Zojila Pass

The Zozila or Zojila Pass is one of the important mountain passes in India. The pass lies amid Leh in the Western Himalayan Mountain Ranges and Srinagar, on the Indian National Highway 1D. In other words, it connects Leh and Srinagar.

In spite of the fact that it is commonly mentioned as Zojila Pass in the worldwide press, the precise English adaptation is Zoji Pass or just Zojila because the suffix “La” represents pass in different languages talked in the Himalayan territory. In present-day languages in North India, “La” and “Darra” are both implemented interchangeably to signify pass.

The coordinates of the pass are 34°16′44″ North and 75°28′19″ East.

About Zojila Pass

From Sonamarg in Jammu and Kashmir , the distance of Zoji La Pass is 9 km (5.6 mi). The pass functions as a major link between Ladakh and Kashmir. The pass is situated at a height of about 11,575 ft (3,528 meters). The Zojila Pass ranks as the second highest pass in India subsequent to Fotu La Pass situated on the National Highway between Srinagar and Leh.

The pass usually stays closed during the winter months, however the Border Roads Organization (BRO) is operating to boost traffic for the greater part of the year. The Beacon Force division of the Border Roads Organization is responsible of removal of snow and preservation of the path during winter months.

When the India Pakistan War took place in 1947, the Zojila Pass was captured by Pakistani aggressors in 1948 in their objective to take over Ladakh . Indian ground forces gained control of the pass on November 1 in a valiant infantry strike. The code name of the operation was Operation Bison, which was triumphant principally as a consequence of the unexpected use of armor, then the maximum elevation at which armors were used in armed conflict in the world.

The Zozila Pass is frequently named as the entrance to Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir. Lying at an elevation of 3,528 meters, the pass is situated in the principal Himalayan Mountain Range on the Srinagar-Leh Highway or National Highway 1D. The Zozila Pass is considered as one of the riskiest passes in this area.

Zojila Pass has a remarkable position, bordered by the Kashmir basin on one side and Drass basin on the other side. It overlooks snow-covered summits and dense strip of jungles. The pass remains closed half of the year because of intense snowfall and opens in the latter part of the spring season.

Tulla Khan: The unsung champion of Zojila Pass

Removing the snow during winter season to find the way is not a simple job. However, Tulla Khan, working with BRO (Border Roads Organization) removes the snow of the Zozila Pass himself, without taking anybody’s help. This is in spite of the fact that he is deaf and dumb. Nevertheless, people still have to recognize the endeavors of this unsung champion.

Tulla Khan is the bulldozer driver of the snow removing group on Zozila Mountains. The Srinagar-Leh National Highway 1D, which stretches for about 434 km, traverses the 11,575 ft tall Zozila Pass.

During the winter months, because of severe rainfall, the highway becomes clogged. As a consequence, approximately 2.7 lakh inhabitants, surviving in the cold barren regions of Ladakh, get disconnected from the remainder of the world for a period of approximately six months.

The deepness of snow at areas of the mountain is 50 feet and removing snow from this region of hilly highway is a difficult job. Beneath 50 feet of snow, marking out the configuration of the path is the task, which Tulla Khan is the only one to perform. He may be deaf and dumb but has the unique sense that no one else has. The Border Roads Organization is pleased to have an employee like Tulla Khan. He is known to them as the path tracer since he compensates for the lack of state-of-the-art technical gadgets.

The chief engineer of Project Beacon of Border Roads Organization, Mr. A.K. Bhutani, stated that their snow removal process is reliant on Tulla Khan. The man has god-gifted skills to mark the road configuration on Zozila Pass. When there are no modern devices, he is a resource for the Border Roads Organization and for the inhabitants of Ladakh, he stated.

However, the population of Ladakh barely has any idea that if Tulla Khan is not there, opening of the Zozila Pass will be quite challenging. For the last 21 years, Tulla Khan has been employed with the Border Roads Organization in the form of a casually paid worker. For the last 14 years, he has been doing the work of way marking and he is just getting Rs. 3,500 for this. The amount is too small for this work, which no one else is ready to carry out.

There is no doubt that it is the uphill struggle of these unsung champions like Tulla Khan of the Border Roads Organization that makes snow removal activities in Zojila Pass a reality. They need to combat high speed breezes, freezing temperature, and risks of landslide during their work.

