Have You Visited The Magnetic Hill In Ladakh Yet?
Every place and moment in Ladakh has the power to seem larger-than-life and magical. Among its many spectacular spots is the most unseeming one – the Magnetic Hill. Amisha describes the experiential beauty of the Magnetic Hill in Ladakh and gives reasons to visit it.
Words By Amisha Motiwala
With only sandy hills around, wearing shades of grey and brown, driving or riding on the Srinagar-Leh Highway (NH 1D) almost makes you meditative. Only a game of sun and shade seems to distract you, especially when the landscape turns ochre and livelier in those moments of sunlight.
The contrasting black tar road that runs between the hills, serves as a beautiful guide to your destination that’s still far away. But, on the way, the words ‘Magnetic Hill’ written on one of the hills become visible, making you want to stop and know what it is all about. As you come closer, a small road sign indicates the magical spot you are about to cross. That little magical spot is just an outline of a box, which you could take only a moment to cross; because, magic is in the moments.
Here’s what makes the Magnetic Hill special:
#1 The Experience
Stop the engine of your vehicle a little ahead of the painted outline of the box and then put it in neutral, so as to allow it to move on its own. On reaching the painted box, the vehicle will continue moving, but anti-gravity. While the vehicle should be moving downhill, you will see it moving upward on its own, defying the force of gravity.
This anti-gravity demonstration of the unknown force here is thought to be a result of a magnetic force, and hence, the name. Although, the phenomenon lasts only a moment or two, it leaves most visitors unsure about the mystery behind it. Many conduct simple experiments at the spot, hoping to prove the force wrong for once. But when they can’t do so or solve the mystery, undecidedly, they move on, calling the Magnetic Hill an illusion or plain science.
Some believe the level of that spot is indeed the reason behind the reverse gravity effect and that the mysterious phenomenon is but an illusion. Whereas, some others believe that it is a subtle magnetic force of the hill, which pulls the vehicles upwards.
Tip: Turn your vehicle facing Srinagar and stop its engine just about 20 meters before the marked spot to witness the reverse-gravity demonstration.
#2 Related Beliefs and Superstitions
Non-believers may return without accepting the powers of the Magnetic Hill, but the locals narrate stories, which puts their innocence and faith in heaven on display.
People of the region do not question the mystery, instead they have accepted the phenomenon as an act of God. They believe the spot is the way to heaven and only good souls can experience the upward pull. However, bad souls will not be able to witness any movement when their vehicle is stalled at the spot.
Another story of the locals is pertaining to divine interference. They believe that the entire stretch is worth worshipping because it has a divine connection. Even if you don’t believe either story, the topic makes for an interesting conversation with the locals.
#3 Things-to-do around the Magnetic Hill
Just next to the road sign that tells you about the Magnetic Hill, is a café that lets you hire Quad bikes. When you have inviting sandy hills around and a long distance to cover, a little break is something you can’t say no to. Take a Quad bike on rent, rev up the engine and take it up the hill that has the sign ‘Magnetic Hill’ written in large letters.
On the same road to the Magnetic Hill, you can witness the beautiful confluence of the green waters of the Indus River and blue waters of Zanskar. The stop is popularly known as ‘Sangam’. You can also go river-rafting on the Indus-Zanskar waters at the Phey village, near Nimmu or Nimmo. The Phey to Nimmo route includes Grade II and III easy rapids, which pass through small hamlets dotted with monasteries, giving you a different perspective of the life there.
Good to know: Grade II rafting on the Zanskar river for a little over 2 hours can cost you up to Rs. 1800.
Come winters and the Indus River bank near the Magnetic Hill turns into an ice rink. The area is hence, known as ‘Winter Sports Ground’ during the winters. You can halt here to enjoy skating or a game of ice hockey.
#4 Other places to visit
Your trip would be incomplete without having visited the Pathar Sahib Gurudwara – a shrine of the Sikhs, which welcomes one and all – and the Hall of Fame.
It is believed that a monster tried killing Guru Nanak by throwing a huge rock towards him, however, it turned into wax and was left with an impression of His body. The Gurudwara still includes the holy rock, and holds customary ‘langars’ (free meals), which are serviced by the Indian Army here.
The other stop is the Hall of Fame, built in honour of Indian soldiers, who laid down their lives in different wars. The Hall of Fame has various sections with displays that can make you feel pride for the country and its brave soldiers.
Good to know: Hall of Fame Timings: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM, 2:00 PM – 7:00 PM.
Tip: Travels to Ladakh, Nubra Valley and places around are best undertaken between July and September.
The interesting places here make the barren landscape come to life. As you resume your journey towards your destination, you will be amused by how this far-away land sustains life and life’s mysteries so effortlessly. It is almost magical, if you believe in it! No wonder a trip to Leh-Ladakh is termed as life-changing and serendipitous even.
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About The Author
Amisha Motiwala is a freelance writer and editor, who is also a birder, a tea-addict (or a ‘chaicopath’ as she likes to call herself) and a sea person. All her travel plans have been to coastal areas and she dreams to cover the entire coastline of India. When she is on a trip, she loves to find joints serving local food and places where she can find ‘masala chai’ – the one thing that makes all her travels, hobbies and work more enjoyable.”