Different ways to reach Ladakh
Different ways to reach Ladakh
There is a famous saying in Ladakh “The land is so barren and the passes are so high that only our fiercest enemies or our best friends would want to visit us”
If you are planning to visit Ladakh and are confused on how you should reach, we at TripPlatform have prepared a complete travel guide along with other important information which will be useful and will eliminate all confusions going through your mind.
As you begin reading this article, you first have to decide on the number of days you will spend in exploring Ladakh region and the budget at your disposal and then opt from the best possible option for your travel.
A flight trip to Leh gives travelers a spectacular panoramic view of the snow - capped mountain ranges and the thrill of identifying popular valleys and landmarks below throughout their travel.
Ladakh's capital Leh is well connected by flight services from New Delhi, Jammu and Srinagar and there are a number of airlines that operate regular scheduled flights.
Travelers must note that the weather conditions can be erratic in Leh and flights can get cancelled at a short notice. So travelers should check before traveling and book well in advance, since the flights are usually full during the summer months(June – September).
Merits of Air Travel :
- Save on time.
Demerits of Air Travel :
- Air Travel is Costly.
Recommended months of Travel by Air : April to November is the best. But flights operate all round the year for Leh.
There are no direct trains to Leh (Ladakh); the nearest railway station is Jammu Tawi in Jammu which is about 700 km from Leh city. Jammu Tawi railhead is well connected with all major cities and towns of India.
Driving to Ladakh by road is one of the most exhilarating road adventures in India, as it involves driving through some of the world's highest motor-able mountain passes, travel through vast semi-arid planes, barren mountains, sweeping valleys and stunning panoramas all around, while getting the glimpse of the nomads and tribes living in small hamlets all along the way.
Needless to say, the pictures you will post on the social media about your road trip will be an instant hit and for the rest of your life you will have something worthwhile to brag about.
There are two roads that bikers and drivers take to reach Leh town. One is the Srinagar - Leh Highway and the other is the Manali - Leh Highway.
Road from Srinagar to Leh
Distance : 434 km.
Approximate time : 10 hours (Travel time may differ depending on your mode of transport, halts taken en-route, weather & traffic conditions on the highway).
Best time to travel through this highway : June to November. (This route is closed from November onwards to May due to heavy snowfall).
There are 2 routes from Srinagar to Leh
1) Srinagar - Sonmarg - Drass - Kargil - Mulbekh - Lamayuru - Leh.
2) Srinagar - Sonmarg - Drass - Kargil - Batalik - Dah - Skurbuchan - Leh. ( via Batalik & Dah an Inner-line permit is required from the DEC office in Kargil or Leh).
The Srinagar - Leh Highway is known as NH-1D and has been the lifeline for Ladakh region as it connects it to other parts of India via Kashmir Valley. As you travel along this Highway you will get a glimpse of the Indus River flowing along and you will also come across a number of passes, the major ones being the Zozi La Pass @ 11,500 feet, Fotu La Pass @ 13,000 feet and Namki La Pass @ 12,500 feet above sea level.
Travel modes on Srinagar - Leh Highway.
Privately Owned Vehicles - Self Driven (Cars and Bikes):
It is a dream for most drivers (car) and bikers to drive on this highway as it is an experience of a lifetime, tourist can opt for rented cars or bikes that are easily available. An SUV/MUV or En-field bikes are ideal vehicles on this route, but it is advisable for travelers to know about the maintenance of the vehicle they are driving in case of any trouble with the vehicle which may occur during the journey.
Engage a Private Taxi :
Tourist can book their taxis at Srinagar from tour operators and reach Leh comfortably.
Srinagar - Leh Bus Service :
Tourist can board the JKSRTC buses from Srinagar Bus Stand (i.e. near Lal Chowk), this is one of the cheapest mode of transport for reaching Leh. Semi-Deluxe and Private Buses can be booked from Private bus operators in Srinagar. Buses generally leave early in the mornings with halts at Sonmarg and Kargil.
Shared Taxi Service :
Tourist can also opt for shared taxi services which start from Srinagar and is ideal for single or budget travelers. These shared taxis ferry about 6 people along with the driver. Shared taxis generally start their journey at midnight and reach Leh the next day.
Other Important Information on Srinagar - Leh Highway
The Srinagar- Kargil - Leh route is highly recommended as it has a gentle ascent (climb) towards Leh which allows tourist to get acclimatized to the high altitude more easily while traveling as compared to Manali - Leh route which has a sudden steep ascent (climb) towards Leh which can cause AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness).
Sightseeing & Attractions on the Srinagar - Leh Highway :
This Highway has a number of sightseeing and attractions, i.e. a few of them on the way, while others can be slightly off-route. Tourist can plan their visit according to their interest.
