The Ultimate Road Trip For Summer – Ladakh 

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While you are working on a computer behind a desk, making excel sheets and giving ticket updates, a shooting star is wished upon, the milky way is observed and true beauty is beheld. And if you are an adventure seeker, sitting at the office desk wondering how to make your summer legendary, here's the ultimate guide to Ladakh—a cold desert situated at an altitude of 13,ooo ft. with one of the most scenic and highest motorable roads in the world.

Embark on this heavenly summer road trip to experience surreal landscapes, Buddhist monasteries, enchanting lakes, one of the largest armies in the world fiercely guarding their nation, architectural marvels, desert and snow and everything in between. Experience heaven on earth, here in Ladakh.

As stunning as Ladakh is, it is established that the terrain and climate here is not exactly comfortable and it takes more than a couple of days (and a lot of AMS) to reach here.

There are two routes to visit Ladakh, one via Manali and the other via Kargil - Srinagar. You can do the complete circuit if you have the time in hand.

The Route

New Delhi – Manali – Sarchu – Leh – Nubra Valley – Pangong Tso

This is the shorter route to Ladakh ideally taking 10 to 12 days, and covering the major tourist attractions of the area. It is imperative that you halt at Manali for a night, maybe visit the Old Manali hippie market and cafes or just chill by the river, or spend your evening at the Hadimba temple.

Acclimatisation is vital for your road trip to Ladakh, so make your next halt at Sarchu. Give yourself a much-needed break and let the mood set in for an unusual adventure. Note that on your journey from Manali to Sarchu, via Rohtang, Keylong, and Jispa, the network connectivity is poor and at a lot of these places postpaid BSNL might not work either. Throughout the journey, you will witness an unreal landscape transformation and many unassuming dhabas that serve life-saving kahwa tea.

Again, upon reaching Leh, give yourself a deserved break to acclimatise. There are many wonderful places to make a day trip to, from Leh. The most popular are the various Buddhist monasteries that you just cannot miss! Hemis, Thiksey, Shey, and Stakna gompa to name a few. These are some of the largest monasteries in Ladakh, depicting the rich culture and valued heritage of Ladakh and its people. The Indus-Zanskar confluence is another major tourist attraction here, where you can see two life-giving rivers in two colours emerging as one.

The Kargil war memorial on NH1D is only 5 km from Leh and is a soulful testament of the sacrifices the Indian Army made for the nation. You can visit here on your way to Magnetic Hill—a unique phenomenon that seems to defy gravity.

One of the most amazing things about Ladakh is the ever-changing landscape. Every turn has a different, magical view. And as I speak of magic, I must mention Nubra Valley, a cold desert with black mountains, double-humped camels, pristine waters and a night sky to die for. I remember I was in Nubra, exhausted from the journey ready to retire when suddenly the lights went out at 11 in the night. I moved out of my camp to see the entire village in darkness, only to witness a jaw-dropping, never-seen-before Milky Way, a sight that I will cherish forever.

Another magical experience in its own is Pangong Tso. The journey is more beautiful than the destination, while it stands true for most of Ladakh, the Pangong lake is simply magnificent. You can reach here directly from Nubra to save time. It is advisable to arrive after sunset, spend the night in a tent and then wake up at sunrise to this divine beauty.

The Whole Circuit

New Delhi – Srinagar – Dras – Kargil – Lamayuru – Alchi – Leh – Nubra valley – Pangong Tso – Sarchu – Manali

A: Srinagar B: Leh C: Nubra Valley D: Pangong Tso E: Manali

Photo of The Ultimate Road Trip For Summer – Ladakh by Abhigya S

If you have more time in hand and want to explore Ladakh intrinsically you can drive to Srinagar via Chandigarh and Pathankot. Halt here for a day, enjoy the local market and culture, Dal lake and sumptuous Kashmiri food. Spare some time to visit Sonamarg, which literally translates into 'meadow of gold', to experience the real beauty of Kashmir.

The Srinagar to Leh highway via Dras and Kargil is the most beautiful route in Ladakh. Known as the "Gateway to Ladakh" Dras is a small hamlet of spectacular beauty 60 km from Kargil. Border Roads Organisation has done an unparalleled, most exquisite work here with the roads. You can visit the war sites and the war memorial when in Kargil, take a moment to pay your respects and quickly gear up for beautiful monasteries and villages on your way to Leh.

Often called the 'Moonland', because of its special moon-like landscape. Lamayuru is the oldest gompa in Ladakh. Both Lamayuru and Alchi are stunning in architecture, culture and natural beauty around. In simple words, not worth missing!

After halting at Alchi, you can reach Leh the next day and follow the same route to Nubra and Pangong and return to Delhi via Manali. This route may take up to 20 days. It is important to understand that Ladakh is a vast region and it is almost impossible to cover every single spot in one trip. So pick your places according to the time and interests you have.

Travel responsibly, for the Himalayas are vulnerable now. Please do not litter and use minimum plastic.

Have you been to Ladakh? What route did you follow? Tell us about it in the comments below. 

Feel like taking us through your whole journey? Explore the travel writer in you and post here!

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