Embark on an epic adventure and take a Leh Ladakh road trip - a journey that will leave you awestruck and longing for more. The rugged terrain, snow-capped mountains, serene lakes, and unexplored wilderness of Ladakh are best experienced on a trip to Leh Ladakh by road.
The journey to Leh Ladakh by road is as mesmerising as the destination itself. The road trip in itself is quite popular, passing through Manali and Rohtang Pass, offering a breathtaking view of the Himalayas. Another popular route is from Srinagar to Leh, which takes you through the picturesque valleys of Kashmir and the mighty Zoji La Pass.
One of the highlights of a Leh Ladakh road trip is the chance to drive through some of the highest motorable passes in the world, such as Khardung La and Tanglang La. These passes offer panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, making for a truly unforgettable experience.
The capital city of Leh, located at an altitude of over 11,400ft above sea level, is the perfect destination for a road trip. Whether you choose to travel solo or with a group of friends, Ladakh has something for everyone. You can explore the vibrant local culture, try out some adventure activities like trekking, river rafting, or mountain biking, or simply relax and soak in the stunning natural beauty.
A Leh road trip is an ideal way to discover the hidden gems of the region. You can stop at remote villages, meet the locals, and learn about their way of life. The drive also takes you past some of the most beautiful monasteries in the world, offering a glimpse into the rich spiritual and cultural heritage of Ladakh.
Overall, a Leh Ladakh road trip is a must-do for anyone looking for an adventure of a lifetime. However, it's important to note that the journey can be challenging, with unpredictable weather, rough roads, and high altitudes. Therefore, it's recommended to plan and prepare well in advance, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience.
There are two main routes that you can take for a road trip to Ladakh. These include:
Route 1: Srinagar to Leh
While taking a Leh Ladakh road trip by car, you can avail the Srinagar to Leh route, which is a popular route among road trippers due to its scenic beauty and easy accessibility. The route covers a total distance of 434 kilometres, with an average altitude of 11,000 ft. This route is also known for its scenic vistas, consisting of quaint Himalayan valleys, and monasteries, as well as tranquil hamlets located on the banks of the Sindh.
The route passes through picturesque valleys, high mountain passes, and scenic lakes. Some of the popular tourist attractions on this route include Sonamarg, Zoji La Pass, Drass Valley, Kargil, Lamayuru Monastery, and Magnetic Hill.
Total Distance: 434 kilometres
Best Time to Visit: Between early May to late October, when the roads are open and the weather is pleasant
Route Map: Srinagar – Sonmarg – Zoji La – Drass – Kargil – Mulbek – Lamayuru – Saspol – Leh
Route 2: Manali to Leh
If you are coming to Ladakh from Manali, then the challenging and adventurous Manali to Leh route is the one for you. The route covers a total distance of 490 kilometres, with an average altitude of 13,050 ft. Popular amongst adventure seekers, this route will take you via high mountain passes, quaint villages and scenic valleys, while also offering you picturesque views of the surrounding landscapes.
The route passes through high mountain passes, rugged terrain, and scenic valleys. Some of the popular tourist attractions on this route include Rohtang Pass, Keylong, Jispa, Sarchu, Tanglang La, and Hemis Monastery.
Total Distance: 490 kilometres
Best Time to Visit: Between mid-June to mid-September, when the roads are open and the weather is favourable
Route Map: Manali – Rohtang – Gramphu – Kokhsar – Keylong – Jispa – Darcha – Zingzingbar – Baralacha La – Bharatpur – Sarchu – Gata Loops – Nakee La – Lachulung La – Pang - Tanglang La – Gya - Upshi - Karu – Leh
Srinagar is not only the capital city of Jammu and Kashmir, but it also holds great significance as the starting point for your road trip to Ladakh. This picturesque city, situated on the banks of the River Jhelum, offers a perfect prelude to the exciting journey ahead. With its stunning landscapes and mesmerising beauty, Dal Lake is a major tourist attraction that sets the tone for the road trip. The Mughal Gardens of Shalimar Bagh, Nishat Bagh, and Chashme Shahi are some of the must-visit places in Srinagar that showcase the city's rich cultural heritage. Exploring the old city's narrow alleys and savouring the delicious Kashmiri cuisine is an experience that can't be missed.