- Maitrey at Mulbek
Petrol Pumps on the Highway (from Srinagar) :
Srinagar, Mangan, Sonmarg, Kargil, Mulbekh, Wakha, Khaltsi, Leh.
ATM's on the Highway (from Srinagar) :
Srinagar, Ganderbal, Drass, Kargil, Sasapol, Leh.
Road from Manali to Leh
Distance: 473 km.
Approximate time: 15 hours (Travel time may differ depending on your mode of transport, halts taken en-route, weather & traffic conditions on the highway).
Best time to travel through this highway: Mid June to Early October.( This route is closed from November onwards to May due to heavy snowfall).
Route from Manali to Leh :
Manali - Rohtang Pass - Keylong - Jispa - Bara Lachha Pass - Sarchu - Zanskar Range - Lachulung La Pass - Tanglang La Pass - Upshi - Leh.
The Manali - Leh highway serves as the second route to reach Ladakh and is a perfect route for adventure enthusiasts. The route is full of scenic beauty and is about 470 km long, out of which 350 km is without any civilization or any human settlements; hence it is important to plan well before traveling on this highway especially if you are driving yourself.
The first major pass in this road is the Rohtang pass @ 13,000 ft which is crossed soon after leaving Manali, it cuts through the Pir Panjal range of the Himalayas. Then after reaching Keylong which is an important town in this region, the road follows the Bhaga River up to its source, passing a few villages and hamlets till the territory of Ladakh is entered.
From here on its full of hairpin bends up to the Baralacha La Pass @ 16,050 feet, which is a tri-junction. After this lies the Zanskar Range and is crossed through two more passes, the Lachulung - La Pass @ 16,600 feet and the Taglang - La Pass @ 17,500 feet. Between both these two passes there is nothing but rock and sand, broad plains and rolling hills.
Once you cross the Tanglang La pass, the descent begins to the Indus Valley, and soon you will pass by the first village, Rumtse. The road then leads to the Gya River down to the Indus at Upshi, from where it is plain sailing to Leh, past the Indus valley villages of Karu, Thikse, Stakna, Shey and finally the Tibetan village at Choglamsar, before you enter the town of Leh.
Travel modes on Manali - Leh Highway :
Privately Owned Vehicles - Self Driven (Cars and Bikes).
Non - Himachal Pradesh vehicles on Manali - Rohtang pass have been banned by the government of Himachal Pradesh since the 27th June 2011.So, if you want to travel by your own vehicles you have to take permits from the SDM office in Manali, however there are no restrictions on motor-cycles. Tourist can travel in their own vehicles or rent a Car and self drive, again it is important that travelers should be experts in driving since the terrain is rugged and at the same time they should know about the maintenance of their own vehicles in case of any trouble which may occur during the journey.
Engage a Private Taxi :
Tourist can book their taxis at Manali from tour operators or at Manali Taxi stand and reach Leh comfortably. The local drivers here are experts and can negotiate difficult routes of this region with ease.
Manali - Leh Bus Service :
If you are a budget traveler or a solo traveler this is the ideal way to travel. HPTDC runs several bus services for Leh, both ordinary and semi-luxury buses are available on this route. Tickets can be booked online, so make sure you book your tickets in advance and confirm your bus schedule.
Shared Taxi Services :
Tourist can also opt for shared taxi services which start from Manali and is ideal for single or budget travelers. These shared taxis ferry about 6 people along with the driver. Shared taxis generally start their journey at midnight and reach Leh the next day.
Other Important Information on Manali - Leh Highway
The Leh - Manali route is better to travel on as compared to than the Manali - Leh route, since in the former tourist will be moving downwards from high altitudes hence tourist will be more comfortable and can enjoy the scenic beauty and will not suffer from AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) which is caused by steep climbs.
Petrol Pumps on the highway :
ATM on the highway :
Sightseeing & Attractions on the Manali - Leh Highway :
This Highway has a number of sightseeing options i.e. a few of them on the way, while others can be slightly off - route.
Tourist can plan their visit according to their interest.
- Solang Valley
Getting around Ladakh
In Ladakh there are regular public bus services that run between the 2 major towns of Leh and Kargil on fixed routes and according to a fixed time schedule, other smaller villages and hamlets are connected to each other by mini buses, this is the cheapest way to travel in this region.
However, the most comfortable and convenient way though expensive mode of travel is by bike, taxis, cars and jeeps which are available for hire on fixed point-to-Point tariff.
For trips to the newly opened areas of Nubra and Dhahanu valley, Pangong, Tso Moriri and Tso Kar Lakes it is mandatory to engage the services of a registered travel agency for making all the requisite arrangements including internal transport.
Travelers can obtain detailed information about bus schedules, taxi tariffs, travel agencies from the Tourist Office of Jammu and Kashmir.