There is something fascinating about snow-capped mountains, enchanting monasteries and small towns situated amidst hills that always sedate one into a different time zone altogether. When on Leh Ladakh Trip by road, be it the people, their culture, their traditions or their lifestyle, it enthralls you in innumerable ways. And their serenity lies in their simplicity; away from the crowd, away from the common din, safely cocooned in layers of snow.
Ladakh happens to be one such region. Its beauty ricochets off every mountain peak to narrow ravines and deep valleys. In this region lies a small town called Leh, gracefully dolled up with huge prayer bells, Dream Catchers and colorful Prayer Flags, something that restores faith in Prayers. One cannot help but wonder which is more bewitching, the beautiful meadows scattered throughout the town or the mountains beyond. A couple of months have passed since my visit to Ladakh but I am still high on it for all the right reasons.
So, before we recover from my Ladakh hangover, we will help you plan the itinerary.
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When To Plan Leh Ladakh Road Trip:
The best time to visit Leh is from May to September. There is a chance of temporary blockage of roads that might be cleared in a couple of hours.
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How To Reach Ladakh:
The main airport of Leh is Kushok Bakula Rimpochee airport. For reaching Leh, you need to catch a flight either from Delhi, Srinagar or Jammu. The flying time between Leh to Delhi is about 1 hour and 15 minutes. There are about 34 weekly flights from Delhi to Leh. The flying Time from Jammu to Leh is approximately 50-55 minutes. The distance between Jammu to Leh by road is 700 km whereas the aerial distance is 297km. So going by air is a preferable way from Jammu to Leh. The only flight operating between Srinagar to Leh is Air India and it takes roughly 1 hour to reach Leh.
The following major airlines operate flights between Delhi and Jammu to Leh.
- Air India
- Go Air
- Jet Airways
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Ladakh By Road-
The most famous route to Leh by road is via Manali with a distance of 475 kms covering a number of high passes, mountains, valleys, and lakes. It takes about 2 days to reach Leh from Manali with necessary halts in between.
One can use their private vehicles, hire a cab or a rent a bike to get there. Besides, there are also daily deluxe and ordinary buses running between the crowned Prince of the two states of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. Travelling through this route depends on the opening of the Rohtang pass and the Baralacha La Pass which is from mid-June to September.
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On Arrival To Leh:
Leh is at an elevation of 10,000 ft above sea level. So, tourists coming from a lower altitude might suffer from Altitude Sickness, dizziness, Low BP and other such acute mountain sicknesses due to the lack of Oxygen. Therefore, it is advised for the visitors to let their bodies acclimatize to the higher altitude and take rest for an entire day upon reaching Leh without over-exerting themselves. However, if required one can take a casual stroll through the main market of Leh.
It is to be noted that the cellular reception is very feeble in Leh-Ladakh. Internet connection does not work at all as packet data do not get transmitted. The sim cards purchased from any other region except Ladakh, show little or no network at all. So it is advisable to purchase a new BSNL or Airtel sim from Leh just for necessary calls and SMS.
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Hotels In Leh Ladakh:
There are innumerable Hotels, Cottages and Guest Houses in Leh starting from the ones overlooking the beautiful town of Leh with snow-capped mountains beyond to the ones closer to the main market. You get to choose your pick.
However, if you are looking for the best hotels within your budget then there The Cozy Corner, Sangto Green, Siala Guest house, Singe palace Hotel are the way to go.
Take an early flight to Leh from Delhi. Upon reaching Leh it is advised to take rest for the entire day and adapt to the lower air pressures of his high altitudinal area. In the evening one can visit-
- Shanti Stupa– a white domed Buddhist Stupa whose architecture is an Indo-Japan Venture. It is situated on the hilltop overlooking the entire town of Leh sprawled below it and the hills surrounding it
- Hall Of Fame– A memorial commemorating the Unsung Heroes of Indo-Pak war.
- Leh Main Market– The ever beckoning main market of Leh filled with Canvas Arts, China Shops, Dreamcatchers, Gemstones, Souvenirs, Prayer Flags, Woollen Wears etc. Make a wish and it will come true here.
After an early breakfast, brace yourselves for a thrilling day ahead that includes visiting-
- Spituk Monastery- Located at about 8 km from Leh, on Leh- Srinagar highway, this Monastery opens at 8 in the morning. It contains the history of Lord Buddha and the onset of Buddhism.
- Magnetic Hills- at a distance of 24kms from Leh, these hills seem to defy the law of gravity. Spooky, much?
- Pathar Sahib- a Gurudwara located about 20-22 km from Leh, and maintained and looked after by the Indian Army, has a history of its own.
- Sangam Point- The confluence of River Zanskar and River Indus. It provides a plethora of Trekking and River-rafting opportunities.
- Vaishno Dev Temple- The traditional Vaishno Devi Temple with a twist of Buddhist culture.
After a long and tiring day, come back to your rooms and grab a cup of hot coffee as your wanderlust catches you off-guard.
Start early for a dull full of spine-tingling adventures. Since we will be going to a high altitudinal area, it is advised to carry an oxygen cylinder
- Khardungla Pass- Situated at a height of 18,380fts, Khardungla is considered as the world’s highest motorable road. Since it is at a very high altitudinal area, it is advised to carry an oxygen cylinder along with you.
- Nubra Valley- Famous for its sand dunes, Camel rides and motorbiking along the River Shyok. Famous for its straight roads that define every Ladakh road trip.
The only major town of this place is Hunder. It is situated at an elevation of 5,000 feet above sea level. So the network receptivity and Internet connection are good here. Take a night halt at a guest house and charge the batteries of your cell phones and cameras before 10 at night as the power goes off at 10 till 7 in the morning.
Get ready for a bumpy ride from Hunder to the lake Pangong Tso, as the roads, no matter how well maintained by the BRO, gets eroded every due to frost and precipitation.
NOTE: Nubra Valley is the only place in Asia, where people can die either because of Sun-stroke or by Frost-bite. So take necessary precautions and keep yourself hydrated as well as shielded from the cold winds throughout the ride.
Pangong Tso- It is a 5-6 hours journey from Hunder. Take in the exhilarating and breathtaking view of the magically azure waters of Pangong Tso.
There are several eateries across the lake as well as camping grounds with decent amenities for an overnight stay at Pangong.
Changla Pass- situated at a height of 17,500 feet with roads wider and broader than that of the Khardungla Pass. Grab a hot cup of coffee and seep in the beauty of this place in packets of wonder.
Back to Leh. After a long and tiring day, unwind yourself with the delicious local cuisines of Leh and take rest.
Catch an early flight from K.B. Airport of Leh to Delhi via Jammu.
Itineraries are meant to help you plan your trip in a more organized way and not to restrain your steps. So get back on the roads, plan the unplanned and tread along the road not trodden. Have a safe journey.