Distance: 434 kilometres from Leh
Sonmarg is a vital stop on the Srinagar to Leh road trip and provides an unforgettable experience that leaves a lasting impression. This delightful hill station, with its breathtaking natural beauty, is an integral part of the Leh Ladakh road trip, situated on the Srinagar-Leh highway. The snow-clad peaks of the Thajiwas Glacier and the serene Sind River flowing through the area are the major attractions that captivate tourists. Sonmarg also serves as a base camp for the revered Amarnath Yatra pilgrimage, adding to its cultural and religious significance. The meadows of Sonmarg offer a perfect setting for adventure enthusiasts, with trekking and camping activities being popular among visitors.
Distance: 342 kilometres from Leh
The Drass Valley is a significant stopover on the Srinagar to Leh road trip, located 60 kilometres from Kargil. This stunningly beautiful region offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and historical significance. The Drass War Memorial, located in the valley, is a touching tribute to the brave soldiers who lost their lives during the Kargil War, making it a must-visit destination for history buffs. The Drass Valley also serves as a base for the trek to the Suru Valley, which is a challenging yet rewarding experience for trekkers.
Distance: 283 kilometres from Leh
Kargil is a must-visit destination on the Leh Ladakh road trip, offering a unique experience that combines adventure, culture, and natural beauty in one go. The town is located strategically between Srinagar and Leh, amidst majestic mountains making it a beautiful place to visit. Kargil offers ample opportunities for adventure enthusiasts, with trekking and mountaineering activities being popular among tourists. Besides, the town is famous for its apricot orchards and traditional handicrafts like carpets and pashmina shawls, making it a cultural hub that attracts visitors from all over.
Distance: 218 kilometres from Leh
Mulbekh is an essential stopover on the road trip to Ladakh, located on the scenic Srinagar-Leh highway. The small village is a hidden gem that offers a unique experience to visitors, with its magnificent Mulbekh Monastery being a must-visit attraction. The monastery houses a 9-metre-tall statue of Maitreya Buddha carved into the rockface, dating back to the 8th century, making it an essential cultural landmark in the region. The village's surroundings are equally beautiful, with stunning landscapes like the Zanskar range and the lush green meadows of Wakha Rgyal adding to the village's charm.
Distance: 180 kilometres from Leh
Moonland, located 20 kilometres from Leh, is a fascinating and unique place to visit on the Srinagar to Leh road trip. It is known for its unique lunar landscape, which resembles the surface of the moon and is often called the “Heaven of Adventure.” The place was formed by the erosion of the soil and has unique rock formations in shades of brown and black. Moonland offers an excellent opportunity for adventure enthusiasts and is best visited during the sunrise or sunset when the sun's rays create an enchanting play of light and shadow.
Distance: 114 kilometres from Leh
The village of Lamayuru is another must-visit destination on your Leh Ladakh road trip. It is known for the ancient and magnificent Lamayuru Monastery, which is one of the oldest and largest monasteries in Ladakh. Lamayuru is also famous for its unique and otherworldly lunar landscape, similar to Moonland, and is an ideal place for trekking enthusiasts, offering several exciting trekking trails, including the famous Lamayuru-Alchi trek.
Distance: 127 kilometres from Leh
The village of Alchi is one of the most offbeat and culturally significant destinations that can be explored during the Leh Ladakh road trip by car. It is located in close proximity to Lamayuru and is known for its ancient Alchi Monastery, which dates back to the 11th century and is famous for its unique and exquisite murals and frescoes. The intricate artwork of the monastery reflects a mix of Indian and Tibetan influences and is a beloved destination for art lovers and history buffs. The village is also famous for its traditional handicrafts and souvenirs, including hand-woven carpets and pashmina shawls.
Distance: 70 kilometres from Leh
Likir is a village that can be explored on the Srinagar to Leh road trip by car. The village is known for its monastery, making it an ideal stopover for history buffs and art lovers. The monastery houses beautiful murals, statues, and artefacts and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes. The village is also surrounded by beautiful landscapes, including the beautiful Indus Valley and the picturesque Khardung La pass, making it an ideal destination for adventure enthusiasts. The place offers several trekking trails, including the famous Likir to Yangthang trek.
