The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

By any standard and from any perspective, the Leh Manali journey has epic written all over it. With roads that open up for only a few months a year, these 470 km will test you, scare you, shock you and leave you spellbound. You will believe life is beautiful!

Tanglang la

Tanglang la, is the first pass of the 470 km long Leh-Manali journey. We crossed the highest point of our entire trip, over 5300m atop the Tanglang la.  Read the story of our journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

A couple of hours after Leh, all civilisation just vanished. Suddenly, we were on Tanglang la, the mountain pass with its peak at over 5300 m. This is where we crossed the highest point – of not just this journey, but of our lives!

The view at the top was spectacular! The entire pass was laid out before us. We were at level with the snow clad peaks surrounding us. Colourful prayer flags were strung around.

A sign board proudly announced that we indeed were at the highest point of the Leh Manali highway. We felt on top of the world!

They looked like needles rising in the sky, reminding us of the sand castles we built on the beach as kids. Except that they were gigantic! Read the story of our journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

They looked like needles rising in the sky, reminding us of the sand castles we built on the beach as kids.

Except that they were gigantic! And this wasn’t really the sand at the beach.

These were the mighty Greater Himalayas, withered with age by their only constant companion – the ferocious winds.

The 470 km journey from Leh to Manali is studded with unbelievable land formations like these.  Read the story of our journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

This was our view for most of the Leh Manali journey.

Being in the presence of such raw nature – these mountains without as much as a trace of life – was overwhelming.

Sunday is a relaxing day for the hard working construction workers on these mountain passes. Our bus stopped outside this worker's tent and he greeted us with a big smile. Read the story of our journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

Only because there was a road here, we had the privilege to witness this magnanimity. This thought was even more overwhelming.

This road didn’t get here by magic. Brave men and women had braved rough weather, toiled hard to create it.

Like this man, we saw from our bus on Tanglang la.

They come from far off places where they have no real employment opportunity. When the road opens for traffic, these road maintenance workers come here for work. They stay on these mountain passes for 4-5 months a year .

In these months, they earn around Rs.20K (roughly 300$) to take back home.

The only highlight of their day is the 2-3 buses that cross this road. Otherwise they are completely disconnected from civilisation.

Hats off to their endurance!

Lachung la

Lachung la or Lachulung La or Lāchālūng La or Lungalacha La. The second pass of the Leh-Manali route, it is a long meandering pass with its peak at 4891 m.  Read the story of our journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

Long and meandering, with its peak at 4891 m, the Lachung la was the second pass of the Leh-Manali route.

Mountains the shades of browns you didn’t know and land formations you didn’t think possible are the characteristic of this pass!

The 470km journey from Leh to Manali is studded with unbelievable rock formations like these.  Read the story of our journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

Like this natural tunnel we saw on Lachung la.

Opposite the motor-able road, this is probably part of the trekking route from Leh to Manali.

The stunning landscapes and tough terrain of the Greater Himalayas are inviting for cyclists across the world. We saw many cyclists taking on the challenge of the Leh Manali highway.  Read the story of our journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

Nakee la

By the time we reached Nakee la, our third pass, we had come to terms with our “heart in mouth” condition. Every glimpse of the Indus river flowing below brought with it a green oasis. Read full story of the 470 km Leh Manali journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

By the time we reached Nakee la, our third pass, we had come to terms with our “heart in mouth” condition.

Every glimpse of the Indus river flowing below brought with it a green oasis.

Our minds started to wander.

To the people who crossed these mountains by foot. Years ago. Not by choice. Out of necessity.

To the people who have set up camps here, the BRO employees—the ones who maintain these roads. What makes them choose this job? How do they stay connected? How do they get their supplies?

How does this place look in the winter? Covered in snow?

Do the mountains ever get lonely? But they always have winds for company!

Wandering and wondering.

It was now time for the reds of the Leh-Manali highway. The wind-battered mountain faces with their powdered rocks seemed like gigantic sand dunes. Read full story of the 470 km Leh Manali journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

It was now time for the reds of the Leh-Manali highway. The wind-battered mountain faces with their powdered rocks seemed like gigantic sand dunes.

This also makes the Leh-Manali highway vulnerable to massive landslides. The landscape is all very stunning; but with such strong forces of nature at play, there is never really a guaranteed safe passage!

Gata loops

The Gata Loops a series of hairpin bends. It was a roller coaster ride we will never forget. Read full story of the 470 km Leh Manali journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

These are the Gata Loops, a series of hairpin bends looping down.

It was a roller coaster ride we will never forget.

As if the thrill of just scraping by the bend wasn’t enough, the driver decided to add some fun. A short cut was what he needed. He got off the tarmac road. Onto the ground, in between the loops.

The bus rattled. As did our teeth.

We were just hoping this short cut doesn’t cut short dear life!

Baralacha la

The Baralacha la was our last pass of the day. We were now one state lower, in Himachal Pradesh. Deep valleys, hairpin bends and steep curves were now “just another day in office”. Read full story of the 470 km Leh Manali journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

The Baralacha la was our last pass of the day. We were now one state lower, in Himachal Pradesh.

Deep valleys, hairpin bends and steep curves were now “just another day in office”.

The sun was high above our head and the glaciers were melting in full flow. Our bus crossed through what feel like rivers.


Towards the end we crossed a lake Suraj Taal.

