Exploring The Majestic Beauty Of Leh, Ladakh
One of the dream bike riding destination in India. It is blessed with mesmerizing beauty and splendid locations. This region of Jammu and Kashmir state is a challenge that every adventurous biker would love to take. The rugged trails, rough unpredictable weather and the continuous risk of landslides keep the rider in you charged every moment.
The land of high passes, Ladakh is one of the highest visited tourist destinations in India. Located more than 3,000m above the sea level, the scenic beauty of the Himalayan range and the Karakoram Mountain ranges add to the alluring beauty of this region.
Any road trips to Ladakh takes you through beautiful lakes, high mountain passes, scenic valleys, meandering roads and unpaved Buddhist monasteries, rugged terrains, high passes, snow clad mountains and many more fascinating elements of nature. Offering mesmeric views of the surroundings, these trips also offers adequate amount of challenges as the prevailing conditions along these regions are quite unpredictable at times.
There are mainly two routes that lead to Ladakh- one from Srinagar and the other from Manali: Srinagar to Leh and Manali to Leh.
Srinagar to Leh : A ride from one heaven to another
The route from Srinagar to Leh is considered comparatively much easier than the Manali – leh route. There are three high mountain passes. Apart from Zoji La pass there is Namika La and Fotu La which are located between Kargil and Leh. Fotu La at 13,478 ft is the highest point situated along this highway.
On the Srinagar to Leh ride, you will visit beautiful villages, war memorial, Himalayan valleys, a mountain top Gurudwara, monasteries and more. This is a comprehensive trip that exposes you to the various facets of Ladakh. In this exciting road trip, you visit spectacular locations.
The trip starts with the meadows of the gold, Sonmarg and treads along the Zozi La pass, a Himalayan gateway like no other transcending the rider completely into beauty and charm of the Himalayas
Be it the green fields of Sonamarg or the quaint and happy villages on the banks of the Sindh River; fill your eyes with the sights, sounds and essence of Ladakh. Covering a distance of 434 kms, this trip lets you witness the elements of nature more closely.
The heavy army presence along this route could be a deterrent but is a necessary evil!
Srinagar – Leh route can be covered in two days with a stop in Kargil. The ride will take you through the beautiful valley of Sonmarg and give you the first taste of high mountain passes at Zoji La. You may visit the Drass war memorial a few kms after Drass built in the memory of fallen soldiers in the 1999 Kargil war. Kargil to Leh is about 250 kms ride and you may also visit the Lamayuru monastery on the way.
The route is far more convenient as far as availability of food and petrol is also concerned. On the way to leh from Srinagar you will pass through Sonmarg, Zoji la, Drass, Kargil and Lamayuru. If you are on a long trip you may also visit Zanskar from Kargil. On the way to Leh from this side you may also visit Mulbek famous for the three story high rock carving of Maitreya, the future Buddha
Total Distance: 434 Kms
Best Time to Visit: Highway generally opens on early May to late October (Depends on the weather)
Srinagar – Sonmarg – Zozi La – Drass – Kargil – Mulbek – Lamayaru – Saspol – Leh
Petrol pumps on the route:
1) Mangan: Starting from Srinagar, the first petrol pump is available at Mangam, which is situated at around 32km from Srinagar.
Distance from Srinagar: 32 Kms
2) Sonamarg: The next refueling can be done at Sonamarg; around 80km from Srinagar and 48km ahead of Mangam.
Distance from Mangan: 48 Kms
3) Kargil: Make sure, you fill enough fuel in Sonamarg as the next petrol pump is located around 124km from Sonamarg or 204km from Srinagar.
Distance from Kargil: 124 Kms
4) Mulbekh: From Kargil, the next filling station lies in Mulbekh; around 40km, and 242km from Srinagar. Fuel stations are also available in Wakha and Khaltsi, which can be easily reached from Mulbekh.
Distance from Mulbekh: 40 Kms
ATMs along the route
On this astounding road trip, you can find ATMs in Ganderbal, Drass and Kargil. Due to the lesser number of ATMs in these regions, you can expect quite a rush in each of the ATM booths.
Places to eat
There are beverage and food stalls at Zozi La war memorial café. Not more than 20 kilometres short of Zoji la Pass is the Ghumri café. Quite a favourite among bikers, the café offers a variety of snacks like Maggie (depending on availability), coffee, momos among other things. All along the trip you might find dhabas interspersed in between.
Safety tips for on road trips to Ladakh
- Do not expose yourself to the weather without wearing adequate thermal wear.
- Drive safely and go slow on hairpin bends.
- Always park the vehicle on the side of the road to get down and take pictures.
- Do not sleep during days.
- The nights are cold and you might want to distract yourself by simply dozing off.
So what are you what are you waiting for? Go ahead and ride!