Distance: 54 Kilometers from Leh
The final stop of your Leh Ladakh road trip by car is the fascinating and historic city of Leh. The city is known for its unique cultural heritage, including its traditional architecture, rich history, and vibrant festivals. The city's main attraction is the magnificent Leh Palace, a historic fortress and royal palace dating back to the 17th century. The city also offers several exciting adventure activities, including trekking, mountaineering, and river rafting.
Petrol pumps are extremely important when going on a Leh Ladakh road trip by car, especially in remote areas such as the Srinagar-Leh Highway. Here's where you can find petrol pumps on this highway:
Mangan: The first petrol pump on this route is located at Mangan, around 32 kilometres from Srinagar.
Sonamarg: The next petrol pump is available at Sonamarg, which is around 80 kilometres from Srinagar and 48 kilometres from Mangan.
Kargil: The next fuel station is located in Kargil, around 124 kilometres from Sonamarg or 204 kilometres from Srinagar.
Mulbekh: From Kargil, the next petrol pump is available in Mulbekh, around 40 kilometres away, and 242 kilometres from Srinagar. Fuel stations are also available in Wakha and Khaltsi, which can be easily reached from Mulbekh.
It is important to ensure that you have enough fuel to reach the next petrol pump, especially since some of the distances between petrol pumps can be quite long. It is always a good idea to carry extra fuel or jerry cans, just in case.
ATMs are essential when going for the Leh Ladakh road trip as they provide access to cash for emergencies or unexpected expenses. Here's where you can find ATMs on the Srinagar-Leh Highway:
Srinagar: Numerous ATMs are available as Srinagar is a popular city
Ganderbal: Several ATMs available for cash withdrawal
Kargil: Multiple ATMs available
Leh: Leh has several ATMs available for urgent cash withdrawal
It is important to keep in mind that some ATMs may not work due to poor connectivity or other technical issues, so it is always better to have a backup plan.
Mechanics are important when going for a Leh Ladakh road trip by car, especially in remote areas such as the Srinagar-Leh Highway. Here's where you can find mechanics and puncture shops on this highway:
You can also find puncture shops in places like:
However, it is important to ensure that the vehicle is in good condition before embarking on the journey.
When travelling to Ladakh via the Manali-Leh Highway, stop for some time to explore Manali. This picturesque hill town located in the Kullu Valley is the perfect starting point for a Leh road trip, nestled amidst the snow-capped Himalayas. Must-visit places in Manali include the Hadimba Temple, Solang Valley, and Rohtang Pass. From here, the journey to Leh takes you through winding mountain roads, rugged terrain, and stunning landscapes, making it an unforgettable experience for any adventure enthusiast.
Distance from Leh: 472 kilometres
Keylong is a small town situated in the Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh and is a popular pitstop during a road trip from Manali to Leh. It is known for its stunning vistas of the Himalayas, lush green meadows, and glistening waterfalls. The town also offers unique experiences like visiting ancient monasteries, tasting delicious local cuisine, and shopping for traditional handicrafts. The town's serene environment and pleasant weather make it an ideal place to relax and unwind during a long journey.
Distance from Leh: 357 kilometres
Rohtang Pass is a high-altitude mountain pass situated on the Pir Panjal range in Himachal Pradesh, India. It is a popular destination during a Leh Ladakh road trip, known for its breathtaking scenery and adventure activities. The pass offers panoramic views of the surrounding snow-capped peaks, glaciers, and streams. Visitors can enjoy snow activities like skiing and snowboarding, as well as trekking and camping in the surrounding valleys.
Distance from Leh: 420 kilometres
Jispa is a small village located in the Lahaul Valley of Himachal Pradesh and is a perfect place to stop for some time during your road trip to Ladakh. The village is situated on the banks of the Bhaga river, surrounded by snow-capped peaks and lush green meadows. Jispa is also a great place to acclimatise before continuing the journey to Leh, with several accommodation options and medical facilities available.
Distance from Leh: 335 kilometres
Darcha is a small village situated in the Lahaul Valley of Himachal Pradesh. On your Leh Ladakh road trip by car from Manali, you can stop here and enjoy the scenic beauty and trekking routes. Visitors can explore the nearby Zanskar and Baralacha La passes, as well as embark on multi-day treks to Padum, Leh, and other remote locations. Darcha is also a great place to experience the unique culture and lifestyle of the local population, with several guesthouses and camping sites available.
