The road trip from Manali in the state of Himachal Pradesh to Leh is a paradise for travelers seeking for an adventurous yet beautiful ride on the roads on a bullet or a jeep, with tall peaks covered with fairy white snow! How can one forget the ever popular song from Jab We Met—Ye IshqHaye, where Kareena Kapoor danced to her heart’s content wiggling through the snowy spaces on the Manali to Leh Highway? So if all of this has already piqued your excitement to actually head for a road trip on the Manali-Leh Highway, first things first, here are few important pointers that you need to keep in mind—
The Manali to Leh Highway in the northern region of India basically connects Leh in Ladakh, in the northern state of Jammu & Kashmir, with Manali in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh. The length of the highway is around 479 KMs and it has a mean altitude somewhere between 3 to 4 KMs above the sea level.
The whole highway was planned, designed, and built by Indian Army’s Border Roads Organization and as on today, can easily support most of the heaviest army vehicles.
Highway conditions and timings
The entire Manali-Leh highway has an elevation of around 13,000 feet, which is over 4,000 meters, and the highest elevation of the whole stretch is 17,480 feet, that is 5328 meters at the area known as Tanglang La Mountain Pass.
Coming to the timings, the highway is open of travel only for only 4 and a half months every year, mainly during the summers, mostly in the months of May and June, when the snow gets cleared and then during the mid-Octobers. For travelers, the total span of the journey expands to two days, which includes one stop for rest and getting accustomed to the contrasting temperature and weather there.
Rohtang Pass Permit
As per the Himachal Pradesh Government, non HP registered vehicle are not allowed to use Rohtang Pass route from Manali to Leh. So if you are planning to go to Leh by road(Rohtang pass route), then you have to take permit before embarking of the journey. SDM office in Manali is the right place from where you get the permit. Office hours of SDM office is 10AM to 5 PM. The office is closed on all Local/National Holidays, Sunday and second Saturdays. You can also take permit from Tourist Information Centre and HPTDC office in Manali.
Manali-Leh Highway Route Details
No words to define the beauty of Manali – Leh highways. Words are small in front of its natural beauty.
Manali-Leh Highway (478 KM) Route:
Manali -Rohtang Pass: 52 Km
Rohtang Pass – Tandi: 57 KM
Tandi – Keylong: 10 KM
Keylong – Jispa: 22 KM
Jispa – Darcha: 17 KM
Dracha – Zingzing Bar: 31 KM
Zingzing Bar – Baralacha La: 22KM
Baralacha La – Sarchu: 32 KM
Sarchu – Pang: 80 KM
Pang – Tanglang La: 66 KM
Tanglag La – Upshi: 61 KM
Upshi – Leh: 47 KM
Important Places on Manali-Leh Highway with Their Altitudes:
- Manali: 1950 Meters
- Marhi : 3300 Meters
- Rohtang La: 3980 Meters
- Khokhsar: 3140 Meters
- Sissu : 3170 Meters
- Tandi: 2573 Meters
- Keylong : 3080 Meters
- Jispa: 3320 Meters
- Darcha: 3360 Meters
- Baralacha La: 4890 Meters
- Sarchu: 4290 Meters
- Gata Loops: 4190 Meters
- Nakee La: 4740 Meters
- Lachalung La: 5079 Meters
- Pang : 4600 Meters
- Moore Plains: 4730 Meters
- Tanglang La: 5328 Meters
- Rumste: 4260 Meters
- Upshi: 3480 Meters
- Leh: 3500 Meters
There are 4 ways to opt:
- Bus: Daily bus service by HPTDC (Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation), HRTC (Himachal Road Transport Corporation). Bus will take 2 days and 1 night stay in keylong. You can take tickets from Manali Bus stand, online or some other local operators. Keep in mind that bus journey is not comfortable, but when the budget is concern there is no other alternative.
- Shared Taxi: This is also another cheap option. There are many taxis available in Manali and mostly are Tata Sumos, Toyota Innova. All the taxi depart from Manali stand. They will take one day to reach Leh without any night halt. They will take only 3 – 4 stops in between Manali – Leh. Shared taxi will cost you Rs. 1000 – 2000(approx.) depending on the season.
- Private Taxi/Cab: If you can spend Rs. 15,000 – 20,000, then this is the best option for you. Hiring a private taxi will give you a comfortable journey. One thing to keep in mind that you can’t hire HP vehicle for Leh sightseeing because it’s not allowed in Leh. HP vehicle will only drop you at Leh. For Leh sightseeing, you have to hire local taxis.
- Self-Drive Car/Bike Rentals: To experience the real beauty of Manali-Leh highway, many travelers prefer to go by their own vehicles or they can also hire a bike on rent from Manali. Keeping in mind that road conditions are not good. If you are not expert in driving then don’t even think to take huge risk. Make sure you keep all the essential spare parts, extra fuel for any miss-happening like: bike puncture, breakdown, or any other emergencies.
If you are really planning for a Manali-Leh Tour, then you have to be fully prepared: mentally and physically.
First and most common sickness is altitude sickness also known as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), which arises due to lack of acclimatization with the atmosphere at higher altitude. The typical mountain sickness symptoms may include –nausea, headache, fatigue, vomiting, stomach illness shortness of breath, persistent rapid pulse rate and dizziness.
Tips to avoid Altitude Sickness
- Drink water as much as you can.
- Avoid Caffeine and alcohol
- Foods rich in potassium are great for acclimating like: banana, chocolate, dried fruits, potatoes.
Facilities or Amenities on Manali – Leh Highway
- Hotel / Guest Houses: There are many options available in places like- Khoksar, Sissu, Gondla, Patseo, Tandi, Keylong (Many options), Jispa, Upshi
- Tents/Camps: Tents and camps are also available in Manali-Leh Highway at these places: Marhi, Jispa, Darcha, Zingzing Bar, Bharatpur, Sarchu (Many options), Pang
- Fuel: There are only 3 places where you will get the fuel and these are:
- Tandi – 107 km from Manali
- Upshi – 428Km from Manali
- Karu – 438Km from Manali
There are many other local sellers available who can offer you fuel at higher rates.
- Mobile Connectivity: BSNL and Airtel will only work. BSNL has more coverage/connectivity if you compare with Airtel.
- Medical Facilities: Only Keylong has a proper hospital.
- ATMS: Only in Keylong.
Best of luck for your journey.
Featured Image Source: lonelyplanet.in