PASS TIME

India Today - - LEISURE - —Sopan Joshi

The ar­rival of June lifts the cur­tain of snow over the moun­tain passes be­tween Hi­machal Pradesh and the Ladakh re­gion of J&K. A trip to Ladakh is now an In­dian tourist’s rite of pas­sage. Those who haven’t yet made it to our piece of the Ti­betan Plateau will get to envy many a selfie—taken in front of ‘the high­est pass’ or ‘the high­est mo­torable road’—dec­o­rat­ing so­cial me­dia pages.

While the Manali to Leh route isn’t en­tirely open yet, the Bor­der Roads Or­gan­i­sa­tion (BRO) opened the Ro­htang pass in the third week of May. Buses have al­ready be­gun to ply up to Key­long, the tourist town be­yond Manali. BRO is work­ing on clear­ing Bar­alacha La and Tanglang La as well. These high passes saw snow­fall even in the early sum­mer this year, and the snow over Ro­htang was up to 30 feet high in some places. Which is why the open­ing of the Leh-Manali road is a lit­tle be­hind sched­ule this sea­son.

Among other things that Ladakh has plenty of— like moun­tains and yaks and frozen rivers—is the over­whelm­ing pres­ence of the sky. There is so much sky in tourist photos of Ladakh that the lo­cal govern­ment could levy a sky tax. Eat your heart out, GST.

SHUTTERSTOCK

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