The Indian territories of Kashmir and Ladakh are bound by Zoji La, a mountain pass that runs through the Himalayas at an altitude of approximately 11,575 feet. Truckloads of fuel and materials traverse the precarious road from the populous cities into the isolated mountain communities, navigating their way up and down the steep inclines through barriers of snow visible from both side windows.
Chandigarh, India-based photographer Himanshu Khagta made the trip across Zoji La twice, first by taxi cab for a polo match is Dras and again with a group of friends hoping to break the world record for the longest course made through the Himalayas by farm tractor. The road, he explains, is closed in the winter, but in summer of each year, the passage is dug from the fallen snow. Looking down, the photographer saw breathtaking blankets of snow covering the rolling mountains.
Although tourists occasionally frequent the pass, most trips are made my professional drivers and members of India’s military, who continue to use the area after it proved critical during the the Kargil War with Pakistan in 1999. For those who are not habituated to its twists and turns, the Zoji La, with its unstable roadways and periodical landslides make for a journey that is both frightening and awe-inspiring.
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