When it comes to a Leh Ladakh bike trip, it’s a known fact that the majority of people have it reserved on top of their bucket list. It has been decades since Ladakh first opened its route for travelers and yet it is still renowned as a bikers paradise.
The main reason is that a bike trip to Ladakh encompasses both adventure and peace. On one hand, you get to traverse through different terrains with the landscape in the backdrop changing from the lush green valleys of Kullu to the cold deserts of Ladakh. On the other hand, the dramatic shift in the culture that you witness as you move on this bike trip to Leh from Manali also is one of the reasons why so many travelers wait for Ladakh season to commence.
The Leh Manali route is the one that many adventure seekers opt for simply because of the rugged terrain with the majestic view of the Himalayas in the backdrop. Since the route from Manali to Leh stretches to approx 474Kms of land, it also allows riders to have the experience of the ultimate road trip on one of the most popular highways of India.
Another reason why many travelers prefer to go to Leh Ladakh from Manali is because of all the popular attractions they get to witness throughout their journey. After all, Ladakh bike trips are known to provide people with diverse experiences, part of which comes from the landmarks that adorn the trail that leads you to Leh.
In this itinerary, we’ve curated an experience that consists of some of the best places to visit in Ladakh and have also made sure that the ride leading up to Leh from Manali is just as exciting as spending your days in the Land of High passes.
We first make our way from Manali with the stunning views of Kullu valley accompanying us throughout the ride until we reach Sarchu, which is a major halt point for all travelers and riders who embark on a Ladakh bike trip for acclimatization purposes. At an altitude of 13,783 ft, Sarchu serves as an ideal tented accommodation amid the Himalayas and gives you the first glimpse at the barrenness that Ladakh is known for. En route Sarchu, you’d be traversing through Baralacha La pass which, nestled at an altitude of 15,912 ft, is one of the most popular high motorable passes in the Zanskar range.
The best part about going to Leh from Manali is that the journey takes two days which allows you more time to explore Ladakh as much as you want and make the most out of your experience. As you move towards Leh from Sarchu, the trail becomes dirt-ridden and bumpy up until you reach Moore plains which is a vast stretch of plain land as opposed to the jagged terrains that you ride throughout on your Ladakh bike trip. The terrain remains straight for approximately 35 kilometers up until the point you come across Tanglang La pass which is when you’d start to feel the rise in the road as the pass is nestled at an altitude of 17,480ft.
Soon after you’d reach Upshi which is one of the highest civilized settlements in India. The small village which lies along the pristine Indus river is the last milestone you traverse through before finally reaching Leh.
When it comes to Leh, there’s no limit to the outburst of a vibrant culture that you get to witness here. As the largest city in Ladakh, it is the ultimate stop for travelers to feed on local cuisine, shop for souvenirs and get in touch with the locals. Naturally, a Leh sightseeing tour is a significant part of any Ladakh bike trip which is why we’ve included some of the must-visit places in Leh on this trip.
Starting from Shey Palace which is an abode to a 12 meters tall copper Buddha statue gilded with gold expanding to three floors of the monastery. Apart from the statue, the monastery also holds thangka paintings as well as centuries-old manuscripts that have been preserved for ages until now. Afterward, we will visit Thiksey Monastery which is the largest gompa in central Ladakh and holds extreme religious significance as the temple inside the monastery was commemorated by the Dalai Lama himself in 1970. It also has the largest statue of Maitreya Buddha which is as tall as a two-story building.
The last stop in the Leh sightseeing day would be Shanti Stupa, a white-domed pristine structure nestled at an altitude of 11,841 feet that offers a stunning panoramic view of the entire district. It also holds ancient relics of Buddha in its embrace and is one of the most popular attractions of Ladakh.
