How to plan a journey on Srinagar – Leh Highway

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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 🙂

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2,649 Comments

  1. Hi dheeraj
    Planning a solo drive from Delhi – srinagar – Leh – Manali during 20th sept to oct 1st. Is it safe traveling through srinagar highway??? Is it gud time to travel and am an occasional asthma patient too. So pls advice me the best travel plan in order to avoid affecting by AMS to maximum extend.
    Or should I go and come back by Manali Leh highway itself???

      • Dear
        Solo drive is my main motto of the trip. As am driving all the way from Kerala and I ll be reaching Delhi around 20th.

        • Aah, okie, then It will take 4 days to reach Leh from Srinagar side starting from Delhi with stop overs at Jammu, Srinagar, Kargil and 3 days to come back from Leh from Manali side to Delhi with stopovers at Sarchu, Manali. This makes it 7 days. 1 Day is required in Leh for acclimatization. So, 8 days will be used there only. Then depending on more days at hand, you can plan the trip accordingly.

  2. Hitesh Agarwal on

    Hi,
    I will be travelling to leh this september with three friends. I will be reaching srinagar by 07:00 am on 24th September and planning to go to leh in a private taxi and then hire bikes in leh. My return flight from leh is on 02nd October. Kindly help me with the trip iternary. I plan to visit nubura valley, pangong tso and tso moriri.

    • Hi Hitesh,

      You can follow the below plan:

      24 – Move to Kargil from Srinagar
      25 – Kargil to Leh
      26 – Leh rest, bike rental, and permits
      27, 28, 29 – Two day trip to Nubra Valley including Hunder, Turtuk, Deskit
      30, 01 – Two day trip to Pangong Tso

      • Hitesh Agarwal on

        Thank you.
        Can I also include tso moriri in plan.
        Also can I travel to pangong directly from nubra

        • Nubra to Pangong Tso is still closed and not expected to open this season. If opens up, you can travel and save a day. This will give you time to visit two day trip to Tso Moriri in such a case and drop Turtuk. Otherwise, you can drop Turtuk, do a day trip to Pangong Tso and then make two day trip to Tso Moriri.

  3. Hey,
    I booked flight tickets already. So, from last year’s review do you think it’s possible to use the leh manali and leh srinagar highway between october 26th to november 4th?

  4. How about visiting ladakh during first week of october during gandhi jayanthi?
    How do you expect the road and weather conditions to be there ? is it advisable at that season of year ?

      • We are coming from chennai . So we are planning to book the onward flight journey from chennai -> srinagar and return flight directly from Leh to chennai
        we are planning to take a private taxi/cab with driver from srinagar to leh and hire a bike directly in leh-ladakh since other registration bikes are not permitted in their region as you said. we are planning to reach srinagar by september 28 after noon and return flight from leh on oct 5th . Could you please suggest the places /itenary over this span ?

  5. Hi,
    Bikes are available from Leh to Srinagar? one side only?
    We are planning to get bike route from Leh to Sriangar ( If available ).

    Thank you

      • INR 10000 extra or including rent? we will take 4 bikes so 40000/- is too much for us i guess, could you please suggest us best way to reach Srinagar from Leh.

        Thank you very much <3 🙂

        • The best way will be to take a taxi from Leh to Srinagar with an overnight stop at Kargil. Nothing better than it. About 13-14K taxi will take which provides you comfort and way less than what you will pay just for pickup of those bikes.

  6. Hi Dheeraj and team,

    Firstly I would like to give you a big thanks for running this wonderful forum. This is of immense help to plan trip to Ladakh. Kudos to you guys!!! I have been following DOW since 2013 when I planned my first visit to Leh with friend. Booked my tickets in advance but then had to cancel for some reason. Same thing happened again in 2015 🙁 Finally I am planning again this time with my wife and another couple friends. Hope it works out now 🙂

    I had booked my flight tickets 4 months in advance. I am flying to Srinagar on 19th Aug and return flight is from Leh on 28 Aug. We are total 4 people and below is our itinerary based on your suggestions in this forums. I have also almost finalize Chamba for Taxi.

    Day 1 19 Aug | Reach Srinagar and rest for the day
    Day 2 20 Aug| Srinagar – Sonamarg – Zojila – Kargil
    Day 3 21 Aug | Kargil – Leh
    Day 4 22 Aug| Local sightseeing in Leh, get permits and acclimatize
    Day 5 23 Aug| Leh – Nubra Valley ( stay at Deskit – Hunder)
    Day 6 24 Aug| Day trip to Turtuk and come back to Deskit or Hunder
    Day 7 25 Aug| Deskit to Leh
    Day 8 26 Aug| Leh to Pangong Tso
    Day 9 27 Aug| Pangong Tso to Leh
    Day 10 28 Aug | fly back home from Leh.

