This Road trip to Leh is a journey of a lifetime. Most Indian travellers long to witness the barren beauty of its mountains against the the vast azure skies. It was our turn to do it, This time around I was not travelling solo, I had ace photographer and a dear friend Ram Keshav with me. Our trip was for 15 days starting from Delhi to Jaipur to Chandigarh to Kalka to Manali to Leh and the Shivalik Regions and back again via two spectacularly scenic routes: via Manali and via Srinagar.
Delhi to Leh Road Trip Route (via Manali)
Delhi → Jaipur
We took the train in the leg of our journey. The fastest and most convenient train from Delhi to Jaipur is the premium 12015 Ajmer Shatabdi Express. It departs New Delhi Railway Station at 6.05 a.m. and arrives at Jaipur at 10.40 a.m. the same day. This train has dynamic fare pricing, meaning the ticket cost will vary according to demand and available seats. The fare in Executive Chair (first class, seated, air-conditioned) is 1,303 rupees. AC Chair (chair car, seated, air-conditioned) ranges from 596 to 805 rupees. The train runs every day and meals are included. Cleanliness, punctuality, and ticket availability are excellent. There's also a Foreign Tourist Quota.
Our Journey originally started 2190kms away in the South of India in Chennai, After a 21hour train journey to Delhi, we set out to our next destination in Rajasthan. Next Stop: Pink City.
It’s hard to miss the pink in the ‘Pink City’ as Jaipur is fondly called. Jaipur is a fine representation of the regal grandiose that has always distinguished the state of Rajasthan. Home to opulent palaces, towering forts and holy temples, not only has Jaipur gracefully retained its royal roots but it proudly displays them for visitors to see and experience. Do not miss this city when you travel in India.
Jaipur → Chandigarh → Kalka → Shimla (via Shivalik Express)→ Manali (via NH3)
Once reaching Jaipur and after checking in to our hotel we went for a stroll to plan out our day trips in Jaipur and the local sightseeing. Both public and private transportation is easily available in Jaipur. From cycle rickshaws and local buses to air-conditioned radio cabs, take your pick! Also, the first phase of the rapid transit system, the Jaipur Metro, covers a distance of 9.6 kilometres from Mansarovar to Chandpole Bazaar.
Manali → Jispa (via Rohtang Pass)
Start out by 4 am from Manali to avoid the hordes visiting Rohtang Pass. On the way, you can see the iconic area, stop over at the Koksar Dhaba for lunch, put gas in the car at Tandi and head to Jispa. From Jispa, you’ll be headed to Sarchu, which is an important stopover. At an elevation of 14,500 metres, you can stay at the Army Base Camp from June to October.
Sarchu → Tanglang La → Leh
You’re almost there, once you leave Sarchu. But not before you traverse the Lachulungla Pass, from where you can see the entire Ladakh plateau. The rugged terrain then really begins, as you drive forward to Pang (where the highest army transit camp exists) and Tanglang La Pass (which, at 17585 feet above sea level, is claimed to be the second highest motorable road in India). By the evening, you will get to Leh.
What’s Leh Best Known For
Food: Momos, thukpa, tingmo, qahwa are all available here. No fancy restaurants, of course.
Camping: Plenty of camping places. Pangong Lake and Nubra Valley are favoured spots.
Trek: Not easy to do, but the Chadar Trek is beautiful, taking you over many frozen rivers.
Shopping: The Tibetan markets are great places to buy Tibetan items, foods and Pashmina.
Wildlife: Many in the area will be looking to catch a glimpse of the elusive snow leopard.
Museum: The Hall of Fame museum was constructed by the Indian Army to honour soldiers who died in the Indo-Pak wars.
Places to see
Pangong Tso Lake
Hemis National Park
Royal Leh Palace
Tso Moriri Lake