A Leh Ladakh bike trip is on top of the bucket list of many travelers. The reason is that Ladakh is renowned for being a bikers paradise. The ever-changing terrains, the thrill of offroading, and the contrasting landscape make it a dream destination. In the past few years, the popularity of Ladakh has increased tenfold. Travelers from all over the globe come to visit the Land of High passes for many different reasons but the topmost reason remains the same, a bike trip where they get to traverse through jagged roads, dirt terrains, and the many high passes that Ladakh has to offer.
The adrenaline rush that riders experience when they embark on a Leh Ladakh bike trip is unsurpassable and though the land has remained true to its nature, it has also let travelers unravel the many hidden gems that remained unexplored for a long time.
When it comes to the ideal route choice for a Ladakh bike trip for all adventure enthusiasts, the Manali Leh route remains on top simply because it offers the most stunning views of the Himalayas. Not to mention the contrasting backdrops that you’d be witnessing when driving from the lush green valleys of Kullu to when you finally end up in the barren lands of Ladakh.
The Manali Leh route stretches up to an expanse of 474 Kms and it allows you to traverse through many high motorable passes as well. In this Leh Ladakh bike trip itinerary, we first make our way from Manali to Jispa as we ride through the iconic Rohtang Pass which is nestled at an altitude of 13,058ft with the Pir Panjal ranges of the Himalayas standing tall in the backdrop.
As we keep moving forward, towards Sarchu which is an extremely important halt point on this Leh Ladakh bike trip as this is where we spend a day so that our body can get acclimatized to the change in weather as well the high altitude. En route to Sarchu, we’d also be traversing through Baralacha La Pass which is nestled at an altitude of 15, 910 ft. The trickiest part about the Manali Leh route is that since you are gaining altitude almost every day, it becomes a bit complex for your body to get adapted to the conditions as quickly as you’d like which is why it’s important to stay hydrated throughout the journey up until you reach Leh.
En-route Leh, you’d get to witness many other fascinating spots which make this Ladakh trip even more interesting. Just after Sarchu, you’d be passing through Gaata Loops which consists of 21 hairpin bends that act as loops when you’re driving through them. After riding on the jagged roads for a few more hours, you’d finally see a vast stretch of barren land signifying that you’ve reached the Moore plains which live up to its name and is perhaps the only longest plain route you’d get to ride on throughout your Ladakh Bike trip. Soon, you’ll be traversing through Tanglang La pass which is yet another iconic pass that contributes to the grandeur of Ladakh and its terrains.
The last stop just before you reach Leh is the small village of Upshi which lies along the Indus river and is one of the highest civilized settlements in India. Finally, the heart of Ladakh with its rainbow-colored markets and rich culture would welcome you with open arms.
The reason why Leh remains the main attraction of Ladakh is not just because it’s the largest city of the union territory but also because it acts as a link between Ladakh and the rest of the people because of its developed economy and tourism which allows travelers to try Ladakhi cuisine, shop souvenirs and take a dive in the rich culture.
A Leh Ladakh bike trip is incomplete without a local sightseeing tour where you get to visit all the best places in the Leh district. The first stop is Sangam which is the confluence of the Indus and Zanskar river where the pristine blue streams of the former meet the muddy brown tides of the latter making it a fascinating sight to behold.
The next stop is the holy Gurudwara Patthar Ganj Sahib which has its origins back in the legend when Guru Nanak Sahib was traveling throughout the diverse lands of our country. Today, the place of worship attracts thousands of devotees and is managed by the Indian army. The fact that people belonging to different religions and ones with different beliefs come here to pay their reverence is what makes this site so significant.
The next stop on the sightseeing tour is the Magnetic hill which is believed to have anti-gravity properties where if you were to drive on a specific spot, your vehicle would ride uphill even if you intend to drive it in the opposite direction. A place with such a mysterious aspect to it has managed to garner a lot of attention in the past few years even though it has been stated that optical illusion is at play when it comes to this hill.