We realised we were coming close to civilisation. Soon we would see people! And shockingly, the thought of seeing more people gave us joy!

Coming from Mumbai, a city of over 20 million, we never ever thought that was possible!

Soon after, we reached Keylong where the day’s journey ended.

Rohtang Pass

Rohtang Pass. The crowned prince of the Leh-Manali route. Or a dreaded monster! “If the bus falls off now, at least I have seen the most majestic place on earth.” Yes, this did cross our minds. Read full story of the 470 km Leh Manali journey at The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

Early next morning, while it was still dark, we resumed the journey. Our minds were already in the lush greens of Manali, by the Beas river.

But before that—there was the Rohtang. A pass no driver dares to cross in the night.

After a couple of hours, in broad daylight, we were at the start of the Rohtang Pass. The crowned prince of the Leh-Manali route. Or a dreaded monster!

Imagine the bus (rickety, with smooth tyres!), negotiating a hairpin bend on bumpy gravel at a gradient of what feels over 60 degrees. Suddenly, there’s a truck in front of you. And the bus has to reverse.

But we couldn’t see any of it, because, well, the valley was covered in fog. Or mist. Or were they clouds? We didn’t care! And were we glad! It was all just too much to handle!

“If the bus falls off now, at least I have seen the most majestic place on earth.” Yes, this did cross our minds.

We firmly believed our driver was a magician. And our bus, The Chariot of the Gods!

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Sandeepa and Chetan. Married. Indians. Exploring Travel as Lifestyle. Featured by National Geographic, Yahoo. We hope that through our travel stories we inspire others to make their dream into a reality.

Comments

175 thoughts on “The Leh Manali route – an epic journey

  1. Jyoti Rameja

    Hello Sandeepa, thank you for oyur valuable insights on the manali-leh road trip. Me and my husband have booked the tickets from mumbai to leh from 27th may – 2nd june. Although we have booked our flight tickets from mumbai to leh. But we are of the opinion of travelling from Leh to Manali by road. By halting at Sarchu. Could you please help me with deatils of how to take this trip from Leh to Manali to Delhi By Road. It would be of great help if you could provide me the some contact details for taxis or buses(mode of public transport).
    Awaiting Eagerly for your expert advice! 🙂

  2. Drew

    Hello,

    Some lovely pictures you have there! Me and 2 of my friends are thinking of heading to Leh in June this year. We are thinking of renting a car for self-drive in Srinagar, and then driving from there to Leh and back. I’ve read quite a bit about the journey between Srinagar and Leh, but what seems really unclear to me is whether there are any car rental companies in Srinagar that offer car rentals for self-drive! Would you be able to advise us on this?

    Thanks!

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      We haven’t heard of a car rental company in Srinagar. Besides, they have many rules about which taxis are allowed where. For eg, taxis registered in Srinagar are not allowed in Leh. If you could find a way to rent a private car (white number plate, not the yellow one which indicates commercial vehicle), you could self-drive all along the way. Also, make sure what route you would want to take, you might want to return via the Leh-Manali highway instead of heading back to Srinagar.

  3. Aditi Chaudhary

    HI Sandeepa Chetan, I had a query, can u please help me. Ill be doing Manali to Leh this July. I dont want to fly to leh and then work backwards. Is it sensible to do Manali-Jispa-Tsomoriri-Tsokar-Pangong-Leh-Nubra-Leh or Doing Manali-Jispa-Leh-Nubra-Leh-Pangong-Tsomoriri-Tsokar-Leh is a better route to do spread over 10 days?
    Please guide me. Thanks
    Aditi

  4. Mitali R. Makhija

    Sandeepa,

    In continuation to the below post, Just went through your Zanskar trip now. And understood that cant be be covered in our cramped schedule. Nevertheless please mention all the interesting points. Also I would like to know where we would get a proper view of snow capped mountains.

    Mitali

  5. Mitali R. Makhija

    Hi Sandeepa & Chetan,

    Hope you guys are doing well..

    Your experience from Leh to Manali looks so overwhelming in the blog that I could feel goosebumps, courtesy the photography and your writing 🙂

    Well, I am planning to take the Leh-Manali route this June (second week probably) and would definitely love your advice on certain queries I have.

    1. Firstly how many days would it take from Leh to Manali? Like if we start on Day 1 at around 8 in the morning, will we reach Manali by atleast 8PM on Day 2? A night’s stopover is enough or do we need another night in between?

    2. Where should the stopovers be? How much distance can we cover in one day?

    3. What are the places that should be / can be visited in Leh/Ladakh in case we are there for three full days? We plan to fly in to Leh at around 7 in the morning. So that’s Day 1 for us. And we would head to Manali in a Taxi on Day 4.

    Please mention the places that are NOT TO BE MISSED. I know for sure Tso Pangong Lake, Tso Moriri, Nubra, Zanskar Valley are the highlights. Can we do all this in just three days or do we have to replan the trip?

    Looking forward to your response. Thank you sooo much!!

