Manali – Leh …… epic Journey to Himalayas

By any standard and from any perspective, the Manali Leh journey has epic written all over it. With roads that open up for only a few months a year, these 490 km will test you, scare you, shock you and leave you spellbound. You will believe life is beautiful!

As compared to the Manali-Leh highway acclimatization isn’t an issue if you take the Srinagar-Leh route because you ascend gradually; but, this doesn’t deter road trip enthusiasts from giving in to the seductive charm of the former. And, why not? Isn’t a road trip all about letting go of inhibitions, taking risks and being surrounded by uncertainties? In any case, besides the thrill there are other reason why the Manali-Leh route is the preferred one.



It goes without saying that the 490 km Manali-Leh highway gives an adrenalin rush to anyone who takes it! The roads look almost like they were etched into the mountain cliffs; with sharp turns and bends along the stretch, you must know how to maneuver your vehicle with precision. But, don’t worry you’ll get to cruise through some dream roads that you may have seen in movies or photographs only. Take for instance, the 40-45 km road that crosses More Plains between Lachung La and Tanglang La! Besides, how can we not mention the Gata Loops that are bound to test your driving skills! From 4,198 meters the Gata Loops incline you to 4,664 meters within a distance of a mere 13 kms!

At this juncture, we must that you that the roads undergo a lot of wear and tear through the year due to landslides, torrential rain and heavy-duty snowfall. Thanks to the BRO that keeps them in good shape so that when the route is opened for all, you have a safe ride all along. It is only once you hit the highway, the respect for BRO will increase manifold because you would be able to understand the treacherous conditions the team works in to get the road ready for us all!



From the lush green forests, picturesque villages, snow-clad mountains, intimidating deep chasms, meandering Chandra Bhaga river at Jispa; wall of snow at least 8 to 10 feet high along the road-side at Rohtang La and Barlach La to the barren Moore Plains where there’s not a blade of grass in sight and the marvelous Gatta Loop, you will be witness to some of the most enthralling views along the Manali-Leh highway. We bet you will not want to close your eyes even for a second because it is a blink-and-you-miss landscape! Srinagar-Leh highway on the other had doesn’t promise such diverse scenic experience. Although you do traverse through the gorgeous Sonmarg valley and Zoji La, but as you may have guessed by now it’s no match to the Manali-Leh route.



Coming to why we say that Manali-Leh route has no match is because you drive through a diverse terrain, especially the high altitude motorable passes like Rohtang La, Barlach La, Nakila, Nachung and the third highest motorable pass in the world – Tanglang La, which is 17,582 feet above sea level. You reach Tanglang La after crossing the picture-perfect Moore Plains. It is recommended that you don’t stay here long because of low oxygen levels. And, if you do you may suffer from Acute Mountain Sickness.



In fact from Leh, Khardung La which is the world’s second highest motorable pass at 17,582 feet is only 39 kms and people drive this distance to tick it off their bucket list! Besides, the icing on cake is Chang La, which is the highest motorable pass at 17,586 feet above sea level. It lies on your way to the Pangong Tso Lake which is visited by many even when Chag La is buried in snow in winters.



We hope you get lucky to experience the adrenalin-rush driving on this road and for those of you who are planning to go to Ladakh, trust us when we say that Manali-Leh drive is not worth giving a miss! It should definitely sit higher-up on your travel bucket list!

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