The legendary 473 km long Manali-Leh road makes its way through the most spectacular terrain in the world. Following in the tracks of an ancient trade route that extended up to Central Asia, this marvelous road slides wriggles and punches its way through four high passes and numerous streams and rivers, clinging precariously to plummeting mountain surfaces all this while.
While in the past this path saw the most beautiful caravans of all time, today it is witness to tourists, army tankers and patrol trucks that traverse through this treacherously landslide-prone road every year, between June to mid-September, when it is free from snow.
Starting from the noisy Manali, one proceeds to the tourist hotspot, Rohtang pass, snaking their way between sheer walls of rock rising on either side as the road climbs uphill. Once across the Rohtang, the magnificent Central Lahual Massif of the Great Himalayas comes into view. Soon the green scenery of Manali is replaced with shades of brown and rust with a few willow trees thrown in. Soon villages start to appear along the road with Keylong, a famous pit-stop, not far behind. This green stretch is followed by Jispa, another place to seek a night’s rest.
After Jispa, the road ascends. Snowy peaks can be seen glimmering in the glassy waters of Deepak Tal. From here, the road climbs relentlessly, and with every loop, the mountains flatten out, till at Baralacha La, at a height of 16,500 ft., they seemed like large dunes of snow. The road levels out near Sarchu, another popular night halt for adventure-seekers who prefer tents over rooms. Beyond Sarchu, the road starts climbing again leading to Lachulung La, where the air thins out noticeably. From here, the journey is downhill, with gnarled and weathered mountains decorating either side of the road. Post the Kanglajal Pass, one reaches the vast Morey Plains, stretched out over an area of 160 km sq. The Tso Kar is only 15 km from here. On the final leg to Leh, the grasslands lead into chaotic ridges, through the Tanglang La. The landscape finally changes from treeless desolation to vibrant green upon reaching the settlements of Rumtse and Sasoma. A smooth double-lane highway greets the weary travelers here, leading to Meeru, ahead of which flowed the mighty Indus. The journey from here to Leh all runs along the Indus gorge. Finally, the fabulous oasis that is Leh emerges, with the Stakna monastery overlooking the valley and ruins of Shey palace twinkling in welcome.
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12. Wildlife of Ladakh.
13. Flora of Ladakh.
17. Shopping in Ladakh.
More Information on Leh :
1. About Leh.
5. Palaces in Leh.