    Love,

    Mitali

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Hello Mitali, we can sense your excitement in your questions, and that’s what Ladakh incites. Having said that, we have to warn you first. The recommended time for altitude acclimatisation in 3 days. Besides, there is lots to see in Ladakh, even more to experience. Our first recommendation would be to try and increase the number of days. Second, if you can’t then don’t rush after “seeing it all”. Make the most of what you are going. If you are going to the lakes, enjoy the sunrise and sunset there, that’s the best time of the day! Trust us when we say, you will never go to Ladakh just once.
      In 4 days, we would recommend the locations around Ladakh and one of the outside locations – Pangong, Tso Moriri or the Nubra valley. Around Leh, in one direction you can visit Thiksey, Shey and Hemis monasteries. In the other direction you can go all the way to Lamayuru, visiting Alchi monastery on the way.
      We know of tourists who go to Pangong and return in a day, it’s not something we suggest. We would recommend spending the 2 remaining days at either Pangong (crossing Chang la) or Nubra (crossing Khardung la) or visiting Tso Moriri.
      There is another highly adventurous itinerary, but this is not very common, you will not get any help here in case things go wrong. You can head to Pangong via Chang la. There is a route to head directly to Tso Moriri from Pangong. From Tso Moriri, you can head directly to the Leh Manali highway via Tso Kar. This avoids having to come back to Leh. This route is nothing short of an expedition, not to be undertaken unless you have a big group and an experienced and expert driver.
      Do have a look at Google Maps to get an idea of these places and the distances. Do not take AMS lightly, any signs of discomfort, come back to the lower altitude and rest.
      About travelling on the Leh Manali route, you can reach Manali by lunch on day 2, if you start early morning. WE had halted at Keylong, some prefer Jispa, just nearby.

  6. James Limo

    Wow, I love travelling and this kind of articles are very helpful for me, I am always looking for different places and tips for travelling or hiring transportation, I appreciate you for sharing & keep up the good work 🙂

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Anybody travelling through the Leh Manali highway should have spent some days at the high altitude in Ladakh getting acclimatised. Which is why we recommend travelling from Leh to Manali and not the other way round. Getting acclimatised and keeping yourself hydrated are the main precautions to be taken while travelling through these high altitude routes.

  7. DIDI MUHAIMIN IDRUS

    hello Sandeepa, My name Didi and i have a question. I intend to cycling in manali leh highway in December 2017 is suitable for biking there at that time? Thanks you..

  8. Chander Mohan

    Hello! I want to go to Ladakh from my home town Rohtak in June 2017. So can you recommend the suitable bicycles available for that trip in price range of 30-50K or i have to spend more. I want a bike that i would also like to use for my other tours in the plains.

    Thanks

  9. debasish banerjee

    Hi Guys..have a question.me and my wife are planning to go to leh ladakh next year july. now should we start our trip from manali to leh or take the epic manali-leh trip on our way back?my only concern is altitude sickness.it shouldn’t spoil the trip..

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Hey Debasish, we would never recommend going up the road from Manali to Leh. Ideal case scenario would be to get to Leh via Srinagar and get off via Manali. However, no one can predict what the situation in Kashmir would be like in July. We would recommend flying into Leh and return via the Leh Manali road in the present circumstances.

        1. debasish banerjee

          One more question.are good local tour operators available in Leh for pangong lake and Nubra valley trip?can i comfortably book after i reach leh?or i should go with one of the big operators from Mumbai?they will charge a bomb though..

  10. Deepanshu

    Thanks about this simple and good explanation about trip.
    I am planning to go there. Can you suggest by which way to go. By road or by Sky.
    Don’t you think the view from plane would also be worth?

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Deepanshu, ofcourse it’s a lovely sight flying over the Himalayas. We will also get this experience someday for sure, especially in the winters. But we love slow travel and road provides a wonderful way of connecting with the people.

  11. Siddarth Chaturvedi

    Hi Guys!

    I have couple of queries.
    (1) Which is the best month for this trip?
    (2) You said you travelled via public transport then how could you able to click such beautiful shots. Did buses stops at famous points?

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Himalayan summer – July to September is the best time to visit the high altitude Himalayas. Those are the months when the Leh Manali route has the least disruptions (though in the mountains, one has to be prepared for everything). Most of these pictures have been taken in the moving state transport bus, on-the-go. These are all the high altitude passes, so the bus isn’t exactly zooming past. Also, practice makes perfect! Have a look at our travel to Zanskar for photos from a moving truck!

      1. Sudipto Sikdar

        Hi Sandeepa, I want to plan for a Ladakh trip in the month of June/Juky 2017. So need some tour itinerary from you if you dont mind.

  12. Manu Khandelwal

    I love taking bike road trips and i want to do a bike road trip to Leh from Delhi. Can you tell me the short itinerary for this trip? Telling some places to stay would be a great help. After doing, i will be looking for Manali Leh cycling trip.

  13. Itisha

    Hi. Can you tell me how to reach Leh from Manali in October? I will reach Manali on 1st Oct and I am a girl, traveling solo. I have already booked my flight tickets from Pune to Delhi. And the return flight is on 11th Oct morning. I heard about how it is not possible to take the Manali-Leh in october. But I want to go. There must be a way? I don’t want to fly to Leh as it’s costly plus I don’t want to miss the road. Please help.

    1. N Arvind

      It would be better to fly to Leh from Delhi. However, this year, road works are still going on the Manali-Leh highway, to keep it open this year for a longer period to ensure uninterrupted access to Leh (apart from Srinagar Leh Highway). Check up if buses are plying else taxi’s should be available.

  14. Vikash kumar

    Awesome pics and very well written…. congrats..
    i m planning to travel From Manali to leh by bycycle next month. Can you tell me how is route in september.
    are the dhabas open on the way in september?

