Road Trip To Ladakh : Best Route to Ladakh and More

Ladakh is a territory nestled in the mountains of Jammu and Kashmir which attracts worldwide attention for its valleys, lakes, monasteries and the serene and peaceful beauty around it. Although air travel is available to reach Ladakh, it is rarely sought after. The most common method for reaching and travelling to Ladakh are the roadways. Any road trip in India is synonymous with Ladakh. Individual bikes along with large groups in cars can be regularly found on the various routes heading to this beautiful and sought after destination. The smooth highways along with the beautiful sights along the way make up for a very memorable,smooth and exciting experience.

Best Routes to Travel to Ladakh

There are multiple routes one can take for a road trip to Ladakh. The 4 most popular ones are as follows :

1.    SrinagarKargilLeh (Ladakh) 

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This is one of the most comfortable routes one can take for a road trip to Ladakh and it  starts from the capital of Kashmir- Srinagar which is home to the famous Dal Lake. Srinagar is easily accessible with its Airport or by road from Jammu. Tourists often stay overnight to explore the Dal Lake and stay in the famous houseboats.

The route from Srinagar to Ladakh passes through a variety of places and attractions. The route first takes you through Sonmarg, a beautiful hill station nestled amidst the mountains of Himalayas. Crossing Sonmarg comes the first mountain pass Zoji La which is one out of three passes needed to be crossed using this route. Between Kargil and Ladakh there are several attractions to see. The Kargil Memorial instills a sense of patriotism. The Sangam is a beautiful spot which is the confluence of 2 rivers - The Indus and Zanskar.

Lamayuru monastery is another attraction which comes while travelling through this route. After crossing Drass comes the last stretch of the road to Leh which is a scenic and beautiful one.
Distance -  419km
Time - (Nonstop) - Approximately 9 hrs
Difficulty - Beginner. This route is considered to be one of the most comfortable routes due to its gradual ascendance.

  2.  Manali  – Leh (Ladakh) 

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The journey through this route starts from the famous hill station Manali which is easily accessible by car or buses. The most beautiful journey starts henceforth from the Manali- Leh Highway which encompasses beautiful sights throughout the journey. Manali in itself is a famous tourist place and can be explored before beginning the journey to Ladakh. The highway route is unimaginably beautiful and has been called one of the most scenic routes to ever exist.

The journey is exciting with smooth roads and contrasting backgrounds.One can see snow capped peaks, lush green valleys as well as barren lands throughout the journey. Glacial lakes, mountain passes and small villages make for a picturesque route. Tourists can then explore the wonders of Leh while relaxing in a peaceful environment. Nubra Valley and Pangong So are must visits as well.
Distance - 428kms
Time - (Nonstop) - Approximately - 11hrs
Difficulty - Moderate/Difficult - The average altitude of the Highway is 10,000ft and thus requires time getting used to the difficult conditions.

3.    Dharamshala - Manali - Jispa - Leh (Ladakh) 

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A rather spiritual route for a road trip to Ladakh, this one starts from the peaceful hill station of Dharamsala. The town lies between mountains and also serves as the residence of Dalai Lama and has a lot of spiritual and cultural diversity. The route from Dharamshala to Manali is picturesque with lush greenery and forests throughout the drive. Manali is another famous and beautiful hill station which must be explored before carrying onwards with the journey to Ladakh.

From Manali starts the Manali- Leh Highway which is one of the most beautiful roadways to travel through. The background is varied and beautiful thus making for an exciting journey. In between lies the beautiful town of Jispa nestled on the banks of the Bhaga River. Since it is a long journey, this town offers a beautiful relaxing retreat. Onwards to Leh, tourists will cross some of the highest passes in the world before finally entering the beautiful territory of Ladakh.
Distance - 642kms
Time - (Nonstop) - Approximately - 18hrs
Difficulty - Moderate - It takes some time to acclimatize to the altitude and the break in Jispa makes it easier to get comfortable.

 4.   Srinagar – Kargil – Leh (Ladakh) – Manali

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This is one of the most sought after routes for a road trip to Ladakh as it offers scenic views from both major highways of Srinagar to Leh and then from Leh to Manali. Srinagar is easily accessible with its Airport or by road from Jammu and is an attractive tourist destination. In between Srinagar and Leh lies Kargil where tourists can visit the Kargil War Memorial and look at the Sangam( confluence of the rivers Indus and Zanskar).

The road from Kargil to Leh encompasses beautiful glacial lakes and valleys which make for a picturesque journey. Leh to Manali is a slightly more challenging route due to its high altitude. The journey is smooth with beautiful and contrasting landscapes throughout the journey.
Distance - 840kms
 Difficulty - Moderate - The route from Srinagar to Leh is very comfortable while from Leh to Manali is slightly challenging. 

Permissions and Documentations Required

Several checkpoints and Police Check-Posts are crossed during the whole road trip to Ladakh. To avoid any hassle it is best to keep necessary documentations and permissions handy. Documentations include Vehicle Papers and Personal Identity Cards. An Inner Line Permit needs to be taken which is available on the website whose link is shared below. The cost of the same is Rs.400 which includes all costs relating to the permission involved.
Link : lahdclehpermit.in

Vehicles : Rent, Fuel and Where to rent from  

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Vehicles are recommended to be rented from a major city and at the start of the road trip. Delhi, Manali and Srinagar all offer such services where the tourists can rent both bikes and cars as per their requirement.
Average cost of renting bikes are Rs. 1000 - 1500 per day which may vary or increase as per the bike model chosen, the most common one being Royal Enfield.

Average cost of renting cars lies anywhere between Rs. 8,000 to Rs.15,000 and above depending on the model and number of days.
Petrol pumps are available on the highways and roughly fuel worth Rs. 6000 to Rs.10,000 can be expected for a round trip.

Packing List and Traveller Tips

Along with being one of the most beautiful road trips, it is also one of the most challenging ones due to its high altitude. Here is a list of things one must have handy while choosing a road trip to visit Ladakh
  • A good quality helmet in case travelling through bikes.
  • A solid tent with a sleeping bag.
  • Adequate rain gear/waterproof clothing.
  • Hiking shoes/boots. Sport shoes do just as fine.
  • A torch.
  • Adequate warm clothing.
  • Medical Kit.
  • Supply of Drinking water.
  • A matchbox/lighter.
  • A small toolkit.
  • A pocket knife.
In addition to these keep your documents and permissions handy to avoid any hassle and having a safe,comfortable and memorable trip.

This post was published by Naman Chindalia

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