Distance from Leh: 325 kilometres
Zingzing Bar is a popular stopover pass situated on the Manali-Leh highway in Himachal Pradesh, India. It is a popular destination during a road trip from Manali to Leh, known for its picturesque location and vibrant atmosphere. Visitors can enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes, as well as indulge in delicious food and beverages at the numerous roadside stalls and eateries. Zingzing Bar is also a great place to rest and acclimatise before continuing the journey to Leh.
Distance from Leh: 304 kilometres
Baralacha La is the highest mountain pass in the Zanskar ranges, situated on the Manali-Leh highway and another place where you can stop to soak in the natural beauty around you. The pass is located at an altitude of over 4,800 metres and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding snow-capped peaks of the Pir Panjal ranges, glaciers, and valleys. Visitors can also explore nearby trekking routes, camping sites, and natural hot springs.
Distance from Leh: 282 kilometres
Also known as Sar Bhum Chum, Sarchu is one of the best places that you will come across on your road trip to Ladakh. This high-altitude plateau situated on the Manali-Leh highway is known for its stark natural beauty and unique landscapes. Visitors can explore nearby trekking routes, camping sites, and natural hot springs, as well as indulge in delicious local cuisine. Sarchu is also an important transit point, offering basic accommodation and medical facilities for travellers.
Distance from Leh: 242 kilometres
Gata Loops is a series of 21 hairpin bends situated on the Manali-Leh highway in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It is a popular destination during the Leh Ladakh road trip, known for its scenic beauty and unique terrain. Visitors can also soak in the sights of the lush green vegetation, stop by the local food kiosks or dhabas, or take photographs of the roads.
Distance from Leh: 218 kilometres
During your road trip to Ladakh, you will come across the NakeeLa Pass, which is located on the Manali-Leh Highway. The pass offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the surrounding snow-capped peaks, rugged terrain, and valleys. Visitors can also explore nearby trekking routes, indulge in nature photography, or try out local delicacies. Nakee La is also an important landmark, providing an unforgettable and adventurous experience for travellers.
Distance from Leh: 214 kilometres
When going on a Leh Ladakh road trip by car, make a pit stop at Lachulung La, another high-altitude mountain pass situated on the Manali-Leh highway. The pass is located at an altitude of over 5,000 metres and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding snow-clad mountaintops, glaciers, and valleys. Visitors can also explore nearby trekking routes, camping sites, and natural hot springs, as well as indulge in delicious local cuisine.
Distance from Leh: 188 kilometres
Situated at an elevation of over 5,300 metres and offering panoramic views of the surrounding snowy mountains, rugged terrain and valleys, is the Tanglang La, a high-altitude mountain pass situated on the Manali-Leh highway in Jammu and Kashmir. Visitors can also explore nearby trekking routes, and camping sites, and soak in views of the Gata Loops, along with the lush vegetation surrounding it.
Distance from Leh: 108 kilometres
Upshi is a small town situated on the banks of the Indus River and makes for a beautiful destination to stop over on your way to Ladakh. The town is located at an altitude of over 3,000 metres and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding snow-capped peaks, valleys, and rivers. Visitors can explore the local monasteries, experience the traditional Ladakhi lifestyle, and indulge in delicious local cuisine.
Distance from Leh: 47 kilometres
Karu is a small village situated on the Manali-Leh highway in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is a popular destination to explore during your Leh Ladakh road trip, and is located at an altitude of over 3,500 metres and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding snow-capped peaks, valleys, and rivers. Visitors can explore the local monasteries, experience the traditional Ladakhi lifestyle, and indulge in delicious local cuisine, or even interact with the Hemis religious community.
Distance from Leh: 34 kilometres
Your road trip to Ladakh will conclude at Leh, the largest town situated on the Manali-Leh Highway. Known for its unique culture and stunning natural beauty, Leh is also home to several ancient monasteries and historical landmarks. The town is located at an altitude of over 3,500 metres and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding snow-capped peaks, valleys, and rivers. Leh is also an important landmark, providing a fascinating and unforgettable travel experience for adventurers.
