Ladakh means "land of high passes" and the only overland access from the
south is by way of the 500 km road from Manali, India. The road,
although paved in parts is mostly a one lane wide track of dirt, rocks,
gravel and maybe snow, that cuts along canyon walls, across high arid
plains, beneath sand dunes, ogre-like rock formations, and the snow and
ice covered peaks of the Indian Himalayas. It is considered the highest
continuous road in the world, crossing 4 four passes over 16,000 feet,
including the Baralacha la, at 16,400 feet and the Tanglang la, at a
breathtaking 17,200 feet. In centuries past, this trail was an important
part of the Central Asian Trading Route, which connected Northern India
and Kashmir with Pakistan and over the Karakoram Pass into China.
Unfortunately, due to current political tensions and border disputes,
the path now dead ends north of Ladakh beyond the Khardong la, and the
eastern road to Shrinigar, Kashmir is considered too dangerous for
travel by westerners.