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Leh Magnetic Hill: A Stretch of Road Where Laws of Gravity Work Peculiarly

BY Tanveer Khan February 25, 2020
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Magnetic Hill in Ladakh.

Magnetic Hill in Ladakh. (Rohit Ganda / Flickr)

India is a country that boasts of natural wonders in abundance. One is likely to find an oddity in almost every nook and cranny of the nation. India’s northernmost and newly-formed Union Territory Ladakh is home to one such rare phenomenon. It has not only stumped visitors from all over the world but has also puzzled scientists alike. On average, tourists in thousands, visit The Magnetic Hill in Leh district all year round to experience this thrilling and unique occurrence themselves.

What is Magnetic Hill?

Magnetic hill is also known as Cyclops hill, although the origin of this term remains unknown. It is said to be derived from the eponymous Greek monster with a single, spherical, gigantic eye.

Nothing more than an optical illusion, the Magnetic Hill or Gravity Hill in Leh is a place where the gravitational pull of the Earth works differently as compared to the rest of the world.

Location of the Magnetic Hill

As the name suggests, the Magnetic Hill is a stretch of road in the mountainous Leh-Kargil-Batalik NH1. Located in a remote valley approximately thirty kilometres from Leh, it is positioned around 14,000 feet above sea level, where the gravitational pull of the Earth defies laws of physics.

The Magnetic Hill sits pretty between the longest mountain range in Asia and passes through the Trans-Himalayan region. And is flanked by the Sindhu River on its east making it look like a scene from a fairytale! A picturesque landscape, Magnetic Hill has become a pit-stop for travellers, to soak in the wonders of nature.

Magnetic hill sign board

Magnetic hill signboard near Magnetic hill in Leh, Ladakh, India. (Ashwin Kumar / Flickr)

The Border Roads Organisation has put up a signboard to help tourists experience the magnetic pull of the region. A horizontal white box is painted in the middle of the road for travellers to park their vehicles in; where it tends to get pulled uphill, despite its ignition turned off. But there is more to this gravity hill than meets the eye. A lot of theories surround this phenomenon associated with the magnetic pull in the locale, leaving its visitors astounded.

Local legends associated with the Magnetic Hill

People living in and around the areas surrounding Ladakh believe this Hill to be the only stairway to heaven. According to local folklore, people who deserve to go to paradise are directly lifted towards the sky while on their way through the hill; and those that did not make it to the list, never get a chance to visit the place. Some even stir up stories of paranormal activity in the area. Tour guides also narrate these legends to pull in more and more crowds, making it an interesting trip.

Scientific Theory explaining the occurrence at Magnetic Hill

While legends are quite popular, one postulated and rational theory suggests a strong magnetic field exists in the particular patch of land, which pulls vehicles towards it. The magnetic energy emitted here affects the vehicles and complicates the navigational equipment of aircraft flying directly over the area. It is said that any aircraft flying over the region starts to experience jerks. In case an aircraft comes within the magnetic range, it is advised to fly at a certain speed and height to avoid accidents. Reportedly the Indian Air Force makes it a point to avoid getting within the vicinity altogether to prevent damages.

The Optical Illusion Theory

Although a great number of people across the globe believe in the magnetic field theory, a lot of other people are convinced Leh’s strange and inexplicable Magnetic Hill is nothing but the work of an optical illusion. Quite contrary to the magnetic field speculation, this theory has managed to find a lot more takers. Attributing to an obstructed horizon from the point of view of a traveller, the downhill slope appears to be uphill. In such a case, a vehicle in neutral gear inside the designated white box appears to move uphill. Although the topography of the surroundings is such that the vehicle actually moves slightly downhill.

Other Magnetic Hills in India and abroad

While the Magnetic Hill in Leh is quite popular, a lot of other places present a strikingly similar gravity-defying experience. The Kawardha Magnetic Hill and Ulta Paani Gravity Hill in Chhattisgarh, along with the Tulsishyam Anti-Gravity Hill and Kalo Dungar Magnetic Hill in Gujarat are places where vehicles seem to roll uphill. Apart from these places in India, the Morgan-Lewis Hill in Barbados, Anti-Gravity Hill in Australia, the Electric Brae in Scotland, Anti-Gravity Hill in Ariccia, Rome, Mt. Penteli in Greece, Mt. Halla in South Korea, Malveira da Serra in Portugal, Gravity Hill in Washington, USA and other magnetic hills in America are some of the places around the world, where gravity plays tricks with an observer’s mind.

In the year 2015, a team of research students from the Rajasthan Institute of Engineering & Technology performed a series of experiments at the Magnetic Hill to debunk the myths associated with it. Although they provided scientific data along with theories nothing came out of it. They tried to prove that there is nothing strange in the area; but in the end, the mystery of the Magnetic Hill and its gravity-defying pull has only deepened further.

Enjoyed this article? Also, check out “Roopkund Lake: What are Hundreds of Bones Doing Around a Lake in Uttarakhand?


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