar - 82 km, From Leh - 335 km, From Srinagar Airport - 85 km, From Jammu Tawi Railway Station - 371 km

📝 Tips:Carry warm clothes even in summer, check weather forecast before travelling, have a reliable driver

⛰ Altitude:3,528 m (11,575 ft)

❄ Snowfall:Closed during winter due to heavy snowfall

🚗 Road Condition:Roads are challenging and slippery, especially during and post rains

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Zojila Pass: A Gateway to Ladakh’s Wonders

Zojila Pass is one of the most fascinating and challenging places to visit in Ladakh, India. It is a high-altitude mountain pass that connects the Kashmir Valley with the Drass and Suru Valleys, and the Indus Region. It is the second-highest pass on the Srinagar-Leh National Highway, and one of the most difficult and dangerous roads in the world. But it is also a place of stunning beauty, thrilling adventure, and rich history. In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about Zojila Pass, and why you should add it to your bucket list.

Photo of Zojila Pass 1/1 by
(C) Tour My India

Location and Elevation of Zojila Pass

Zojila Pass is located about 108 km from Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir, and 15 km from Sonamarg, a popular hill station. It is situated at an elevation of 11,575 feet (3,528 meters) above sea level, and is the second-highest pass on the Srinagar-Leh National Highway, after Fotu La (13,478 feet or 4,108 meters). Zojila Pass acts as a vital link between the Kashmir Valley and the Drass and Suru Valleys, which are part of the Ladakh region. It also connects the Indus Region, which is the heartland of Ladakh, with the rest of India.

History and Significance of Zojila Pass

Zojila Pass has a long and illustrious history, dating back to ancient times. It was an important trade route between India and Central Asia, and was used by caravans of merchants, pilgrims, and explorers. It was also a strategic location for military campaigns and invasions, as it was the gateway to Ladakh and Tibet.

The most notable event in the history of Zojila Pass was the Indo-Pakistan War of 1947-48, when Pakistan tried to capture Kashmir by invading through the pass. The Indian Army, led by Major General Thimayya, launched a daring and decisive operation, codenamed Operation Bison, to recapture the pass from the Pakistani forces. The operation involved the use of tanks, artillery, and infantry, and was a remarkable feat of engineering and logistics, as the pass was covered with snow and ice, and had narrow and steep roads. The operation was successful, and the Indian Army regained control of the pass, and secured the access to Ladakh. The operation is considered one of the greatest military achievements in the history of India, and a monument to commemorate the victory stands at the pass.

Zojila Pass is also significant for the local people, as it is their lifeline to the outside world. The pass provides them with essential supplies, such as food, fuel, and medicine, and also enables them to travel and trade with other regions. The pass is also a source of income and employment, as many locals work as drivers, guides, porters, and vendors along the road.

Zojila Pass is also a major attraction for tourists, who come to witness the breathtaking views, the thrilling adventure, and the historical legacy of the pass. The pass is a must-visit destination for anyone who wants to experience the true essence of Ladakh.

Attractions and Activities at Zojila Pass

Zojila Pass offers a plethora of attractions and activities for the visitors, who can enjoy the scenic beauty, the adrenaline rush, and the cultural heritage of the pass. Some of the main attractions and activities are:

Views: Zojila Pass offers spectacular views of the valley, mountains, and glaciers, that will leave you spellbound. You can see the lush green meadows of Sonamarg, the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas, the majestic Drass Valley, the frozen Zojila Lake, and the colossal Drang Drung Glacier, which is the largest glacier in Ladakh. The views are especially stunning during sunrise and sunset, when the sky and the landscape are painted with vibrant colors.

Adventure: Zojila Pass is a paradise for adventure seekers, who can indulge in various activities, such as trekking, camping, biking, skiing, and snowboarding. The pass offers some of the most challenging and exciting trails and slopes, that test your skills and endurance. You can also experience the thrill of driving or riding on one of the most dangerous roads in the world, that has sharp curves, steep gradients, and narrow lanes. The road is often blocked by landslides, avalanches, and snowstorms, and requires utmost caution and expertise. The road is also frequented by army convoys, trucks, and buses, that add to the challenge and the fun.

