Ladakh, which is perched at an astounding height of more than 10,000 feet above the sea level, is like “heaven” for the travellers. Ladakh is a region in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, seated high in the Zanskar Ranges of the Indian Himalayas. It has a cult following amongst the travellers and is one of the most alluring places in India. For those who get confused by the difference between the twin locations of Leh and Ladakh, let me tell you Ladakh is a part of Jammu and Kashmir state and contains two extremely popular districts- Leh and Kargil. So, Leh is a town in the Leh district of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. A road trip to Leh-Ladakh is no less than a wondrous journey for thrill seekers.
Before embarking on a trip, many questions arise in the mind like when to leave, what to carry or pack, what to do, when to visit, how to reach, and what route to follow etc. So, here are all the answers to your questions:
Ladakh, which is known as the “Land of High Passes”, can be accessed by two routes.
1. Manali to Leh Route
Thinking of places like Leh and Manali ignites a feeling of adventure within the heart of a traveller. One can reach Leh via Manali by following the route of Manali-Leh highway which is stretched around 490 kilometres. However, at some points, the condition of roads is not as expected. So, it is advised to go prepared and carry all the necessary items. The route becomes operational from June and remains open till October.
Government buses, private buses, SUVs etc are available to complete the exhilarating journey through this highway.
Route: Manali- Rohtang- Bharatpur- Sarchu- Pang- Leh
Manali-Rohtang Pass: If you are visiting Leh via Manali, then you should visit Rohtang pass for sure which is almost an essential attraction in the itinerary. Rohtang Pass, which is located at a distance of just 51 kilometres from Manali, can only be reached by road. Rohtang Pass is popular amongst the Bollywood directors. Many blockbusters, including Jab We Met and Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani, have been shot there. With every kilometre, you will feel a chill through your spine and a thrill within you. For experiencing nature in its rawest forms, and to witness breathtaking views, magnificent views, and sprawling landscapes you should visit this place at least once in your lifetime.
You can take HRTC Bus to reach Rohtang Pass from Manali. The fare is around 60 bucks.
2. Srinagar to Leh Route
On this 420-kilometre route (following National Highway 1D) you can enjoy the astounding views of snow-clad peaks, ancient architectures and numerous gurgling rivers. This route originates from Srinagar and takes the visitors through Zoji La Pass which is regarded as “the Gateway to Ladakh”.
Visitors can also reach Leh by availing taxis, buses operated by J&K SRTC, jeeps or SUVs.
Route: Srinagar – Sonmarg – Zozi La – Drass – Kargil – Mulbek – Lamayaru – Saspol – Leh
Distance Between Leh-Ladakh and Other Major Tourist Destinations:
1. Srinagar – Leh: 434 km
2. Manali – Leh: 473 km
3. Srinagar – Kargil: 204 km
4. Delhi – Leh: 1047 km
5. Leh – Kargil: 234 km
6. Kargil – Padum (Zanskar): 240 km
7. Leh – Diskit (Nubra Valley): 118 km
Places to Visit
There are numerous places to visit including monasteries, passes, and lakes. You can visit Pangong lake, Shanti Stupa, Leh Palace, Khardung La Pass, Magnetic hill, Patthar Sahib Gurudwara, Nubra Valley, Spituk Monastery, Chadar Trek, Zanskar Valley, Hall of Fame museum etc.
Best Time to Visit
June to September is considered as the best time to visit Leh- Ladakh. Rest of the year, the region experiences adverse weather conditions. Nature’s abode gets ample sunshine during the months of June to September and is hospitable to the tourists. If you want to enjoy the snowfall you can visit between the months of October and mid-November. After November, there is a drastic fall in the temperature, the wrath of winters strike the place, so all the routes to Leh-Ladakh become non-operational and shut down till April.
Activities to Do
Camping, watching the crystal-clear rivers, biking, visit monasteries, meet monks, camel safari.
Health Precautions and Prevention from Acute Mountain Sickness
There are slight unpredictable climatic conditions and rough terrains so it is advisable to carry an adequate number of woollen clothes and waterproof stuff. Also, carry rain jackets for surviving rain and snow. Your travel bags should also contain sunglasses, lip balm, and sunscreens.
For preventing Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), drink plenty of water, eat food containing ginger and garlic, ascend the mountains gradually and keep chocolate bars, and chewing gums with you.
Inner line permits – Inner line permit (ILP) is a move initiated by the Government of India to restrict the travel time of protected area to a certain time period (for the protection of the environment). So, a person travelling to Ladakh should obtain an ILP by paying Rs. 400 as an environmental fee and an additional fee of Rs. 20 per day as inner line fee.
Green Pass permits (for people going to Rohtang Pass) – The vehicles which are not registered with the Himachal Pradesh state government have to give Composite Environmental Fund (Green Tax) while entering Manali. The permit is valid for a period of seven days.
Those who are travelling in their own vehicles have to take Rohtang Pass and beyond Rohtang Pass, permits which can easily be accessed online.
Don’t forget to take valid ID proofs, first aid kit, and items like goggles, lip balm, moisturiser and camphor.