Magnetic Hill draws visitors to Ladakh

October 9th, 2008 - 12:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Leh (Jammu and Kashmir), Oct 9 (IANS) You may not believe that a vehicle with its ignition off can move, but in Ladakh seeing is believing. Not only do vehicles move without the engine being turned on, they even defy gravity by climbing uphill.A hill on the outskirts of this picturesque cold desert town is so full of magnetised iron that it has the power to pull any vehicle in its vicinity towards itself. Perhaps inevitably, it is called Magnetic Hill.

The hill is situated about 25 km from here on the Leh-Kargil-Batalik national highway and is bordered by the Indus river, which originates in Tibet and flows through Ladakh on its way to Pakistan.

The legendary powers of the Magnetic Hill have ensured that it has a place in the itinerary of most tourists visiting Ladakh. However, you might just miss the hill in this mountainous region if you fail to see a signboard on the side of the highway, which states that if a vehicle is placed on a particular spot on the road and the engine is switched off, it will move up towards the hill in front.

Sceptical tourists are amazed to see their vehicles climbing uphill at a speed of 10 km per hour when in neutral gear.

“I came straightaway to Magnetic Hill as I have heard a lot about it and somehow did not believe it. But it is amazing to see how nature is defying Newton’s law of gravity,” said 15-year-old Praveen, who is part of a team going on a trek to the Siachen glacier.

A few kilometres down the road from Magnetic Hill is Gurdwara Pather Sahib, a Sikh holy shrine that is maintained by the army.

Guru Nanak is said to have come to this place for meditation when a demon living atop the hill threw a rock to kill him. Legend has it that the rock turned into wax when it hit Guru Nanak. The demon ran downhill to check if Guru Nanak had died and kicked the rock on finding him alive.

The rock carrying the imprint of Guru Nanak’s back and the demon’s foot is kept at the gurdwara.

“The army has taken over the maintenance of the gurdwara. Soldiers do the daily chores as it is difficult for the civilians to manage it due to lack of facilities,” said an army official.

If tourists visit the shrine on Sunday, they can enjoy the langar (free community lunch) prepared by the soldiers, while taking in the beauty of this unique region surrounded by the imposing Zanskar mountain range.

(Ritu Sharma can be contacted at ritu.s@ians.in)

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