Indian Tourism-How to reach Leh-Ladakh?
So which route would you prefer?
Watching the beauty of Ladakh through naked eyes
Ladakh is an Indian-paradise. Beauty of Ladakh's life lies in its nature, which is full of adventure.
I am sorry to say that but both routes (Srinagar to Leh versus Manali to Leh) have their own advantages. A traveler who is also an adventurous person visits these types of places for sheer fun and adventure and admiring the scenic beauty. An adventurous person always finds advantages and not the disadvantages.
Scenic beauty through either route one travels (Srinagar to Leh or Manali to Leh) is a changing landscape. From Manali to Leh, the scene changes from green HP to the snow bound/cold dessert Ladakhi mountain ranges, Zanskar. One has to cross four major passes as far as I remember, Rohtang pass, Baralacha La, Tanglang La, and Lachung La. The route is mainly barren and mostly void of habitation. You will find tents, etc. near at keylong [a halt here is recommended], pang etc, but the entire journey is one breathtaking ride, not just because of acute motion sickness but the landscape is sheer artistry at every turn.
Srinagar-Leh Route: I have traveled this way only once. A shorter route here is if you travel via Drass, Kargil reaching Lamarayu and a descent from there to Leh. With this route, you come across three mountain passes, Zoji La, Fotu La at 4100m, and Namika La 3719m. It is primarily a descent towards Leh, so yes the acute motion sickness you encounter via this route is fairly negligible.
Srinagar to Leh is a gentle climb with just three passes as I have described above, Zoji, Fotu and Namik La. All these three are less than 13000 feet. The last two are smooth roads most of the time so not much of a challenge either.
But you get to pass through the Kashmir valley, which if properly done can be a photographer's delight.
Manali-Leh Route: Would win hands down, scenic as well as adventurous, about getting used to the height, spend a night at Manali and keep going. Don't spend too much time at the passes in case you feel uneasy and go down immediately. That is the best you can do. Though it was fun sleeping for an hour in the sun on Tanglang La for me.
The Manali Leh "highway" is a road designed to take your breath away literally. You cross six passes in two days, all of which are among the highest in the world: The tallest being Tanglang La at 17800 feet and roads are non-existent for a large stretch.
One deal is to go via Manali, get off the road, take the Spiti detour, and then Leh, but do return via Lamayuru, Drass and Srinagar. The change in colors of the stark of the Ladakh valley to the vibrancy of Kashmir valley is not to be missed. But the problem with this road is that it some times comes under shelling and gets closed every now and then.
A trip to Ladakh means breathtaking beauty, difficult conditions, and adventure. People go to Ladakh for all this, which Srinagar- Leh highway does not fulfill. I think Srinagar‑Leh route sure is beautiful, adventurous, and tough but not as much as Manali‑Leh. A trip to Ladakh is incomplete without going via Manali-Leh route, both roads are different in their own way, but Manali-Leh road is something special.
It depends on person to person because some people do not see sense in doing the Spiti detour through Manali and then heading 'back' to Leh. Spiti is beautiful, yes, its breathtaking, but to cover Spiti, one must drive through Shimla on to Tabo, Kaja, go through Lahaul and then merge on the Manali-Leh highway, just short of keylong. This way you would still cover almost the entire Manali-Leh highway, cover Spiti, and will not have to do any back and forth drives.
Adding extra time is always worth it
If you want to go via Srinagar-Kargil to Leh, stay there and then back via the Leh-Sarchu-Manali. A few reasons for this route is since the Manali road is more treacherous altitude wise, I think I would be fairy acclimatized after living in Leh, so it would not make much of a difference in the high mountain passes
The best suggestion is go up via Manali and come back via Srinagar. If you go the other way around, you will b very nicely acclimatized before you reach Leh and will be up and about without any trouble. Remember, it is an old saying at high altitude locations that "go high, sleep low". So it will help to cross all those spectacular passes. It is not that treacherous and you will b on the passes for only a few minutes and it will give you an out of the world experience.
One group of my friends went a few years back from Delhi to Manali and Manali to Leh. It was their life's best experience they have ever had so far. They were three people and even no one can imagine they went by their Maruti Wagan R. People who have been via this road, they even cannot imagine this. Anyways, then they came back via Leh to Kargil-Drass and then Srinagar to Delhi.
They went there early when just Manali to Leh highway opened. I was only one or two days ago before the opening of highway, so they had to face a lot of problems. Some bridge was under construction, so they had to wait for that for two days.
I personally like Manali to Leh and then Leh To Srinagar because of spectacular scenery and adventurous moments of life.
So at last I would say it is better to go by one route and return by another, though you will find a lot of traffic jam via Manali to Leh.
Magnificient Ladakh video
Read great books by great authors on the culture and history of Ladakh
My humble thoughts for your Leh-Ladakh trip
I feel that the single most important factor that stands out about Leh-Ladakh is that the people there have a deep sense of content and an inherent dignity and confidence about themselves and their life. This is something, which is missing from most parts of the world. I am so proud that I m the citizen of a country like India which has Leh-Ladakh as its crown jewel and I wish I was born in Ladakh. The people and the culture is amazing, almost surreal. I wish that we are able to maintain and preserve that as we go ahead on the path of 'economic development. I would hate to see Ladakh go the Kashmir way where everything revolves around "selling" stuff to the tourists, even if that means plugging away from the original culture or losing their dignity.
Leh-Ladakh is most attractive and desirable the way it is. Yes indeed in its natural original form, ethics, values and culture. My sincere request to all Ladakhis is that please preserve as much as possible because that is your selling point.
If you people also become like any other tourist place, then you would be just another tourist place. You will not be then Ladakh anymore. Ladakh is natural.
Let us all get together and pray from the bottom of our heart for the centuries old magical and beautiful thread of Muslim-Buddhist 'brotherhood' in Ladakh. The single most important factor that makes Ladakh what it is the most magical, inspiring and serene place on this planet!
Ladakh is a place to fall in love with. I am so overwhelmed by the surrounding when I visit it and its remarkable monasteries. It's barren land of flamboyant colors.
I would love to stay there for years because being in Leh-Ladakh is to sense the joy of lost paradise. One can realize Ladakh's beauty only with the naked eye and not by viewing it in snaps or videos
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