Ladakh is an exotic destination where a high plateau, steep mountains and valleys abound. The route to Ladakh by road is through several scenic passes. 'La' in the local Ladakhi language means Mountain Pass and 'Ladakh' therefore means 'Land of Passes.' You can find some of the highest motorable roads in the world in Ladakh, which traverse these high passes and take you to exotic hidden locations high in the Himalayas. Some of the mountain passes you can travel through, while on tours of Ladakh, are:
Zoji La is a high mountain pass in Jammu and Kashmir, India, located on the Indian National Highway 1D between Srinagar and Leh in the western section of the Himalayan mountain range. The strategic Srinagar-Ladakh highway passes through the 11,578- foot high Zojila Pass which lies on the lower depression of the Himalayan ranges, about 100 km from Srinagar. The pass attracts the heaviest snowfall during winter and as such it remains closed to traffic for nearly six months in a year. The accumulation of huge quantities of snow over Zojila Pass, presents the biggest hurdle to traffic on this road. The 434-km long highway is Ladakh's lifeline.
If you travel from Manali in Himachal Pradesh to Leh you will cross the impressive Rohtang Pass, which is at a height of 13,000 ft or 3,978 m. The Rohtang Pass is only open in mid May till mid- October.
Lachulung La is a mountain pass along the Leh–Manali Highway. It is located some 54 km from Sarchu and 24 km from Pang on the Leh–Manali Highway
Also on the Zanskar Range, Taglang-la at 17,469 ft or 5,325 m is a resting place for nomadic Changpa herdsmen who can be seen with their flocks of sheep and goats, migrating in search of pasture
Khardung La located 40 Km north of Leh links the capital of Ladakh with the road to the Siachen Glacier. It said to be the world's highest motorable pass at 18,380 ft or 5,602 m. The spectacular view and a cup of tea from the tea-stall at Khardung La, will make you feel you're on top of the world.
Situated at a height of 12,200 ft or 3,719 m Namika La is on the road from Mulbek Valley to the Lamayuru Monastery. In Mulbek you can see an immense rock carving of the Maitreya Buddha and a Gompa perched high on a cliff overlooking the village.
Located at an altitude of 13,432 ft or 4,094 m, the Fotu La Pass at the beginning of a descending road that leads past the Lamayuru Monastery down to the Indus River. This winding road descends almost 4,000 ft or 1,219 m from the pass to the river.