Lahaul is the newest destination that has become accessible to weekend trips, thanks to the Atal Tunnel. Given the newly connected region, Lahaul has become the hot talk of the town. I can promise you, if the COVID-19 was not an issue – you’d be flooded with Lahaul on your Instagram!
Seasoned travellers are great at exploring and finding such places of little “tourism value”. However, as connectivity to Himachal Pradesh villages increases, it is such a boon for the local population! As someone who’s explored the region extensively previous to the inauguration of Atal Tunnel, I can tell you that the stories from Lahaul are plenty and the verdict is always the same – Lahaul is quiet, yet adventurous – unleashing an experience of a lifetime.
While, it is true, Lahaul was always considered to be a enroute place for both Spiti Valley and Manali-Leh Highway – it has plenty to offer on its own. Namely the beautiful green forested mountains, and then the hugely contrasting and starkly barren mountains – Lahaul has the best of both the worlds. With the valley divided into 4 very different sub-valleys – it is surely a scene that is always welcoming.
So, how do you visit the newest spot on the map, every chance you get? Let us help you out with that
What is the best time to visit Lahaul on an extended weekend?
A Lahaul weekend can be accomplished any time you fancy! I would personally avoid Monsoon season, since the hills are vulnerable to landslides, and it is better to avoid the region. You may get stuck in landslides (I have – in Lahaul, no less!).
Winter season is another world and heaven altogether. You can learn to ski on virgin mountains, you can dive deep into the experience of living in feet deep snow – learn the local culture and understand the places and the difficulties that locals face. Summer season is comfortable, a complete paradise. There is a tonne to do, in any season you choose. Of course, a lot would also depend on what you want to do when you get to Lahaul.
Long weekends and Lahaul
While ideally you should spend 8-10 days to truly get the feel of Lahaul and understand the culture, Lahaul is still coverable in an extended weekend. Here’s how.
So, without further ado – here’s the long weekend plan for your Lahaul travels. This is a little jam-packed, but I guarantee you, you will enjoy in the earnest!
Day 0 – Reaching Bhuntar, Sissu
Take an overnight bus from Delhi to reach Bhuntar in the AM. Try reaching around 7-9 AM. You can even take a flight to the Bhuntar airport, and then add another day to your itinerary.
Day 1 – Exploring Sissu, Kelyong
Take a bus from Bhuntar towards Manali and then further on to Sissu, Lahaul. The first bus from Bhuntar leaves at 6 AM. Alternatively, and more recommended, you can hail a private/share cab from Bhuntar itself. The ~80 KM distance will take around 3+ hours in the bus, a 2 by taxi. You can plan on spending an extra day in Manali, if you can squeeze in another day into your trip. If not, push towards Sissu.
The reason I suggest taking your own cab/self-drive is because there is a lot to discover enroute. And the bus might not give you the best option to stop at leisure and explore. You should ideally reach Sissu before 11 AM. Now, you should stop for some food and enjoy the surrounding region. I go into depth of all the things to cover. But, your night stay will be in Keylong. However, keep exploring the regions of Tandi and Darcha etc. enroute.
Once you reach Keylong, rest up in your hotel and relax. If you’re up for it, head to the Keylong Monastery and trek nearby easy routes. These treks provide a deeper holiday experience and the intense connect it provides with nature is indescribably beautiful. There are a couple dhabas in the little hamlet of Keylong that provide a serene stop.
Now is the time to relax and unwind. Enjoy the night skies!
Day 2 – Baralacha-la, Sarchu
Busy day for you. I urge you to wake up early in the morning and step out. Today we will be covering the route to Sarchu and back. This day will take you through stunning pit-stops of Suraj Tal, Deepak Tal, Zing Bar and then the mighty Baralacha-la. This is my most special place on the entire Manali-Leh Highway. You will love every second you spend here and the natural beauty will totally drive you into a trance. The beauty is sheer and in your face. The blackened mountains covered with the purity of snow – this day and moment will live with you for a long time.
Spend as much time as you like on this beautiful pass, but remember that you’ll be back on your way from here only. Head on to Sarchu –about 1.5 hours from Baralacha-la. Sarchu is the last village in Himachal Pradesh before entering the Ladakh territory. It is stunning, isolated, huge. The isolation is pin-drop and you’ll not regret having to go through some tough roads to get here. This gives you a feel of what it’d be like if you visit Leh from this road.
Return back (not much to do here in short duration, except taking in the beauty. Stay at Keylong/ Sarchu or even Manali (depending on how late you’re at night).
Day 3 – Manali and Return
On your final day – if you’re in Manali – make the most of your last day and indulge in the café culture and retail therapy. Grab some delicious food to hog on before catching the bus / hailing a cab to Bhuntar. From there, choose your mode of transportation back to your home base.
So, fellow travellers – you now know where you must head for the upcoming long weekend. Lahaul is a place that would never disappoint. I hope this plan will help you guys in your time in the Valley. If you have any suggestions or alternative itineraries – please do share below! Also, guys I MUST URGE you to ensure you keep Lahaul clean. This place has been sheltered from the influx of mainstream tourism. It is pristine and clean – ensure you don’t dirty it for people that call it their home. Respect the mountains.
Also, would love to hear more about your travel tales – any off-beat places we should cover, but haven’t? Do let us know!