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How to go to Leh from Delhi?

Discussion in 'North India' started by RohanChaturvedi99, Sep 28, 2016.

  1. RohanChaturvedi99

    RohanChaturvedi99 New Member

    I want to go to Leh and spend 2 weeks in the area. I am from Delhi which is quite a distance from Leh, so I need some help with my journey from Delhi to Leh.

    I would prefer driving to Leh, only because it is supposed to be a beautiful drive from Himachal Pradesh towards Leh, which I don't want to miss.

    I need help with directions, the routes, stopovers and general information about going o this journey.

    I will be on my own so that I will be the only one driving.

  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hi there, welcome to the forum!

    So there are two routes that you can choose from to reach Leh from Delhi. The first one is the route via Manali and the second one is the route via Srinagar. Since you are from Delhi, it's better to choose the Manali route since it is closer to Delhi, at about 540 kilometres away. Srinagar is about 837 kilometres away from Delhi so it can take longer to reach it. Just make sure that you are properly acclimatised before ascending to the higher altitude regions of Manali. The problem with this route is that the ascents are more sudden and can cause Acute Mountain Sickness for some people. So let us highlight the different routes that you can take:
    • Route via Manali - Delhi > Panipat > Kurukshetra > Ambala > Dharampur > Ghaghas > Mandi > Manali > Solang Valley > Marhi > Khoksar > Sissu > Keylong > Jispa > Darcha > Patseo > Zingzingbar > Bharatpur > Sarchu > Nulla > Pang > Debring > Rumtse > Upshi > Karu > Thiksey > Shey > Choglamsar > Leh.
    From Delhi to Manali, the distance is about 540 kilometres and from Manali to Leh, the distance is about 490 kilometres. So overall, the distance covered would be around 1,030 kilometres. From Delhi to Ambala, road conditions are excellent. You won't encounter any issues except for the traffic if you leave late in the morning. I suggest leaving Delhi as early as 5:00 am or earlier if you can.

    Then, from Ambala to Ghaghas, roads are smaller as compared to national highways. However, by going through this route, you avoid the traffic in Kiratpur, which is the usual route taken by travellers. Roads are in good condition as well despite being smaller. In Ghaghas, you can have a stopover in the Punjabi Swagat Dhaba Restaurant.

    From Ghaghas to Manali, road conditions are good. Driving through this stretch won't be troublesome. Do take the Kullu Bypass before you reach Manali. Although some travellers take a night halt in Manali before continuing on to Leh, I won't recommend it. Manali won't help in acclimatising you so you might still get AMS even if you stayed the night here.

    Instead, about 14 kilometres away from Manali, go to Solang Valley. You can halt for the night here and commence your journey the next day. It is about 2,500 metres above sea level and can help with acclimatising you for the higher altitude areas before Leh and Leh itself.

    From Solang Valley to Khoksar, road conditions are good. However, before you reach Rohtang Pass, there are a few patches of bumpy roads. Other than that, driving through this stretch would be a breeze. The roads here were just recently repaired but a few weeks ago, the roads were in bad condition. Thankfully, the stretch is now good and won't be a problem in this route.

    From Khoksar to Keylong, road conditions are good as well. I guess it was also repaired recently since a few weeks ago, the roads were in bad shape. Keylong is also a good night stopover since driving at night time can be dangerous in the region. Before you reach Keylong, have your fuel filled up in Tandi, the town where the last petrol station is located. Then, before departing the next day, make sure you have your car checked in Keylong as the last mechanic station is located here.

    From Keylong to Sarchu, roads were also recently repaired, thus driving through this stretch is going to be smooth. You'd pass by Baralacha La, a high altitude pass, in this stretch. Just drive carefully when driving through that part of the route.

    From Sarchu to Pang, road conditions are okay. The Gata Loops are located here so navigate through these hairpin bends carefully. Also, the passes of Nakee and Lachulung are also located here. Just before you reach Pang, five kilometres from it, the roads are in bad conditions and patchy.

    From Pang to Leh, roads are freshly laid and smooth. It is a two lane expressway so driving here would be easy. Tanglang La is located also in this stretch so do be prepared for that. You can also stay the night in Upshi if you're too tired from the journey. Otherwise, continue on to Leh and stay the night there before exploring the region.

