An Epic Journey Along the Leh-Manali Highway

The Leh Manali trip though some of the world’s most challenging mountainous routes in the world is an epic journey by any standards.  With the roads that open for just a few months every year, this 470 km stretch is bound to test you to the extremes.

"Photograph by Chetan Karkhanis"Tanglang La

we started from Leh, in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in India, and after driving a couple of hours, the entire semblance to civilization simply vanished. Suddenly, we were on to Tanglang La.

This is the first mountain pass in the Himalayas and is also was the highest point of our entire trip at the breathtaking altitude of 5300 m. In a metamorphic way, it was not just the highest point of the journey, but also of our lives!

The view was spectacular! The entire panorama stretched out and we found ourselves surrounded by the snow clad peaks. It was a euphoric feeling as we stood beside a sign-board that announced that it was the highest point along the Leh-Manali highway.

We were literally at top of our world! We watched in awe as the snow covered peaks rose high into the sky and the mighty Himalayas assert their presence.

Lachung Laleh3

This is the second pass long the Leh-Manali route at an altitude of 4891 m. It is a slightly longer pass which meanders along the peak.

The tough terrain and the stunning landscapes in these parts of Greater Himalayas are lure the adventures across the world as we came across many motorcyclists taking along the way as they took on the challenging journey along the Leh Manali highway.

Nakee La

This was the third pass that we encountered and by the time we had reached Nakee La, we had got used to “heart in the mouth” condition. The glimpse of Indus river flowing below was seen to be believed and was the only respite from the white landscape that surrounded us.

We stopped a bit and wondered how the people who used crossed these mountains out of necessity survived such inhospitable conditions endlessly? And how did it feel to be here day in and day out, like the BRO employees who are looking after the maintenance of these roads? How are they able to stay connected and how do manage their supplies?

Gata Loops

These are a series of hair-pin bends along the road. Negotiating them was a roller coaster that we cannot ever forget.

This area is prone to massive landslides that make the Leh-Manali route very vulnerable. With such powerful   forces of nature one cannot ever be guaranteed a safe passage.

Baralacha La

This was our fourth and the last pass for the first day as it led us to the state of Himachal Pradesh thru the hairpin bends, steep curves and characteristic deep valleys

As we crossed the lake Suraj Taal, we saw the first glimpses of civilization and stopped for the night at a small hamlet by the name of Keylong.

Rohtang Passlehrotag

The next morning, we resumed our journey early as we prepared to see the lush green fields of Manali, by the river Beas. But before that we were to encounter the Rohtang Pass – The jewel of the Leh-Manali highway; and intimidating too by its sheer steep height and narrow road, A pass that no driver has ever dared to cross at night.

After a grueling journey we finally made it to Manali. What we carried with us was the memories of the grandeur of such a beautiful place called the earth

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