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Manali To Leh

Discussion in 'North India' started by AviDua, Apr 2, 2016.

  1. AviDua

    AviDua New Member

    I am from Rajasthan and will be going to Manali with another family. The trip has all been planned with a detailed itinerary and stopovers which would be made from Rajasthan. Seeing that I would have come so far I am quite eager to go to Leh from there, as it is not every day that I would be in Himachal Pradesh and or even near J&K.

    I have only every heard or read about Leh and just seen the pictures which are purely mesmerising and I would love to be there in person and experience the beauty of the place. The Manali-Leh to highway is a much talked about topic and I have been told by others that if I wish to go on a road trip from Manali to Leh then it should be well planned.

    It is why I have joined the forum so that I can get some answers to questions I have about my Manali to Leh trip and I can plan my trip accordingly with the best knowledge and information given from the forum members.
    Each of my queries has been put into question forum, so it is easy for me and for you to answer. So here we go:

    1. When is the best time to visit Leh?

    2. When is the best time to go on the Manali - Leh highway?

    3. How long will the journey from Manali to Leh take?

    4. Should any stop overs be made from Manali to Leh?
    If yes then where do you suggest we stop at?

    5. Are there any places to see on the road trip?

    6. Do you suggest we stop and see these places on our way to Leh or on our way back to Manali?

    7. At what places would I find a petrol pump on the Manali - Leh highway?

    8. At what petrol pumps do you recommend filling up my car? I believe that there is a point at where you won't find a petrol pump after some 300km.

    9. What road map should be used for the Manali to Leh road trip?

    10. What things should be carried on the Manali to Leh road trip?

    11. What if my car breaks down, then what?

    12. What should be done about AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness)?

    13. Is there any point during the journey where we would not find any place to eat or drink for a long stretch?

    14. How many days do you recommend we should stay in Leh?

  2. Deven

    Deven Member

    The best time to visit Leh is from May to August

    The highway opens up early May but is best to drive on from late May.

    The journey from Manali to Leh is around 450km, which can take you anywhere between 10 - 12 hours.

    Yes, stopovers should be done, and it is vital you do so. You should make at least one-night halt and have more depending on your requirements and how you feel. Nighthalts can be made at Keylong, Sarchu,

    There are plenty of places to see on the way to Leh from Manali. The first is Rothang Pass, Keylong, Jispa, Zingzing Bar, Gata Loops, Pang, and Upsi.

    I would suggest that you see one or two places on the way to Leh and the rest of the places on the way back to Manali.

    Petrol pumps from Manali to Leh will be found at the following destinations:
    Karu and

    Make sure you refuel your car at Tandi as the next petrol pump at Karu is 345km away.

    Fill at any petrol pump, and like mentioned above especially at Tandi, like you mentioned yes there is a point where you won't find a petrol pump for a long distance which is 345km, and that is from Tandi to Karu.

    You can use any road map you wish as there only one route to go on. You can also have a look at the road map Manali to Leh to Srinagar thread.

    The basics are obvious like woolen clothing, lots of extra water, energy food, snacks which you can easily have when hungry if you are not able to find a food joint. Small tool kit, petrol pipe, rope, and torch with extra cells.

    If you car breaks down you will be able to find mechanics on the Manali - Leh route, which would be near Marhi, Khoksar, Keylong, Darcha, Sarchu, and Upshi. It is why I have also mentioned that you carry a small tool kit with you as well, in case there is something which you can see and resolve yourself.

    To prevent AMS, you should gradually increase the altitude, so that your body gets used to the oxygen levels. Make your you keep yourself well hydrated and have good food and especially carbohydrates. Keep yourself warm not with the heating but good clothing. Do not consume alcohol and smoking. If need be, you can carry a small oxygen cylinder with you as well.
    If problems persist then, you should visit a doctor or immediately descend.

    There will be small parts where you may not find any shops for food or drink, but there is no such long stretch. Have a bit to eat whenever you see a food joint, and it is why carrying food with you is essential.

    If you wish to see Leh properly and in a relaxed way I do recommend a ten days stay which would include one whole day of rest when you arrive in Leh.
    Have a look at the thread about the Leh Ladakh tourist guide, which provides information about the things to see and do in Leh, which would also help you decide how many days you should stay there.
    Admin likes this.