    Don't forget to fill your car's fuel tank in Tandi and also have your car checked in Keylong. In Solang Valley, there are many hotels and resorts that you can stay in. Keylong also has plenty of hotels that you can stay in. In Upshi though, you'd have to settle for guest houses and home stays. But in Leh, there are plenty of accommodation options again.

    Make sure that you bring your own snacks and water because you'd pass by mainly uninhabited towns. So even if you get hungry, at least you have some snacks for this. There are a few small dhaba restaurants along the way but you cannot depend on finding them all the time. So if you do pass by inhabited towns like Manali and Keylong, stock up on your snacks and water.

    From Keylong to Pang, there would be no mobile signal so be prepared for that. Bring some light woollens as well as night time temperatures can get low. Days are very bright and sunny though. Always be careful in driving in this route as accidents do occur here. Drive slowly as well especially on higher passes.

    The route via Manali to Leh is the more adventurous choice and thus, chosen by people who are good with driving. So if you do have some skills and experience driving through such routes, then this route is good for you. If you're not that experienced with driving, you can take the other route, although there is still one downside to that route right now.
    • Route via Srinagar - Delhi > Panipat > Ludhiana > Pathankot > Jammu > Srinagar > Wayul > Sonamarg > Dras > Kargil > Mulbekh > Heniskot > Uleytokpo > Nimmu > Leh.
    This is the less adventurous route but in terms of scenery, it's just the same. This route is about 1,260 kilometres long overall. From Delhi to Srinagar, it's about 837 kilometres and from Srinagar to Leh, it's about 415 kilometres.

    Although this is the safer route, in terms of terrains, right now, there are some military issues within Srinagar and Kashmir in general. Some weeks back, a curfew was initiated upon the region which was lifted recently. There are many unrests and protests in the region and if a riot occurs, it can get dangerous.

    Leave very early in the morning from Srinagar, like 4:00 am, to avoid the day time protests or incidents. Army convoys for travellers are also common in this area. However, your vacation might turn out to be very stressful when you take this route.

    Anyway, so from Delhi to Pathankot, road conditions are good. Make sure to leave early from Delhi to avoid the dreaded traffic here. Since the stretch from Delhi until Srinagar is long, you can have a night halt in Pathankot and commence your journey for Srinagar the next day.

    From Pathankot to Srinagar, road conditions are good. Do remember to take the Jammu-Udhampur route and leave very early from Pathankot. Although roads are smooth, the traffic here is very bad and can lead to a delay in your journey if you're affected by it. So leave very early in order to avoid the traffic. Do not take the Samba-Udhampur route as road conditions here are bad.

    So then you'd reach Srinagar and due to the bad civilian issues here, it's better to pass through this route quickly. If an army can convoy you, the better so do search for them. Otherwise, avoid this stretch during day time as stone pelting against vehicles have been reported here.

    After Srinagar, you'd reach Sonamarg. Civilian and military issues here are better than in Srinagar. From Sonamarg to Dras, road conditions are good but you'd pass through Zoji, your first high altitude pass in this route. Zoji La is quite a bit of a challenge with gravel and patchy roads. Roads are mostly two lanes and smoothly laid after that. Dras is a good stopover as the accommodation options here are cheap.

    From Dras to Kargil, roads are good. But before you reach Dras, you'd pass by patchy roads with some potholes so be careful. Thereafter, roads are in good condition until Kargil. If you did not have a stopover at Dras, Kargil would be a good option.

    From Kargil to Leh, roads are mostly good but steeper. The Hangro Loops, the equivalent of the Gata Loops in this route, can be challenging but it's a doable stretch.

    The good thing with this route is that you'd find plenty of hotels and guest houses along the way, even in smaller towns. It is also mostly inhabited except for the higher altitude areas. Petrol pumps are also quite many as compared to the other route. But mobile signal can be very weak in some spots so be prepared for that.

    I hope this guide helps you on your journey to Leh. Stay safe and enjoy your road trip!:)

  3. vkar

    vkar Member

    You should definitely do the drive if possible. It's awesome and once in a lifetime experience. It's better if you have a few buddies travelling with you as well, as mind you, the drive may be awesome and beautiful but it's also very demanding physically and full of unexpected dangers. You need to do thorough research and preparation as well.