The Manali – Leh (Ladakh) road trip is an endless story – like the most epic novel you may have read, it keeps lingering on your mind for long. With roads that open up for only a few months a year, these 479 km will scare you, shock you, test you physically & mentally and in the end leave you spellbound. You have to experience this epic road journey to believe, YOU EXIST.
I have traveled quite a bit – from jungles to palaces, from forts to beaches from biodiversity hotspots to exotic foreign locales but I never experienced the pain of leaving a place and literally having a hang over for days together after this road trip. I actually had to google and speak to former Ladakh travelers if they had experienced something like this and thanks to them I knew I was pretty normal having such feelings and thoughts.
As Neelima Vallangi quotes “Ladakh needs no introduction and words fall short to explain the grandeur of stark desolateness. Who would’ve thought something so minimal could be so imposing. For the seasoned traveler this is one road journey that cannot be missed and for the newbie, this is going to get him/her hooked, for life – beware!”
Hold on tight as I take you on the Mecca of Road trips: the 479km long Manali – Leh road trip through a photo story.
1. Manali – On bank of River Beas
2) Passing the Pir Panjal range – such amazing waterfalls. Can you see the Griffon vultures hovering above the coniferous trees?
3) Marhi – the first pit stop on the way to Rohtang pass as seen from a height
4) This lovely street leading to Jispa for overnight stay
5) The icy cold waters of Chandrabhaga river at Jispa
6) Starting the journey towards Sarchu
7) Taking the road less traveled and getting stuck in the river bed. After all we are the adventure junkies. What an adrenaline rush to cross this icy cold water in bare feet! 🙂
8) The meandering rivulets as a result of dissolving glaciers, at Sarchu
9) Sarchu – The camps
10) From Sarchu towards Pang, passing the Gata Loops – 22 hairpin bends
11) Braving the cold winds and happily posing at Nakeela pass – 15547 feet above MSL
12) The journey ahead towards Pang
13) Crossing amazing natural architecture – part 1
14) Crossing amazing natural architecture – part 2
15) Spotting some mountain goats on the way to Tanglang La – World’s second highest motorable pass
16) Finally some plains and straight road in sight – More Plains
17) Crossing some unmelted glaciers on the way down from Tanglang La and towards Karu
18) Finally reaching Leh – hard to believe its a desert
19) Leh – as seen from Shanti Stupa
20) Time to bid good bye to the amazing Leh!
Sustainable travel tips:
- Ladakh is one of the most ecologically fragile region. Please do not dispose plastic waste in the valley or high mountain passes
- Ladakh is extremely cold with temperatures plunging down to -30 degree celsius which freezes the pipeline. Flush toilets recently introduced due to tourist influx is proving really difficult to maintain water supply (More info here). When in passes, use the ladakhi compost toilet whenever and wherever possible.
- Water woes are serious in Ladakh region. In case you want to know more about it check what an engineer is trying do from glaciers.