Earlier in our Beginner’s Guide to Leh Ladakh, we discussed about the things to carry and about the things we have to take care of before starting your dream holiday to Ladakh. Today we are going to discuss How to reach Leh Ladakh and the different Routes that you could follow.
Before starting further with the routes, lets first understand what all the adventure we are going through during the drive to Ladakh. You will be driving through one of the worlds most beautiful of the roads and will be crossing the high altitude passes, snow covered mountain ranges and the beautiful landscapes that you really had not imagined before. Driving to Ladakh is always a lifetime experience no matter whether it’s your first time or your fifth time to Ladakh.
Let’s start understanding the options through which we can reach leh, first one is driving through the most adventurous roads to Leh Ladakh which is a little time consuming but will have much more fun and the other one is commuting Leh by Air. It depends on many factors which one suits you, like if you are saving time for your Holiday and want to spend more time in Leh city, if you love to drive more than just spending time in the main city, if you love adventure more than luxury and prefer to experience staying at camps and tents on the highway to Leh.
How to reach Leh Ladakh by Road:
This is the most fun loving part of your holiday and I am sure everyone here will love to drive on the ever changing terrain and different climatic conditions. We have two option to drive to Leh, first one is “Manali Leh Highways” and another one is “Srinagar Leh Highway”. You can choose any of these depending on your priorities. If you will ask me, I am a bit greedy in this matter and love to do a round trip so I will start the trip from Manali and will end it up at Srinagar, so will can catch up with all the places and destinations in between.
Manali Leh Highway:
The 475 km Manali-Leh Highway is a gold mine for adventure loving people, filled with high altitude passes and snow covered mountains. The highway remains open for just five months in a year starting from mid-June till October. This highway is also called as the ‘Upshi-Manali’ road. En routes many passes including Taglang La, claims to be the second highest motorable pass in the world. The route is mostly barren and uninhabited.
The most important thing before getting started is to take note of fuel, as we have limited manali to leh petrol pumps and which only only one in number, located in Tandi 113 kms from Manali and 367 kms before reaching Leh. Also get some packed food and drinking water as you would not find any hotels or restaurants on the way expect some guest houses in Keylong and a few camped accommodations in Sarchu & Pang where you will get tents on sharing basis with a cost of approx Rs. 200 per person.
Srinagar Leh Highway:
Formely called a National Highway 1, connect Kashmir Valley to Leh. The 415 km stretch en routes Sonamarg, Zojila Pass, Drass, Kargil, Lamayuru and Alchi. Most of the road is crossing through different villages so you will not find much inhabitant land like we have in Manali Leh Highway. As we all know, Kashmir is known as the heaven on the earth, so driving through this route will be like driving through from one heaven to another. You will be starting your journey from lush green Kashmir valley following by the beautiful Sonamarg valley.
Sonamarg: The word itself implies signifies ‘meadow of gold’ has, as its scenery, cold mountains against a dark blue sky. The climate of Sonamarg is very fresh and full of energy, but the rainfall is frequent though not much heavy, except for two or three days at a time in July and August. In late April when Sonamarg is open for road transport, the guests can have entry to snow secured mountains which is outfitted all over like a white cover.
Zoji La Pass: Zoji La (Ladakhi: ཟོ་ཇི་ ལཱ་; ) also called Zojila Pass, the correct word is Zoji Pass or essentially Zojila, since the word "La" itself means Pass in a few Himalayan dialects. Zoji La is 9 kms from Sonamarg and gives a key connection between Kashmir Leh Ladakh. It keeps running at a height of approx. 3,528 meters (11,575 ft) from sea level, and is the second highest motorable Pass after Fotu La on the Srinagar-Leh National Highway.
Kargil: Kargil is a town, which serves as the headquarters of Kargil district of Ladakh in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in India. Kargil is the second biggest town in Ladakh after Leh. It is located 60 kms from Drass. Kargil is generally came to spotlight after The Kargil War amongst Indian and Pakistan in the year 1999. In transit from Dras to Kargil you can likewise visit Kargil War Memorial. Dras War Memorial (Kargil War Memorial), otherwise called the Vijaypath, is a war commemoration built by the Indian Army, situated in Dras, in the foothills of the Tololing Hill. The remembrance is situated around 5 km from the city centre across the Tiger Hill.
Lamayuru: Lamayuru Monastery (བླ་མ་གཡུང་དྲུང་དགོན་པ་), also known as Gyung Drung located at an altitude of 2957m from sea level, 127kms west of Leh on Srinagar-Leh Highway. It is called as Gyung Drung, after the Ladakhi word for the Swastika. The Lamayuru region used to be one major lake. An great saint called Nimagung came here and anticipated that a major gompa would one day be set up where he stood. He then prayed and offered grains of corn to the spirits of Nag Snakes. At the point when the grains fell on the ground they framed a Swastika. Consequently, the religious monastery’s name.
Below is the route map from Srinagar to Leh, you can also click on the link above to view larger map for detailed road distances and navigation.
Driving Road Distances: Srinagar-Leh Highway
Below are the Road Distances of Various Destinations on the route from Srinagar to Leh
|Srinagar (Starting Point to Leh)|
|Sonamarg (el. 2,800 m or 9,186 ft)|
|Zoji La (link between Ladakh and Kashmir Valley)|
|Kargil War Memorial (known as Dras War Memorial)|
|Kagil (second biggest town in Ladakh)|
|Lamayuru (བླ་མ་གཡུང་དྲུང་དགོན་པ་, also known as Gyung Drung)|
|Leh (your dream destination.. )|
Image courtesy Journey to Himalayas