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      September is still very much the season for Ladakh, so the dhabas should be open. For the latest update on road conditions, you could have a look at the Himalayan Club group in Facebook or the community pages of devilonwheels.
      Respect to you on taking up this cycling expedition! Wish you all the best, hope you have a successful trip. We look forward to reading about your journey.

  15. Narendra prajapati

    Hey sandeep, i am planing to explore zanskar. I all want to know is that is it possible to go phugtal monastery from manali via rohtang la, keylong, darcha, and purne in January 17by trek and hiking. Is it possible trek rohtang pass in winter. Is road from Darcha to purne snow cover? Is it cycle able road? And I want to go there solo. Any permission required to pass rohtang la in winter? How much days it take? Any suggestions to make trek route shorter? What you suggest for make way to phugtal monastery. Waiting for your reply.

  16. Abhishek Jain

    Hi Sandeep…I am really mesmerized by reading your blog…you are a true storyteller and a photographer too. Your blog is really inspiring. To add the background, me and one of my friend is also going to manali to leh expedition in this coming September and It’s a self supported ride. I need an advice from you, I want to carry DSLR on this trip, but unable to figure out how to carry it. Can you please suggest a way to carry it safely and hasselfree.

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Thank you so much Abhishek, and wish you both a wonderful trip to Ladakh! This bag by Lowepro has been our trusted companion to carry our camera gear on all our travels. Carrying a DSLR and the accompanying lenses during travel is never going to be as light as a smartphone camera (which we are starting to use more and more), but the right bags can make a world of difference.

  17. abhishek

    hello sandeep
    can u suggest me itinerary for the leh ladakh trip of around 15 days
    i would love to visit tso moriri , hanle , leh , pangong , nubra valley , turtuk , kargil
    thanks a lot

  18. Souvik

    Hi Guys, Must complement on the really beautiful pictures…
    Also had a query. We are planning to leave for Leh on 6th August from Delhi. Can anyone help me with the inputs on the latest road conditions on Manali-Leh highway?

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      A short climb up a flight of stairs would make us breathless. But we traveled real slow during our time in the higher Himalayas. So no real breathing issues. But yes, after we got down to Manali, the ease in breathing even while climbing up, was noticeable. Are you visiting the Himalayas this year?

  19. Anvita

    Hi SandeepaChetan,

    We have cancelled all the Srinagar-sonmarg-Kargil plans.and taking direct Mumbai-Leh flight due to current crisis in Srinagar. Can you please guide us on what to visit thereafter in 10 days (12-22 August)? So far we have Leh, Tso Moriri and Nubra on the list. Please advise as I don’t know if I ever get a chance to visit Leh again (keeping 2 kids at home this time with in laws) and don’t want to miss anything in this trip though 10 days could not be that enough. 🙂

    Regards,
    Anvita

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Hello Anvita, sorry couldn’t get back to you earlier. Hope you had a wonderful trip to Ladakh. Our favourite saying about Ladakh is, you can not go to Ladakh once. Trust us when we say, someday you will be back. So even if you missed out on places, there will always be another time.

  20. deepak

    hi im deepak from bangalore. we are planning ride from manali to leh during mid of august. is it the good time to travel by bike. also wat are things that we need to carry for safety.

  21. Shaharban

    Hi Sandeepa & Chetan. I just stumbled on to this site when I was searching for traveller’s blogs. I am in total awe even after 45 minutes of leaving my seat…such beautiful places. I and my husband are planning a Delhi-Kullu-Manali trip by September mid week. We are from Kerala and we have to travel by train from here to Delhi and then by bus from there on. Is September a good time to visit there?

    God bless you guys…. you’re living a lot of people’s dream….may God make your life more happening and easier….

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      September is a good time to visit Himachal. It is the low season for the lower Himalayas, so even the popular tourist destinations like Manali will be a little less crowded. You will also get off season prices at hotels. Happy a good trip. The Himalayas are totally worth traveling all the way up from Kerala! Happy travels!

  22. Vinod

    Hello Sandeep,
    wow, after reading this I can’t wait further to visit this place, I am 39 year old & first time I will be doing solo trip to Laddakh in beginning of Sep. I will be flying from Delhi to Kulu and after a day stay in Kullu will travelling to Leh by HPTDC bus. And will have 7 days in Leh to explore Laddakh. I will fly back from Leh to Mumbai.
    Would be great help if you can advice me, as I am but worried to take road from Manali to Leh, what would be your suggestion?
    Is sept 1st week good time to visit?
    Looking forward to hear from you.

    Regards

    Vindoijad

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Hello Vinod, Ladakh is a perfect destination for solo travel. Wish you an awesome time! We would ideally recommend descending via the Leh-Manali route since by then your body is acclimatised to the high altitudes of the Leh-Manali highway. Consider seeking medical advice regarding the risk involved.

  23. Swati

    Such a beautiful post! Ladalg will always remain close to my heart and it is amazing when I come across like minded writers who capture it’s essence so beautifully 🙂

  24. Arun

    Nice Blog!!… We are planning to hire bikes and cover Chandigarh-Srinagar-Leh-Manali-Chandigarh route. Is it the good route to follow in mid August?

    Do we have to rent separate bikes in Leh for sight seeing in Leh Area like Pangong Tso, Nubra valley? Is there any restrictions like this in Leh area?

    Also do we need to take permits in Manali if we go to leh via Manali for non HP vehicles??

