20 photos that will make you go on the Manali – Leh road trip now

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

River beas at manali

2) Passing the Pir Panjal range – such amazing waterfalls. Can you see the Griffon vultures hovering above the coniferous trees?

Pir panjal range - Manali


3) Marhi – the first pit stop on the way to Rohtang pass as seen from a height

Marhi - towards rohtang pass

4) This lovely street leading to Jispa for overnight stay


5)  The icy cold waters of Chandrabhaga river at Jispa

Chandrabhaga river at Jispa

6) Starting the journey towards Sarchu

Road to 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! 🙂

Icy cold water

8) The meandering rivulets as a result of dissolving glaciers, at Sarchu


9) Sarchu – The camps

Camps at Sarchu

10) From Sarchu towards Pang, passing the Gata Loops – 22 hairpin bends

Hair pin bends - Gata loops

11) Braving the cold winds and happily posing at Nakeela pass – 15547 feet above MSL

Nakeela pass in ladakh

12) The journey ahead towards Pang

Towards Pang in Ladakh

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

Mountain goats - Ladakh

16) Finally some plains and straight road in sight – More Plains

More plains

17) Crossing some unmelted glaciers on the way down from Tanglang La and towards Karu

Towards tanglang la

18) Finally reaching Leh – hard to believe its a desert

Leh as seen from Shey Palace

19) Leh – as seen from Shanti Stupa

Leh town

20) Time to bid good bye to the amazing Leh!

Leh town from flight

Sustainable travel tips:

  1. Ladakh is one of the most ecologically fragile region. Please do not dispose plastic waste in the valley or high mountain passes
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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33 thoughts on “20 photos that will make you go on the Manali – Leh road trip now

  1. I had to look up where manali is because I had not heard of it. It looks like a very scenic road trip and your pictures are lovely.

  2. This places looks incredible. I miss the mountains so much, I love a good hike. Looks really cool, the pictures are amazing. Would also love to drive on those empty roads <3

  3. I have never heard of this place, but it looks so grand! I would love to see it in person and especially since you loved it so much!

  4. Wow, these pictures are stunning and I’m sure even then they don’t do this place justice. I can’t believe it’s a desert?! Also, those goats? I wouldn’t have spotted them without your caption.

    1. Thank you Megan. There’s possibility to ride a bike or bicycle throughout this 479km and people do it. But i chose the more safer option of a car.

  5. This looks amazing! The waterfall, the natural arch, the cute town, driving across the river bed — it has it all — what a great memory!

  6. Wow simply stunning! I was in Manali in 2015 but didn’t make it up to Leh, now I truly wish I did after your vivid descriptions 🙂

  7. Beautiful pictures, these definitely did spark the wanderlust in me. I also strongly vouch for Sustainable Travel and the condition in Leh and Ladakh is worth being mentioned and deserve awareness amongst us all.

  8. I haven’t been to north India during my last trip but those pictures made me wanna go there. You have a good eye in picking the spot to take a good pic (Y)

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