How to plan a journey on Srinagar – Leh Highway

2042

The 434 KM long Srinagar – Leh Highway is almost like a lifeline in the form of road connectivity between Leh – Ladakh and rest of India via Kashmir Valley. Srinagar – Leh Highway also known as National Highway – 1D (NH – 1D) is the most reliable and one of the only two ways to reach Leh – Ladakh by road, the other one being Manali – Leh Highway (Check: Travel Guide for Manali – Leh Highway here). Generally, travelers or adventure lovers from all over world loves or dreams to undertake this road trip of their life time by covering both routes connecting Leh – Ladakh to rest of India i.e. a lifetime experience road trip traversing Srinagar – Leh – Manali Highways. Apart from being famous for its enchanting views, this highway holds a strategic importance for India and being close to LOC, you see the heavy army presence on it when you travel through Srinagar – Leh Highway.

The highway runs along side the Indus River and through some extremely harsh and barren terrain including the three high mountain passes named Zozi La (3528 Mtrs), Namki La (3815 Mtrs) and Fotu La (4108 Mtrs). In any case, Srinagar – Leh highway offers some breathtaking landscapes ornamented by various historical and cultural constructions which are just like a dream treat for any traveler driving/riding through Srinagar – Leh Highway.

Generally, people traveling or flying directly to Leh – Ladakh suffers from acute mountain sickness as Leh (3500 Mtrs) due to sudden disturbance of altitude with which the body is adapted. However, Srinagar – Leh highway provides a gradual ascent to travelers thus helps them fight any chances of acute mountain sickness (AMS) caused due to high altitudes and let them enjoy the beautiful vistas in relaxed manner.

Season to Travel on Srinagar – Leh Highway

The 434 KM long Srinagar Highway generally remains closed for about 6 months in an year starting from November to May due to heavy snowfall on the mountain passes mainly Zozi La pass. Zozi La pass starts receiving snowfall in the month of November and then any day of November (generally 15th November officially) the highway ceases to close officially as it becomes extremely difficult for BRO to clear the snow. Then, again as the winter months resides, the BRO guys begins the snow clearance process in spring season that is in March and repair the damaged roads, bridges and other parts of the highway. Finally, after completing this rigorous job of snow clearance and fixing the roads, bridges etc BRO announces the opening of Srinagar – Leh Highway generally around mid – May or by June first week.

Hence, the best season to travel Srinagar – Leh Highway is between June to October. In May, if the highway gets open then generally the roads are in really bad shape and only improves as the season progress with constant repair work conducted by BRO. By end of June as the road condition stabilizes the monsoon comes to the party in July and creates havoc in lower hills connecting Srinagar to Jammu and further to other parts of India. The landslides are almost inevitable in monsoon season which causes road blockages ever now and then. The Amarnath Yatra being in full flow in July – August, do expect heavy traffic and rush from Jammu – Srinagar – Kargil parts of highway. Even the dominance of armed forces also increase in July – August owing to the security of pilgrims of Amarnath Yatra.

It is almost a nightmare to drive through Zozi La Pass in July – August especially when its raining or has rained previous days but at any day better than Rohtang Pass on Manali – Leh Highway which becomes more than hell during monsoon season. One should always avoid Srinagar – Leh Highway during days alongside Independence Day in India i.e. 15th August which is when the bandhs and strikes gets more active. As the end of August approach, the Amarnath Yatra is over and monsoon starts to reside from Northern India, the conditions improve much more to travel on Srinagar – Leh Highway and in September it could be called as best time to travel but you will not find any snow of course. Even in August and late July snow will be hard to touch except few patches on Zozi La pass.

Since, the other side of Zozila Pass mainly Kargil onwards comes under rain shadow area where only the dry winds of monsoon reach. So, in July – August you need to tackle the monsoon rains and their havoc in lower hills only including Jammu, Srinagar, Zozi La pass i.e. till you reach Kargil where there is very little rain during these months.

Throughout the season, you need to let pass large convoys of army trucks as army also stock up required materials in Leh – Ladakh through Srinagar – Leh road majorly. This may cause delay of few hours every now and then in your entire journey on Srinagar – Leh highway.

Modes of Travel on Srinagar – Leh Highway

Private Vehicles i.e. Cars and Bikes | Self Drive or Ride to Ladakh

Most people prefer to self drive or self ride to Ladakh by their own car or own bike and some also prefer to self drive or self ride to Ladakh by hiring a bike or car. In any case, hired car/bike or personal car/bike, idea is to live the passion of driving or riding through one of the toughest and adventurous terrains accessible in India. You can take your own or rented, car or bike to Ladakh but one must be careful while driving or riding through slushy roads, snow and water crossing or nallas. Also, it is always handy to learn little maintenance tasks of your vehicle prior to the start of this comparatively less arduous journey than Manali – Leh Highway.

For cars, although an SUV/MUV is good to have and a 4WD SUV will definitely help but I have seen hatchbacks (including Altos and Nano) and sedans doing good enough job on Srinagar – Leh Highway than on Manali – Leh Highway. If you want to try your sedan or hatch back drive to Ladakh then Srinagar – Leh Highway is better bet when compared to taking a sedan or hatch from Manali – Leh Highway. However like on Manali – Leh Highway, with sedans / hatchbacks one must drive with extra care and caution even at Srinagar – Leh Highway and especially around Zozila pass (ascend and descend both).

You get less number of challenges on Srinagar – Leh Highway as compared to Manali – Leh Highway with only major hurdle being Zozila Pass. However even then, whenever you are in doubt, always step out of your car, walk down the path, inspect with your foot and plan the path of exit before crossing a dangerous landslide or water crossing on your vehicle. You can also park aside and see how others are crossing the risky section to plan your route of escape. In deep water crossings try to maintain the momentum without any half clutch measures and complete the entire stretch in one go only. Similarly, in slush stretches do not force the issue rather keep the smooth momentum with required speed to pass you through, without half clutch measures. Do keep an eye on the direction of the vehicle too. If you get stuck in slush then try to back and forth your vehicles to get out of the stuck position. It is always handy to ask your fellow co-travelers to get out of the car and push the vehicle from behind incase the car is struggling to pass through the slush or water crossing stretch.