    Please help on this.

    1. mohit chopra

      No, u don’t have to rent another bike to get to leh. you can take same bikes your will hire from manali.

      If you will ask any local there, you’ll be asked to hire local bikes so that they make some money as income sources are less there.

  25. Shikha

    Please guide on Direct flight from Mumbai to Leh any issues in health. is it safe to take direct flight as I have time of 7 days and there is already gang gamed and some have already booked air tickets. Precaution to take while travelling. 15 July to 21st July is our Leh travel decided. Do we need to take medicine before 2-3 days travelling to Leh.

  26. Ashraf Azmal

    Very nicely written, and so are the pictures Sandeep.
    We are planning for a Delhi-Srinagar-Leh-manali Delhi road trip in July 2016. Our concentration will be more on Leh. Manali will be a mere stop over at night on route to Delhi. My question is if it is possible to drive from Leh to Manali in 1 day and Manali to Delhi, the next day in a Mahindra XUV with all 5 guys being decently good drivers. Also is it possible to drive on these roads in the night too?

  27. Aparna Dev

    Stumbled upon your site while researching on Leh to Manali tour. You are a vivid traveller and I want your advice on my first trip to visit this beautiful place on earth. Im planning Leh to Manali in early September, where my first point of entry would be Leh (Flying from New Delhi). Im not sure if this is a great plan considering all that I read abt AMS.. but I have very few days and I want to spend considerable amount of relaxed time in Manali and Kasol, which Im thinking would be better after the Leh – Manali road trip.

    First of all is it a sane plan considering its my first time ? How many days would you advice I should spend in Leh to get acclimatised to the altitude and then start the journey to Manali.

    Thanks again for your comments and for the mind blowing photographs.

    1. Viram

      Hi Aparna – Is it a cycling trip that you’re planning? I’m planning to cycle either Leh-Manali or Leh-Nubra/Pangong starting around Sept-4 and I fly in to Leh on Sept-2.

  28. Aniket kibe

    Hi Sandeepachetan

    So, we group of friends are planning trip to Laddakh. The thing is we are short on days.

    We are planning from 15-22 June. 15th monring we will be in Manalis, and we have to be back by 22 in delhi.

    The thing is, if we take the road trip, it will give us only 4 days to roam around in Leh, and 4 days will be spent in travelling to and from Leh.

    But we don’t want to miss out on bike trip eiither, what do you suggest. What should we compromise.

    The road trip or the Time up there in Leh

    1. Eram

      Kibe!!!
      I read the query before reading the name and I was like “Dude, this guy’s itinerary matches ours exactly. What an amazing coinicidence. I should check this person out.” And then there you were :p

    2. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      From acclimatisation point of view, we would not recommend the Manali to Leh journey to start with. If you are short on time, we would recommend heading to Leh first, seeing places like Lamayuru and Hemis around Leh. Then you can visit one of the three common far off destinations – Pangond Tso, Tso Moriri or Nubra valley.

  29. SADI

    Hello Sandeepachetan,!
    very very nice blog!
    need one info from your experience.
    From leh to manali is it possible to use state bus at June with a night halt at keylong? I wanted to travel by HPTDC bus but HPTDC bus starts from July. So only option remains is state transport bus.
    Please reply at your convenient time.

    SADI

  30. Saket

    Hi sandeepa chetan planning road trip from manali to leh. Shall we go with a tour operator or we can manage it ourselves? Your suggestion

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Hello Saket, we are joining our friends this year on a tour to remote parts of Ladakh as well as Zanskar. If you are only planning on traveling from Manali t Leh (without traveling around in Ladakh), then you can just take the state transport bus to Leh.

  31. Nathan Britten

    Would you recommend going from Leh to Manali or Manali to Leh? Some people have said it is better to go from Leh to Manali because of altitude sickness. If so how would you recommend getting to Leh?

    Thanks

    Nathan

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Hello Nathan, your information is absolutely correct. The altitudes on the mountain passes of the Leh Manali route could cause a problem if the body is not accustomed. If you have the time, the best way to get to Leh (at least for us), is visa the Srinagar-Leh route. You have options of taking it slow by halting at Mulbekh, Kargil (most popular) or Drass (we spent a night here). Another option is to fly to Leh from Srinagar or Delhi. In any case, a couple of days for altitude acclimatisation n Leh are a must before you venture further into the Ladakh valley.

        1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

          Hello Mr. Nagarajan, thank you for writing to us! The key is to give your body enough time to adjust to the altitude and the lesser oxygen levels. Travel as slow as you can, ascend to higher heights gradually. Also, drink lots of water and walk slowly. Avoid alcohol. And listen to your body.

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  34. Rukshar

    Hey we are planning to go on a roadtrip from mumbai to leh ladakh then passing to manali n through Lucknow back to mumbai what are gonna be the challenges n necessities we need to keep in mind while driving as well as other things and we are planning to go in month of July thts during monsoon please ping back. Thanks in advance

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Hello Rukshar, thank you for writing to us and wish you all the best for this ambitious driving plan. As you would have read, we traveled in Ladakh mostly by public transport. We do not have experience of driving to Ladakh. Do consult Ladakh driving specific websites, devilonwheels is one very good resource regarding this. During our stay in Drass, we did meet a group who had driven a similar route quite successfully, so your plan is quite doable. Happy travels to you!