Petrol pumps are of utmost importance during a road trip from Manali to Leh, as the route is long, remote, and has limited access to fuel. It is crucial to have enough fuel to cover the distance between the petrol pumps. Along the Manali-Leh Highway, petrol pumps are available at several locations. The major ones are as follows:
Manali: This hill station town has a total of six petrol pumps, providing ample opportunities to refuel before starting the journey.
Tandi: Located 110 kilometres from Manali, Tandi is the only petrol pump between Manali and Leh. It is essential to refuel at Tandi to ensure enough fuel for the rest of the journey.
Karu: 345 kilometres from Tandi and 30 kilometres before Leh, Karu also has a petrol pump where vehicles can be refuelled.
Leh: Arriving in Leh, one can find quite a few petrol pumps. In addition to the few petrol pumps in Leh, there is also a petrol pump near the Leh airport, located 25 kilometres from Leh.
It is advisable to plan ahead and calculate the distance between the petrol pumps to ensure sufficient fuel for the entire journey.
ATMs are crucial during a trip from Manali to Leh Ladakh by road as it is a long and remote route with limited access to banks and other financial services. It is advisable to carry enough cash for the trip as some places may not accept cards or digital payments.
ATMs can be found in major towns and villages along the Manali-Leh Highway, including Manali, Keylong, Jispa, Sarchu, and Leh. However, the availability of ATMs is limited, and it is advisable to withdraw enough cash for the entire journey whenever an ATM is available. It is also advisable to keep some cash as a backup in case of any ATM or card-related issues.
Mechanical readiness is essential for a safe and successful Leh road trip from Manali. The route covers challenging terrain, including high altitudes, steep inclines, and rough roads, which can put a strain on vehicles.
It is recommended to have a thorough inspection of the vehicle, including brakes, tires, engine, and electrical systems, before embarking on the trip. Additionally, carrying spare parts, tools, and essential fluids such as oil and coolant can be helpful in case of any breakdowns.
Some of the places where you can find mechanic shops along the way include:
When going on the Leh Ladakh road trip along the Manali-Leh highway, there are several stops along the way where you can find food stalls or dhabas to rest and have something to eat.
You will also find several stalls selling hot snacks, beverages and other dishes at Rohtang Pass. Additionally, places like Sissu, Keylong and Zingzing Bar also boast of eateries, restaurants as well as dhabas.
Located in the Himalayas at an altitude of 14,270 feet, Pangong Lake is a breathtaking sight in Ladakh, India renowned for its crystal-clear blue waters. The drive to Pangong Lake through rugged terrain and stunning landscapes is an adventure in itself. Visitors can camp by the lake and witness the ever-changing hues of the water as the sun moves across the sky. With the surrounding mountains and clear starry skies at night, Pangong Lake is an unforgettable destination for nature lovers and adventurers alike.
Nubra Valley, located in the northernmost part of India, is a must-visit place during a Leh Ladakh road trip by car. This high-altitude desert valley is known for its unique landscapes, including sand dunes, rocky outcrops, and riverbeds. The valley is also home to ancient monasteries and traditional villages, offering a glimpse into the region's rich culture and history. Visitors can also experience a thrilling ride on the world's highest motorable road, Khardung La, to reach Nubra Valley. With its stunning beauty and cultural significance, Nubra Valley is an unforgettable destination for adventure seekers and culture enthusiasts.
Magnetic Hill in Ladakh is a natural wonder that pulls vehicles uphill, seemingly defying gravity. Located on the Leh-Kargil highway, Magnetic Hill is a popular spot for tourists to stop and witness the phenomenon when heading to Leh Ladakh by road. Visitors can park their vehicles at the designated spot and watch as their cars appear to move uphill, seemingly on their own. With its intriguing mystery and stunning views of the surrounding landscape, Magnetic Hill is a must-visit destination for anyone travelling through Ladakh.
Tso Moriri Lake, located at an altitude of over 15,000 feet, is a spectacular destination that should not be missed on a Leh Ladakh road trip. Surrounded by towering snow-capped mountains, the lake is a shimmering blue-green oasis in the middle of the barren high-altitude desert. Visitors can camp by the lake and witness the stunning sunset and sunrise over the snow-capped mountains. With its serene beauty and natural splendour, Tso Moriri Lake is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and adventurers.