  3. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello there! Welcome to the forum!

    It really depends on what your interests are. Here's a little breakdown of the seasons in Leh and why it's best to visit during that time:
    • April to mid-May - This is considered as the peak tourist season and it's still part of the summer months. During this time, most of the hotels and guest houses open up to accommodate guests. By the last week of April, most of the lakes have melted snow already. By the month of May, the Srinagar Leh Highway opens up so you can take that route. Of the passes here, Chardung La, Khardung La and Rohtang La are still covered by snow during these months.
    • Mid-May to July - These months also see the opening of the Srinagar Leh Highway and the Manali Leh Highway. However, travellers are advised against travelling during the early months, especially May to June, as the snow melting can lead to some landslides. Most of the higher altitude areas are still covered with snow by this time.
    • August to mid-September - By this time, monsoon season is in full swing. It's best to avoid travelling in Leh as landslides can occur. However, certain areas receive little to moderate rainfall, these are: the area beyond Zoji La Pass, in the direction of Leh from Srinagar and further from Baralacha Pass, towards Leh from Manali.
    • Mid-September to mid-October - Perhaps, this is one of the best times to visit the region. After the monsoon season, water recedes and the region starts receiving snowfall. The roads, at this point in time, are well-maintained and easier to traverse. The various rivers and lakes around Leh are admirable during this time.
    • Mid-October to mid-November - By this time, most of the tourists have departed from the region and hotels start closing their businesses. Temperatures can reach sub-zero levels as well. Many of the roads leading to Leh can be quite dangerous especially with the heavy snowfall.
    • Mid-November to March - During this time, only a few brave souls go to Leh. But for the adventure seekers, the Chadar Trek is usually done during these months. All lakes at this time turn frozen into ice.
    So it depends upon you. If you would like to see the aqua blue lakes, then go during September to mid-October. If you'd like to trek in the snow, then go during November to March. If you'd like to play with snow, go during May to July.

    The Manali Leh Highway opens during May or June. However, it's recommended to wait a few weeks after it's opening as the roads can still get landslides due to snow melting. It's best to go through the route between mid-June to mid-July. Then, avoiding the monsoon season, you can pass through again between mid-September to mid-October.

    The total distance between Manali and Leh is about 490 kms. Despite this, you need to have proper acclimatisation prior to reaching Leh. With this, you need two night halts before you can reach Leh, one in Keylong and one in Shey. It can take you two to three days to reach Leh from Manali.

    Yes, it's necessary to have a night stopover in order for your body to be properly acclimatised and avoid AMS. Here is the route you can take:
    • Manali > Marhi > Khoksar > Sissu > Keylong > Jispa > Darcha > Patseo > Zingzingbar > Bharatpur > Sarchu > Nulla > Pang > Debring > Rumtse > Upshi > Karu > Thiksey > Shey > Choglamsar > Leh.
    Stopovers can be at Keylong/Jispa/Darcha and the other stopover can be at Thikshey/Shey.

    Again, referring to the route posted above, here are the attractions along the way:

    From Manali to Sissu, there's one attraction you can visit:
    • Rohtang La - This region has snow almost all-year round so it's a great stopover along the way. They also have some eateries here as well as snow activities and equipments.
    After which, there's Keylong, which has many Buddhist temples and other attractions. It's the administrative district of Lahaul and Spiti Valley. Some of the best attractions here are the following:
    • Kardang Monastery - This is a Drukpa lineaga monastery in Keylong. It is about 3,500 metres above sea level and you can find it on the left bank of the Bhaga River. You'd have to cross the Tandi Bridge to reach the monastery. It's about 14 kms from the city centre of Keylong. It is believed that that monastery was built in the 12th Century. However, it was renovated by Lama Norbu Rinpoche in the 1912 CE. Right now, there are about 30 monks and nuns in the monastery. The monks and nuns have equal rights. They usually go home to their families during the summer and go back to the monastery in the winter.
    • Shashur Monastery - This is another Drukpa lineage monastery in Keylong. Sha-shur means blue pines, as the region around the monastery is covered by these trees. The monastery was built in 17th Century by Lama Deva Gyatsho. You can find various paintings depicting certain Buddhism siddhas here.
    • Tayul Monastery - You can find this 6 kms from the centre of Keylong. Ta-yul means chosen place and it was established by Serzang Richen in the 17th Century. After about 100 years, the monastery was renovated by Lama Tashi Tanphel.
    Next would be Jispa, I'd recommend to visit the small folk museum and monastery here. But other than that, there are no more attractions in Jispa. From Darcha to Patseo, there's not much other attractions aside from that natural sceneries along the way.

