Ladakh has two districts, Leh and Kargil. It’s a part of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. A Magnetic Hill can be found about 30 km away from Leh town. While at the magnetic hill, you see motor vehicles, moving upwards at a 20 km/ hour speed while the engines are off.
A billboard has been put up by the local administration to help tourists’ identify the Magnetic Hill. It describes the phenomenon clearly so that you get to enjoy the experience first hand when you reach the hill. It advises you to place your vehicle at a certain spot on the road while the engines are off. You can then notice as the vehicle moves up the hill at a speed of about 20 km/hour.
The magnetic powers of the hill do not only affect vehicles, they also affect aircrafts and helicopters. The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel and locals claim that aircrafts and helicopters passing through this area, have to increase flying speed to avoid the hill’s magnetic impact. When the aircraft tries to fly within the magnetic hill radius, it starts to jerk. Due to this, the Indian Force Pilots try to steer as far way from the magnetic hill as possible.
Explanation of the mystery
The layout of the land surrounding the magnetic hill produces an optical illusion that makes a very slight downhill slope appear to be an uphill slope. This is why, when a car is left with the gears switched off, it appears to be rolling uphill. A variety of such type of hills can be found in different locations around the world.
Though tour guides may try to convince you that the phenomenon is due to supernatural or natural forces, the slope of gravity is an optical illusion. An important factor that contributes to the illusion is a horizon that is mostly or completely obstructed. It’s difficult to judge the slope of a surface if no horizon is available since there will be no reliable reference. This illusion can be compared to the AMES room that makes balls appear to be rolling against gravity.
This illusion mostly occurs on stretches of road on hilly areas that have the horizon level obscured. Objects that provide visual clues like walls and trees on the true vertical usually appear to lean slightly. As a result, an optical illusion is created that makes objects appear to be rolling uphill, rivers to seem like they are flowing against gravity and a slight downhill look like an uphill slope.
Our inner ears’ balance mechanism can also be used to sense which way is up. A horizon that is not level or that can’t be seen can however cause one to be fooled by objects we expect to be vertical but are in reality not. Another reason may be false perspective where objects that are far away appear to be larger or smaller than they really are.