Wednesday, 16 March 2016

An overview of exploring Ladakh

In continuation to our previous posts on 'An Overview Exploring Ladakh region by road' (Part 1, Part 2) in this post we will try to explore the travel options available for a journey to Leh from Srinagar by Srinagar - Leh Highway NH 1D. 

Srinagar to Leh road distance is 435 Kms which goes through beautiful landscapes, high mountain passes, some of the coldest inhabited places in our country. In this exciting route there are many places of interest like sonmarg, Kargil, Lamayuru, Alchi, Magnetic hill etc which have been listed in our previous posts 'An Overview Exploring Ladakh region by road' (Part 1Part 2).

 Zozi-la Pass

You may use several travel options which are available to reach Leh from Srinagar-

Opition 1- Self Drive Vehicle: Be it a 4 wheeler or a 2 wheeler, the experience of driving a vehicle through the Srinagar - Leh highway, is definitely a memory which you will cherish your whole life. This is one of the toughest terrain to drive in our country, the roads near and at Zozi-la pass  are nightmare for any person driving the vehicle and also for the fellow passengers. Roads at Zozi-la pass are the roughest patch on NH 1D, despite few more patches on the route rest of the highway is in a good condition. Driving might be a lifelong experience but one should take extreme care while driving on the rough patches, nallas and on all the places where the water is flowing on the road. Special precautions is needed when you are driving in the monsoon season, in a rainy day or a day just after the rains because these rough patches can make your life more tough while driving.

Road near Zozi-la pass at Srinagar - Leh highway

Option 2- By Taxi: Taxis only with a taxi number or tourist permit are allowed on Srinagar - Leh Route. Hiring a taxi is one of the best possible option to travel on the Srinagar - Leh highway. You can hire a taxi from the taxi stand at Srinagar, but do remember to hire a vehicle with JK 10 number plate as only these vehicles will be allowed to stop for site seeing on various site seeing spots in Ladakh region, as per the rules of Ladakh taxi association. Hire a taxi for drop to Leh in 2 days and have a night stay accordingly at Drass/Kargil/Mulbekh on the first day.

Things to remember while hiring and travelling by a taxi:
  • Avoid hiring a taxi with private number if you don't want to get bothered or disappointed in between the route.
  • Only Ladakh taxi number vehicles are allowed for site seeing in the Ladakh region, so do remember to hire a  vehicle with Ladakh number (JK 10).
  • If you have any doubts about the vehicle, you may take a drop up to Kargil by a vehicle hired from Srinagar and after an overnight stay at Kargil, continue your journey to Leh on the next day. If you go for this option you should confirm a taxi pickup from Kargil to Leh before starting.
  • While hiring any vehicle remember to confirm with the vehicle owner/ driver, that you want to have site seeing & stops on various enroute places.
  • Starting early in the morning and completing your day's journey well before sunset is always helpful.
  • Journey from Srinagar to Kargil in 2 days provides your body better acclimatization to high altitudes, and also provides you the opportunity to enjoy the route, so avoid being in a rush to reach Leh in single day.

Option 3- JKSRTC Bus: JKSRTC buses are also available on the Srinagar Leh route and they are the cheapest option to travel to Leh from Srinagar. These buses start early in the morning from Srinagar and have a night stay at Kargil then complete journey to Leh on next day.
Other than the JKSRTC buses there are some private bus operators who ply their buses between Srinagar and Leh.
The bus journey between Srinagar and Leh will cost any where between 900-1500 depending on the type of bus. These buses mostly stop at Sonmarg for a tea break and at Kargil for a night stay on first day. the bus journey is the cheapest mode of travel between Srinagar and Leh.

Option 4- If you want to manage in limited budget, shared taxi is an another option from Srinagar to Leh, these taxis are also available at Srinagar taxi stand and most of them run with 6-8 passengers sharing the vehicle. Most of the taxis complete the journey from Srinagar to Leh in a single day. Be ready for a 14-18 hours long bumpy drive with 6-8 people sharing a single vehicle, sitting in a less relaxed position. You should be sturdy enough if you opt for this option, because your physical limits will be tested in this journey. You will arrive in Leh directly and will not be able for enroute siteseeing. But yes this is cheap and it comes in around 1200-1500 rupees per person.

Another option in season time are the tempo travelers that run between Srinagar and Leh, you have to get in touch with the travel agents or tour operators at the Srinagar taxi stand to book your seat. It will also cost around 2000 rupees.

Alternate route option: After Kargil you can take a different route to Leh via Batalik, Dah, in this route you will not be able to visit Lamayuru, also you have to obtain permits from DC office at Kargil if you want to access Leh via this route. Kindly remember that the route through Lamayuru is the most popular and usual route to Leh, from Srinagar.

Are you planning to travel to Leh? Get in touch with us by posting a comment below or you may drop an email at, or get in touch through our face book page @ optimum tours.

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