Basic toolkit, screw driver set, small hammer, puncture repair kit, iron rod, two or three “2 ltr” empty bottles of pepsi / coke / limca etc to carry extra petrol or diesel (jerry cans will leak, cold drink bottles do not leak), funnel, towing rope, spare tube (must for bikes), elfy or fevi quick (2-3 sachets), jump start cables/wires, M-seal to prevent leakage etc. were among the few things which I carried along on my trip to Ladakh. Also, do not forget to get your vehicle (car/bike) serviced about 2-3 weeks before the start of the Ladakh journey. This will ensure that you have proper time in advance to test your serviced vehicle and get fixed any hitches that may have been introduced in that service

Hiring a Private Taxi | Taxi Number or Private Number

All taxis (except Ladakh registration number) having taxi number or tourist permits number plates are only allowed for a drop in Leh – Ladakh. As per the taxi union rules only taxis with Ladakh number are only allowed to roam in the Ladakh region for sightseeing purposes. If you want to travel within Leh – Ladakh in your private taxi hired from a place other than Ladakh then in that case you need to hire a taxi with private number plate only. However, in the latter case be ready for some queries by the local taxi drivers in Ladakh or police constables on your route. You need to ensure everyone interrogating with you that the vehicles is not hired.

If you can get hold of some taxi driver in Ladakh then hire that taxi only else go to Kargil first and change taxi from there. From Kargil, the Ladakh taxi driver can pick you and you will have the advantage to cover the sightseeing places en-route Leh on Srinagar – Leh Highway like Alchi, Basgo, Likir etc before you reach Leh. If that is not your plan then hire a direct taxi from Srinagar to Leh but with taxi hired with Srinagar number plate you will not be able to do sightseeing en-route especially Sham Valley, as far as I know.

To hire a taxi, go directly to Srinagar taxi stand and bargain hard with the local drivers only, for a drop to Leh. Do not involve any tour operator or hotel staff at any stage. The local taxi drivers will charge about Rs 1200-1500 extra for a planned night halt on the way to Leh. The charges are close to Rs 9000 to Rs 12000 for a drop to Leh from Srinagar with one night halt, depending on your bargaining power, tourist rush and the time of the year you are visiting.

Srinagar – Leh Bus Service, JK SRTC and Others | Economical mode of travel

JK SRTC ply buses on Srinagar – Leh Highway which are available at Srinagar Bus Stand near Lal Chowk and near Polo Ground in Leh. I guess JK SRTC have both standard as well as semi-deluxe buses which run Srinagar – Leh Highway with cost of about Rs 500 – Rs 600 for Standard bus and Rs 600 – Rs 700 for semi-deluxe types. There are also few private bus operators running semi-deluxe buses between Srinagar – Leh who charge about Rs 800 – Rs 900 per seat.

These buses generally stop at Kargil for the night and Sonamarg for tea and snacks. The JK SRTC buses may not be as comfortable though but comfort comes with the price. The buses leaves Srinagar around 5 AM and Leh around 6 AM, I guess.

Shared Taxi | A Cannon ball run

You can also buy yourself a seat in a shared taxi which runs every mid-night from Srinagar and reaches Leh on next evening without any night halt. In the same way, shared taxis are run from Leh to Srinagar as well.

You need to pay about Rs 1200 to Rs 1500 per person for a drop to Leh from Srinagar or a drop to Srinagar from Leh. Of course, since it is shared with 7-8 other people plus the driver and completes the back braking cannon ball run of Srinagar – Leh in 16-18 hours, you can imagine the level of comfort yourself. This one is the second cheapest mode of travel on Srinagar – Leh Highway but mind you, it could be the toughest on the body too 🙂

Also, not staying at Kargil will mean less acclimatization which may make you feel a bit sick in the first few days when you reach Leh.

Other travel modes

You can also get in touch with some travel agent or taxi union in Srinagar who also runs their private buses or Tempo Travelers on Srinagar – Leh Highway.

Planning Night Stay or Accommodation on Srinagar – Leh Highway

Based on my experience, you can opt to plan a journey on Srinagar – Leh Highway in one of the following ways –

Two Day Journey on Srinagar – Leh Highway

The options of stay or accommodation are very limited on Manali – Leh Highway due to the limited civilization but on the Srinagar – Leh Highway you get the respite as there are plenty of civilized places enroute and you get to find accommodation either one or the other place. You will find accommodation option ever 70-80 odd KMs on an average. But still, a two day journey on Srinagar – Leh Highway is the most common among all travelers as you tend to see the beauty in relaxing manner as well as you help your body to accilimatize to the altitude of Leh. Private Taxis and buses run by JK SRTC also cover the Srinagar – Leh Highway in two days with night halt at Kargil. Mostly, people break up the journey on Srinagar – Leh Highway in the following ways over a span of two days –

Srinagar – Kargil / Drass (Day 1) and Kargil / Drass – Leh (Day 2)

This option is mostly preferred by people as it evenly distributes the travel time of the entire journey in two days. However, on the second day, you need to leave early in the morning if you are interested to stop at every other point to take pictures and still reach Leh in time :).

Personally, out of Kargil or Drass you shall prefer to stay at Kargil due to varied options of accommodation available at Kargil. But, many a times finding vegetarian food becomes difficult in Kargil in the late evening and hence, you can opt to stay at Drass which does offer a few accommodation options. The distance between Drass – Kargil is about 60 KMs only which means about 2 hours of more travel time on next day.

If you are a vegetarian then most likely, what you can do is that if you are reaching Drass by about evening then its good to take your dinner there and reach Kargil by the late evening or early night time. May be a tea or coffee with some biscuits will make you feel good for rest of the night. It will surely help rather than sleeping without vegetarian food due its unavailability in Kargil 🙂

One Day Journey on Srinagar – Leh Highway
Srinagar – Leh (Day 1)

This option of completing the journey of Srinagar – Leh in single day is mostly common among local people or people who are in high rush and is least recommended if you want to enjoy your travel. Shared taxis are the preferred way to avail this option. Although, it could be the cheapest or time saving for you but this back braking, cannon ball run of 15-16 Hrs with least stoppages does put a heavy toll on the body as well as the mind of an average traveler. This long journey is extremely tiring and by traversing through the varied amount of altitudes in a single day, you are definitely running a risk of acute mountain sickness (AMS) or some severe headaches and for initial days spent in Leh. Of course, this is true incase you have not stayed overnight in Gulmarg or Pahalgam or Sonamarg on previous nights of your tour. Doing in a single day, may certainly kill the joy of the journey.

