Roads in India share a special relationship of love and hate with the locals. Traveling on an Indian road is like walking a tightrope. You might be flying through at an incredible speed on one instance and trying to push your car through a pothole the next. But, it doesn't stop there. India's road network is one of the largest in the world and also one of the most dangerous - one wrong move and you fall into an unending abyss. Easily as close to death as one can be, nothing more will surge the adrenaline level like traveling on these deadly passes will. That I bet get the thrill-seekers on the edge of their seats.
Zoji La Pass
This cliff hanging drive is enough to scare the wits out of you. Incredibly important to India, the Zoji La Pass is the only road network connecting India to Ladakh. A 9-KM drive, an untimely blink of an eye and I can guarantee that the Himalayas won't be nice to you. Heavy rain and unpredictable landslides add to the riveting challenge when driving through this pass. Located at an incredible 11,575 ft, if you can get past your fear there is a gorgeous diversity of scenery to observe.
Rohtang La Pass
While it is indefinitely named the Rohtang La, a more appropriate name for this breathtaking pass would be 'Highway to Hell'. Connecting Manali to Leh, Ladakh, the road is closed for half the year. The name of the pass, Rohtang, which means a 'ground of corpses’ does give you a fair warning about the hell that awaits you. Melting snow, slimy gravel, and dubious landslides make this nightmare of a journey even more devilish in reality. At nearly 13,000 ft, I doubt even the unquestionable beauty of the eastern Himalayan range will ease your nerves when you traverse through here.
Khardung La Pass
If you thought the previous two were deadly enough, then you might want to skip this one. Situated at an astonishing 17,000 ft the Khardung La is one of India's highest motor-able road. Every kilometer traveled through here will be especially agonizing with Acute Mountain Sickness duly playing its sly part. The Siachen Glacier offers a mesmerizing site as you journey through the Khardung La though don't be so amazed that you take your eyes off the road. Trust me when I saw you don't want to know what is at the bottom of the deep valleys surrounding the road.
Three-Level Zigzag Road
An exhilarating ride for adventure junkies, the Three-Level Zigzag road in Sikkim are a series of spiraling road providing for some eye-catching views of the Himalayas. With more than 100 hairpins in a stretch lasting 30 kilometers, this long and curvy journey is sure to send your head for a spin. Take caution of the steep vertical drops which don't do you any favors. Get past all that scares you and behold of the surreal beauty that lies out in front. The eagle's eye view of the Three-Level Zigzag road is matchless by any other and even more breathtaking (and more dangerous) during snowfall.
National Highway 22
Manali and Leh- two cities that offer the perfect getaway from the sweltering summer sun. The National Highway 22 connecting the pristine locations is touted to be one of the country's most dangerous with each turn inching you closer and closer to death. The 459 KM road starting from Ambala cuts through the Himalayan Mountain painting a scenic landscape of the great mountain ranges for any traveler. With tunnels and portions of the road suffering from irreparable damage, you will be flirting with your life if you plan to go on this journey.
Nathu La Pass
About 54 kilometers from Gangtok and another 400 odd kilometers from the Tibetan capital Lhasa, the Nathu La has the potential to gift you a lifetime of memories and adventure. Once the part of the ancient Silk Road, the pass is at an altitude of over 14,000 ft. Massive landslides and the lack of a solid road make the journey through here a testing one. The snow-cladded Himalayan Mountain ranges, on the other hand, do provide for moments to cherish. The hypnotizing evening skyline in the distance is one of the highlights of the Nathu La.