The Hall of Fame which is a museum dedicated to the martyrs of the Indian Army is the next halt in this Leh sightseeing tour. The museum is taken care of by the army and has handwritten letters written by the soldiers who lost their lives in the many battles that took place after the partition including the Kargil war of 1999.
Last but not the least, the tour covers one of the most pristine structures in Ladakh, one that is considered to be the staple landmark of the land. With its white dome structure, the Shanti Stupa holding ancient relics of Buddha is one of the most popular attractions in Leh. Situated on the highest top in Leh, at an altitude of 11,841ft the stupa was enshrined by the Dalai Lama himself and is adorned by intricate carvings giving it the serene beauty that it holds on the entirety of its surface.
In recent years with increased tourism, Ladakh has unraveled itself to be more than just a biker’s dream destination. Although the terrains make sure to capture the attention of any riders, there are many other beautiful gems that Ladakh holds in its embrace that have put the land of high passes on the radar of all kinds of travelers.
One such gem is Nubra Valley, nestled at an altitude of 10,000ft, the valley is signified for being the point where the Shyok River meets the Nubra river. Although vegetation is scarce in Nubra, the valley is known for its riverbeds and variety of fruits and nuts. The ride up to Nubra is equally rewarding as you get to traverse through the Khardung La pass which is yet another popular high motorable pass. Nubra also offers opportunities for adventure enthusiasts to indulge in activities like ATV rides as well as Double Hump Bactrian camel safari which is a unique safari that you won’t get anywhere else because of the double hump camels only exist in this region.
After spending a night in Nubra, we will head toward our next destination. One of the highest saltwater lakes of our country, Pangong Tso is a popular attraction in Ladakh ever since it was featured in the movie 3 idiots. However, its pristine beauty and the fact that it changes color according to the direction of the sun is what has fascinated tourists from all over the globe even before it blew up and became a mainstream spot.
En-route Pangong lake, we pay our reverence at Diskit Monastery which is one of the oldest as well as the largest gompas in Ladakh and is abode to the 104ft tall notable Buddha statue that overlooks the Shyok River. At an altitude of 10,315 ft, the monastery holds extreme significance to Nubra as well as the entirety of Leh.
After spending a night camping by the beautiful Pangong, we’d head back to Leh and this mini road trip would allow us to traverse the iconic Changlang La Pass which nestled at an altitude of 17, 688ft one of the highest mountain passes in the world. We’d make a brief pit stop at Shey Palace as well as Thiksey monastery, both of which are an extremely important and significant parts of Ladakh’s culture and heritage. On one hand, Shey Palace is actually a complex of many structures nestled on a hillock. It is most notable for being the abode to the second largest Buddha statue in Ladakh which is made out of copper and gilded with gold.
Thiksey Gompa, on the other hand, is the largest gompa in central Ladakh and has the largest statue of Maitreya Buddha which is as tall as a two-storey building. Dalai Lama himself commemorated the temple in the monastery in 1970 which is why it is regarded as a sacred place of utmost significance.
After visiting all the attractions of Ladakh, we will commence our return journey by heading back to Jispa. The best part about this Leh Ladakh bike trip is that even as you’re heading back to Manali through Jispa, you’d again be enjoying the thrill that comes with riding through the ever-changing terrain and a contrasting landscape that shifts from the cold deserts of Ladakh to lush green valleys of Kullu.
The best time to do a Leh Ladakh bike trip is easily from June onwards because, by that time, the snow melts away completely giving plenty of time to the authorities to restore the roads and open all the passes including Baralacha La, without which the bike trip would remain incomplete.
One of the most significant reasons why Ladakh has remained so popular among bikers is because it has always been the perfect offroading destination. But at the same time, Ladakh embodies the balance between thrill and calm beautifully and that is why it has surpassed itself as a dream destination and has become a part of the bucket list of not just bike riders but tourists as well.
This Leh Ladakh bike trip offers you a glimpse at everything that Ladakh has to offer, from barren deserts to riverbeds to monasteries. Ladakh has something for every kind of traveler, be it an adventure enthusiast or someone looking for peace.
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