Three Day Journey on Srinagar – Leh Highway
Srinagar –  Kargil/Drass (Day 1) and  Kargil/Drass  – Lamayuru/Alchi (Day 2) and Lamayuru/Alchi – Leh (Day 3)

Well, by extending the journey of Srinagar – Leh Highway in three days, you give yourself a chance to explore the sightseeing places en-route thoroughly. There are many tourist destinations in Ladakh region which are situated on Srinagar – Leh Highway and requires time if you really wish to explore them. Hence, by extending the journey with one day you give your self ample of time to explore these tourist places before you reach Leh. For more details on sightseeing refer section: Sightseeing on Srinagar – Leh Highway, below in the article.

Very few people follow this option due to lack of time and to save money. If these two things have no place for consideration at your grounds then I will say just go with it and you will make your journey on Srinagar – Leh Highway much more than a memorable experience :). I guess the comparison of night halts (Drass/Kargil) is already done in first option, so opt as per your taste.

This option will mostly be available, if you are traveling by your own vehicle. To be very frank, this option is not even available if you are hiring a private Srinagar registered taxi as well because Srinagar registered taxi are not allowed for local sightseeing in Ladakh region especially Sham Valley where all these tourist places are present. In such a case you need to book a taxi to Kargil first from Srinagar and then hire yourself a taxi from Kargil to Leh or you need to hire a Ladakh registered number taxi. Confirm in advance from the driver if he will do sightseeing for Sham Valley before booking it. Then, in next two days after covering all tourist destinations including Mulbekh, Lamayuru, Redzong, Alchi, Likir, Sham Valley etc on the route you can reach Leh.

Staying one night at Alchi, which is lower in altitude than Leh, also make sure that your body is much more acclimatized to the altitude of Leh and you enjoy a lot better conditions once you reach Leh after a stay at Kargil and Alchi on previous nights.

Alternate Route to Leh from Kargil via Batalik and Dah

There exist an alternate route to reach Leh once you reach Kargil which is a bit more scenic than the usual route. The usual route goes like Kargil – Mulbekh – Lamayuru – Leh and the alternate, less used route goes like Kargil – Batalik – Dah – Skurbuchan – Leh.

Please make a note that the route via Batalik requires you to get the Inner Line Permits from either DC Office Kargil or DC Office Leh. So, I will advise that you go to Leh from Kargil via Lamayuru following the usual route and then you can come back to Kargil via Batalik after getting the permits from Leh DC office at the time you apply permits for Ladakh sightseeing places like Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso etc. If you are returning via Manali – Leh Highway then you need to take permits from Kargil DC Office to go via Batalik route and thereby miss the usual route to Leh which goes via Lamayuru.

Sightseeing on Srinagar – Leh Highway

Well, while traversing this beautiful road of Srinagar – Leh Highway you also give yourself a chance to visit the following places either on the route or with little diversions from the route –

Maitrey at Mulbek, Lamayuru Monastery, Lunar Landscape, Redzong / Rizong Monastery,  Alchi Monastery, Likir Monastery, Basgo Palace, Confluence at Nimmu, Magnetic Hills, Pathar Sahib Gurudwara, Phyang Monastery, Spituk Monastery.

You need to give yourself time to explore these places especially Lamayuru, Alchi and Likir monasteries. Hence, if you plan to cover these sightseeing places either while going towards Leh from Srinagar or towards Srinagar from Leh, then give yourself at least 3 days to cover the entire Srinagar – Leh route.

List of Accommodation or Stay Options on Srinagar – Leh Highway

Srinagar – Leh Highway is much better than Manali – Leh Highway in terms of accommodation options it offers and one can find decent place to stay within 125 odd KMs at max. At some places like Mulbekh, Sonamarg, Drass etc the accommodation options could be very limited and basic guest house / home stay types while places like Kargil, Lamayuru does offer varied amount of accommodation options. So, it always better to break the journey at Kargil or Lamayuru but of course there are not much worries for places of stay on Srinagar – Leh Highway than on Manali – Leh Highway. You can also take diversion to the towns of Alchi / Likir for a stay there as well. Of course you will find basic home stay types of accommodation at both Alchi / Likir but it would be a worthwhile experience in any case. Here is the break up of accommodation options available on Srinagar – Leh Highway with distances –

  • Srinagar – Sonamarg (80 KMs) | Decent number of accommodation options available at Sonamarg
  • Sonamarg – Drass (65 KMs) | Decent number of accommodation options available at Drass
  • Drass – Kargil (55 KMs) | Many accommodation options available at Kargil
  • Kargil – Mulbekh (40 KMs) | Few basic / home stay accommodation options available at Mulbekh
  • Mulbekh – Lamayuru (70 KMs) | Decent number of accommodation options available at Lamayuru
  • Lamayuru – Alchi / Likir (55 – 65 KMs / 65 – 75 KMs) | Few basic / home stay accommodation options available at Alchi / Likir
  • Lamayuru – Leh (125 KMs) | Many accommodation options available at Leh
  • Alchi / Likir – Leh ( 65 KM / 55 KMs) | Many accommodation options available at Leh

Please keep in mind that Alchi and Likir are not exactly on Srinagar – Leh Highway and you need to take diversions near Sasapol, I guess, for either of them. The distance between Alchi – Likir is about 18 – 20 KMs only.

Acclimatization and its importance on Srinagar – Leh Highway

Unlike Manali – Leh Highway, the journey on Srinagar – Leh Highway goes through gradual increase in altitude thereby helping our body to get acclimatized properly for the altitude of Leh. That is why going through Srinagar – Leh Highway is always preferred for road trip to Ladakh than going via Manali – Leh Highway. By going to Leh – Ladakh from Srinagar – Leh Highway, one gives himself a chance to properly acclimatize to the high altitudes there by decreasing the chances of being hit by AMS. In the return leg, you can go via Leh – Manali Highway so that your body is properly acclimatized by the time you under take the varied high altitudes on that route. This helps you enjoy the Manali – Leh highway in a better way as well.

