“Once a year go someplace you’ve never been before – Dalai Lama”
This is the first time I am penning down my travel experience and what could possibly be better then writing about my recent Road Trip to LEH/LADAKH.
My Vehicle: Maruti Swift Zxi
This post will tell you the realities of Leh / Ladakh region which were not being told earlier by anyone.
Before I start let me tell you the things you should keep in mind if you planning a road trip to LEH
*Get your vehicle serviced.
*Battery, Brake shoe / pads, Tyre needs to be checked.
*Carry a Tyre Air pump (Just in case)
*Keep an Oxygen gas Can / Cylinder (Optional)
*Download All the possible offline maps for the leh / Ladakh region.
***Diamox : Tablets to deal with AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness)
*Sunscreen (Spf 50 & above) as the Sunlight is too bright and UV rays can cause serious damage to your skin.
*Woolens, Woolen cap, Jackets (August you don’t really need them but you do while crossing the passes like Taglang la, Khardung la etc)
*Carry Light Snacks, Cookies, Chips.
*Water : Keep Drinking water throughout your journey.
*Energy Drinks be handy most of the times.
*Mini pocket torch.
1: Tourist Development Council Permit (H.P.)
Any hotel staff in Manali can get you this for 100 bucks. Make sure you get the permit for the date on which you’ll be crossing Rohtang Pass & Koksar (First check post of the Lahual Spiti region)
2: Ladakh Inner Line Permits (ILP)
Inner Line Permits are required for Indian Tourists / Nationals (started again in 2017) and Ladakh Protected Area Permits (PAP) are required for foreigners. One has to pay an environment fee of Rs 400 and inner line permit fee of Rs 20 per day per person to get these permits. Any travel agent can get you this for INR 650 to INR 850 / person or you can go to SDM office and get it before 1700 hrs
*Make sure you clearly mention all the names of the traveler’s and the number of days.
These permits are required in Ladakh in order to visit the inner line places like Nubra Valley, Khardung La, Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri, etc.
* Do not Overload your vehicle. You will end up damaging the undercarriage.
* Do not trust the Milestones beyond Jispa. Whenever in doubt step out of your vehicle and ask the locals.
* Do not exhaust yourself if you are the only one driving. Take regular breaks.
* Eat Healthy not heavy.
* It’ll be a crime expecting cellphone working beyond Vashishth. Once you leave Manali your cellphone can only be used as a Camera, A Music Player, Offline GPS.
* Leave the stuntman in you back home.
* Do not Litter.
Road from Manali till Rohtang pass is good. From Rohtang pass until Koksar you go downhill driving on the 3rd worst 15 km stretch. In Koksar Get your HP Permit Stamped. On your way back you again have to get it stamped here in Koksar.
A small lake called “Deepak Taal” ( 3750 m ) is about 50km from Keylong along with Leh- Manali highway (NH-21). It gives the mirror Image of the surroundings.Its recommended to stay in Keylong, Jispa or Darcha and get use to of the low pressure, lack of oxygen and cold. But if you want to continue driving then Sarchu has the next staying option. Roads are very bad in shape after Deepak Taal till Sarchu. I personally will not recommend staying in Sarchu. Oxygen is less, Air is rough and thin. It gets very windy in the evening and one should not be out of their tents any more than 10 minutes if staying at Sarchu. Sarchu is exactly where the AMS might hit you. Symptoms of AMS includes Headache, Loss of Appetite, Dizziness. Best way to get acclimatized is to take rest once you reach Leh.
Post Paid phones starts working in Karu & works till Leh. Internet is a challenge but you can get that in your hotel. Most of the hotels and Restaurant / Cafe’s offers internet. I suggest you do not carry any pending work there as you might not get internet connectivity for days. Unfortunately i had some pending work which i thought will complete in Leh but had completed only after reaching Manali. From Karu till Zingral roads are in the poorest condition for about 35 kms.
Confluence of Indus(right)and Zanskar(left)
Gurudwara Pathar Sahib