State connected with Zanskar valley by road

Jaswinder Singh Baidwan

Akhran da mureed
Staff member
For the first time, the state has been connected with the picturesque Zanskar valley in Kargil district of Jammu and Kashmir by road.
The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) made 39.6-km-long arduous stretch from Darcha to Shinkula Pass motorable yesterday to connect Lahaul valley with Zanskar valley.
Commander, 38 Border Road Task Force (BRTF), Col KP Rajendra Kumar said only 4x4 vehicles were allowed to reach Shinkula top from Manali side. Rohtang Riders, a group of nearly 100 bikers, were the first civilians to reach Shinkula, he said.
“The 39.6-km road passes through Shinkula Pass (16,615.5 feet) which remains closed from October to June due to heavy snowfall,” he said. The road will drastically reduce the travelling time from Manali to Shinkula to Zanskar valley, he said.
Initially, the road was opened for light vehicles with 4x4 capabilities, he said, adding with improved riding surface, all vehicles would be allowed till Shinkula top from next year.
Sources said the need for construction of an alternate to Kargil and Ladakh was felt following the Kargil conflict. India wanted to have an alternative route and a safe passage for the border areas. With opening of the Darcha-Shinkula road, the distance between Darcha and Kargil would be reduced significantly. However, the road from the Kargil side was yet to be completed.
With the completion of the road, it would not only lessen the distance, but also reduce time for the Army to take its supplies to the bordering Kargil district. Presently, the Army has to take its supplies to Kargil via Sarchu-Leh road.
The 292 km Darcha-Shinkula-Padam-Nimu road was initially planned in 2001. The Darcha-Shinkula 39.6 km road was entrusted to the Project Deepak, 38 BRTF in 2007.
There were several high attitude peaks that form an effective barrier between Lahaul and Ladakh. These two contrasting mountainous regions are connected only through trekking route.
The ancient kingdom of Zanskar is famous for beautiful landscape and several wonderful Buddhist monasteries, notably at Phuktal, Lingshet and Lamayuru en route.