  35. Rahul

    the road doesn’t open until mid of June. Suggest you to postpone your paln to end of June to enjoy uninterrupted journey.

  36. Bharat Prajapati

    helo devesh How r u, Me Bharat from Gujarat want to go with my wife on this tour, but have not good Partner. i just see your Comments here. if you not Complete your Tour can we discuss for next planning, my email id is bhrtmlt@gmail.com

  37. Soumyadip Guha

    Hello,

    I will visit Ladakh on First week of April. Can you please confirm me in April(1st week) is Khardungla pass and Pangong lake accessible?

    Please inform me.

  38. Ajay G Menon

    Hi Chetan,
    The pictures are stunning and you have described the land very well.
    I am in the process of convincing a few of my friends to undertake a bike ride with me on the same route.
    May i have your permission to use your pictures on a closed group post? I could say a thousand words or just show your pictures to convince them.
    Pls let me know.
    Thank you and safe travels.
    – Ajay Menon

  39. Raj

    Hi Chetan,

    First of all, all the pictures are amazing.
    We have planned for Manali-Leh trip from 15th-24th Aug. Due to the change in weather conditions, is it safe to execute our trip at this point of time.

    Is Anyone else going to leh at this time(15th-24th Aug). Some of our friends have already backed out due to bad weather and now we are only 3 persons remaining. Also let me know if anybody would like to join us for the trip.

    We were planning the bike trip earlier, but now depending on the weather condition we will decide if bike is feasible and if not we will book a cab for manali to Leh.

    Please feel free to contact me @09611837766

  40. Gaurang Kashela

    Hi Chetan,

    First of all let me tell you these all pictures are breathtaking! I am Gaurang, 31 planning to visit Leh-Ladakh from 25th Aug-6th Sep and this will be my first trip and that too solo!
    I just want to know about one thing whether share taxis are available there or not? Because I am not an adventurous person, so biking will not be possible for me.

    1. Chetan Karkhanis

      Hello Gaurang, you will love your first trip to Ladakh, its a perfect place for solo travel. Shared taxis are available for all the places in Ladakh as well as along the Leh- Manali and Srinagar-Leh highway. Shops in the market in Leh have boards put up with information of travellers looking for companions to share the taxi. Have a look at our Tso Moriri story to get an idea about how easy it is to find shared rides in Ladakh! Happy travels!

  41. Nirmal Joy

    First of all , Great photos !!

    We are a couple who will be flying in leh and have to travel from leh to manali by 2 days on sep 2-3. Is it safe for us to take share taxis ?

    1. Chetan Karkhanis

      Hello Nirmal, shared taxis are a very common means to travel in Ladakh. You can hire a shared taxi to travel from Leh to Manali. Just ask around after you get to Leh. Your hotel/ guest house will be able to point you to the correct taxi stand.

  42. Saurabh9310167506 Agarwal

    Hi I am from delhi couple around 38 yrs without kids planning for. Delhi srinagamanliali around in between 8-16 august. 2015 with short travel time in my own suv anyone wants to join can cont 8527737506

  43. Anay Bhide

    “Epic????? This is simply amazing. I was beguiled by the pictures!!! You really made my day Chetan! What splendor and magnificence!!! This year’s summer I just decided where to start. Al thanks to you!
    The paradoxical snow- dipped and dusky mountains, lushy hair pin bends and everything is going to haunt my dreams till I see them for real.”

  44. chhabra

    Dear Sundeepa-chetan…… CONGRATULATIONS !!!!!
    WONDERFUL Photographs with EXCELLENT write up, we feel like get up and start for a self-drive my Car sooner possible, It is very good blog. Here i wanna know we r a couple from Delhi above 50 wish to self drive delhi to leh around 1st week end July 2015.
    1.- Is it safe to drive in own Renault Duster car.
    2.- Are these roads motor able with mid size SUV.
    3.- How many hours it take from Manali to Leh. Is there desiel staion in Leh.
    4.- 15 days are enough for this trip.
    i have good experience of driving for last 30 yrs covered most of Uttrakhands hills like all kadars including Himachal..Sarahan, 6 trips to manali ,3 trips Rohtang pass, 1 trip lahaul.

    1. Madhuri

      did you complete your trip to leh by self driven car? i am planing to travel by my own car in may or june this year along with my daughter. how was your experience? can you share? my car is ford classic fiesta.

  45. satyamlathtyam lath

    hi,

    we are going for a bike travel from manali to leh and back to leh during 20th july to 31st july 2015. we are 8 people. can u tell about the clothes and accessories we should have during the trip. kindly suggest us about what shoes we should be wearing.

    1. punit

      Hello Satyam lath,

      You must have the followings.

      Thermals, jackets, wind cheaters, balcalava, riding boots, socks, bikini for you.

  46. Poonam kharya

    Hi ,

    Me and my husband planing bike trip for leh this july 2015 (11th july 2015 – 24 july 2015 ) . we are going alone from mumbai . is it gud to alon or we have to join any group for bike trip . If we have to join any group , could you please suggest any group if you know .

    1. Chetan Karkhanis

      Hello Poonam, great to know of your biking trip plans for Leh and Ladakh. If you are seasoned bikers, it should be okay. But if you are not, it is better to join a group/fellow bikers for a biking trip to Ladakh. We aren’t into biking so can’t recommend any. But websites like devilonwheels.com should help.