Wildlife: Zojila Pass is home to a variety of wildlife, that can be spotted along the road or in the nearby forests and meadows. You can see animals such as yaks, horses, sheep, goats, marmots, foxes, and wolves, and birds such as eagles, hawks, vultures, and magpies. You may also encounter the rare and elusive snow leopard, which is the apex predator of the region, and the symbol of Ladakh.

Culture: Zojila Pass is also a place of cultural diversity and harmony, as it is inhabited by people of different religions, ethnicities, and languages. You can interact with the locals, who are friendly and hospitable, and learn about their customs, traditions, and lifestyles. You can also visit some of the ancient and sacred sites, such as the Kargil War Memorial, the Zojila War Memorial, the Zero Point, and the Amarnath Cave, which are revered by the Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and Sikhs alike.

Future Prospects of Zojila Pass

Zojila Pass is not only a place of the past and the present, but also of the future. The pass is part of the proposed Zojila Tunnel project, which will be the longest bi-directional tunnel in Asia, and will reduce the travel time from more than 3 hours to just 15 minutes. The project aims to provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar and Leh, and to boost the development and tourism of the region. The project is estimated to cost around Rs. 6,800 crore, and is expected to be completed by 2026. The project will also involve the construction of two smaller tunnels, one at Meenamarg and one at Baltal.

The Zojila Tunnel project will have several benefits, such as:

- It will improve the accessibility and mobility of the people, especially during the winter months, when the pass is closed due to heavy snowfall.

- It will enhance the security and defense of the region, as it will facilitate the movement of troops and supplies, and reduce the vulnerability to enemy attacks.- - It will boost the economy and employment of the region, as it will create new opportunities for trade, commerce, and tourism, and generate jobs for the locals.

- It will preserve the environment and ecology of the region, as it will reduce the carbon emissions, noise pollution, and soil erosion caused by the vehicles on the road.

The Zojila Tunnel project will also pose some challenges, such as:

- It will require a high level of engineering and technical expertise, as it will involve drilling through hard rock, unstable soil, and high water pressure, and coping with extreme weather conditions, such as snow, rain, and wind.

- It will face some social and political opposition, as some people may perceive it as a threat to their identity, culture, and sovereignty, and may demand compensation, rehabilitation, or participation in the project.

- It will impact the existing attractions and activities of the pass, as it will reduce the exposure and visibility of the views, the adventure, and the history of the pass, and may affect the wildlife and the culture of the region.

- The Zojila Tunnel project is a visionary and ambitious project, that will transform the Zojila Pass, and the Ladakh region, in many ways. It will be a game-changer for the people, the economy, and the tourism of the region, and will also be a landmark achievement for the country.


Zojila Pass is a gateway to Ladakh’s wonders, that offers a unique and unforgettable experience for the visitors. It is a place of beauty, adventure, and history, that will captivate your senses and your imagination. It is also a place of diversity, harmony, and development, that will inspire you and your future.

If you are looking for a destination that will challenge you, thrill you, and enlighten you, then Zojila Pass is the place for you.

