Manali Leh Highway: A Detailed Route Guide

Ankita | Updated on May 16, 2022

The moment we say road trip, the first thing that hits our mind is an adventure. And the word adventure is incomplete without the mention of Manali Leh Highway, a boulevard that leads to heaven on earth- Ladakh. It is a dream come true trip for travel enthusiasts, photographers, nature lovers and bikers. The Leh Ladakh bike trip is the most popular amongst all active riders. Riding through naked landscapes, zigzag terrains, isolated valleys and lofty mountain passes has a mesmerising effect that lasts for a lifetime. Get set to make your own Ladakh package!

Best Time To Travel to Leh Ladakh

Even though the route opens by May and remains open till about early October, the best time to travel on Manali Leh Highway is undoubtedly in the month of September. Monsoons arrive by July making the entire region prone to landslides. By September the road conditions are just right and the valleys are at full bloom making it a perfect time to plan your Leh Ladakh bike trip.

Manali Leh Highway

Running over an average altitude of 14000 feet, Manali Leh Highway is a 490 kilometres extensive highway. It connects the town of Leh in Ladakh and Manali in Himachal Pradesh. The Lahaul district in Himachal Pradesh ends at Sarchu, which is approximately 230 kilometres from Manali and Zanskar region in Jammu and Kashmir starts at Sarchu which is approximately 260 kilometres from Leh. Out of the two major routes to reach Leh via road, Manali Leh Highway is constantly the favoured one in any Ladakh Package because of its exigent character and evolving landscapes. Apart from the exquisiteness of this area, the elegance of this route lies in its miles and miles of isolation.  Although it is a two-lane highway, there are few single lanes in some stretches. It is muddled up with both good and bad patches and crosses five high altitude passes and several small streams of freezing cold water with literally no bridge or crossing link to cross. Having said that, the suggested time to reach Leh from Manali is at least two days.

Manali Leh Road Map

Here is the road map:

Manali- Rohtang Pass- Gramphu- Kokhsar- Tandi- Keylong- Jispa- Darcha- Sumdo- Zingzingbar- Baralacha La- Bharatpur- Sarchu- Gata Loops- Nakeel La- Lachulung La- Pang- Tanglang La- Gya- Upshi- Karu- Leh.

Places To Visit In your Leh Ladakh bike trip

The road trip from Manali to Leh is one of the most demanding yet memorable journeys for all travellers.  If you are planning a trip, here is a list of some of the best places to visit that you must include in your Ladakh package.

  1. Rohtang Pass: Come, fall in love with Rohtang Pass, the gateway to Leh-Ladakh! Nestled at a distance of 50 kilometres from Manali this beautiful place offers breath-taking views, sprawling landscapes and loads of adventurous activities such as skiing, paragliding and ice-skating. Sounds amazing, isn’t it?
  2. Sissu: One of the most popular tourist attractions on the Manali Leh Highway is the Sissu Falls. Although the waterfall is not located on the road and the travellers might have to take a small diversion, but this splendid waterfall is totally worth it so be sure to include it in your Ladakh package.
  3. Keylong: Keylong is a major town and one of the most stunning places in the Lahaul district. The snow-capped mountains and the renowned Kardang Monastery are the key attractions here.
  4. Baralacha La: Surrounded by the mighty Himalayas, Baralacha La is a picturesque pass connecting Lahaul district and Ladakh. The criss-cross roads covered with snow make the journey more adventurous and daring.
  5. Gata Loops: Gata Loops is an exploratory point which is very well known for its 21 winding curves. It is certainly not a simple road to drive but the high elevation and the surroundings make it extremely difficult to miss.
  6. Nakeel La: This deserted pass is located at an altitude of 4740 metres and is quite prone to avalanches, heavy snowfalls and landslides. Lucky travellers might also find wildlife here.

Travel Tips for Leh Ladakh bike trip:

  • Always keep your identity proofs handy.
  • All travellers will need a permit to cross Rohtang Pass.
  • It is advisable to carry a medical kit.
  • On Manali Leh Highway, consider staying at Keylong or Jispa which are lower in altitude to reduce the effects of mountain illness.
  • Be sure to keep your body warm and consume lots of carbohydrates.
  • Drink lots of water and keep yourself hydrated all the time.
  • The last fuel station is at Tandi and the next one is 350 kilometres ahead at Upshi-Karu.

So, whether it is the astounding landscapes or the adventurous drive, every bit of Manali Leh Highway will woo you! Plan your Leh Ladakh bike trip as soon as possible and keep our tour guide handy.

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