Having said that even on Srinagar – Leh Highway its always good that you take little precautions to further minimize the effects of high altitude  sickness. Here are some tips which will help acclimatizing the body faster

  • Try to cover the Srinagar – Leh journey in two days with a night halt at Kargil most preferably.
  • Keep your body properly hydrated.
  • Avoid sleeping at high altitudes.
  • Avoid over exertion.
  • Avoid tobacco and smoking and alcohol and other depressant drugs.
  • Keep your body warm and eat lots of carbohydrates.
  • Avoid sleep during the day.
  • Sleep in upright position, if possible.
  • Carry preventive medicines for AMS.
  • Immediately descend, if symptoms increase.

For more information on Acute Mountain Sickness and all above acclimatization tips, please refer the following link at least once: Acute Mountain Sickness and Importance of Acclimatization

Fuel or Petrol Pumps on Srinagar – Leh Highway

Again, unlike Manali – Leh Highway, it is easy to find fuel or petrol on Srinagar – Leh Highway. One can get fuel or petrol on Srinagar Leh Highway at:  Srinagar, Kangan, Sonamarg, Kargil, Mulbekh, Wakha,  Khaltsi, Leh

ATMs on Srinagar – Leh Highway

As per my knowledge there are ATMS available at Ganderbal, Drass, Kargil apart from Leh and Srinagar ATMs. I guess you should carry enough cash with you in Ladakh because ATMs at these limited places can run out of money or become un-operational at any day or time.

Places on Srinagar – Leh Highway with their Distances and Altitudes

Generally, the places of on Srinagar – Leh Highway majorly goes like Srinagar – Sonamarg – Zozi La – Drass – Kargil – Mulbekh – Namika La – Fotu La – Lamayuru – Khaltsi – Sasapol – Nimmu – Leh and the approximate distances between these places is shown below briefly –

  • Srinagar – Sonamarg (80 KMs)
  • Sonamarg – Drass (65 KMs)
  • Drass – Kargil (55 KMs)
  • Kargil – Mulbekh (40 KMs)
  • Mulbekh – Lamayuru (70 KMs)
  • Lamayuru – Leh (125 KMs)

Summarized View of Facilities or Amenities on Srinagar – Leh Highway

Facility

Places

Accommodations / Stay Options

Sonamarg, Drass, Kargil (Many options), Mulbekh, Lamayuru, Alchi
Food / Beverages Sonamarg, Drass, Kargil (Many options), Mulbekh, Lamayuru, Alchi
Diesel / Petrol Pumps Mangan, Sonamarg, Kargil, Mulbekh, Wakha, Khaltsi
Mobile Connectivity
  • Upto Sonamarg both BSNL and Airtel post paid connections work, then in Drass only BSNL, once you reach Kargil you will get the Airtel signal, but then in Mulbekh and Lamayuru only BSNL works, in Nimmu Airtel is restored along with BSNL and once you reach Leh both Airtel and BSNL works.
  • Of course BSNL has more coverage and better connectivity within this range than any other operator. Airtel works in Ladakh but with poor connectivity.
  • SMS does work fine for both BSNL and Airtel.
  • Vodafone did not work after Srinagar and but now works in Leh – Ladakh with Aircel. Surprisingly, Anadi reports recently (June 2013) below that it does not work anymore, may be contract renewal did not happen or what. So, do not rely on Vodafone.
  • Aircel also work in Leh and adjoining areas.
  • Packet data works but only with BSNL that too with EDGE only.
  • Prepaid connections from outside Jammu and Kashmir do not work in Leh – Ladakh. Carry only post-paid.
  • Anadi reports below: Vodafone postpaid still does not work after anywhere after Srinagar on Srinagar-Leh Highway and towns falling on the said highway.(It works in Gulmarg and Pahalgam). It did not work in Sonemarg, Drass, Kargil, Mulbek, Khaltse, Nimmu and Leh. Bsnl was omnipresent. In Leh, Bsnl, Airtel and Aircel were working. Vodafone, Reliance and Idea were not working.
Fixed Phones Ganderbal, Sonamarg, Drass, Kargil, Mulbekh, Lamayuru, Alchi, Nimmu and in between these places as well
Electricity Almost all the towns en-route have electricity and I wonder if there is any town which lacks it.
Medical Facilities Sonamarg, Drass (limited), Kargil, Lamayuru (limited)
ATMs Ganderbal, Drass, Kargil
Mechanic / Puncture Shops Ganderbal, Sonamarg, Kargil, Lamayuru (Puncture), Mulbekh (Puncture), Nimmu (Puncture)
Liquor Shops Sonamarg, Drass, Kargil

Conclusion

Have you ever been to Srinagar – Leh Highway? If yes, please share your view points, suggestions or inputs as comments below, it will help other fellow travelers to plan their own journey on one of the beautiful highways of India. Are you planning to go to Ladakh via Srinagar – Leh Highway? If yes, please feel free to ask any queries or doubts you have regarding the same as comments below. I will be happy to reply and discuss them with you. Looking forward for your responses 🙂

If you found above article useful, then PLEASE stay connected with us on Facebook or Twitter or Email Subscription for any himalayan travel queries or travel updates / tips / news / guides on Traveling to Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Kashmir and other parts of Himalayas. Travel, off the road with us...

Share.

About Author

You can call me an Avid Traveler, a Day - Night Dreamer and a Passionate Lover of Himalayas who has a high zest for driving whilst exploring new places in Himalayas & sharing back those Himalayan Travel experiences with the other fellow Travelers... I am in love with Spreading Smiles in Himalayas through DoW Causes & currently enjoying life as Happy Traveling Soul at DoW Community. You can read more about me in detail at the link here ...

2,042 Comments

  1. Amarendra on

    Hi,

    We are planning on the Leh-Ladakh trip from June 25th-July 10th. We are transporting bikes by train to Delhi and starting our journey from Delhi.

    This is the itinerary i have planned.