    You would then reach Zingzingbar, so named because of the bar here with the similar name. There's also a camping ground here in case you'd like to explore the region.

    From Zingzingbar to Pang, you can reach the famous Gata Loops:
    • Gata Loops - These are a series of 21 hairpin bends. There's also a story around this area, in which a truck driver seemed to have his truck broke down in this bend over a few years ago. He left his companion on the truck to look for help for the next village. However, after walking about 40 kms, he wasn't able to find any help. He was stranded in the village for over a week before help came in and by then, he was dead already. The ghost of the Gata Loops is said to roam around there and ask for water from tourists or any other passerby. And if you decline his request, you suffer from terrible AMS.
    From Debring to Choglamsar, you would see plenty of camping grounds but there's not much other attractions aside from that. After which, you've already reached Leh before you know it.

    You can stop in these attractions on your way to Leh from Manali. On the way home, I suggest taking the other route, which is from Leh to Srinagar. You can also take the Srinagar to Leh route and going home Leh to Manali route and by then visit these attractions.

    In Manali, there are plenty of petrol pumps. But after that, you can only find pumps in:
    • Tandi - This is about 107 kms from Manali.
    • Karu - This is about 36 kms from Leh.
    So make sure you fill your tank in Tandi as the next petrol pump is about 360 kms away. In Leh, there are plenty of petrol pumps but you can also fill your tank in Karu, before Leh.

    As I've said, you need to fill your pump in Tandi, about 107 kms from Manali. Also, bring an empty bottle of Coke or Pepsi and fill it up with fuel for emergency cases.

    You can buy regular road maps in book stores. But honestly, there are plenty of resources online which you can also use. Google Maps is one which you can use. Other great ones are the following: Lonely Planet Map India, India Map Service, Maps of India, May My India and TTK Maps.

    Here are some of the essential items that you should bring:

    1. First Aid Kit
    • Pain Relievers and Medicines for Headache, Stomach Ache and AMS.
    • Bandaids or Gauze Pads
    • Portable Knife
    • Tweezers
    • Thermometer
    • Swabs
    • Iodine Solution
    2. Toiletries
    • Soap, Shampoo and Toothpaste
    • Alcohol and Hand Sanitiser
    • Sunscreen
    3. Snacks and Water

    4. Important Documents
    • ID
    • Passport
    • Itinerary
    • Hotel Booking Proof
    5. Clothing
    • Winter Essentials like Jackets, Woollens, Socks and Bonnets
    • Shoes with Good Grip and Sunglasses
    6. Gadgets
    • Chargers
    • Camera
    • Cellphone
    • Music Player
    • Power Banks
    7. Tools for Car in Case it Breaks Down

    The last mechanic can be found at Keylong. Make sure you have your car checked in there. After that, the mechanics can only be found in Leh. So you need to bring some car tools and spares and have some skills in case your car breaks down.

    First of all, these are the symptoms of mild AMS:
    • Dizziness, headache, muscle ache, insomnia, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, irritability, swelling of hands, feet & face, shortness of breath and rapid heartbeat
    Watch out for severe symptoms like:
    • Coughing, chest congestion, pale complexion, inability to walk, loss of balance and social withdrawal.
    So first of all, you need to descent to a lower altitude once these symptoms occur. Reduce any activity level and rest for the day before attempting to move again. Use of lung inhalers and medicines are also necessary at times.

    Yes, that's why it's advisable to bring some snacks along the trip so you have something to eat in these cases.

    I'd recommend to stay at least a week or more in Leh so you can fully explore it and its attractions.

    I hope this helps.:)