Nowhere else in the world
can a traveller find such splendid diversity of mountain scenery as in the Himalayas,
the Abode of Snows, and an unforgettable way to enjoy this diversity is to
travel up the road from Manali to Leh.
From the Land of the Gods to the Rooftop of the World
The Manali Leh road weaves in and out among the mighty snow-clad peaks of the
Western Himalayas over a stretch of nearly 485 kms. The road is open from mid-July to
mid-October every year, depending on weatherconditions.
Lets begin with Manali in Himachal Pradesh once called Devbhumi, the
Land of the Gods. It is easily accessible by air and by road from Delhi, Chandigarh,
Shimla and Pathankot.
Against the dramatic setting of dazzling snow-bound peaks, green and idyllic Manali
glows like some rare emerald. The tumbling, sparkling waters of the river Beas, where one
can fish for trout, the luxuriant apple orchards, the whispering forests, all add to the
magic of Manali. It is also the ideal base for excursions to the hot sulphur springs of
Vashisht, the beautiful Malana, Parbati valleys, Chandratal (the Lake of the Moon),
Surajtal (the Lake of the Sun), the Solang skiing slopes, Naggar and Manikaran etc.
For the intrepid seeker of adventure, Manali is the starting point for many an exciting
trek, such as the one to the Rohtang Pass, 51 kms away. This pass is an important
milestone on the Manali Leh road as it is the gateway to the Lahaul and Spiti
On its way to Keylong (115 kms from Manali), this important road, which was once part
of the ancient trade route between India and Central Asia, wends its way through
breathtaking mountain views via the Rohtang Pass, Gramphoo, Kokhsar, Sissu, Gondla, Tandi.
One can also reach Kaza, the main town of Lahaul and Spiti
(distance from Manali: 224
kms) via Gramphoo, Chhota Dara, Bara Dara, Batal, Kunzum Pass (1600 ft.), Takcha and
Losar. As the landscape changes in this part of Himachal, so do the faces of the people.
Tibetan influences are marked in their looks and lifestyle and their heritage is
predominantly Buddhist. Three monasteries lie along the way. The Karding, Shashun and
Tayal monasteries are well worth a visit.
Onward the road moves
to the Bara Lachha Pass (height: 4883 m), 73 kms from
Keylong. Beyond this steep pass lies Sarchu, 43 kms away, in the adjoining state of Jammu
and Kashmir. Now the trail hits the highest regions of Ladakh.
Through the Forbidden Land
Situated between the towering mountain ranges of the Himalayas and the Karakoram, the
average height of Ladakh ranges from a dizzy 3000m to 3650m above sea level. The landscape
is austere, yet strangely beautiful.