    Day 1 | Delhi – Jalandhar
    Day 2 | Jalandhar – Srinagar
    Day 3 | Srinagar – Sonamarg – Zozi La – Drass – Kargil
    Day 4 | Kargil – Lamayuru – Leh
    Day 5 | Leh Local Sighseeing(Rest Day)
    Day 6 | Leh – Khardung La – Diskit – Hunder
    Day 7 | Hunder / Diskit – Sumur – Panamik – Sumur – Khardung La – Leh
    Day 8 | Leh – Hemis Monastery – Pangong Tso Lake
    Day 9 | Pangong Tso Lake – Thicksey Monastery – Shey Palace – Leh
    Day 10 | Leh – Tso Moriri via Chumathang
    Day 11 | Tso Moriri – Tso Kar – Debring (Manali – Leh Highway starts) – Moore Plains – Pang / Sarchu
    Day 12 | Pang / Sarchu – Baralacha La – Keylong – Rohtang Pass – Manali
    Day 14 | Manali – Chandigarh
    Day 15 | Chandigarh – Delhi

    Please suggest any amendments to this. Thanks in advance.

  2. Hello Dheeraj!
    I am planning on visiting both cities this June! (I have already booked my ticket to New Delhi). I have a question – I will be landing in New Delhi from Vancouver, BC, and then taking a flight to Srinagar. Do I need to organize/reserve my Srinagar-Leh highway transportation plans in advance? or can I do that once I get to Srinagar?

    Thank you for your advice! Best, Jacquie.

    • Hello Jacquie,

      No there is no need to book in advance. Just reach there at Srinagar and book the shared taxi seat a night before only near Tourist Reception center taxi stand OR bus ticket at the bus stop. Both can only be done once you reach there and at max a night before.

  3. Chris Morrow on

    Hi Dheeraj,

    Thanks for all the helpful posts. I have been going through trying to come up with a game plan but I was hoping you could perhaps suggest an itinerary for me. I am a 28 year old experienced rider on a 2011 Thunderbird Enfield that I bought in Delhi. I have put 6000kms on it through mostly India and am just finishing up in Nepal. I will be crossing the west most border through Bhimdatta and will be spending my first night back in India in Nainital tomorrow night. From there I want to make sure I see Rishikesh. I would like to make the full loop from Srinagar to Leh and down to Manali or the other way around depending on what you would think is best. I would also like to see Dharamshala (Mcleod Gang). I am not sure which way to head based on the road status situation (Also – the security situation in Srinagar and Kashmir – i have heard I need to ask just to be safe?)

    I was hoping to get started as soon as possible and see as much on the full loop as time permits (without killing myself and giving my self time to acclimatize). I fly out of Delhi on June 9 but would like to be back in the city by June 5 or 6 to sell the bike and wrap up a few things.

    So just to be safe I will say I have 30 days to work with……

    Any helpful hints or a rough intinerary or just a general direction of which way I should head would be hugely heplful.

    Thanks,

    Chris

  4. Hi Dheeraj,
    I and my friends are visiting leh during mid of June we have booked our tickets to Delhi on 16th and return on 26th. We are planning for srinagar – leh – manali root. Srinagar – leh by taxi or bus ll hire bikes frm leh for site seeing in leh ladhak and leh to manali by bus or taxi.
    We are a group of 6 kindly help me with ur suggestions and itineary for Delhi -srinagar- leh manali- delhi in cost effective way.
    Thanks in advance for you reply.

  5. Hi! Thanks for all your helpful posts. My boyfriend and I will be traveling to Leh on the 15th of May from Dharamsala, and as the Manali road is not opened yet we have had to change our plans and will be using the Srinagar-Leh highway. I have looked everywhere for timings and other details as well as where to book the JKSRTC bus from Srinagar to Leh but have had no luck, where can I book this bus? Also, do you think it will be possible to travel back to Delhi from Leh via Manali on the 23rd of May?

    Thank you!

    • Kyla, you can’t book the JKTDC bus as so far the buses are not started and road is only open for light vehicles. Secondly, these buses in general allow to take tickets not more than one day before. So, you will have to reach Srinagar first and then take a ticket from bus stand.

        • Road should stabilize by then. If the buses will not be running then you will surely get the shared taxis from the taxi stand which is in front of Tourist reception center

      • Hi Kyla. We are also planning trip from Chandigarh to sonamarg to kargil to leh. We also have fixed schedule from 15 – 22 may. Hope we can join on the way. Me and my friend along with our wives are travelling. We can stay connected if u r ok with it. My no is 7837337499.

  6. Hi Dheeraj, We have a plan to visit Ladakh in the 2/3 week of June but have limited no.of days at disposal. We plane to hire an SUV for the entire trip. Here’s our tentative itinerary:-

    Day 1 – Reach Srinagar by 1pm. Start to Kargil.
    Day 2 – Kargil – Leh
    Day 3 – Leh
    Day 4 – Leh – Nubra – Leh
    Day 5 – Leh – Pangong
    Day 6 – Pangong – Leh
    Day 7 – Leh sightseeing. Overnight journey to Srinagar.
    Day 8 – Srinagar.

    Is this itinerary doable?

  7. VaibhavTravelFreek on

    Dear Deeraj,

    I have few questions,

    1. I am traveling to Leh from srinagar on 21st june. Please suggest me good homesteads in Kargil.
    2. If we start from Leh and till Tso moriri, where we can make a halt in between our journey other then Leh.
    (Tent , camp or Home stay would do)

  8. Dear sir
    Some confusion.
    U mentioned here 16-18 hrs non stop journey between Srinagar to leh.. Contrary to another article data ie
    “just completed ladak trip. there are lot of tempo travellers and Mini bus starting from Leh city .They start everyday evening 5:3O PM -6:00 PM and reach srinagar the next day early morning 7:30 AM . cost is Rs 1000 to Rs 1500 based the vehicle. The mini bus is best optiion you only get individual seat and confort to sleep @ night too.”

    Pls tell me is there any overnight trip chance?

    • Hi Sadiq, the time I have suggested includes the sightseeing time too. No matter how you travel, Srinagar to Kargil with stops will take 8 Hrs for sure and Kargil to Leh will surely take another 8 Hrs.