Perched on a hilltop overlooking the city of Leh, the Shanti Stupa is a Buddhist monument and one of the most visited places in Ladakh. Built to promote world peace and prosperity, the stupa is a symbol of religious harmony and spiritual awakening. Visitors can climb the steps to reach the stupa and witness the stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. It is a great place for travellers seeking inner peace and enlightenment.
Khardung La, located at an altitude of over 18,000 feet, is one of the highest motorable roads in the world and a must-visit pitstop during your trip to Leh Ladakh by road. The route to Khardung La is a challenging drive, offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. At the summit, visitors can enjoy a cup of tea and take pictures of the scenery. Being the gateway to the Siachen Glacier, this road is also where you can catch sight of horses and camels on their way to Kashgar in Central Asia.
Shey Monastery is a beautiful Buddhist monastery situated on a hilltop overlooking the Indus Valley in Ladakh. The monastery was once the summer palace of the Ladakhi kings and is now known for its stunning architecture and spiritual significance. Visitors can explore the monastery's various rooms and halls, which are adorned with murals and statues of Buddhist deities. One of the highlights here is the 12-foot statue of Shakyamuni Buddha, which is the largest of its kind in the region.
Hemis National Park is a wildlife sanctuary and one of the must-visit places on a Leh Ladakh road trip. The park is home to a variety of rare and endangered wildlife species, including the snow leopard, Himalayan black bear, and Tibetan wolf. It is also the abode of the Markha, Rumbak and Sumdah nalas, in addition to the Bharal and Snow Panther. The park also has several beautiful trekking routes, making it a popular destination for adventure seekers.
Namgyal Monastery, located in the heart of Leh, is a significant Buddhist monastery and one of the most famous places to visit in Ladakh. The monastery is the personal monastery of the Dalai Lama and serves as a centre for Buddhist learning and meditation. Visitors can attend prayer sessions and observe the monks engaged in daily rituals and practices. The monastery's beautiful architecture and intricate details make it a popular destination for photography enthusiasts.
Spituk Gompa, situated on a hilltop overlooking the Indus River, is a historic Buddhist monastery and one of the most popular attractions to visit during your Leh Ladakh road trip by car. The monastery is known for its impressive architecture and beautiful collection of Buddhist artefacts, including thangkas and statues of deities. Visitors can explore the various halls and courtyards of the monastery and witness the daily rituals and practices of the resident monks.
During your Leh road trip, make sure to visit the Tso Kar Lake, which is a beautiful high-altitude lake located in the Changthang plateau. Also known as the White Lake, it is famous for its scenic beauty, with crystal clear waters surrounded by snow-capped mountains and vast stretches of barren land. Visitors can also spot several migratory birds, including the black-necked crane, and witness the unique lifestyle of the Changpa nomads who reside in the region.
Sangam Point is a stunning confluence of the Zanskar and Indus rivers and one of the must-visit places in Leh Ladakh by road. Visitors can witness the meeting point of two different coloured rivers, with the blue Zanskar river and the green Indus river creating a unique contrast. The location is also a popular spot for adventure enthusiasts, with opportunities for river rafting and kayaking in the rapids of the Zanskar river.
Gurudwara Pathar Sahib is a unique and historic Sikh shrine located on the Leh-Kargil road, and one of the most religiously significant places you will come across during your Leh Ladakh road trip. The gurdwara is built around a large boulder which, according to legend, was thrown by a demon at Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, but turned soft on contact. Visitors can spend some time soaking in the tranquillity of the gurdwara, while also learning about the story of its establishment.
The Hall of Fame is a military museum and memorial located in Leh and is one of the best places to explore as you undertake a road trip to Ladakh. Located close to the Leh Airfield, the museum showcases the history, culture, and heroic deeds of the Indian Army and its soldiers in the region, including their efforts in the Kargil War. Visitors can also explore the exhibition halls displaying various artefacts, including weapons, clothing, and photos, and learn about the challenges and hardships faced by the soldiers while serving in the region.
Thiksey Monastery, located 19 kilometres east of Leh, is amongst the most famous landmarks to head to during a trip in Ladakh. This 12-story monastery is the largest in central Ladakh and boasts a beautiful collection of Tibetan art and architecture. Visitors can explore the various prayer halls, 10 temples, assembly hall and living quarters, which are adorned with intricate wall paintings and sculptures of Buddha and other deities. The monastery also offers panoramic views of the surrounding valley and is a peaceful retreat for those seeking spiritual enrichment.
