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Magnetic Hill: A wonder in Ladakh

leh JUNE 6. Imagine a vehicle moving up a steep mountain with its ignition off!

Sounds unbelievable, but it's true.

A hill near picturesque Leh has magnetic properties which attracts metallic objects, making vehicles move up at a speed of about 20 km per hour with their engines off.

The ``Magnetic Hill'' is located on the Leh-Kargil-Batalik national highway, about 30 km from Leh town, at a height of 14,000 feet above sea level. On its eastern side, flows the Sindhu, which originates in Tibet and goes to Pakistan.

A group of journalists, visiting Leh to cover the Sindhu Darshan Festival, were surprised when they had a first hand experience of the qualities of the ``Magnetic Hill''.

The local administration has put up a billboard near the ``Magnetic Hill'' for tourists stating that if a vehicle is placed on a particular spot on the road and the engine is switched off, it would not slide down but move up.

When the Swaraj Mazda in which the journalists went for sightseeing reached the particular point with ignition switched off, the vehicle actually started moving upward at a speed of more than 20 km.

Considering it as a mere fluke, the journalists made the driver of the Swaraj Mazda take the vehicle back to that point and place it there again. The same thing happened -- the vehicle moved up. The exercise was repeated several times with the same result.

Locals and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel, who man the Ladakh border with China, even claim that to escape the magnetic impact of the hill, helicopters and aircraft have to fly at a relatively greater height. And aircraft which come into the radius of the ``Magnetic Hill'' face jerks, similar to those witnessed during turbulence.

A few kilometres from the ``Magnetic Hill'' is ``Gurdwara Patthar Sahib'' where Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth guru of sikhs, had sat on meditation in the 17th century. The Gurdwara, which has its own religious importance for the Sikhs, has remained in the oblivion due to its location.

Maintained by the Army, the Gurdwara is more of a place of prayer for the locals, armymen and tourists. Not many Sikhs from other parts of the country visit the place.

It is said when Guru Gobind Singh was meditating here, an evil soul threw a large stone from the hill top at him. The stone did hit him, but Guru Gobind Singh was not hurt. However, the mark of the Guru was left on the stone which is still lying at the Gurdwara.

The religious place remained unexplored for a long time and was developed only after the army deputed its personnel for the maintenance.

The ``Magnetic Hill'' is one of the several unique things which one can find in Ladakh. The hills and mountains in this Himalayan region bear different colours -- from snow-laden white mountains, to black, grey, green, red and orange, one can see them all. -- UNI

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