      The above exception is because it is traveling at night with no sightseeing at all. If you do not do any sightseeing and stops and keep traveling you will surely clock Srinagar to Leh in abut 14 Hrs.

  9. Amar L. Parmar on

    Good Afternoon Sir,
    Srinagar Leh road Open Or Not
    I Am Travel to Leh By tempo Travel on 3 May 2016
    Please Guide me..
    Thank U.

  10. Hi Deeraj , the below is the plan ,can you please provide your valid inputs whether its good to go with this plan.

    Sunday June 12th 2016 : Delhi to Srinagar
    Monday June 13th 2016 : Srinagar to Kargil
    Tuesday June 14th 2016 :Kargil to Leh
    Wednesday June 15th 2016 : Leh to Pangong Lake
    Thursday June 16th 2016 : Pangong Lake to Sarachu
    Friday June 17th 2016 : Sarachu to Manali
    Saturday June 18th 2016 : Manali to Delhi

    Note : we are travelling by our own vechile

    Thank you,
    Prakash

    • Prakash, you will end up in a hospital if you follow this plan. You do not have sufficient days to make a trip to Ladakh, all you can do is to reach Leh and come back to Delhi.

      Wednesday June 15th 2016 : Leh rest and acclimaize
      Thursday June 16th 2016 : Leh to Sarachu
      Friday June 17th 2016 : Sarachu to Manali
      Saturday June 18th 2016 : Manali to Delhi

    • It can open anyday within a week now, weather is expected to settle now from Sunday and snow clearance will resume. I am expecting it should open by first week of May now.

  11. Hi Deeraj , the below is the plan ,can you please provide your valid inputs whether its good to go with this plan.

    does leh – manali road will be open in June ? your thoughts .

    Friday, June 10, 2016 day 1 chennai –srinagar
    Saturday, June 11, 2016 day 2 srinagar –leh
    Sunday, June 12, 2016 day 3 leh –local visit
    Monday, June 13, 2016 day 4 leh –nabura valley
    Tuesday, June 14, 2016 day 5 nabura valley –leh
    Wednesday, June 15, 2016 day 6 leh –pangong
    Thursday, June 16, 2016 day 7 pangong — tsomori (via chushul)
    Friday, June 17, 2016 day 8 tso mori manali
    Saturday, June 18, 2016 day 9 manali delhi
    Sunday, June 19, 2016 day 10 delhi chennai

    Thank you
    Praveen

    • Hi Praveen,

      1. It takes two days to reach Leh from Srinagar.
      2. It takes two days to reach Manali from Tso Moriri.

      You do not have sufficient days to make above plan. Can you add mre days?

      • thank you Dheeraji,

        i will add one more day for srinagar-leh and tsomoriri – leh.

        i refered your taxi rates PDF for 2015 -2016. do you think drivers will be coming for the below plan based on your experience .

        day 1 -leh -pangong
        day 2 pangong – tsomoriri (via chushul)
        day 3 tsomoriri – might stay (keylon/sarchu)
        day 4 sarchu – manali.

        i tried to find in the pdf there was no prize column for this , based on your experience what they may charge . kindly assist as usual.

  12. sumedh halbe on

    Hello dheeraj,

    I have planned ladakh trip in aug this year. I am looking for budget accomodations in kargil ( 1000-2000 per room per night) guest or hotel anything will do . can you please suggest few reliable ones.
    thanks and regards
    sumedh

    • Aaman Guest House (just 3-4 kms after entering Kargil check post), it was a homestay and stay and food was awesome.
      Daspa Guest House (confused it with other) near bypass bridge. Name: Mr. Gulam Mohammed; Mob: 09469730240. 
      Paradise Guest House in Kargil is a decent place to stay

      • sumedh halbe on

        thank you very much!
        is there any link for accomodations in kargil like the one for leh ? i could not find any on DOW.

        • Sumedh, we always go and stay at Greenland Hotel. Or Few readers/members of DoW have suggested below options:

          Aaman Guest House (just 3-4 kms after entering Kargil check post), it was a homestay and stay and food was awesome.
          Daspa Guest House (confused it with other) near bypass bridge. Name: Mr. Gulam Mohammed; Mob: 09469730240. 
          Paradise Guest House in Kargil is a decent place to stay

  13. Hi Dheeraj,

    Great article, very useful info. specific Qs below, if you can answer them please.
    1. is 2nd week of June a good time to visit Srinagar & take on Srinagar-Leh trip?
    2. how many days in total it will take for Srinagar-Leh trip (preferred 2-day trip), local sight-seeing in Leh and returning to Manali?
    3. it will be me and my friend, just 2 of us, assuming I take a hire taxi from Srinagar-Leh-Manali trip , what will be approx. cost I might incur ?
    4. is getting Veg. food a problem in any part of this trip ?

    BIG THANKS

    • Hi Ashish,

      1. Yes 2nd week of June is good time to take Srinagar – Leh trip.
      2. 2 day required to reach Leh from Srinagar, 1 day of acclimatization in Leh, 2 day trip to Nubra Valley, 2 day trip to Pangong Tso, 2 day trip to Manli over Leh – Manali highway. Add one more day to visit Tso Moriri while coming to Manali over Manali – Leh Highway
      3. Srinagar to Manali for above will cost about 60-65K
      4. No, veg. food will be available everywhere

  14. HarishShankara on

    Hi Dheeraj,

    On our way to Kargil to Leh, is it possible to cover Mulbekh buddha statue, Lamayuru, Likir, Alchi monasteries or can we only cover Mulbekh and Lamayuru?

    Also If we are only covering the latter, and we start from Kargil at 7, with all usual stops for pictures, how long does it take to reach Leh provided we do not have any problems in traveling.

    • Hi Harish,

      Except Likir, which needs another hour or so, you should be able to cover rest while coming to Leh from Kargil. If you start at 7 from Kargil, you should reach Leh by evening at 5 at easy pace and stopovers

  15. Hi Dheeraj,

    Can you please let me know the best mode of transport to travel from leh to manali. As the HP road transport schedule only starts from July. We plan to start from Leh on 5th June, please let us know the modes of transportation other than bus and Bike

  16. Abhay Gupta on

    Hi Dheeraj,

    First I would like to congratulate you for these amazing posts. Last year in September after taking inputs from you I completed Kinnaur and lahaul spiti circuit after taking valuable advice from you.

