Nature's Wonders - Places

Himalayan Safari Tales # 6 – Defying Gravity or Optical Illusion?

Two days into the arid cold desert with clear blue skies, dry mountains with snow-capped peaks, deep valleys and gorges, roaring rivers… Ladakh has got into us. Mesmerizing would be an understatement. There is something about the region that evoked mixed emotions in us—awe, fear, humility, ecstasy… intoxication by the mystic setting.

So, when we stopped by Magnetic Hill, a place which defies gravity, the magic simply amazed us. There was no logical questioning….. It was yet another phenomenon of this magical landscape called Ladakh. At about 40 odd kilometers before reaching Leh and ahead of the Zanskar-Indus sangam in Nimu is the famous Magnetic hill. The board says it all. Park your vehicle on the flat road with transmission in neutral and see the vehicle moving on its own…

Much later, when we came back after the trip, with a bit of ‘Googling’ and reading, we found the truth behind Magnetic hill. It apparently is an optical illusion. Vehicle moving is not the illusion, that’s for real. The road that appears flat or even a slight uphill, is actually downhill

“Sometimes you may find or hear of a mysterious place where objects can apparently roll uphill.  This is a remarkably common illusion that is found in numerous locations around the world.  Usually it is a stretch of road in a hilly area where the level horizon is obscured.  Objects such as trees and walls that normally provide visual clues to the true vertical, may be leaning slightly.  This creates an optical illusion making a slight downhill look like an uphill slope.  Objects may appear to roll uphill.  Sometimes rivers even seem to flow against gravity. Spots where the illusion is especially powerful often become tourist attractions.”  (from a paper published by University of California Riverside). More articles can be found on the web.

7 Comments on “Himalayan Safari Tales # 6 – Defying Gravity or Optical Illusion?

  1. awesome pics! and looks like you had a great trip… this is one of those places i have been reading about for so long, but have yet to visit….. lets hope that day will come soon!

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