The Enchanting trip to Leh is so much more than just driving your car and reaching your destination. One of the most sought-after Road trips in India is the drive from Delhi to Leh. If you are a travel junkie then your bucket list is not complete before checking this wondrous and thrilling trip of it.
Leh and Kargil are districts of the Ladakh region. Leh is slightly over 11400 ft above sea level and the total distance you cover between Delhi and Leh is approximately 960Km via Manali and if one was to drive continuously then you would reach in 24 hrs but where is the fun in that.
The most Ideal is to break the trip into 3 stages on the route to Leh and then 2 on the way back so that you can take in the scenery and truly enjoy all that the trip has to offer while enjoying your drive,
There are 2 routes you can take to Leh – We are going to talk about the Route via Manali
Delhi – Manali which is approximately 532 kms and then Manali to Leh which is approximately 490 Kms.
Now this route will be –
Delhi – Ambala – Mandi – Manali
Manali – Jispa – Sarchu – Tanlang La – Leh
You would get to Jispa via Rohtang pass
The second leg of the Trip can further be broken down to 2 trips
Manali – Sarchu - 217 kms -
And then next day Start early – Complete Sarchu – Leh 219 kms
Now on this route, there are a couple of must stopovers
Delhi to Manali – This is a good route with tons of options and a stopover for food and breaks. The famous Murthal for your breakfast. With a multitude of hygienic places to choose from to fill yourself with the - oh so famous Paranthas.
Next, if you want to take a short nap or freshen up then you can take a break at the hotels right outside Chandigarh ( Zirakpur) Maybe even a nightcap if you have more time. Then the next day you start early in Manali. Kiratpur is where your uphill drive will begin. Sundernagar is a good place for your next Pit stop for Lunch. Then will come to Mandi and the famous 3 km long Aut tunnel to Kullu. Now, remember the GPS on your phone is not always accurate so make sure you reconfirm the route the old-fashioned way by rolling down the window and asking “bhaiyaji”. The idea is to skip the Kullu main city and take the route to Manali. The route will start to become extremely scenic after Kullu and River Beas comes to life.
Stopover at Manali. Manali is generally quite an attractive tourist destination. Pre-booking can help but if you are one of those who packed your bag and decided at 12 Am and left at 4 Am – Manali will still not disappoint you. You will generally find everything you need. It is also a good place to load for the next leg.
Generally, excitement for Leh is a lot higher but the more laid-back kinds give in to the luxury of time take another day to explore the majestic hills etched in the greenery of Manali, Solang Valley, and Rohtang Pass before heading to Leh.
Now comes an early morning start to Leh – Now you start from Rohtang la the highest mountain pass then comes Khoksar where you can stop for some nice hot Tea with some pahadi Maggie. After Khoskar comes Tandi which is also a good place to refuel your car.
Next stop - Keylong located in the Lahaul Spiti region blessed with abundant greenery, snow-capped mountains, and sparkling rivulets. You can also make a stopover here to visit Gemur and Shashur the 2 famous monasteries. This is also a good pit stop for your Brunch/lunch, has a couple of good options. The next stop in your journey is Jispa – Jispa is a place where most people choose to stop over for the night. The best option to stay in Jispa is campsites or lodges.
Next day start your day early with a good breakfast. Also, don’t forget to keep restocking your bottled water. From Jispa you will head to Darcha – Sumdo – Patsio. From Patsio will come the Zingzing bar which is going to be your next food stop. You have to be a Maggie lover if you want to truly enjoy the mountains. Then will come the Baralacha La – the second highest pass on the Manali Leh highway. This pass will give you a clear view of the 3 valleys that surround it. It is an experience in itself. It is a part of the Zanskar region and connects Lahaul and Leh.
Crossing the mesmerizing turquoise lakes you will reach Bharatpur and the following stop is Sarchu – Where you can choose to stop for the night. Sarchu is also known as Sir Bhum Chum. If you do decide to stay the night make sure you choose to stay in camps in one of the open fields dotting this landscape. Sleeping under the starry sky is an experience in itself practically never enjoyed by city dwellers.
You’re almost there, once you leave Sarchu. From here you will head to Gata loops – the 21 hairpin bends. Then will come the Nakeela and Lachulung La Pass from where you can see the entire Ladakh plateau- These are the highest mountain passes. Then will come Pang & More plains. The terrain becomes rugged, as you drive forward to Pang (where the highest army transit camp exists) and Tanglang La Pass (which, at 17585 feet above sea level, is claimed to be the second-highest motorable road in India). Then you arrive at Upshi – the police checkpoint to mark your arrival at Leh.
Keep your Car stocked – Keep refueling every opportunity you get and make sure your memory card has enough space for 1000’s of mesmerizing photographs.