    This year I am planning bike trip along with few of my friends to leh in june. I have few queries:

    1. Is inner line permit also necessary for self driven bikes if we are going to nubra, pangong, moriri, etc.

    2. If one of us also takes a car along with us as a back up vehicle will there be problem with local taxi union.

    3. And can you suggest some budget stay option in manali and jammu.

    Thanks in advace.

    • 1. Abhay, Inner Line permits are not required for Indians now since May 2014
      2. If the car is a private car and under your or your father or your wife name, there will not be any issue at all
      3. Old Manali, Manali – Naggar road has loads of budget hotels in Manali. In Jammu, near bust stand you will get loads of them.

  17. Dear Dheeraj,

    Last year between 31st July to 10th Aug 2015, my husband and I did a bike trip to Leh Ladakh. we took a flight to leh and we have covered the 3 passes, lamayuru, tsokar, pangong and local sight seeing. we did half the manali leh highway enroute to tsomoriri. but halted at tsokar. this year we intend to do srinagar kargil drass. having read your itenary it seems like just a 3 day trip starting from srinagar.

    can u suggest an itenary that spans these three locations along with anything you feel we have missed out and should cover as a part of a biking trip? plus the ideal dates in july to cover these?

    thanks and regards,

    ramya

  18. Hi,

    We are a of a group of 3 girls planning to travel to Leh via Srinagar in May end. Can you please tell me how safe is it now to travel Srinagar with all the chaos going on and what is more preferable a shared taxi or the bus, and do we need to book the accommodation before hand.

    • Hi Supriya,

      As long as you stick to main tourist routes/places, it may be OK to travel. Between shared taxi and bus, it is a personal choice. If you feel more comfortable in bus, then go for it but if you feel better with shared taxi or traveling in a car then better go with shared taxi. Advantage of being small vehicle is also there as it can cross sections which a bus may not cross.

      • thanks dheeraj for your reply. appreaciate it
        I have few more questions 🙂
        1.Can we book a private taxi to leh in srinagar
        2. can we do this trip ourselves or a packaged tour is better as this is the 1st time to Leh.
        3. Do we nèed to pre book the accomodation at Srinagar,Kargil, leh , pangong tso, nubra valley
        4. To travel around leh can we book taxi .after going there

        • Hi Supriya,

          1. For the leh – ladakh taxi union rate list 2016 – 17 including the contacts of some reliable taxi drivers within Leh – Ladakh, check the link here. You can get about 12-15% of discount by directly getting in touch with drivers and of course, talking in person rather on phone always help in bargaining more.
          While going from Srinagar to Leh, you might need to work out few things as there have been some tensions now in taxi unions and to settle it out what they have done is that they have a transit point just before Fotu La while going to Leh from Kargil. All Leh taxis stop there and kargil taxis too. They exchange passengers and move back in respective directions. Leh taxis take passengers to Leh coming from Srinagar/Kargil and Kargil guys take passengers to Srinagar/kargil coming from Leh
          2. If you OK to spend some time reading article on DoW and asking right questions that help you in travel plan, then nothing better than that I will say 🙂
          4. Nothing much will change over phone by talking to drivers directly or when you reach there.

  19. Mayur Desai on

    Hello Dheeraj

    Thanks alot for all the efforts you are putting up. I had one question, is it possible to hire bikes from Srinagar? Can you share some contacts or links please?

    Thanks
    Mayur

  20. Hi Deeraj ,

    i am gald to mail you again, i am from chennai , i traveled ladakh last year with the help and guidance of DOW and mails from you.

    last year i travelled via srinagar to leh in july month and i lost 4 days due to cloud burst and land slide and heavy traffice due to amarnath in sonamarg and zohilla pass.

    so this year i planned to reach leh in flight direclty , need your valid guindance again.

    please see my itenary planned for august 5th 2016.

    Friday CHN – DELHI (night 10:30 PM ) flight reach delhi airport in midnight
    Saturday delhi to leh 6:15 AM from delhi fligth reaches LEH by 8:00 AM (full day rest in the hotel) ,book the bullet and just visit in the market
    Sunday leh-kahardungala- naubra valley
    moday naubra -turtuk-naubra (last time we planned but didnt go, we stayed naubra valley and came back leh ) whats your opinion to visit Turtuk , is it a place to visit ?
    Tuesday naubra-leh
    Wednesday leh-pangonlake
    Thursday pangong to tsomorri ( is it possble to go in two wheeler?)
    firday tsomorri-leh
    Saturday buffer day
    sunday leh-delhi morning 10:30 AM flight

    regards
    praveen

  21. Dhruva Arora on

    Hi Dheeraj,

    Really appreciate the pro bono work you are putting here with us amateur travelers 🙂

    Heres my question –

    1. I intend to do the 3 day Srinagar – Leh itinerary sightseeing along the way. But we are visiting Sonmarg too and intend to start from there to save time and reach Kargil/Drass on Day 1, May 21st via JK govt AC bus.

    Read somewhere that the buses get jam packed from Srinagar itself and that I will have to come back to Srinagar if I have to get a seat in the bus to Kargil/Drass. Is that true? I know I need to get in touch with JK bus guys to make sure, I am going to do that shortly but wanted to know – is hiring a taxi to Kargil/Drass from Sonmarg a better option??? I was hoping to save some monies by doing this part in bus 🙂

    2. Per your comments I want to play it safe and hire a Ladakh registered to taxi to take us from Kargil to Leh in Day 2 and 3 and do sightseeing along the way . Is it possible to reach Kargil and arrange Ladakh taxis from there itself or would I have to call one to come to Kargil and pick us up ?

    In such a case would you or someone on this forum have a reliable taxi service no that I could use ?

    Looking fwd to hear from you, cheers !

