|Elevation||5,091 metres (16,703 ft)|
|Location||Himachal Pradesh, India|
Shingo La (also known as Shinku La) is a mountain pass in India, on the state boundary between Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh. It connects the Lahaul region of Himachal Pradesh with the Zanskar region of Ladakh. A strategic road is being built on the pass to ensure an all-weather route to Ladakh, as an alternative to the Leh–Manali Highway.
There is a shallow lake or pool 20m below the pass. The pass is on a long-distance footpath linking Zanskar and Lahaul, used often by locals and trekkers alike, taking about ten days to complete. For trekkers it is one of the technically easiest 5000m passes in Indian Himalaya, involving no glacier trekking nor steep climbs. The pass usually remains buried under snow in the winter months of October to April, and remains prone to avalanches. There is an official sign proclaiming height of the pass as 16,615.500 feet. The height indicated by various trekking website varies from 4900 to 5100 meters.
A road connecting Darcha with Padum across the Shingo La pass was first conceived in after the Kargil conflict of 1999, and preliminary work began in 2002. The project was given approval in 2004 and completion was expected by 2012.
A rudimentary road from Ramjak in Lahaul to Kargyakh in Zanskar via the Shingo La was first constructed between May 2014 and June 2017 by a retired government employee from Zanskar with his own funds and help from local villagers. He had tried to persuade the government to construct the road, and decided to build it himself when he failed to convince them; he was awarded the Padma Shri in 2021 for it. The road was later taken over by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), and black-topped. The new metalled road has a capacity to carry truck loads of over 18 tonnes. A minibus service for Padum using the road was started by the Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC). The BRO is turning the road into a double laned one, and is planning to construct a tunnel under the pass for all-weather connectivity. The organisation is also attempting to keep the road open during the winter months.
Shinku La tunnel
A tunnel under the Shingo La was conceived during 2006–2007. Tenders were floated and identified by 2009, however, no progress was made. In 2020, the Indian government has approved preparation of a detailed project report (DPR) by the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways for constructing a 13.5 km (8.4 mi) long tunnel. The NHIDCL expedited the detailed project report (DPR) work on the Shinkun La Tunnel. However, in 2021, the earlier length was reduced by the Ministry of Defence to a new shorter 4.25 km long alignment to be built as part of "Project Yojak", a project of the BRO aimed at improving road connectivity between Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh, with a focus on tunnels. With the existing Atal Tunnel and after the completion of under-construction Shinku La Tunnel, Nimmu–Padum–Darcha Road will become an all-weather road.
In April 2022, the BRO stated that they were expecting to start the construction of the Shinku La tunnel by July of that year and expected to complete it by 2025. In February 2023, the Union Cabinet approved construction of the 4.1 km (2.5 mi) tunnel at a cost of ₹1,681 crores, with a target of December 2025 for completion. With the construction of the tunnel, inhabitants of about 15 villages of Zanskar Valley in Ladakh will also be relieved since the valley remains cut off due to heavy snowfall during the winter. The tunnel will boost commerce in the Zanskar Valley by bringing better connectivity. It is also important for strategic and defence purposes. The tunnel will have longitudinal ventilation using banana fans, which require minimum electricity and lower operational costs.
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A ten-day trek leads south from Padum into the Great Himalaya, crosses the 5,100- meter Shingola La pass, and descends to the village of Darcha, located on the main road from Manali to Leh.
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