Leh- Ladakh, also known as the land of high passe’s is a dream destination for most of us. Since childhood, I had always heard about the place Leh-Ladakh but never got an opportunity to go there. My engineering 3rd-year final exams were over and I and my three friends were in Rampur Bushehr for our industrial training at the Jhakri Hydro project. One of our friend from Shimla called us on one evening and said that he was planning a road trip to Ladakh in his Scorpio(SUV) and was asking if we were interested or not.
Well definitely, we were!!. He told us that he had planned to leave after two days. As for us, it was a golden opportunity that we couldn’t miss at any cost, so we said: “we are in”.We later planned to meet in Shimla the day after tomorrows morning. We packed our bags and the next evening we left for Shimla in the HRTC Chandigarh-Reckong Peo bus. We reached Shimla early in the morning and finally, the day had come when we going to explore Ladakh. We started our trip from Shimla and by the end of that day, we reached Manali. As we were travelling from yesterday, we decided to take a rest as from tomorrow we were about to start a whole new journey to the land of high passes.
The total distance from Shimla- Leh: 720km via Manali Highway.
Picturesque valleys and lush greeneries of Ladakh Region
The next day I woke up to pretty mountain views with snow-fed waters of the meandering Beas river hugging the road all along as Manali is considered to be a popular, gripping and rejoicing hill stations in India.
After completing all the formalities of permit for our Leh trip we outset our Trip and headed towards the Rohtang La, a high mountain pass on the eastern Pir Panjal Range at an altitude of 3900m. As it was my first ever visit this side of Manali, the view was mesmerising decorated naturally by scenic peaks, picturesque valleys and lush greeneries, it gets the visitors close to the Mother Nature. The Rohtang la pass descends on the other side in Koksar village in the Spiti Valley and the road is really bumpy.
Moving ahead from Koksar, the view changed after every curve and came across the last fuel filling Station at Tandi which is about 110km from Manali,
Last filling station on the Manali-Leh Highway at Tandi
In Tandi, Chenab is formed by the confluence of the Chandra and Bhaga rivers and In its upper reaches, it is also known as the Chandrabhaga.
In the evening after a long drive, we reached Sarchu and stayed here for the following night. Sarchu is just located on the Himachal and J&K border. There is hardly any phone connectivity here, but one can use the satellite phone of the army base camp to contact home and it is a perfect destination for camping and overnight stay. The view’s from here are breathtaking.
Witty Road Sign You Will See at Sarchu
Next day after having breakfast at Tandi we headed forward toward our next challenge that was the Gata Loops. Not many people know of this place except for those who have been on the road from Manali –Leh. There are 21 loops in total that take you to a high altitude of around 17,000ft from just 13,000ft. As we travelled along the hairpin bends and curves, we felt the adrenaline rush of being challenged by the terrain.
View of Ladakh region from the top of the Gata Loops
After crossing the Gata Loops we reached Pang, where the highest transit army camp is located. This camp has been set up as a stop for the armed forces who take this route between the areas bordering Pakistan and China and the rest of the country.
Breathtakingly different Scenic view from Pang
As there was a transit army camp located in pang, an Army convoy passed by us in the Morey plains, that blew our mind by its salient views.
The Morey plains is a 40km stretch between Pang and Tanglang La pass. The road is mostly on the plain for around 30-35 km, before it again starts to rise to Tanglang La.
Army Convoy at the Morey Plains
Delightful view from the Morey Plains
After taking some good click’s at the Morey plain, we headed toward the Tanglang La Pass, It is one of the highest mountain passes in the Leh region and is second highest motorable mountain pass in the world situated at an elevation of 17,582 ft.
Tanglang La Pass ( 17,582ft )
Tibetan Prayer flags at Tanglang La Pass
The trip to Leh is always full of surprises you can never predict what the mother nature has to show you next. As we came closer to the city of Leh the first Tibetan Monastery that we witnessed was Thiksey Monastery aka Thiksey Gompa.
It is located on top of a hill in Thiksey village, approximately 19 km east of Leh city. It is a twelve-story complex and houses many items of Buddhist art such as Stupas, statues, thangkas, wall paintings and swords.
Panoramic view of the Thiksey Gompa with Two Full Rainbow’s
We reached Leh around 6’o clock in the evening and decided to look out for a homestay in the Leh city. Afterwards, we found a good accommodation by contacting the owner of the nearby Cafe. The night was spent well and the next day we decided to head towards the mighty Pangong Tso which is around 220km from Leh city.
It is 134 km long and extends from India to China and almost 60% of the length of the lake lies in China. To reach Pangong lake we passed another highest pass of the world The Changla Pass and also crossed a river called Pagal Naala or “The Crazy Stream”.
Shanti Stupa At Pangong Tso
The same day we headed back to Leh and left for Manali the next day and for me who has always wondered how Leh Ladakh would be, this trip is just a dream come true as it is well said that “Best moment happens when they are unplanned“.
Things to know about the Leh Trip:
- Best time to go for the trip: April – September.
- The document’s to carry on the trip: Aadhar Card, Voter ID, PAN Card with their attested copies as you need to submit the same for inline permits for the restricted areas. For Foreign nationals, it is mandatory that they carry a copy of their passport and visa, along with the original ones.
- Altitude sickness: Swelling of hands, feet, and face, Shortness of breath upon exertion, Fatigue or weakness. It is also advised to carry medications, first-aid kit.
- Interesting place’s near Leh: Nubra valley, Shanti Stupa, Khardungla Pass, Leh Palace, Magnetic Hill, Zanskar Valley, Chadar Trek, Hall of Fame Museum, various Monasteries and much more.
- Bus route on Manali – Leh Highway: There are plenty of bus services from Manali to Leh. The bus route is only operational from July 1st to September 15th every year. ( Delhi-Keylong-Leh) This bus ride is one of the longest, highest and toughest bus route in the world. ) which is around 1100km
Delhi-Keylong-Leh HRTC bus
So when are you planning your trip to Ladakh? For more travel stories and experiences connect with me on Facebook, Instagram and linkedin.