The quickest way to get to ladakh is by plane: from Delhi the flights lasts about an hour, passing over towering mountains: two companies (2003) offered flights there - jet Aviation and Indian Airlines. I used both and I must say that Jet Aviation really has state of the art planes... Indian airlines - let's say that the plane looked older than me. As a sidenote I should add that landing at Leh is thrilling: there's mountains all around the military airport, so the plane has to find its way through them and at times it looks as if it's going to loose a wing into the side of some mountain or other. The take off, by contrast, is disappointing - the planes heads straight up over the mountains, and that's it - no thrill, no breathtaking passages...
My guide on the Markha Valley trek told me it is possible to visit Takthog, Chemrey, Stakna, Thiksey and Shey on a daytrip from Leh using public transportation, if you start early. I didn’t want to be in a hurry in the morning and decided to visit only Stakna, Thiksey and Shey, which have more frequent buses. The Leh - Thiksey bus pass by Shey, then Thiksey and then has its end stop near Stakna Gompa. The bus leaves every half an hour from the main bus station in Leh.
This is how much I paid in July 2010 and how long the bus ride was:
Leh - Stakna Rs 20, 40 min
Stakna - Thiksey Rs 5, 10 min
Thiksey - Shey Rs 5, 5 min
Shey - Leh Rs 10, 25 min
All travel agencies in Leh have a booklet with the fixed price for taking a taxi to different destinations. A booklet with the new fare is published every year.
Before leaving Ladakh I wanted to visit Lamayuru, Alchi and Likir. It can’t be done using public transportation in one day so I chose to take a car with driver. The fixed price to visit those three places was Rs 3750 (July 2010). I asked around at some travel agents and at Oriental Guesthouse to find some people to share the price with, but no one signed up. So in the end I went alone.
First we drove to Lamayuru which is furthest away. It took almost three hours to go there and for long we drove along Indus River. When we had crossed the river and the road was ascending there was a new road and the old road to take. The old road takes one hour and the new road is supposed to take half an hour. The new road was still under construction, but we took it, as did many others. Along the way we passed a small minivan stuck in the gravel. We stopped to help them push their car and they could continue. Well, it seemed the road was not good enough for all cars jet.
After Lamayuru we went to Alchi and then to Likir. When we came back to Leh the daytrip had taken 10 hours.
People say road journey to Leh is worth it but I would say plane journey is also worth every cent. The kind of view one gets from the plane is an experience to shoot and treasure.
As far as local transportation is concerned, Qualis, Innova are available for tours to Khardong pass, Pangong lake and all the monastries and palaces.
Only, be prepared for higher amount.
Journey to Khardong La : Almost Rs 1500 to and fro
Pangong: Rs 6500
Stok Palace: 600
Vehicles are available from the hotels only. They arrange evrything for you.
So no tensions at all.
one can get to leh by bus from cities like DELHI( app length 1000km+), CHANDIGARH(app lenght 800km), AND MANALI(474 km).
services are provided by state road trans port of himachal, jammu& kashmir and delhi.)
the buses are economical as compare to flight but it take three long days to reach leh from delhi.... no matter it offers you the unbeliveable view well traviling.... passing through passes/ top like ROTANG LA, BARALACHA LA, AND TAGLANG LA.......
TAXI: Taxis or Hired vehicles from out side is not allowed to play in Ladakh area by the taxi union. The reason being the dream-like short tourist season of Ladakh when the local taxis earn for rest of the year.
However, if the vehicle is private and personal you can do the sighteeings.
Taxis in Leh do not has a meter and do not run on Kilometer basis but point to point charges. The taxi rates are fixed and authorised by the local administration.
99% of the taxis are driven and maintained by the owner themself thus they are very well maintained. The drivers speaks Hindi and most of them may understand English but can to reply well.
BUSES: There are local buses running frequently to the villages and are very cheap compared to hiring a taxi but you can not stop at points to photograph etc.
Similarly taxi from Leh can not play for sighseeing in Kargil or Zanskar. So you have to change vehicle in this sector and the safari cost will be very hight as you are paying for each taxis return journey too.
MOTOR BIKE: Some agencies in Leh give motorbike mostly Enfield Bike on hire on per day basis.
If you require an experienced and well-behaved driver and a vehicle, try out Shri. Sabir (+91-9419326234). We booked him for 6 days and he took us everywhere we wanted to go at any time in his Innova. The owner of the vehicle is one Shri. Nangyal (+91-9419219412).
Leh is about 3 days away from delhi by road, but if you choose to fly, its just an hour away.