Hemis Monastery, located about 45 kilometres south of Leh, is one place that you must definitely stop at when exploring Ladakh. Dating all the way back to the 17th century, this monastery is the largest and wealthiest in Ladakh, and it is famous for its annual Hemis festival, which attracts tourists from around the world. Visitors can explore the beautiful temples, prayer halls, and museums, which contain a wide range of artefacts, including ancient thangkas, manuscripts, and statues of Buddha and other deities.
One of the top places to visit during a Leh Ladakh road trip by car is the Diskit Monastery. Located in the Nubra Valley, this 14th-century monastery is home to a 32-metre statue of Maitreya Buddha. Visitors can also explore the monastery's various prayer halls and shrines, which feature intricate carvings and colourful paintings of Buddhist deities. In addition to its cultural significance, the monastery also offers stunning views of the Nubra Valley and surrounding mountain ranges, making it a popular destination for nature lovers and photography enthusiasts.
While exploring Leh Ladakh by road, don’t forget to pay a visit to the Leh Royal Palace, located in the heart of the town. Built in the 17th century by King Sengge Namgyal, the palace majorly lies in ruins now but features an exquisite blend of traditional Tibetan, Indian, and European architectural styles. Visitors can explore the palace's museum, which houses a collection of royal costumes, jewellery, thangkas, and other artefacts.
The Inner Line Permit (ILP) is a travel document that allows tourists to visit restricted areas of the Ladakh region. It is issued by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir to both Indian and foreign tourists. The permit is mandatory for tourists who want to visit certain areas of Ladakh that are located near the border with China and Pakistan.
Indian tourists need to obtain the Inner Line Permit if they want to visit the following areas in Leh Ladakh by road:
The Inner Line Permit can be obtained online or from the DC office in Leh or Kargil. Indian tourists can apply for the permit either individually or as a group. To apply for the permit, they need to provide their personal details, such as name, address, and identity proof. The permit is usually issued within a few hours, and the fees for the permit are nominal.
Foreign tourists need to obtain a different permit by the Ministry of Home Affairs called the Protected Area Permit (PAP) for certain areas, especially if they are located near the border with China and Pakistan. The permit can be issued for a group of tourists or individual tourists, and its fee is higher than the Inner Line Permit.
It is important to note that the Inner Line Permit or Protected Area Permit is not required for visiting areas such as Leh town, Shey, Thiksey, Hemis, and other tourist spots located within the Leh district.
The best places to see on a Leh road trip are the Pangong Tso, Nubra Valley, Khardung La, Magnetic Hill, Lamayuru Monastery, and Zanskar Valley, offering breathtaking landscapes and cultural significance.
The Srinagar-Leh, Manali-Leh, and Leh-Tso Moriri-Tso Kar routes are considered to be the best roads for a road trip to Ladakh. These routes offer breathtaking scenery and one-of-a-kind experiences, but demand careful planning to ensure a safe journey.
The cost of a Ladakh trip depends on factors such as mode of transportation, trip duration, hotel, food, and activities. The 5-7 day trip can cost between Rs. 15,000 and Rs. 50,000 per person, plus additional costs for adventure activities.
Yes, various permits are required for a Ladakh road trip. It includes the Inner Line Permit (ILP) for visiting particular places, the Protected Area Permit (PAP) for specific locations, and conservation taxes.
The 11-12 days journey to Ladakh is recommended to see the major attractions. A road trip from Manali to Leh normally takes 2-3 days, while a drive from Srinagar to Leh takes 2 days.
Ladakh road trip can be a safe and enjoyable experience with proper preparation and precautions, offering stunning views of the scenic landscapes and rich cultural heritage of the region.
It is recommended to choose a strong and reliable vehicle with high ground clearance and adequate grip for a Ladakh road trip, such as an Mahindra Thar, 4X4 SUV, Sedan or Hatchback. If you are travelling and want to travel with bike then bullet is the best option.
There are some tips for planning a successful Ladakh road trip are:
No, the high altitude, rugged terrain, and unpredictable weather conditions, the Ladakh road trip can be challenging but with proper instructions and guide it is not a difficult trip. It necessitates considerable planning and preparation, including obtaining the relevant permits.