Zojila Pass Reviews

When we reached the checkpost at the Zojila pass, we got to know that there were 200 vehicles left in the morning and we were just half an hour late. But, they assured us that they would let the rest of the vehicles get through the pass in a while. Since, now we had hired small vehicles to drive through the pass, we all were distributed in 4 cars. We waited for 2 hours until we started a conversation with our driver: Umar Pathan. He was fair, had cat eyes and was cute. All the Kashmiri men are admirable. It looks like God bestowed Kashmirwith all the handsome people. They had these strong personalities along with their good looks. Which girl would not be in an awestruck state? We spoke to him about the Kashmiri language; he taught us some of the words too (Naav ke chi – What is your name?, Asalpoi – Are you fine?). Time passed and we did not move a bit. One of the 4 cars was just 2 cars before the checkpost. Boredom struck and I moved out from the car to meet Arun (a college mate in another car). Arun and me then decided to go to his car which was 5 cars behind ours to meet Pooja (another college mate). During this whole course of time, the Bihari workers, who were also waiting for the pass to open got together and gathered around the checkpost, screaming and protesting to open the pass. Arun, Nadiya, Stalina (college mates) and me were standing near their car, while, we heard sounds of bullets being fired. In my head, “I think their burning crackers.” Arun pushed all of us towards the car; but the car wouldn’t open. After a struggle it opened and we all pushed ourselves through the door. The crowd started running hap- hazardly. The firing did not stop; they (the military guarding the pass)broke car windows too. I was worried about the people in my car; they would wonder where have I gone and wait in search of me. I wanted to go back to my vehicle, but, Arun did not allow me to. There was an army police just infront of us; he pointed his gun, almost straight and shot a bullet. Fortunately, it did not hot anyone. We turned all our cars & rushed back. My car followed us; I was relieved. We saw death right infront of us. It was an experience for sure, not a very pleasurable one. We discussed about how we always thought about the beauty of Kashmir, its landscapes, its handsome men; but we saw a different side of it, today. I had always heard, everything, every situation has two sides, we just have to focus on the positive. Our H.O.D explained how the police are not accountable for the bullets they fire. Those military men had the power to act in any manner they wished to, the power to play with peoples’ lives. Was it some kind of a game? It looked like one though. The helpless workers had no choice but to succumb to power. We had just witnessed this once and were scandalised. Like one of the locals said, “Tum log toh ye aaj dekh rahe ho, ye toh hamari zindagi hai”; they live like this everyday. The fear of death has been instilled in their hearts permanently. How could one live a life staying in fear that you could die any moment? Today, we saw what the AFSPA could do, what was real aggression, lack of tolerance and patience. It was an unnecessary incident. It is similar to each of our lives too. We, too, take impulsive decisions, absolutely unnecessary ones. There is a limit to everything, but, we should learn to control ourselves in the most adverse situations, under pressure and power. Violence is not the only answer, may it be physical or emotional. Suddenly, I remembered Gramsci and his theories on hegemony, He was right! The powerless are controlled by the people in power! Back in Mumbai, we may not notice it, but, we do follow hegemony. We believe that our lives have been insulated by all such differences, but, in reality, we are not. Another thing that I noticed was one of Maslow’s proclaimed needs in the 'Hierarchy of needs triangle'; the need for security. We never take such information into much consideration unless there comes a situation where we sense the need of it. This incident, today, made me question myself, why did the police react in the way they did. It was wrong and could not be justified, but, if the table is turned round and the situation is seen through their lens, the whole picture seems different. Their working conditions are getting worse day by day. They stay in the cold guarding the checkpost, live in adverse conditions, away from family; they got no life of their own; sometimes blaming them alone would not be justified as well. They do their job despite the working conditions they are exposed to. This experience taught me that life is immensely precious. It is a gift given by God; had bestowed us into our mothers’ hands. God had it planned, and, showed us such instances so that we realise the importance of the life that we are living. My learning from the incident may be many; these images will stay with me forever. I needed to grow, learn, stay strong, be mature, be an individual to understand the situation objectively, suppress impulsive reactions. I am exposed to the way the people live, here, people who are different from us, who live differently from the way we do. When we hear such stories, we tend to forget them; when we live the same stories, it stays with us for a lifetime. This incident was important, very much important. I hoped to see Ladakh, God’s heaven, to be near it. We had a bath and planned not to sleep as they could be an emergency & we could leave even at 2 am to get through the pass. We all cuddled up on the same bed, planning not to doze off, but we did, to a much tiring day.
