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How to reach Leh?

Discussion in 'Jammu & Kashmir' started by Jagdish, Sep 5, 2016.

  1. Jagdish

    Jagdish New Member

    I would like to make a trip to Leh from Delhi before the roads close due to the snowfall starts. I would prefer self-driving to Leh, and the drivers would change as my friend would be with me.

    Neither of us have been on the Delhi to Leh route, and need help in knowing how to reach Leh?

    We need all the information we can get such as:
    • distance covered
    • places to stay at for the night
    • road conditions
    • petrol pumps in Leh

    Please do not suggest taking another mode of transport as driving to Leh is something which has been something I wanted to do, and seeing the landscape on the way is a must as it has been mentioned in many articles.
  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello, @Jagdish! Welcome to the forum!

    So first of all, there are two routes that you can take to reach Leh from Delhi. These are the following routes:

    1. Route No. 1 via Srinagar - Delhi > Panipat > Ludhiana > Pathankot > Jammu > Srinagar > Wayul > Sonamarg > Dras > Kargil > Mulbekh > Heniskot > Uleytokpo > Nimmu > Leh.

    The distance covered for this route is about 1,249 kms. It can take you two to three days to reach Leh with this one. You need to divide your journey as proper acclimatisation needs to take place prior to reaching the higher altitude area of Leh.

    The road conditions between Delhi to Srinagar are good. You might encounter traffic in Ludhiana to Pathankot though so make sure you leave early from Delhi to avoid this. Delhi to Srinagar is about 838 kms so it can take you 17 hours or more to cover this distance. You can take a night halt at Jammu though and visit the Vaishno Devi if you'd like. Otherwise, just take a night halt at Pathankhot if you do not aim to visit the Vaishno Devi.

    The road conditions between Srinagar to Sonamarg are good as well. There's a high presence of military trucks and soldiers here though. You can also have a stopover at Srinagar and visit the attractions here. This can also help you acclimatise properly for your journey to Leh. Roads are well-paved and you won't encounter much problems. You can reach Sonamarg in about 2 to 3 hours.

    Now, you'd traverse Sonamarg to Dras. You'd also pass by your first high altitude pass here which is the Zoji La. The roughest patch on this route is also here. There are some paths without paved roads and you need to drive carefully through them especially if it's raining. After the pass, the roads to Drass are good and smooth. You can also have a night halt here since the hotels are on the cheaper side.

    From Dras to Kargil, roads are in excellent condition. Some opt to stay here instead of Dras but the hotels can be more costly in Kargil. It won't take you long to reach Kargil with this one.

    From Kargil to Nimmu, this is the start of the higher ascents. Although road conditions are good, you would encounter the Hangro Loops, which are a series of 18 steep turns and curves in the region. After the loops, the drive from Nimmu to Leh are smooth again.

    Petrol pumps are not a problem in this route. Major towns like Mangan, Sonamarg, Kargil, Mulbekh, Wakha and Khaltsi have them.

    So in summary:
    • Distance covered - 1,249 kms.
    • Places to stay for the night - Jammu/Katra or Pathankot, Srinagar and Dras or Kargil.
    • Overall road condition - Good, with few rough patches and some steep curves.
    • Petrol pumps - Mangan, Sonamarg, Kargil, Mulbekh, Wakha and Khaltsi.

    2. Route No. 2 via Manali - Delhi > Panipat > Kurukshetra > Mandi > Manali > Marhi > Khoksar > Sissu > Keylong > Jispa > Darcha > Patseo > Zingzingbar > Bharatpur > Sarchu > Nulla > Pang > Debring > Rumtse > Upshi > Karu > Thiksey > Shey > Choglamsar > Leh.

    The distance covered for this route is about 1,100 kms. It can take you two to three days as well to reach Leh with this one. Like the first route, you need to divide your journey so that you can be properly acclimatised.

    From Delhi to Manali, this is about 581 kms in distance. As you can see, this route is closer to Delhi than the other route. Hence, it's more apt to take this one and use the other route when going home. However, the problem with this route is that the ascents are sudden unlike the gradual ascent in the Srinagar route. So make sure you are properly acclimatised prior to reaching Leh.

    Delhi to Manali road conditions are good. There is traffic during rush hours and of course, presence of trucks. But aside from that, road conditions are smooth but you won't be able to speed up due to traffic. So just leave early to avoid this rush. You can reach Manali in about 12 to 13 hours. About 14 kms away from Manali is the Solang Valley. Do stop for a night there so you can be properly acclimatised as it's at a higher height than Manali.

    From Manali to Kokhsar, the roads are in bad shape. It's a downhill ride so be prepared for that. Aside from that, foreign nationals have to register themselves at the checkpoint here.

    From Kokhsar to Keylong, roads are in bad conditions and it's a downhill ride as well. Do tank up at Tandi after Kokhsar as this has the last fuel station before Leh. If you have any problems with your car, the last mechanic is at Keylong so do have it checked. You can also have a night halt here for better acclimatisation.

    From Keylong to Darcha, roads are in smooth condition and you won't encounter much problems at all. All tourists, foreign and local, must register at the checkpoint in Darcha though so do keep that in mind.

    From Darcha to Sarchu, road conditions are not good. Since the altitude is beginning to get higher, you might experience some symptoms of AMS as well so don't stress yourself so much. The high altitude Baralacha La is also located here and the downhill ride to Bharatpur is a bit tough. From there though, roads to Sarchu are good again. You can opt to take a night halt here in Sarchu and don't forget to register as well as it's necessary.

    From Sarchu to Pang, road conditions are fine. You would encounter the Gata Loops, a series of 22 hairpin bends here though. Nakee La and Lachulung La are also located here, two more high altitude passes. Register again in Pang as it's required.

    Now, you'd reach Pang and continue your journey until Upshi. After Pang, you'd reach the famous Moore Plains, which are flat terrains at a high altitude. Don't speed up though as the roads are still bumpy. After that, you'd pass another high altitude pass, Tanglang La. The ascent is steep and can be challenging, so is the descent from the pass.

    From Upshi to Leh, this is about 55 kms and roads are in much better conditions. You can halt for the night at Thiksey or Shey. Some even opt to halt at Upshi which is also okay.

    Petrol pumps are only in Manali and Tandi so make sure you fill your tank at the latter before continuing on your journey.

    So in summary:
    • Distance covered - 1,100 kms.
    • Places to stay for the night - Manali or Solang Valley, Keylong and Upshi or Thiksey/Shey.
    • Overall road condition - Average, there are some bad patches and steep curves as well as high passes.
    • Petrol pumps - Manali and Tandi.
    I hope this helps!
  3. Jagdish

    Jagdish New Member

    Thanks for the detailed and informative reply.
    I understand that there maybe traffic, are the roads wide enough for a truck and car to pass by each other?

    Or even two cars to pass by each other?

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