Road trip guide: Conquering Marsimik La

By. dangerousroads

Marsimik La is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 5.590m (18,339ft) above sea level, located in Jammu and Kashmir state, in India. It’s one of the highest roads in the country.

Marsimik La


Where is Marsimik La?

The pass is located in the Chang-Chemno Range, in the northern part of the country, just 4 km west of the Indo-China actual line of control.

Can I drive to Marsimik La?

No special military permit is required. However, the Protected Area Permit for foreigners does not include access to the pass, so there is no way for anyone who is not an Indian citizen and resident to drive up there.

When was the road to Marsimik La built?

The track was built in 1983 under the supervision of Sonam Paljore, an Everester. Many vehicles, mostly army vehicles, cross the pass each year.

Is the road to Marsimik La unpaved?

The road to the summit, also known as Marsimek La and Lankar La, is mostly unpaved. The metal road soon turns to dust and then to rubble, and this is where you need to be really careful. The rocks are large enough to severely damage your undercarriage. The road is not in good enough condition to permit transit by normal vehicles.

How long is the road to Marsimik La?

Starting at Phobrang (in the Leh District), the road is 79.7 km (49.52 miles) long, running west-east from Phobrang to Gogra, on the Line of Actual Control.

Do I need a 4×4 to drive to Marsimik La?

Only 4-wheel vehicles with a competent driver are allowed. The track will challenge you with steep slopes (towards the last few kms), loose soil, and lots of sharp stones and big rocks all around. And with rarified air, your car will run out of breath. Nearing the top of the pass, the roads are even worse as the loose sharp stones give way to larger rocks that will make the ride a nightmare on a two-wheeler. If your car is not properly prepared, it will not have enough power to do the climb, especially considering that the track is very steep and rough.

How steep is the road to Marsimik La?

The road to the summit is very steep. Starting at Phobrang, the elevation gain is 1.166 meters. The average gradient is 4.73%.

Is Marsimik La open?

Located about 4 km to the west of Kiu La (also called Kangseng La), the summit hosts a Hindu temple. The road is impassable in winters.

How long does it take to drive through Marsimik La?

Plan about 3 hours to complete the remarkable drive without stops. Surrounded by a hostile and barren land, make sure you leave enough time to make the journey back down in daylight.
Pic: Neeti Bassi