Everyone has Ladakh on their bucket list which they hope to do on a bike or if not on bike, then a road trip by car. Leh is connected by two roads, one from the Srinagar side and the other from the Manali side. Both these highways have their own uniqueness in terms of scenery, the road conditions, etc. Not many travellers choose the Srinagar-Leh highway because it is not that adventurous as compared to the Manali-Leh highway.
The Srinagar-Leh highway is good as compared to the Manali-Leh highway because the Srinagar-Leh highway plays a very important role in the daily purpose of the Indian army. The roads are well maintained and have many towns like Dras and Kargil.
Srinagar- Leh highway has many guest houses, hotels, restaurants, petrol stations but still you have to keep a check on your vehicle before leaving from either side. This is especially true, if you are planning your journey at night. If your car breaks down or the tyre gets punctured in the middle of the road, then there is no guarantee that you will get help anytime soon.
Whenever you are travelling on this highway, make sure that your car is maintained. Food supplies and all the necessary documents are needed as you will cross multiple checkpoints on the road, where you will have to show your documents and make an entry.
The Manali-Leh highway scene is different from the Srinagar-Leh highway as the roads are in bad condition, on some points the roads are not there only. You will cross many water crossing at night and if you are travelling in the early weeks of June, then there is a lot of snow on both sides. There is black ice on the road which may cause your car to skid.
There will be no network availability even though you have a BSNL card. Once you cross Upshi, you will be out of network till Gulaba which is after the Rohtang pass, that means 300 kms without network.
So before leaving from either side, make sure that you are well prepared for this journey – mentally as well as physically. Because you don’t know what can happen in between. There are incidents where people had been stuck for more than two days but that is very rare.
Informing someone in your family is important. You need to have all important supplies like dry snacks, water bottle, woolen clothes, emergency medical kit, etc. This highway doesn’t have much food joints as Srinagar-Leh highway has. There are few places where you will find basic food like Maggi, momos and veg lunch or dinner. Sarchu and Pang are some of these, they come in the list of some of the remotest places in India.
Whenever you plan your journey from any of these two highways, make sure you have everything that is needed. The nearest help would be available at a distance of more than 100 km. At the end, safety matters not adventure.