    Request you to review this itinerary and let me know your concerns.

    One of my concern is we don’t have a backup day. Is it possible that on Day 7 we do Deskit to Pangong instead of going to Leh and save 1 day.

    Is it a good idea to rent bike for local sight seeing in Leh on day 4? Just to fulfill my wish of driving Bike in Ladakh.

    Also I want to know if I apply Permit online do I have to still visit the DC office in Leh?

    Tanmay

    • Thank you Tanmay, I am sure it will work this year :)
      Your plan seems nicely balanced. Take the call for needing the backup day in Leh itself in case it is required. Yes, you can take the direct route. You can surely rent the bike for local sightseeing. You can apply permit online but have to pay the fee in the Tourist Info Center office in Leh.
      Regards
      Dheeraj

    • NehaPrabhu on

      Hi Tanmay, how many of you are travelling?
      Even my itinerary is similar.
      But I’ll be travelling alone. Would like to know how you are planning to travel. If possible then to share a taxi with your group, if its ok with you all.

      20th August : Srinagar, Dal lake.
      21st August : Kargil by JKSRTC bus
      22nd August : Kargil to Lamayuru
      23rd August : Lamayuru to Leh
      24th August : Deskit and around
      25th / 26th August : Back to Leh and return to Srinagar.
      My flight back if on 30th.

  7. Hi Dheeraj,

    Thanks for the informative article. In fact, your guide to Ladakh (as a whole) is meticulous, detailed and simply incredible! Thanks for that…

    I’d like to know :
    (a) is it possible and practical to include a trip to suru valley (rangdum or durung drung glacier) when traveling from Srinagar to Ladakh? If yes, do suggest a good itinerary
    (b) I don’t have my vehicle so can taxis/public transport be an option while going from Kargil to rangdum? If yes, do suggest how and approx costs

    Feel free to comment or suggest your thoughts and ideas. TIA!

    • Thank you Venkat, glad it was helpful.

      Yes, it is possible to include a trip but will need about two days from Kargil. Do you have those days at hand? Taxis run from Padum to Kargil and Kargil to Padum. You can for sure drop at Rangdum but you will need to be somewhat flexible in such a case as the availability might be a bit of a challenge. So, don’t hesitate from hitch hikes too.

  8. Abhishek Chopra on

    Hi Dheeraj,
    I am planning a Trip from 12th Aug Delhi till 20th Aug.
    We are 4 people and we have hired a 4X4 Suv.

    Can you let me know the best itinerary from Delhi- Srinagar-Leh-Manali-Delhi in 9 days?

    I would really prefer going to Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri if possible.
    Maybe I can extend the trip for 1 more day but not more than that. Please let me know the best route and places to go.

    • It will take 4 days to reach Leh from Srinagar side starting from Delhi with stop overs at Jammu, Srinagar, Kargil and 3 days to come back from Leh from Manali side to Delhi with stopovers at Sarchu, Manali. This makes it 7 days. 1 Day is required in Leh for acclimatization.
      Opt to go via Manali – Leh Highway and I will suggest that you refer the thread for more details on the route and night halts though it is of 9 days: Manali – Leh – Ladakh – Manali | Itinerary for 9 Days. You can fit in plan I suggested in above para in this plan

  9. Hi Dheeraj,
    I read in portal that it is advisable to avoid riding Srinagar -Leh highway on days alongside August 15. But as per our plan we will reach Srinagar by Aug 15. Is it ok to proceed with the same plan or should we reschedule?
    Also would you please provide an itinerary for 10-12 days. We wish to go to Leh by Srinagar- Leh highway and return via Manali-Leh highway.

    • Regarding security issues, in general, the tourist areas remain safe there but bandhs can affect the traffic movement. It is advised always that you leave the city in the early morning hours in such cases. Usually, these bandhs are pre-declared and hence you can leave the city in early morning hours judging the situation around before the bandh gets active. As long as you can stick to the main highway and tourist areas, there is in general no issues. Also, you can skip the stay at Srinagar and move to Sonamarg the same day you reach Srinagar.

      If you are really concerned about it I will suggest to go with Manali – Leh Highway

  10. Naveen Urs on

    Hi Dheeraj, I am planning to travel by bike from Udhampur to Leh then return via Manali, Shimla and Delhi. Planning to start by 16th Sept. I have RE Standard model 1997. Please let me know is there any restrictions for old bikes on this way.

