The Autocar India team has hit a new high – this time, quite literally! Six years after we drove the stunning Huracan to Khardung La, we raised the bar by a thousand feet, courtesy the new highest motorable road in the world at Umling La. The spectacular road, built by the venerable Border Roads Organisation (BRO), saw us ascend all the way up to a staggering 19,300 feet, which sets it higher than even the Mt Everest base camp!
Unlike our previous exploits, however, the drive to Umling La was more a test of man than machine. While our team struggled against the challenges of extremely low oxygen and icy winds, it only brought to light the hardship endured by the BRO’s dedicated workforce which showcased a feat of human endurance by building a road in unforgiving conditions, not the least of which were the sub-zero degree temperatures. That the road is flawlessly smooth – and spectacular – only warrants a heartfelt salute to the relentless BRO, which has certainly added a new feature to India’s roadways cap.
While the hardest part of this road was undoubtedly building it, the easiest bit was driving up it – at least for the machine in question! A truly special car was naturally a prerequisite for this road, and the Lamborghini Urus – the most powerful SUV you can buy in India – fit the feat like a glove. In addition to providing a staggering visual contrast to the region's stark setting, the Urus did its bit effortlessly as it snaked up the mighty pass. Unlike a naturally aspirated engine, which loses three percent of power for every thousand feet ascended, the Urus, aided by its twin turbos, kept the eight-cylinder engine comfortably fed.
What makes the climb up to Umling La surprisingly easy on machines is that the road has been engineered with a gradual gradient and not many hairpins; insightful, considering it is set to take over the adventure-tourism mantle held on admirably by Khardung La for decades. With the new bragging rights now going past the lofty 19,000-ft mark (for reference, that’s higher than Mont Blanc in Switzerland, which stands at 15,777ft), Indian adventurers sure have a new challenge to add to their bucket list. And when the BRO decides to raise the bar even higher, you can trust Autocar India to get there too!