Although Ladakh is mostly popular among biking enthusiasts and has branded itself to be a place that offers off-roading adventures, there are many other activities that a few hidden gems of Ladakh offer. One of them is Nubra Valley, which offers the opportunity for people to indulge in ATV rides as well as Bactrian camel safari rides as the double hump camel is found only here. Apart from that Nubra has also known for its river beds and the ride to Nubra from Leh consists of traversing through yet another iconic pass which is Khardung La pass. At an altitude of 18,379ft, it is one of the highest motorable passes in the world and is a gateway to the Shyok and Nubra valleys.
The next stop in this Ladakh bike trip package is the iconic Pangong lake. Popularized after featuring in many Bollywood movies including 3 Idiots, the lake is also known to have fascinating qualities such as that it changes color according to the direction of the sun and that despite being a saltwater lake, it freezes completely. En-route to Pangong, we’d pay a visit to Diskit Monastery which is the oldest and largest gompa in Nubra valley and is notable for its 32-meter tall Buddha statue that overlooks the Shyok river. It also has a lot of frescoes, paintings, and statues that are symbols of the Buddhist culture that is prevalent throughout the valley.
After camping by the side of Pangong lake and enjoying the view of the starry skies, we’d move forward and head towards Tso Moriri. At an altitude of 14,836 ft, it is the largest high latitude lake in the trans-Himalayan ranges and is known for its surrounding field and majestic Himalayas that makes up for a stunning view.
After camping at Tso Moriri, we will head back to Leh so that we can move forward to complete our Ladakh bike trip circuit. As we started this Leh bike trip from Manali covering one route that leads you to Ladakh, for the return journey we take you through the Leh Srinagar route, and in this way you get to experience the best of both routes to Ladakh.
As we head from Leh to Kargil which is the second-largest city in Ladakh, we’d be traversing through many iconic passes including Fotu La pass which nestled at an altitude of 13,478ft is the highest point on the Srinagar Leh highway surpassing the otherwise iconic Zoji La pass which is at an altitude of 11,575ft. The other pass between Leh and Kargil is Namika La which is at an altitude of 12,139 ft. Apart from all these passes of the Zanskar range of Himalayas, you also get to visit some other popular attractions in Ladakh.
The first one is Gurudwara Patthar Ganj Sahib which is dedicated to the ninth Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak Sahib. Although Buddhism is largely practiced in the entire region, the gurudwara attracts devotees from all over the world, and many Buddhists also come here to pay their reverence. The place of worship is maintained by the Indian Army and has extreme spiritual and historical significance associated with it and like many other Gurudwara that provide regular Langar, Patthar sahib too offers it to all those who visit it.
Another popular attraction of Ladakh that you get to visit when you’re traversing through the Srinagar - Leh route is the Magnetic Hill which is believed to be a gravity defying phenomenon. It is believed that when driving on a certain spot, your vehicle travels uphill even if you’re driving in the opposite direction. Although it has been said that there is a brilliant optical illusion at play, the popularity of magnetic hill has only increased in the recent years.
Last but not the least is The Hall of Fame, which is a museum dedicated to all the martyrs who lost their lives during the many battles that occurred post partition along with the Kargil war that happened in 1999. The Hall of Fame is a reminder of the many sacrifices that Ladakh has witnessed in the past. The museum has a wall named “The Last Post” which has all the letters written by soldiers in their last few days before they lost their lives in the Kargil war.
As you leave Kargil behind, you’d yet again witness the contrasting landscape that this bike trip is popular from. The barren cold desert of Ladakh will soon be replaced by the lush green meadows of Kashmir as you move towards Srinagar.
This Ladakh bike trip package gives people a chance to embark on a full circuit bike trip ride throughout Ladakh. The best time to go on this Leh Ladakh bike trip is from the months of June to September as all the passes that connects different valleys which you’d be passing through in this bike trip open after May when the snow melts away to give way for authorities to restore the many high passes that Ladakh is known for.
Overall, this Ladakh bike trip package starting from Manali and ending in Srinagar encompasses everything that you’d imagine for your dream trip to be and hence needs to be ticked off of your bucket list as soon as possible.
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