    • No Naveen, since you will come down from Rohtang Pass to Manali, you do not need any Rohtang Pass permit where only bike year and make is checked. Rest it is not required anywhere.

      • Thank you Dheeraj. Traveling around LEH, do we need to take any inline pass or permission. Please clarify.

  11. Dear Dheeraj, we are two persons traveling now, so the bus or shared taxi seems like our options, but i have a question, do these shared taxi stop at those attraction point enroute?

    • The taxis that run between Srinagar – Leh do not stop at tourist spots as they are local shared taxis. However, once you reach Leh you will be able to find tourist shared taxis and shared taxis run by travel agents for tourists which do stop at tourist locations. You will find similarly shared taxis for Leh to Manali as well.

  12. Aniruddh naik on

    hi dheeraj we are planning to do srinagar -leh- manali in September is it a good plan to do srinagar to leh in a single day on our royal enfield motorcycles. As we are running short of time to do our journey plan.
    your suggestion will be much appreciated.
    thank you.

  13. George Alex on

    Hi Dheeraj.
    We three guys (24 years) has planned a Ladakh trip. We are renting bikes from chandigarh and we are from pune. By 14th evening we’ll be reaching chandigarh and got to go back on 24th morning (Flights already booked).
    The below is our current plan :
    July 15th – Chandigarh to Jammu
    July 16th – Jammu – Sonamarg
    July 17th – Sonamarg – Leh
    July 18th – Leh – Nubra
    July 19th – Nubra – Pangong Tso
    July 20th – Pangong Tso – Tso Moriri
    July 21st – Tso Moriri – Sarchu
    July 22nd – Sarchu – Manali
    July 23rd – Manali – Chandigarh.
    Our only constraint is Time. Cant extend any. Please look into our itinerary and let us know your concerns . Help us make this trip an enjoyable one. (you may tell us if there is some alternate route as well).
    Thanks in advance..
    George.

    • It is not just time constraint and hectic plan that you are trying to make but also need to consider that your chandigarh bike will not be allowed for sightseeing in Leh – Ladakh to Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri. I will suggest that you make a trip with eased plan and focus more on enjoying than running from one place to another everyday.

      • So what change can we make in our itenarary ?And who won’t be allowing the bikes for sight seeing ? The police , or the army ?

        • I will suggest a plan like below:

          Chadigarh – Srinagar
          Srinagar – Kargil
          Kargil – Leh
          Leh rest day, permits, get Leh bikes
          Leh – Khardung La – Nubra Valley
          Nubra Valley – Pangong Tso via direct route
          Pangong Tso – Leh
          Leh – Sarchu on CHD bikes
          Sarchu – Manali
          Manali – Chd

  14. Hi this is Kamal,

    We are bikes from Chennai 7 of them planning to ride Leh circuit from Aug 5th from Delhi – 16th back to delhi request you to help me following que.
    Delhi – Srinagar – Leh – Nubra Valley – Pangong Lake – Manali – Delhi
    1. Is it possible to camp in Srinagar – Leh Highways? if yes please specify best places to camp.
    2. to srinagar we plan to take Pathankot – sach pass – Killar(nit stay) – Kishtwar – srinagar is it possible to do in above mentioned days? ( I have did last yr 2016 Killar – Sach pass – dalhousie(Nit stay) – delhi same Aug month)
    3. we can reach 4 days to leh?

    Thank you Dheeraj ji.

    • Hi Kamal, please find replies below

      1. Yes it is possible, best will be Mulbekh village or Kargil/Lamayuru Villages are also fine
      2. August is too risky to attempt Sach PAss – Killar – Kishtwar route but if you have already done it you would know the challenges in rains.

  15. Sunirmshafi on

    Hi Dheeraj

    This forum offer more information than google and appreciate all the efforts. With the recent issue around ban on Himachal bikes in LEH and vice-versa, we are changing our Bike trip route to go from Srinagar to LEH

    While the itinerary is very well explained for such a route, appreciate if you can help with few questions around the trip?

    1) Do you have any contacts of Bike rentals in Srinagar who can be contacted?
    2) Which route is more enjoyable – scenic as well as the ride experience : Srinagar – LEH or Manali – LEH?
    3) If i rent a bike from Srinagar and make the trip to LEH , where maximum can I travel to in LEh because it has been highlighted that we need to rent LEH bikes and cannot use the one from Srinagar. Does this apply for small areas within the city or does it apply for pangong, khardungla, nubra etc?

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