We skipped breakfast, had tea and Marie Gold biscuit before start. Started around 10 AM again. It was the day we had to cross the mighty Zozila Passwhich everyone had been scaring us. Got news that it was open. Had to lie to others about the opening time about the pass but when we reached Zozila it wasn't like anything which was mentioned in blogs before. It was raining again that day and was getting colder and colder. It took us a while to come out of heavily guarded Srinagar, where there were police everywhere. Every petrol bunk, ATM and anything of slightest importance were surrounded by lot of police personnel's. In general the town was quite tension filled. As soon as we came out of the town the passes were quite enchanting, as it had rained, the greenery was even more beautiful. It took us a while for us to wear the cotton gloves and on top of it latex gloves and various other things. When we finally hit Zozila we weren't even aware as there wasn't any vehicle crossing us, it was raining, it was misty, roads were barely there and we got the first glimpse of what to expect. Mani's FZ was struggling like anything, there was a point where my bike along with John went behind but we overcame all odds and reached Zero Mileswhich was dead cold. Without inquiring we ordered a number of Maggi, Tea and Bread Omelet. Even an omelet for a poor shepherd who had only 500 sheep's. Bill came to an atrocious 970 rupees there. The innocence of the mountain people seemed to have been lost. You'll hear more about this guy later. But Zero Mile was one hell of a point with chilly winds, snow, rain, hot chai. It was brilliant. Once we got out of Zozila it wasn't much of a deal. I took lead and drove quite ahead of the rest. There was an Elephant shaped rock before Drass which I wasn't able to figure out in spite of trying for few minutes. We waited around half an hour for the rest to arrive. We thought it was going to be easy from there as everyone said that we were about to enter the best roads of the whole journey.
We started our journey to Kargil through Zojila at 6 am. This route will be open for travellers only from may to november because of snow and land slidings. This way will be closed in the night for army vehicles. Only after all the army vehicles are cleared, they opened the gate for us. We started our journey towards Zojila. It was one dangerous road with deep valley on one side, a very small road and mountain on the other side. It was very scenic though. We halted at a place due to some land sliding and it took a whole hour to clear all that land sliding. Deep down the valley was a chopper mark and there was another mountain beside that with a way. We were told it was helocopter point for people going to Amarnath and the mountain way was to Amarnath. Then we started going only after an hour. Then came the much awaited part of our journey, ZOJILA. It was literally a road between two ice walls. I was so excited. Vehicle was very slow and I was touching ice on either sides of road. We even saw some houses between snow. Right after Zojila, we saw a board "Welcome to Ladakh". From this point, we didnot see much of greenery. Land was full of brown mountains and it was a different experience.
A must visit place , if you are visiting Sonamarg or Kargil or Leh-Ladakh. Private vehicles are not allowed. You'll have to hire a taxi from Sonamarg by negotiating (around 2000 to 3000 INR along with gum boots and raincoat is something you can come up to). From Sonamarg to Zero point it's about 15 km distance on NH 1D. As you travel more on that trail, you will see many gigantic figures with snow looming over them . Those larger than life figures, their charm making you want to meet and know them better. The name is zero point : The temperature there averages to around 0 degree Celsius. The expedition on that Highway ( highway of just a name,it's not even one lane also i guess :-P ) My god it was most daunting, scary, yet awe-inspiring. Its like once in a lifetime experience. The highway connects Srinagar to Ladakh. The road was so narrow, with 20 - 20 feet high snow on both sides ,at a time only one vehicle could pass, with just two or three places to cross . So the traffic mostly goes in one sided direction at a time, alternatively.
Zoji La If you open the map of Ladakh, all you will see, will be lots of ‘La’s & even more ‘Tso’s – La meaning pass & Tso meaning lake. Zoji Lais the first pass on the Srinagar- Leh ‘so called highway’ totally controlled by the army. Considered to be one of the riskiest passes of the Himalayan region, Zoji La stands at 11,575 feet – the most precarious & scary drive of our journey. There is a high probability that you will get stuck on National Highway 1D, either by a convoy of atleast a 100 army canters squeezing their way on the already very narrow road, or by a herd of sheep getting back from a lazy graze, totally oblivious of the cars piling up behind them! By the time you get used to the traffic, the narrowest possible highway (especially after the ones we get to see in Delhi), the sharp gorge on one side & the almost-on-the-verge-of-rolling-down precariously placed rocks on the other, you realize you have driven down to the Mushkoh valley with the infamous Tiger Hill to your left.
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