Manali Leh Highway, the very name ignites a feeling of adventure in everyone’s heart. For motorcyclists, it is a dream, for photography enthusiasts, it is heaven; for travel junkies, it is a habit. The ever changing landscape consisting of deep verdant valleys, snow capped mountain peaks, rugged barren desolated wasteland, high mountain passes, tiny hamlets, nomad shepherds; travel on this road and you will see it all. Memories will last a lifetime and you will tell tales of your trip for months to come.Manali to Leh road runs a total of 490 kilometers; 230 kilometers is in Himachal Pradesh and the remaining 260 kilometers in the state of J&K. Sarchu acts as the border between two states. The road from Manali to Sarchu is Himachal and Sarchu to Leh is J&K. In total, you will be crossing 5 high altitude passes and the journey is better planned to be completed in at least 2 days.
Kashmir was termed as “paradise on earth” hundreds of years ago by Emperor Shah Jahan and quite rightly so. Ladakh a few years ago was termed as “Heaven on earth” by I do not know who but once again the term was correctly used. Another term “Biker’s paradise” was coined to describe the roads leading to it and yet again it was 100% accurate. However as more and more people are now starting to visit this part of our country, it is no longer a journey that is limited to motorcycles. A trip to Ladakh now includes almost every mode of travel, from a bicycle to a flight. However, no matter which mode you chose, fact cannot be denied that this trip still requires meticulous planning and preparation. You need to make yourself aware of not only what you want to see there but also of timings, difficulties you may face both medical and mechanical, roads that may be closed and the list is quite long.
Of the two highways to Ladakh, Manali to Leh has always been the more popular and also the preferred one. Why it is so and is it rightly so is a topic highly debatable but a lot of this is contributed to the fact that it is the more challenging one and hence was more popular among the adventure enthusiasts. The roads are not as good as the Srinagar Leh highway, the region is not so well connected and even some of the basic amenities like fuel and phone services go missing for miles altogether. Therefore it becomes of utmost importance that you plan well ahead in time, know the region that you are about to travel in to and have the complete information. This series of articles focuses on covering several aspects of traveling on Manali Leh highway that you should be aware of beforehand in order to plan and enjoy your journey to the fullest. This article in particular focuses on the months when Manali Leh highway remains open and and when is the best time to travel from Manali to Leh.
To start with, let us go with some basic information. Total length of Manali Leh highway is approximately 490 kilometers out of which 230 kilometers are in Himachal Pradesh between Manali to Sarchu and the remaining 260 kilometers from Sarchu to Leh fall in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The highest elevation on the highway is 17,480 ft at Tanglang La pass. Road is mostly 2 lanes wide but has one lane at several stretches. There are 5 high altitude passes on this highway of which Tanglang La is the highest but strangely it is Baralacha La that remains covered with snow for the longest duration. This road was built and still maintained by Border Roads Organization (BRO), a division of Indian Army.