The commanding officer of Border Roads Organization, Mr. Vikram Pahoja, stated that they need to work in freezing temperatures and tackle high speed breezes. It is quite hard to function in this place. The human stamina and competence is low. There is risk of landslides and it is quite dangerous.

The Border Roads Organization takes two months to clean the National Highway in the Zozila Pass Area. On certain occasions, they complete their job before time. Arid climate makes their work simple, due to which the highway opens earlier than expected.

It is due to the dogged endeavors of the unsung champions of Border Roads Organization like Tulla Khan that Ladakh stays linked with the other parts of the nation, sometimes for an additional period. When the Zozila Pass opens, large numbers of trucks carry rations for the Ladakh area.

The Chief Engineer of Border Roads Organization, Brigadier Ashok Kumar Bhutani stated that normally they are accustomed to wait for summer to arrive to remove the snow on the pass. However, on certain occasions, they employ their personnel on the task for the whole duration of winter. They don’t hang around for summer to arrive but clean the snow round the winter, he mentioned.

Significance of Zojila Pass

When the Srinagar-Leh National Highway is kept open, it indicates that travelers all around the state of Jammu and Kashmir can arrive at Ladakh. This will not only offer additional time for the travelers to get pleasure from but also will contribute to the economy of the Ladakh Area.

Even the way up to the well-known tourist destination of Sonamarg basin stays open during the winter months when the BRO personnel clean the snow from the way pretty quickly, Brigadier Bhutani further mentioned.

In spite of the fact that Kashmir basin gets reduced snowfall on certain occasions, but Zojila Pass experiences significant snowfall and this is a regular feature of the area. Still the Border Roads Organization can remove the snow from the Srinagar-Leh National Highway.

Zojila Pass on the important Srinagar-Leh National Highway (span is 434 km) - was officially opened to traffic movements by Lieutenant General JR Mukherjee, GOC 15 Corps. The Beacon Force Division of the Border Roads Organization (BRO) is in charge for the cleaning and upkeep of the National Highway between Srinagar and Leh and its biggest impediment, Zojila, at a height of 3,528 meters, which paradoxically is the lowest drivable pass on the Great Himalayan Mountain Range.

Zojila witnesses violent breezes because of the conical shape and severe snowfall. Till date, over 60 risky landslide spots have been found on this route. In addition, Beacon people workforces have to face and withstand snowstorms, fierce air currents, cold and highly dangerous circumstances as in the Kargil division. In spite of these circumstances, it is the the valiant jawans of Border Road Organization, aided by 120 nonmilitary citizens who toiled assiduously for opening the pass in a historical time.

Taking into consideration the reality that by the end of April, majority of provisions in Ladakh diminish to sustainable phases, this opening will turn out to be a blessing to all people in Ladakh. Ladakh stays disconnected from the other parts of the nation from November and afterwards when all passes linking it over the Himalayan Mountain Ranges are clogged by severe snowfall. The opening offers a more exciting and inexpensive ground itinerary to travelers to discover Ladakh and upper parts of Kashmir.

The average snow buildup on the 3,528 meters tall and 6.25 km long rocky territory of Zojila Pass normally stays in the level of 15 to 30 meters throughout the winter season between November and May.

The Srinagar-Sonamarg-Zojila-Kargil-Leh path was affirmed as National Highway on March 30, 2006. It works as an entrance to Ladakh area and is tactically crucial, other than helping for socioeconomic progress of Ladakh area.

The Zozila Pass is approximately 13,000 feet above sea surface, at 34.17 latitude and 74.50 longitude. The pass links a basin of Kashmir with Ladakh. Various trade itineraries take merchants to China, Tibet, and Central Asia. Renchen Shah of Leh moved into Kashmir via this pass and was the ruler of the territory in the 14th century. Mirza Haider Doughlat also marched on through this pass to raid Kashmir. The previous name of the pass was Shurji La, which stands for the mountain of Lord Shiva.

Zozila Pass Subway is high on the agenda

The inhabitants of Kargil are claiming the creation of a subway through the pass in order to remain linked to Leh round the year. Kargil is linked to the Kashmir Basin via the Srinagar-Drass highway and witnesses severe snowfall from November to March and stays blocked for half of the year. A subway at Zozila and Z Morgh, which is a highway between Srinagar and Leh spanning 434 km, will hold the way open to car traffic between areas of Kashmir and Ladakh round the year.

Last Updated on 02 February 2011