The journey over land has a huge charm, yet the views from the airplane, while flying over the Himalayas are absolutely amazing, so make sure you grab that window seat!
Indian airlines and Jet airways both operate daily flights that leave early morning from Delhi. Durning winter, the weather may hold the key as to whether the flight leaves on time or if it leaves at all on the day, so make sure you check before setting off...
The best and cheapest way to go from Leh to Srinagar is by truck ! The all come to Leh full,and go back empty.So they are very happy to take tourist for the back travel. Drives usually speak enough english. Price is more that half the bus,they could prepare you a meal and spleeping on the top of the truck gives you an wonderfull view on the stars and sky (at 3500 m with dry air is unforgettable). And no hotel in Kargil !
We did not try from Srinagar to Leh (we used the bus) but it must also be possible.
Altitude sickness is more or less a non-issue on the Srinagar-Leh road IF you make a night stop in Kargil @ 2693 meters.
Don´t plan before mid-May , the road has opened later. Last ten years openings here : http://vistet.wordpress.com/2010/02/08/srinagar-leh-opening-dates/
Road updates : http://korta.nu/sleh
We flew Jet Airways both ways. It took a little over an hour. Will fly with them any chance I can again. Excellent service! Clean modern aircraft and very friendly and efficient staff.
To get around we walked around Leh (up up up) and for the rest of the trips hired a jeep and driver/s. Husain organized the latter. As we were all pooling our money and paying in a lump sum, I have no idea how much it cost. Our drivers were great, even if the roads weren't. Will write more in a travelogue. Pictured are the world's highest road workers. At around 5000m above sea level!
The main problem with the Manali-Leh road conditions is the fifty klick distance from Manali to the Rohtang La pass . This comes from the combination of monsoon rains & land slides , and increasing tourism - mainly thousands of Indian daytrippers Manali-Rohtang-Manali. This year it has been worse , and the road has come to complete standstill a number of times/days over the last weeks. Road updates at my blog , http://korta.nu/manleh
Safety ... the one factor you can have some control over is planning your route to avoid altitude sickness. Shared taxis and minibuses are the worst options , since they try to gun for the tent camps at The Vomit Hilton ( aka Sarchu ) @ 4253 meters . The state HRTC ("local bus") and tourist buses stop overnight in Keylong at 3080 meters , a far better alternative . There are also some other options at the same level , see http://korta.nu/sleepless
The speed gain with cabs, jeeps etc is largely an illusion : everyone travel on a mostly one lane road , and the slowest vehicles set the pace. Forty klicks an hour is a VERY good speed on these roads.
One way of side stepping the messy situation around the Rohtang is to use the looog detour via Kinnaur and Spiti : Shimla-Sarahan_Kalpa-Tabo-Kaza ... the main risk here is never arriving in Ladakh becuse you get hooked on Spiti.
Delhi to Manali : overnight buses around Rs 900.
HPTDC tourist buses Manali-Leh Rs 2000
HRTC buses Rs 109(to Keylong) + Rs 560( Leh)
Minibuses and cabs Rs 1500
One of my dream was to drive on the highest motorable road on my Swift Dzire and to make it thrill fill,we(me n my wife) took the worst terrain for driving i.e Manali-leh road in Jun'12.We started from Gurgaon and made it to Manali in 13hrs,took a night stay at Campville,Jagatsukh Village and next day we arranged for the permitt to take your personal Non-Himachal pradesh registration car to ladakh region through Rohtang Pass.It took just 5mints to avail a permit and then me took rest,ate etc for the next early morning drive to leh.Its normally 19hrs drive in a stretch from manali,so tourist and travellers do it a night halt at Jisp/keylong or Sarchu and make it to Leh.Well but we being the first timers and single driver(my wife doestn know driving,she is the princess of my life) thought to take two halts one at jispa and second at sarchu and make it to leh on 3rd day."Important points" * Rohtang Pass is closed between 0800hrs-1200hrs for road maintenance. * Advisable to cross Rohtang Pass by 0600hrs because to avoid traffic(bumber-to-bumber) and Land Sliding due to melting of Ice,if you get stuck at Rohtang then you will get delayed for atleast 2-5hrs,Best time to cross Rani Nala(worst,slushi pit for 20meters of 1-2ft) at Marhi Top just before Rohtang Pass, and also in day light one would get distracted with the deadly vally views coz for 40-45km you would drive on the edge,climbing up and most of the time it would be steep and even early morning you would face two way traffic in narrow road. Well we had started by 0330hrs from Manali,reached Marhi Top by 0500hrs and were stuck there for 10hrs due to land slide and a truck bokedown at Rani