  47. katarina

    Hi, Great post and amazing pictures!
    I did this road few years ago I can say it was one of the most scariest experience in my life, I thought I would die there 🙂 But I am still alive so I recommend people do that as well, because of stunning nature.

  48. Sanidhya Singh

    Sir this is the most beautiful thing I have ever read. Still getting goosebumps. Your way of expressing this journey is incredible and not to forge the pictures are breathtaking. I’m also planning a Manali-Leh road trip by my car in November as i’ll be free by then. Will it be suitable? Need your expert guidance.

      1. Sanidhya Singh

        Thanks a lot sir.
        May I also get details about the DSLR and the lens used to click these magnificent pictures.

    1. Chetan Karkhanis

      Hello Rahool, September would be a lot cooler than August. Some places in Ladakh and along the highways might start receiving some snow. However the Leh Manali as well as the Srinagar Leh highway should be operational till then. Also, the peak season for Ladakh would be over, so you will get lesser crowds and traffic, always a good thing! Happy travels!

  49. Apoorva Sanghvi

    Excellent write up we felt as if we were travelling with you.Photographs were also very good.

  50. Pooja singh

    Loved this travel story of yours, need your help as we are also planning a trip to Leh via Manali.
    could you please give some details about from where to book bus ticket and night stay on this trip?
    we are two friends planing to go Leh in Aug 2015 for 10 days. we are from delhi and we want to cover our ongoing journey via Manali and return via srinagar, please suggest my Email_id is singh.pju@gmail.com 🙂

  51. Amit Singh

    Looks amazing.. we r 2 frnds planning to have a road trip from delhi to manali and then leh ladak – Rohtang Pass .. first time planning for a road trip and are blank.. any suggestions will definitely help plz.

    1. Chetan Karkhanis

      Amazing it definitely is! We aren’t bikers so can not give you any first hand information about biking in Ladakh. But there are many who bike in the summer to Leh via Manali. Only thing we can say is travel in a group. Avoid solo biking. You should have a look at the biking forums. One of the best resource we would like to point you to is the devilonwheels website. That would be a good starting point for you Leh Manali biking preparation.

  52. acewings1

    wow! such a beautiful route and I am appreciating your words through your pics – that you come into the greenery from the desert. The greens welcome you from the browns!

    1. sandeepachetan

      Thank you Lou! It is exciting to know you are traveling through this road in June. We reckon you will get more snow on the route in June than us when we traveled in august beginning. It will definitely be a journey to remember!

  53. wanderer by heart

    hi! its really interesting to see read your blog. The narratives are simple and easy to read with all possible details ! kudos to you guys! I would certainly like to know which DSLR you guys use? is that a full frame camera? The pictures in this page are quite striking….picture do all the talking too!!!!

    while I have come across info about manali-leh bus route recently only….the internet is full of bike and car trips…how do you describe the experience in bus? is it easy or one needs to pull in some pain? Is it recommended for a person who’s into photography…I mean does it provide ample opportunity for photography?

    Also, How would you describe the route and leh in may end/ early june ? if the route and place choc-o-bloc with tourist? and what about the accommodation scene? does it get “all sold out” given the fact that laddakh has been getting too much attention lately?

    1. sandeepachetan

      Hello wanderer by heart, looks like a trip to Ladakh is on the cards for you! That’s great!
      The bus ride, while obviously not as comfortable as a SUV would be, is a great experience. And surprisingly quite comfortable. As you would have read, all our photos from this Leh Manali story have been taken from the moving bus. Do read my reply here for more information on the bus ride from Leh to Manali.
      However, you will need to check when the road opens up for next year. Leh Manali highway usually opens for traffic only later in June, of course everything depends on the ground reality at the time.
      While places like the Pangong Tso see a lot of tourists in the summer, it is not (yet) choc-a-bloc. On the contrary, we were the only people when we visited Tso Moriri.
      For details about our photography equipment, do have a look at our Photos page.
      Do let us know if you need any other information. Happy planning!

      1. restlesswanderer

        the link to pictures is quite interesting. are you guys using full frame dslr? do you stick to kit lens or ultra wise (something like 11-16mm) lenses?

        1. Paul

          A are two and wish to visit Leg in Aug 15. Pl explore if we all can make a group and hire a SUV together.
          PAUL
          9212191170 Delhi

  54. Abhishek

    We are reaching Leh on 2nd Nov 2014 and want to cover Leh Ladakh and Manali if possible while need to reach back to delhi by 9th afternoon. Is it possible? and will the buses be available during this time as well easily?

    1. Basu

      Hi Abhishek,

      We r 4 friends moving to Leh on 4th nov & to retun by 9th nov to delhi.
      If you are not with family & buses unavailable we can share a taxi.

  55. Amit

    Hi guys thanks alot for ur ideas n thanks for sharing ur views even i m from Mumbai nut currently settled in uttrakhand dehradun. I m planning on to go to manali n then leh ladkh
    With a friend of mine in my Ford Endouver can u suggest the best route which is safe but adventures..

    1. sandeepachetan

      Hello Amit, that sounds like a great travel plan. The Manali Leh highway provides more adventure than you could imagine! It’s a road trip you’ll remember forever. Just be mindful of the altitudes you will be crossing before getting to Leh. Be well prepared. Wish you a great trip!

