leh ladakh

A Road Trip To Leh Ladakh - You Need To Live It To Believe It!

Manasvi Abhishek Jaitly

Wedding Editor

A road trip to Leh Ladakh had always been on my bucket list. But when my husband suggested we do it this year, I wasn’t quite ready. All those stories about the lack of oxygen and deadly roads were enough to scare me. But like every other time, Abhishek managed to convince me and we set off for this journey of a lifetime on the 14th of June, 2017.




The route we followed


We did Delhi - Manali - Jispa - Sarchu - Leh - Nubra Valley - Durbuk - Pangong Tso - Leh - Sarchu - Sissu - Manali - Delhi. We took a two night halt in Manali to get our permits sorted and left for Rohtang Pass at 3:45 am. Any later and you’re stuck in a jam for hours!  


1. Crossing the first milestone - Rohtang La


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At a height of about 13,000 ft, the ride to Rohtang is marked by rough narrow curves with almost no road and a clear indication of what lies ahead. We reached Rohtang with the sun just about coming up and the sight was one to behold. It was also where we got the first glimpse of snow!


2. And the camping begins




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The last petrol pump before Leh is situated at Tandi. Do not forget to fuel up here. And do carry a jerry can, just in case.


The road after crossing Rohtang only got worse. But the landscape was nothing like I’d ever seen before. From snow capped peaks to rocky terrains and then gigantic lush green mountains, the scenery kept evolving every hour or so.










 

First stop... First camp... Nature at its best #lehladakh #jispa #nofilter #camping


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Jispa Journey Camps… That’s where we stayed!




3. Acclimatizing at Sarchu








Suraj Tal lake… The third highest lake in India.








Crossing Baralacha Pass


Our 2nd halt after Manali was at Sarchu and this is absolutely necessary in order to acclimatize. You will face some major breathing issues here so make sure you’re consuming at least 5-6 liters of water per day. And just FYI, this area has absolutely no inhabitants except for the few ‘livable’ months when locals from far off come setup camps for tourists.


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We stayed at Goldrop Camp that is well equipped with medication and oxygen cylinders in case you need them. Do take a long walk along the mountains as that helps your body acclimatize.


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Sarchu is a land of absolutely no greenery and can seem daunting at first. With the temperature dipping to less than a degree and strong winds, you’ll be layering up here like never before. And you’ll thank the lord for the hot water bags and the simple dal chawal that the tents serve.   


4. The enchanting journey to Leh


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View of the Gata Loops. A series of 21 hairpin bends that you cross on the way to Leh.


After a night of almost no sleep, thanks to the lack of oxygen and freezing cold, we woke up to a sunny yet windy morning. A light breakfast and we were off to Leh. A long drive of 8 hours, this was truly one of the most amazing experiences of my life.


For as long as you see, you won’t find a single tree on your way. The sky is a beautiful shade of blue and serves as just the prettiest backdrop for snow mountains and stark white clouds. The distance from Sarchu to Leh is 260 km with absolutely no civilization for the major part of the stretch. And it truly is mesmerizing.




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I liked to refer to this as ancient Egypt, thanks to the giant sand structures! Also, I was convinced that there existed some sort of cosmic power in this area. Maybe there is, who knows?!


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The caption says it all!


Now is when you’ll also cross the Moore Plains that pretty much make to EVERY Leh Ladakh album ever. A long straight road lined by beautiful scenery on either side. With multiple shades of brown, it looked like a heavily edited picture from one of those travel magazines.


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And finally, that’s Abhishek! After crossing the second highest motorable pass of the world, Taglangla at an altitude of 17582 Ft.


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And we finally made it! Hello Leh!


5. Exploring Leh!










 

Taking a break from the drive to explore the city of Leh...


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TBT, there is not much to do in Leh except for visiting the mall road. Visit German Bakery to satisfy your food cravings. Their pizzas are yum! Or shop around for lovely pashminas to take back home. We just had to get a Leh fridge magnet to add to our travel board!


6. At the world’s highest motorable road!








Khardung La, situated at a height of 18,380 FT, this was the one pass I had been dreading the most. We left early in the morning from Leh and the road to Khardung La, to put in one word, was ‘unforgiving’.


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A light drizzle and lots of snow! We were driving through the clouds on a path that did not really exist. And of course, as you can see, it was freezing cold!!!


The way to our next stop, Nubra Valley, was lined with snow walls on either sides and we even had to drive through vast river beds due to the absence of roads. The mountains here were largely those made of stones and we were at a risk of landslides and stone pelting pretty much all throughout.


7. ATV rides and more…








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Nubra Valley is like a breath of fresh air in this no man’s land. From the day we reached Sarchu, it was finally at Nubra that I was able to spot trees! And such a joy that was! Nubra is also the land of majestic sand dunes and the double humped camel.










 

ATV rides at Nubra Valley! #lehladakh #nubravalley #sanddunes #atvriding


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And of course, ATV rides that are super fun!








Our camp here was a super pretty luxury tent (finally!) with a stream of fresh water flowing right in front. Also, here’s where I finally got some wifi reception. *time for all those Insta updates!*


8. Say hello to Pangong Tso










 

They call it heaven for a reason... #lehladakh #traveldiaries #indiantravel #mountains #roadtrip #nofilter


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A nights stay at the Army camp at Durbuk and we were recharged to witness the magic that Pangong lake is. Stretching across 134 kms, 60% of the lake lies in China. Bestowed with the title of the lake that changes colours, the view truly is mesmerizing.












 

How you be so stunning Leh? #lehladakh #cntgiveitashot #mountains #shadesofbrown #nofilter #himalayas


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On the way!










 

Asia's most beautiful lake... Pangong Tso #lehladakh #roadtrip #pangonglake #himalayas


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This is just half the beauty of what it is in real. And I’m not even exaggerating!


Crystal clear water with hues of green, purple and blue, the surrounding mountains look straight out a movie. While we did spend a night here, you could totally skip it and head back to Leh after enjoying the views for an hour or so.


9. The return journey begins








Not ready to leave just yet!


The return journey from Pangong was just as beautiful. We crossed the Changla Pass on our way back to Leh and it was gorge!










 

And it snowed!!!


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What a sight! For as far as you see, there’s a blanket of clear white snow.


A night at Leh - Sarchu - Sissu each and we were back to Manali. Take my advice and extend your holiday by a day or two at Manali. You’ll need that time for the experience of Leh Ladakh to sink in!


Leh Ladakh is an experience, it’s not a vacation, and anyone who loves to travel (or not) needs to be here to see it, to believe it, to live it.

Published on Aug 06, 2017
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