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Indira Col West is a col or mountain pass at 5,988 metres (19,646 ft)) altitude on the Indira Ridge of Siachen Muztagh in Karakoram Range. It is on the border between Indian-controlled Siachen Glacier and the Chinese-controlled Trans-Karakoram Tract (both in the disputed Kashmir region), close to the tripoint of India, Pakistan, and China. The India-Pakistan Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) in the Siachen area ends at the pass.[2][3][4][5] It is possible to ascend the pass from both the north and south sides controlled by China and India respectively.[6]

Indira Col East (Coord 35°39′40″N 76°48′10″E / 35.66111°N 76.80278°E / 35.66111; 76.80278),[7] also Main Indira Col or just Indira Col (Chinese: 因地拉科),[8][9] is another col on Indira Ridge which lies 2.4 km further east of Indira Col West at 5,764 metres (18,911 ft)) altitude. It is too steep to ascend or descend on the north side controlled by China, but easier to do so from the south side controlled by India.[7]

India Saddle (Coord 35°39′50″N 76°48′20″E / 35.66389°N 76.80556°E / 35.66389; 76.80556), a geographical saddle, connects the Indira Col East and Indira Col West.[7]

Indira Ridge separates the Trans-Karakoram Tract, which lies north of Indira Ridge, from the Siachen Glacier, which lies south of Indira Ridge. Sia Kangri, AGPL End Point, Indira Col West, Indira Col East, India Saddle, Turkestan La North, and Turkestan La East lie on the Indira Ridge from west to east.[7][10]

History

Etymology

The la in Ladakhi language means a mountain pass. The eastern col was named Indira Col in 1912 by Bullock Workman, after one of the names of the goddess Lakshmi.[9]

Exploration

In 1889, British raj army officer and explorer Francis Younghusband reached the base of Turkestan La (North) from north side, and he noted that this was a long glacier and a major Central Asian dividing range.[7]

Colonel Narendra "Bull" Kumar reached Indira Col (the western col) in 1981.[8][11][12] In 1998 Harish Kapadia reached the same col; on his map and text he refers to it as the "main Indira Col" and "Indira Col West", whereas he refers to the col 2.4 km to the east as the "Indira Col East (Workman)." [13] Indirakoli PassChinese: 因地拉科里山口) name on the Chinese maps refers to 35°40′17″N 76°50′26″E / 35.67139°N 76.84056°E / 35.67139; 76.84056 coordinates is claimed by Pakistan,[14][15] which is "Indira Col East".

In 1984, Indian soldiers traveled across Siachen glacier, scaled many peaks and passes including the Indira Col as part of the Operation Meghdoot.

After that, Harish Kapadia and his colleagues have also explored various peaks passes, ranges subranges and glaciers in the Siachen area.

Disputed territories

Territories on all sides of Indira Col are disputed. Area south of the Indira Col West is controlled by India and also claimed by Pakistan. North of Indira Col West is Trans-Karakoram Tract claimed by India but controlled by China under a 1963 border agreement with Pakistan.[16] AGPL generally runs along the Saltoro Mountains range, beginning from the northernmost point of the (LOC) at Point NJ 9842 and ending southwest of Indira Col West in the north, with peaks in excess of 7,000 meters and average temperature around minus 50 celsius.[17] India gained control of 1,000 square miles (2,600 km2) of disputed territory in 1984 because of its military operations in Siachen.[18][19]

Geography

India-China-Pakistan borders

Indira Col is the tri-junction of India-China-Pakistan.

Indira Ridge's features

Indira Ridge, from east to west, has following features:[7][10]