Delhi to Leh on the fly!

I hope you have read my previous blog on preparations for a ladakh trip, if not check it out here https://medium.com/@mayank.dhanawade/planning-a-trip-to-ladakh-37f01747232e .

Now that we are done with the preparations let’s see how to manage things there. We took a flight to Delhi and went to Kashmere gate from there. All the buses that go north from Delhi leave from Kashmere gate, a lot of buses are available there in the evening as it an overnight journey, the last bus leaves at 9 pm. The bus will reach Manali in the morning at around 10 am. There are 2 options here, you can either stay here for the night and rest up since you’ve travelled a lot or else you can leave in the evening for leh. If you want to stay then Ill recommend staying at the Dragon Inn hotel in old Manali.

View from Dragon Inn Hotel (Old manali)

I always prefer staying in old manali, it has great cafes and great hotels and the place has a nice vibe. Don’t miss to visit the lazy dog cafe, it’s right next to the river and the food and music is amazing.

Lazy dog cafe

Next day we started looking for a ride to reach Ladakh. The buses were all full so our plan was toast, but later we found out that next to the bus stand there is a lane which takes us to the taxi stand, many drivers from Ladakh wait there, you will need a bit of bargaining skills to get a good deal. If you are planning to take a bike from Manali you’ll need to get permits to pass through Rohtang pass which you’ll get at the Manali police station, you can get them online too but anyway you have to go to the police station to get the stamp and pay money.

Manali

We started from Manali in the afternoon. Crossing Rohtang pass is an amazing feeling, it’s super cold and snowy out there. The view is breathtaking, you might want to stop there for a couple minutes to take some pictures.

View from Rohtang pass (Shivering hands and low light)

It is not advisable to do Manali to Ladakh in one strech, the roads are pretty rough, and driving on those high roads at night is very risky so you can either take a stop at Keylong/Jispa/Sarchu. You will find dhabas there which will be very cheap and uncomfortable or you can stay at a hotel, both are available. Do take a small walk at night near the river, the sky looks beautiful at night, cold winds and starry sky just makes it very exciting.

Taken at 2 am in Jispa

Leave early morning, the snow starts melting as the day progresses and it gets tougher to drive the road on high passes, the roads get full with water. And if there is a traffic jam then you might get stuck there for hours. Also Id recommend keep your camera handy, the roads will keep surprising you every now and then, its a picturesque road.

Barlacha la

We were stuck at a pass in some traffic, so what to do best in those times? simple! Enjoy the view!

Frozen Lakes

Take a breakfast stop at Sarchu and then non stop to Leh. Everyone asks me how is the food there, is there a problem for vegeterians, and you’ll be happy to hear everyone’s favourite is available there, Maggi! My usual combo was Maggi + Mountain dew (They call it Juice in the north). Also it will be a good idea to carry a lot of protein bars with you.

Sarchu

On the way you will find treacherous ghats followed by plain lands, on these plain lands you’ll get to see wild horses and wild asses running along your vehicle. That kind of gives you a taste of the freedom, you kinda want to run along with them, no restrictions, just go free.

After reaching Leh, the first most important thing is finding a place to stay. There are many hotels available so I’d suggest take a look around and bargain. Again, if you are a big group and need to do bookings then contact me ill provide the details of places there. I stayed at Hotel Leh Castle which is near the Leh market, affordable place, has WIFI and good service. Your need to acclimatize to the high altitude so I’ll reccomend rest up and do some local sighstseeing in Leh for the day. Visit the local market to get prayer flags for yourself and your friends and family.

Leh market

Next thing you need to do is look for a vehicle to do the local sightseeing on. There are many tourism companies in Leh, so you can get a bike or a car at good price for the remaining days.

A useful trip for when you travel to any place: If you are looking for good accomodation or transportation ask the locals where the main market is, you will find both there.

The local sightseeing can all be done in a day. Leh palace, Shanti Stupa, War memorial, Sankar monastery, Datun sahib, Spituk monastery, Thiksey monastery, Sangam of Zanskar and Indus, Magnetic hill. You dont wanna miss even a single place from this. The Sangam is like a big color pellete where you can see two colors mix. Sunset at thiksey is something very dramatic. Magnetic hill has its own magic show. Spituk monastery is where you’ll feel peaceful. War memorial is where you will feel the goosebumps by the energy in there, that sense of patriotism and respect for the soldiers.

First go to the Sangam, if you want you can do river rafting there, then on the way back to Leh you can see the Magnetic hill, Datun sahib, Spituk Monastery, War memorial.

Sangam
Magnetic Hill
Spituk Monastery
View from Spituk Monastery

Post lunch You can visit Shanti Stupa and Leh palace and spend the evening at Spituk Monastery.

Shanti Stupa
Thiksey Monastery

Rancho school is also one of the places to visit, but that you can do on your return journey from Pangong lake.

For food in Leh I liked the Lamayuru Restaurant and the Tibetan Kitchen. And if you are into beer then I’d reccomend trying the Godfather beer.

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