      1. Deep Vaghani

        Hi Sandeep, You said you were on HP state transportation bus. I have participated in national bicycle expedition on last week of august at leh. I want to reach leh from Jammu on 24th August 2015. I can’t find any information related to government or private transportation. Can you help me ? Your information will meant to me. Thanks

        1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

          Hello Deep, best wishes for the bicycle expedition. You should get to Srinagar at least a day before you plan to leave for Leh. You can then book a ticket for Leh in a shared jeep or the JKRTC bus at the bus stand (both near the Srinagar TRC, close to Dal lake). The jeeps leave early morning. Don’t know the bus timings.

      2. deepak kamath

        I am deepak from mumbai,planning to visit leh at the 1st week of june from manali to leh with family including kids,is it advisable or not to travel on this month?

        1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

          Hey Deepak, 1st week of June is pretty much the beginning of the season for Ladakh. There might be snow at places. The Leh-Manali road might or might not be completely opened – it all depends on the snow they get this winter. After the 2nd week of June is the better time if you want to go to all the places. On the other hand, in the 1st week of June places would still just be opening up for the season, there won’t be much crowd, there will be a new energy everywhere. Either way, it’s a win-win. Ladakh is always a win-win!

  56. Shweta Raj

    This is lovely and super adventurous. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful blog. We are planning to travel from Leh to Manali. Do we do the Rohtang pass and Tsomiri lake on the way? How do you think we should cover it? And what about the buses from Leh to Manali, how frequent are they?

    1. sandeepachetan

      Hello Shweta Raj, thank you for your compliments. Visit to Ladakh and specially the journey from Leh to manali is something you will remember forever. We are glad you are planning to make this road trip. Rohtang Pass is the last mountain pass of this journey, on the Manali side. Where as Tso Moriri is in the Ladakh region. You will have to make a 2 day trip from Leh to Tso Moriri. Tso Moriri and Rohtang are both clearly marked on Google Maps. Have a look at the map for a clear picture.
      Buses for Manali leave everyday from the Leh bus stand. You go to the stand and book your tickets in the HP state bus that is waiting there.

  57. Ajith memana

    To the lucky couple, Hi sandeepa and chethan, your words sound dreamy. And i loves the line quoted by Nico. I am also in a plan to visit Leh from Manali. Manal to Leh by flight and return by himachal state tourism bus. It would be good if you can please explain more about the bus service and stays at Leh.

    1. sandeepachetan

      Hello Ajith, thank you for your compliments! The bus that reaches Leh from Manali leaves for Manali the next morning at 5AM. This bus actually terminates at Keylong. At Keylong you book a ticket for the connecting bus to Manali. At Leh, the bus driver and conductor stay in the bus itself. You book the tickets from them. Try to book them before 12 noon to get a good seat. Recommend seats on the driver’s side for the best views.
      There are many guesthouses, hotels and homestays in Leh, accommodation should not be a problem.

  58. Dussel_Brad!

    My goodness, I have been to this journey; It seems like an epic final journey to heaven! Peaceful, blissful and awestruck is what you feel around those beautiful landscapes and scenic wonders. I am sure God must be living around 🙂

  59. Lynn Esposito

    I’ve been following your journey every day. Look forward to it. And your amazing photos.
    I was in Manali too. Kullu to Manali was a common vagabond route.
    It was mostly a dirt road getting there, and then you had to walk the last bit, and go over this swinging rope bridge. A bit tricky with a back pack. And very exciting.
    Manali was just a small hill station. One street (dirt) and not a very long one.
    A bit out of town was a small old temple with hot springs in it.
    You could immerse yourself in them, I was there alone….so it was finally a chance to sit in hot water and feel clean. (didn’t use soap…. used a stone to scrub).
    Just curious….how long have you been on your tour, and how much longer will you stay on it.
    I truly am so happy for you that can do this……and thru Flickr share it with us.
    It’s just so mind/heart opening isn’t it?
    Stay safe, and keep posting.
    Regards to you both, Lynn

    1. sandeepachetan

      Lynn, we thank you so much for your comments, we look forward to them with every photo we post. It is really really fascinating for us to read them.(Only wish photography was as easy back then!)
      Manali is nothing like a dirt road anymore, it has become a full fledged tourist destination, with rows of shops and eateries (and people). And Kullu is almost a small town, if not a city!
      I don’t think anyone will have the luxury of being alone in the hot spring anymore.
      We have been back home in Mumbai for a while. Spent 3 months in the hills. It was such an enriching experience.
      Intend to get back on the road soon!

  60. Lynn Esposito

    I enjoyed reading your story, and of course the extraordinary photos!
    I remember those bus rides. I still have dreams about them almost 40 years later.
    I’m very happy for you that you took this incredible journey.
    It’s a beautiful planet, isn’t it. And what I experienced, mostly people just want to get along with each other.
    Happy trails wherever they may take you in the future. Be well.

    1. sandeepachetan

      Thank you so much Lynn! The Leh-Manali road 40 years back, that must have been quite a ride! Do you have any photos from then that we can look at?
      We were just so overwhelmed by the untouched beauty we saw around throughout the journey – of both nature and the people. It was a journey we will remember forever!

    1. sandeepachetan

      Thank you so much Kaushal! The Leh Manali route is a must-do, as is the whole of Ladakh. And once you have been there, once isn’t enough! Best wishes for making this trip happen!

      1. Aina

        Hi sandeep i wish to go with my parents to leh dad is above 60yrs. I would be going by hptdc bus. Should we take any special precaution. Please guide me.

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