Nalla.I am a good driver and have take all our travel through road and driven all myself,but looking at the Rani Nalla,i was little worried because the trucks axel gets break ,the clutch plate goes for a toss and small vehicles like ours would have not crossed ,if we had not driven smarlty.Tip #1 dont drive on the patch from where the previous heavy vehicle has gone. #2 Keep one of the side of tyres on top and drive little slant. #3 Take care of your Oil Chamber,because it can get a sever hit if the ground clearance is less than 200mm. #4 Dont change gears during that tranch and drive in 1st gear,take it in one push and open clutch and no brake,so wait for the way to be clear. so after a 10hr brake at Marhi top,we had made it to Koksar(the first place for vehicle registration) in 1.5hrs. Koksar is a place known for its Meat Chawl( Spicy Lamb Curry with steamed Rice) and paid toilets. We stuffed ourselves and headed to Jispa for our first night halt.We had crossed Tandi(Jispa is 37km from Tandi) a place known for it govt.run petrol/diesel pump.the only pump between Manali-Leh.Jispa is a nice beautiful and very scenic place to spend a night or a day.Its on the bank of bagga rivers covered with ice caped mountains. Well dont miss the Lady of keylong before you hit Jispa.People take halt at Keylong too because of availablity of ATM's and Bank and budgeted rooms and food,bike n car Mechanics availability. Jispa is 25km away from Keylong.So its Tandi-Keylong-Jispa. Our car brokedown at Darcha on one of the mountain tops.Luckily we had the Maruti service stations number based at keylong and we borrowed mobile from the truck drivers to ask for a tow and mechanic help.Its no network area,what works occasionaly is BSNL and Airtel(only at Keylong),so luckily we got help after 2-3hrs but we had to tow the car till keylong alomost for 40kms and spend the night at a nice guest house maintained and run by Himachal Govt. We found the clutch plate has to get changed but we got the shock of the day that there is no clutch plate available in the whole region ,so they have to get it from mandi,so it means we had to wait for atleast 3days at Keylong or call off the trip.Gods grace we could able to arrange for a clutch plate from manali itself on the next day and got it fixed on the same day but we were late by a night or a day." Imprtant Tip " * Help and resources are scarce so have a attitude of asking and taking and giving help. After lot of prayer and time with eachother,me and my wife started the drive to leh.we met some family who have been stranded in Pang zone for 3nights and you would come across vehicles parked on the road and SUV's like scorpio or safari or endeavour loaded on the truck back to Manali.god kept us safe under his wings."IMPORTANT TIPS" * Carry lot of Chocolates , Milk,ready to eat snacks,instant coffea ,water * Medicine Dimox , Gasex , Gellosil/Digine , Limofin these are the basic needs * A good 1.5inch width and 10mt long rope,punture kits,Footpump for air,20-25liter of excess petrol/Diesel,Hydrolic Jack great and if possible a clutch set with bearings and a extra spare tyre and tube( in either case of tubeless or with tube,the road is bad and tubeless tyre turn into tyre with tube.* Please fill nitrogen from whereever you start(either from delhi/gurgaon/chandigarh). Well the roads are not there at most of the patch and for 15% one will find nice concrete road else 85% its road and no road. Ensure you travel early and get to a night camp by 1800hrs atleast.Sarchu and Pang is beautifull and at the same time Pang can take your life out of you.Pang is supoosedly the Little great cannnon land of India.So its Rocky and roude mountains looking at you and no fellow traveller to look for a exchange of smile or expressions.After you cross Pang,you will hit More Plains, a stretch of 40 odd kilometers of no roads for 30+kms. So one has to look for the previous truck trail and tyre prints on the sand.One will come across lots of nomads on these plains.It took us close to 12hrs from Keylong to Leh and it could be done at 9-10 hrs too."Important TIP" * After every 2-3hrs of drive just switch off your car for 10-15 mints and open the Bownnnet for cooling down of the engine since at top the oxygen level is very less. Well most of the people get to face atleast a couple of punturs till leh after manali so be prepared for it.Our tyre got flat at Tanglang la at 17580ft .Again broken roads , rocky mountain and the jack also gets slided down so ensure you put some stones to hold the car else it will start rolling down.We had experienced it. "IMPORTANT TIP" * Just have one Dimox every morning before you start the trip.The medicine takes atleast 2hrs to start working in you. Well Sarchu is the first village in Ladakh Region and Upshi is the nearst village from leh,so the last 50km from upshi to leh would be better but cant avoid the no road patches and broken roads.People are friendly but ensure