Hidden up in the lap of the mighty Himalayas, in the beautiful valley of Ladakh, Lahaul and Spiti are several roads that barely qualify as a road but are probably the most desired roads to travel on in our country. The most common name among such roads is of Manali-Leh highway followed closely by Srinagar Leh highway. Another entry in this category is of the Lahaul Spiti circuit. What makes these roads so desired is the very fact that they are a perfect combination of challenge and leisure. The landscape that these roads run through is just awe-inspiring but the major attraction are the high altitude passes, offering a feeling of challenge when thought of and a feeling of accomplishment once travelled on.
Kunzum Pass is a name among the several high altitude passes amidst the Himalayan peaks. It lies at a height of 4,590 m or 15,060 ft and offers a stunning view of numerous Chandra-Bhaga range peaks at the top. It connects the two valleys of Lahaul and Spiti and works as a gateway to enter Spiti valley from Manali’s side. This pass remains open merely 3 to 4 months in a year from late June to late September or early October. It is at an approximate distance of 95 kilometers from Kaza, headquarters of Spiti valley, and 125 kilometers from Manali.
This pass actually lies at a higher altitude than Rohtang itself, height of which is 13,054 ft. People normally believe Rohtang to be at a higher altitude which is not the case however the fact remains that ascent of Rohtang is way more touch than of Kunzum. If you are coming from Kaza, the road is in a bad shape however is still drivable however if you are coming from Manali, the stretch from Gramphoo to Batal is a nightmare to drive on. There are numerous water streams on the way, several of them quite deep, and road is just a relative term.
At the top of the pass lies a temple dedicated to Goddess Durga and it is considered auspicious to do parikrama of the temple and get blessings before going further in the journey. It is actually quite a sight at the top with beautiful and colorful Buddhist flags fluttering amidst the snow capped peaks. A little further from the top, towards Batal, lies the 14 kilometers long road to the beautiful and mesmerizing Chandrataal. There is also a 9 kilometers trek to Chandrataal from the top of Kunzum Pass.