Planning to cross Zojila Pass?
Heard a lot about this road being one of the most dangerous roads in India?
Unsure whether you want to take it on?
I felt the same way when I was planning to cross it from Leh to Srinagar. The lack of any detailed information definitely didn’t boost my confidence.
So, I am going to make sure that you don’t have to go through the same ordeal.
Will try to cover my journey and how I exactly took it and you can ask me anything I missed or anything in specific you want to know in the comment section. Will be really pleased to answer.
So, let’s get started
The intimidating Zojila Pass on the Srinagar–Leh highway is feared for a reason.
A dirt road so narrow that your car barely fits.
Broken patches full of puddles.
Water flowing over the road.
Mountain on one side
A 11,500 ft drop on the other.
Understandable now isn’t it?
However, with proper planning you can make it easier.
If you are planning on visiting or exiting Leh by Road, you have only two options.
1. Rohtang Pass
2. Zojila Pass
Rohtang is the Pass you should take if you want to travel via Kullu or Manali in Himachal Pradesh and is the more commonly used Pass among the two.
If, however, you are planning on visiting Srinagar or want to go via Jammu then it is Zojila Pass for you.
I will be covering how to approach it via Leh on the way to Srinagar as that was my first experience with it.
Till now with me?
Great. So now that you have decided to cross Zojila pass , let’s go through it step by step.
Now depending on your itinerary, you can cross Zojila on the same day when travelling from Leh or if you have a more relaxed schedule, I would suggest you to explore Dras on the way. Exploring the scenic beauty of Dras is something you will not regret.
Now I had time on my hands so I stayed in Dras for a night and planned to cross Zojila first thing in the morning. I started early from Dras around 5 in the morning and had crossed Zojila by 8 thus beating the traffic.
Ok, now the most important questions
1. When is Zojila open?
It is not open throughout the year.
Zojila Pass is normally closed between November to March because of heavy snowfall.
It might open towards late March or early April however I will advise you to take this road only May onwards.
2. Road Condition?
The road till the top of Zojila is a delight to drive on.
The sweeping green valleys on both sides giving you giving you a sense of serenity.
At the top, you will find eating joints and photography spots.
The actual road or Zojila starts when you reach India gate or the bifurcation of roads.
It is not a gate per se. It is just a name given to help identify the bifurcation of the roads.
There is one road on the right which goes up the hill and then there is one road on the left which goes downhill.
The upper road has a paved section with interlocking concrete blocks.
However the thing to note if taking this road is that, you will encounter a lot of traffic on this road as everyone tries to take this road.
It is wider than the lower road so there is more space to manoeuvre however there is high chance you might be stuck in traffic for a long time if a truck creates a bottleneck in front of you at any time.
Thing to note: Neither the upper or lower road has a protective railing.
Now about the lower road
The lower road is in a pretty bad state and is muddy, irregular and full of potholes.
This road itself is very narrow and has very little space for manoeuvrability.
This road taken mostly by trucks however is free from traffic and if you are confident enough to take it, then you will be out of the bad stretch of Zojila in a shorter period of time.
However you have to be extremely vigilant when taking this road.
Lower road is strictly if you are an adventure freak and want that rush of adrenaline.
To everyone else, I would suggest to take the upper right road as it is much safer.
The actual Zojila is approximately a 25 km stretch of bad road that you have to negotiate.
3. 4WD or 2WD for the road?
Ideally it would be better if you have a 4WD. I took the same road in a 2WD and there was not much of a problem. If you are confident about your driving skills, a 2WD is sufficient.
Bikers never stop for anything, right? They can take any road they want.
5. I have heard about Landslides?
Yes the pass is prone to landslides whenever there is heavy snowfall or rainfall. So if the weather is harsh, maybe consider rescheduling.
6. What after crossing Zojila?
Enjoy and Relax.
Once you cross Zojila, you will start seeing the beautiful Baltal Valley, Sonmarg.
It will be a refreshing sight to see after the harrowing ride.
I am sure there must be more questions on your mind. The comment section is open. Always available for any help.