The Himalayan landscape is one of the most spectacular in the world, with snow-capped cliffs, gleaming rivers and rugged terrains. We've put together a list of some of the most famous roadways that you must include in your road trip to taste the true Himalayan experience the pristine atmosphere of the mountains.
The Manali-Leh highway is for both adventure seekers and nature lovers. From breathtaking views to altitudes that will you make you breathless, from the lush green Manali to the stark hills of Leh-Ladakh, a journey through this highway sums up the entire Himalayan experience.
On your way, indulge in the adventure activities at Solang valley, soak up on the lush greens of Gulaba, say hello to the cyclists camping at Marhi, get enamoured by the 20 feet high snow walls of Rani Nala, and take a break at the tourist hotspot, Rohtang Pass.
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Rohtang remains closed for six months, owing to heavy snowfall during winter. Loosely translated, Rohtang means 'a stack or pile of dead bodies', a name acquired because of the large number of people who lost their lives while crossing this deadly route.
Rohtang Pass is located 51 kilometres from Manali and is surrounded by snow-capped mountains that will leave you awestruck. These scenic peaks have captured the hearts of many artists and film-makers; in the recent years few Hindi films that have been shot here include Jab We Met and Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani. While here, take a moment and completely absorb the magnificence of the mighty Himalayas.
As you head further north from Rohtang, take a tea break at the quaint village of Gramphu. Follow the diversion that goes towards the right, you will end up at the mesmerising Spiti valley. The snow-peaked mountains enclose the valley that is home to a handful of settlements and monasteries.
As you progress to a higher altitude, you will pass a number of food shacks and night stays along this route. The view of the Chandra river flowing along the Lahaul valley is spectacular. During rains, you may also get to see the gigantic waterfalls located near Sissu. At Tandi, the confluence of Rivers Chandra and Bhaga can be witnessed that then lead to the formation of Chandrabhaga river.
Deepak Tal-Suraj Tal-Baralacha La
Located at an altitude of 3810 metres is Deepak Tal, a man-made sapphire-hued lake that is a major crowd puller. The clean and still waters with a backdrop of soaring snow washed mountains make for a picturesque scene.
You cannot miss out on visiting Suraj Tal whose literal translation is Sun Lake. A dip into the gleaming blue waters is believed to absolve you from all sins.
Another hidden gem on this route is the Baralacha La located alongside the Zanskar mountain range. It is surrounded by the waters of Bhaga and snow-capped mountains. This stretch is prone to heavy snowfall and remains shut in winter.
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Riding through one of the highest motorable mountain pass is a dream for most motorbikers, and with good reason! The thrill and adrenaline rush experienced here is what every adventure junkie craves. This high altitude mountain pass offers some of the most beautiful landscapes. It leads to the famous Nubra valley and getting here feels like a true achievement.
Nubra Valley - Pangong Tso Route
From Nubra Valley, there are two direct ways that lead to one of the most beautiful lakes in India, Pangong Tso. The roads connecting the two tourist attractions in the North are the Shyok route and Wari La route. While both the routes tend to be desolate, the one through Shyok is much shorter. But it is advisable to check if this route is operational and then proceed. It remains shut when river Shyok swells, in which case you will need to take the longer and remote Wari La route via Chang La.
It takes about 10 hours to reach Pangong via the Wari La route. It remains shut in the winter months and reopens in June. These grandeur of the locale has made it increasingly popular not only among tourists but also filmmakers, 3 Idiots being the most recent film shot here. If you plan a trip in summer, you will also greet a number of rare and beautiful birds.
The shortest and most popularly taken route to reach the largest and most beautiful lake of Ladakh Pangong is via Karu-Chang La. Tourists can visit the delightful monasteries at Thicksey, Hemis and Shey that lie along this route, which also happen to offer the best structural road conditions leading to Pangong.
Pangong-Tso Moriri Route
Life gets more adverse as one moves beyond Pangong Tso, towards Tso Moriri. Often described as a better and much-secluded version of Pangong, Tso Moriri lies at a higher altitude and is known for its sunsets. Surrounded by Ladakh, Tibet and Zanskar in the North, East and West, respectively, Tso Moriri lies along the banks of the majestic Indus river. From Pangong Tso, you need to cross the weather-beaten roads of Chushul-Tsaga La-Mahe-SumdoTso Kiagar to finally reach the panoramic Tso Moriri.
One of the chief highlights of this route is that it lies along the shoreline of Pangong. From Leh, it is a seven-hour drive and a stop at the tented lakeside accommodation at Korzok is highly recommended. While here, also drop by at the snug monasteries that stand firm on the weather-beaten soils.
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