Plonked at an altitude of 11,000 feet above sea level, the ‘Magnetic Hill’ is a curious natural phenomenon located near Leh in Ladakh, India. It defies gravity and so it is also commonly referred to as the ‘Gravity Hill’. The signboard on the road, the Leh-Kargil-Srinagar national highway, reads that you can experience this staggering phenomenon by parking your vehicle in the stop painted white on the road. When the car is parked on that particular spot or anywhere in its vicinity on this road, it starts moving at a decent speed. You would say that it is possible on a downhill slope anywhere in the world. Here’s the catch- the car starts moving uphill, visibly defying gravity! The stark mountain it is ringed by is believed to have magnetic properties and that it can even be demonstrated using an air drone or water for that matter. A wave of mystery surrounds this phenomenon, dwelling in the acclivitous passage in Ladakh. Some of the local guides would even tell you that supernatural forces are at work here and that it is caused by a God’s presence in the hill, attracting all pilgrims. This spectacular spectacle has always conjured thoughts of omens and divine intervention in the minds of the locals and the mighty story-telling tour guides.
So what can be the valid reason behind a vehicle moving uphill with its ignition off? It is implausible right? The hill road lies at a distance of 30 kilometres from the town of Leh, poised at a natural elevation of 11,000 feet above sea level, as stated before. This elevation is the driving factor behind its gravity-defying phenomenon. It is a spot where the arrangement of the neighbouring land induces an ophthalmic illusion, making a slight downhill slope give the impression of an uphill slope to the observer. Thus, a car left without gear would appear to be progressing uphill against gravity. The factor that contributes to this optical illusion the most is a partially or completely obstructed horizon. Without the horizon, judging the slope of the surface becomes difficult for the brain, for an unswerving and reliable reference that was always there is now missing. To our amazement, counterparts of this ‘mystery spot’ are found at countless locations throughout the world with a similar setting that renders an obscure horizon, fooling the observer and causing misapprehension. Typically, an idyllic setting for such a phenomenon to occur constitutes a stretch of road in a hilly region. Objects such as trees and signboards may be slightly inclined, deceiving the person as to where the correct vertical is. Whatever maybe the case, this is something you should experience at least once, for it is astounding. Sometimes, getting fooled feels good, be it an encounter with an innocent child or a magnetic hill.
Have you been to this place yet? Hearts down if yes.