    • Hello Dhruva ,

      1. Yes, you read it correctly. Mostly it is true. You have to be lucky to get the seat in the bus that is for sure.
      2. Yes, you will have to call up a taxi guy from Ladakh to pick you up from Kargil. For the leh – ladakh taxi union rate list 2016 – 17 including the contacts of some reliable taxi drivers within Leh – Ladakh, check the link here. You can get about 12-15% of discount by directly getting in touch with drivers and of course, talking in person rather on phone always help in bargaining more.
      While going from Srinagar to Leh, you might need to work out few things as there have been some tensions now in taxi unions and to settle it out what they have done is that they have a transit point just before Fotu La while going to Leh from Kargil. All Leh taxis stop there and kargil taxis too. They exchange passengers and move back in respective directions. Leh taxis take passengers to Leh coming from Srinagar/Kargil and Kargil guys take passengers to Srinagar/kargil coming from Leh

  22. Bijayashree Vivekananda on

    @ Dheeraj Sharma.

    A brilliant detail you have provided above for which I express my gratitude. I and 3 of my friends (male bachelors in thirties) are planning for a Bhubaneswar-Srinagar-Leh-Manali-Bhubaneswar trip. We are planning to start on 12th June morning and will reach Srinagar in the evening. We are planning to spend 1 day in Srinagar (13th June 2016) and start for Leh on 14th June 2016. We need to be back to Bhubaneswar by 25th June evening and so, we have 14th June 2016 to 24th June 2016 (11 days) for Srinagar to Leh and back to Manali. We want to cover the maximum but in a not so exhaustive way. Could you please state which all places should we visit and which we should not? Also, please state whether should we go for Batalik route or Laymuru route to Leh. Your help in this regard will be of tremendous help.

    • Bijayashree, You can check a very balanced and most common itinerary for Leh – Ladakh followed by many travellers including me at the link here for 13-14 days: Most Common Itinerary for Leh – Ladakh.

      You can start refering above article from Srinagar and then follow it as is to Manali. If it is your first time I will suggest that you follow Lamayuru route.

  23. Hi dheeraj, I’m planning to do Srinagar- leh trip by road in my hatchback on 26th April 2016. Will it be fine taking in account the road conditions n other safety measures.

    • Hello Satendra, well the road to Srinagar – Leh might have just opened by that time of the year and may have stabilized too. You wll surely face challenging drive at Zojila Pass, so will have to drive with care and caution through narrow road.

  24. Rahul Rane on

    Hi Dheeraj,

    Please find my itinerary below. Can you please advise any changes/additions to the same? Also I have asked my doubts in brackets besides the dates.

    Day 1 – 30th May
    Mumbai to Srinagar. Land in Srinagar at 12pm. Visit Dal Lake. Local Sight Seeing.

    Day 2 – 31st May (Where to get the trasport from? Approximate Cost? Where to stay in Kargil? Do i need to prebook?)
    Srinagar – Sonmarg – Kargil
    Travel by Private Taxi / Shared Taxi

    Day 3 – 01st June (Where to get the transport from?)
    Kargil – Leh
    Day at leisure.

    Day 4 – 02nd June
    Leh – Local Sight Seeing

    Day 5 – 03rd June (Where to find camping facility? Do I need to prebook?)
    Leh – Khardung La – Diskit – Nubra Valley
    Camping in Nubra Valley.

    Day 6 – 04th June
    Nubra Valley – Leh. Day at leisure.

    Day 7 – 05th June
    Leh – Local Sight Seeing

    Day 8 – 06th June (Where to find camping facility? Do I need to prebook?)
    Leh – Pangong Tso .
    Camping in Pangong Lake

    Day 9 – 07th June
    Pangong Tso – Leh. Day at leisure.

    Day 10 – 08th June (What is the mode of transportation available? Where to stay for the night?)
    Leh to Sarchu.
    Overnight in Sarchu.

    Day 11 – 09th June (Where to get the transport from?)
    Sarchu to Manali.
    Overnight in Manali.

    Day 12 – 10th June
    Manali Local Sight Seeing.

    Day 13 – 11th June (What should be the mode of transportation here?)
    Manali – Chandigarh – Amritsar
    Golden Temple in the evening.

    Day 14 – 12th June
    Jalianwala Bagh and Wagah Border

    Day 15 – 13th June
    Amritsar – Mumbai

      • Rahul Rane on

        Yes, I can certainly do that. Also, I have made up my mind to head to Kasol and Tosh from Manali instead of Chandigarh and Amritsar. Need some peace time 🙂 Could you please revise my itinerary to add Tso Moriri to the plan? One more request, can you look at the questions in the brackets beside my dates and help me with that info? Thanks buddy.

    • Hi Rahul,

      We are planning for a trip to leh around the same time and liked your itinerary might use it as well 😉 Thanks 🙂

  25. Rahul Rane on

    Hi Dheeraj,

    Firstly, this an amazing post. The kind of knowledge sharing and experience sharing that is happening here is unmatched. Thank you for making the life of amateurs like us easy.

    My wife & I are planning to do the Mumbai – Srinagar – Leh – Manali – Mumbai trip starting with 1st June 2016. Is this a safe period to go there? Also what is the approximate cost of a taxi from Srinagar to Leh? Would you recommend taking a private taxi or a shared cab? Taking a shared cab would mean that we would miss out on sight seeing along the way to Leh. Is that right?

    We plan to hire a Royal Enfield and roam in and around Leh (Pangong, Nubra, etc). What are the things that we need to check while renting the bike? (Documents, Carrier for fuel, luggage, saddle bags, etc) and are these provided by the rental company?

    What are the good areas to stay in Leh?

    Could you please help me with a detailed itinerary with the modes of transport also?

    You can also email me on rahul_0207@hotmail.com. Thank you so much.

Leave A Reply

Love Traveling to Himalayas?

YES - Let's Stay Connected !!

Get free bi-monthly travel updates, news, guides, tips, itineraries, stories, hotel & restaurant reviews, etc.. focused totally on travelling to Himalayas right in to your mailbox.

Don't worry, we will neither SELL nor SPAM your mail :)

Love Traveling to Himalayas?

YES - Let's Stay Connected !!

Get free bi-monthly travel updates, news, guides, tips, itineraries, stories, hotel & restaurant reviews, etc.. focused totally on travelling to Himalayas right in to your mailbox.

Don't worry, we will neither SELL nor SPAM your mail :)