you trust the right person and dont miss any kind of help in judging people.People in mountain region have higher ego and emotions too,so dont hurt becuase you will be at loss. A weeks time just okey for a trip in leh and in and around areas.Nubra Valley is must see place,because you would get to cross Kardung la ,which is the highest motorable road in the world and in Hunder Village(in Nubra Valley) you will get to see White Sand dunes and double hump camel.If you are a party kind than dont miss to visit the Sanddune area at night by 2000hrs-2200hrs,you will find loads of forigners,indians and local ladakhi drivers partying and playing loud music with beer and alcohol flowing along with the stream of water which come from the mountain as the ice gets melt.Please carry your one beer and water as its too expensive there.To visit Nubra valley you have to stay a night at nubra so plan accordingly.Pangong Lake is again a must see becuase its soo beautiful that no lens can every catch the beauty of it.Its 150km long at 14000ft altitude and 60% of the lake is in china.You will cross Chang la and also Zanzar ,its the toughest patch becuase the water flows from the mountain as the sun rises and ice melts,so the level of the water goes up by 3-5ft and its really gushing down with big stones rolling down at times. Its a place where most of land slides happen.Tso morri is another lake which supposedly the better one from the pangong lake but its almost 250km so have to spend the night there itself. Other than these three locations you have Magnetic Mountain ,Indus River ,shanti stupa,leh palace, and loads of monastrys. Ladakh is a region part of Jammu & Kashmir and known as Land of rocks.Its open for tourism from Mid of May to Mid of Sep and rest its closed due to heavy snowfall for 4-5fts. So due to 4month tourism every thing is expensive like the Taxis are controlled by the unions and only Leh registered vehicle or your personal vehichle is allowed for sight seeing.hiring a taxi is too expnsive so get it touch with the local travel agents,they normally have the share taxis so its light on your wallet Else a taxi will cost you 7-8k for Nubra or Pangong."IMPORTANT TIPS" * You would need permit for Numbra,Pangong and Tso mori and valid for 7 days.Get it yourself else get duped by the local agents.Go to the market area of leh its nice and full with tourist,its doesnt have sufficient space of parking so enjoy walking. "IMPORTANT TIP" * Nice good Walking Shoe is must. * Stay in leh could be ranging from Rs.600-Rs.4000 per night in INR.But i advise you to stay in the homestay kind of arrangements and it will cost you not more then INR 800-1000 a night with meals.We did a mistake by staying and booking all the places online,because the listed onces are too expensive. * Crime rate in Leh is zero so dont worry about it. If you still left with some apetite for driving then take the srinagar road from leh to delhi,becuase its much scenic and beautiful and safe and has a good highway,will get to see drass and kargil sector and also will get a chance to be at wagah border. If you have 20 days to spend then must do lahul & spiti valley which is on the way to leh from manali and a detor of 250kms and unexplored area with scenic beautyeverywhere you look. "MOST IMPORTANT TIP" BE HAPPY and FEEL GREAT THAT YOU HAVE DONE IT! :-)
The weather at Leh (Ladakh) in January month will be quite cold, but not much of rains. Most of the time, you will encounter clear sky.
I am not very sure if you can travel to Leh by bypassing Srinagar. Even if there is one, it would be covered by snow, as Dec-Jan period sees a heavy snaowfall in this region. Why dont you take a flight to Leh? There are direct flights from Delhi/Jammu
Leh is a beautiful place. Going to Leh by road (from Manali) adds a lot of fun and adventure to the journey. There is a website where you can book buses from Delhi to Manali. These are mostly overnight buses. They are confortable but you may not be able to get a sound sleep. Try Volvo buses. They are better than others. While in Delhi, there are numerous travel agents in Pahar ganj/Karol bagh area who offer bus tickets on Delhi Manali route.
http://www.luxurybusesindia.com/ Online bus seat booking for Himachal, UP, Rajasthan from Delhi. I have not used this website.
The buses on Manali-Leh route are seasonal, meaning they run only in particular months. I guess they run from April to Oct-Nov. Rest of the m onths, because of heave snowfall, the road route remains closed.
Leh although a part of Kashmir, is not a disturbed area at all. This part of the state is away from the Srinagar valley area, where most of the incident occurs.
The ticket for the bus journey from Manali to leh ban be best purchased at Manali itself. I understand the journey takes 2 days, with a night stay at an intermediate place.
Leh has numerous hotels. No need to book in advance. But if you want to book in advance, it will be advicable.