Ladakh ought to be on your destination wishlist if you live in Mumbai. The pure contrast that Leh-Ladakh offers from your regular routine and surroundings will alone be reason enough to embark on a journey there.
Its never ending trove of visual and experiential treasures will be a much needed panacea of a vacation you feel you deserve. Mountains, lakes, monasteries, food, culture and treks, all rolled in one spectacular destination – Leh-Ladakh will be one place you will want to keep going back to.
Best Time To Visit Leh-Ladakh
Summers (March to May) are usually considered the best time to visit since the cool and pleasant air of Ladakh will make the trip enjoyable. For road trips consider August to October a good time to visit as the road routes open in May and stay open till October.
For extreme adventurists, winter would be a good time to visit as the famous Chadar Trek happens in winter.
Getting to Leh-Ladakh from Mumbai
To enjoy the delights of Ladakh fully, you must spend at least a week there. Also, you will need to plan this trip with care and concern. It is a remote area which requires that you visit well-planned and fully equipped to handle its demanding requisites.
There are many ways you could reach Ladakh. Let’s explore options.
How To Reach Leh By Air
This will be the shortest and the easiest way to go to Leh-Ladakh. The Leh airport, or Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport is well connected to major cities like Delhi, Jammu, Srinagar, Chandigarh and other cities.
Go Air offers a direct flight to Leh from Mumbai. Other major airlines like Jet Airways, Air India, Vistara offer connecting flights via Delhi.
Booking months in advance online can get you good discounts where one way fare starts at Rs. 7000. Same day booking can cost around Rs. 12,000 to Rs 20,000.
Upon landing, you can book a cab to get to your hotel or lodgings. This is a basic airport with not too many amenities and is located in a politically sensitive area. So the security may be tight and refreshment facilities not up to the mark.
How To Reach Leh By Train
If you are travelling by train, book your tickets way in advance to avoid waiting-list woes. Ladakh does not have a train station. The nearest train station is in Jammu Tawi, which is around 700 kilometers from Leh. Trains from Mumbai are Swaraj Express and Vivek Express. Check IRCTC for train fares and ticket availability many days in advance.
You can take a JKSRTC bus or a privately operated bus to reach Leh from Jammu. Another option would be to hire a shared taxi, jeep or hire a private taxi to reach Leh from Jammu.
How To Get To Leh-Ladakh By Road
You can reach Manali or Srinagar by flight or train from Mumbai and then proceed to Leh by bus.
JKSRTC runs buses from Srinagar to Leh, while HRTC and HPTDC runs buses from Manali to Leh. HRTC stops at Keylong to change buses, while HPTDC goes straight to Leh.
Srinagar route passes through Zoji La pass while Manali route passes through Rohtang Pass. Both are difficult yet scenic routes to travel by bus.
How To Get To Leh-Ladakh By Road
The Srinagar and Manali routes usually open from mid-May and stay open till October. Check online for route availability.
It would be ideal to start your road trip from either Srinagar, Chandigarh or Manali. You can reach either of cities by flight or train easily from Mumbai. You will have to camp enroute either in Drass, Kargil, Keylong or Sarchu, depending on the route you take.
From Mumbai, you can drive down to Delhi or Chandigarh from Mumbai. Rest for a day or two and then take off to Leh, Ladakh via Manali route. This option is best suited for those who are keen on extended road trips with the stamina to drive for long hours.
The Leh roads get even more difficult to drive on when you have already driven all the way from Mumbai. Still, this is an option for extreme adventurists who purely want to take the trip for the joy of driving.
Hired Car/Taxi Online
The smarter thing to to do would be to reach Delhi/Manali/Srinagar by flight or train and to hire a self-drive car online. For those who are not experienced driving on challenging terrains such as Ladakh, the option of having a chauffeur is a good one.
Cost: A week-long trip in a self-drive car with a driver would cost Rs. 35, 000 to Rs. 40,000 (return trip, including fuel). Self-drive cars without driver would cost Rs 13,000 to Rs 25,000, depending on the car, for the same duration. Check rates and book online.
Hired Car/Taxi Online in Person
Alternatively, if you wish to avoid the online booking option, you can get a hired taxi from Srinagar which will cost you around Rs. 12,000 (one-way) and from Manali it will cost you around Rs. 15,000 (one-way). Your negotiation skills will come in handy at such times.
Getting to Leh By Bike
For the adventure-thirsty, a bike ride would be a great way to get to Leh-Ladakh and enjoy its breathtaking routes. Most bikers get their bikes shipped from Mumbai to Delhi or Chandigarh to ride on the Manali-Leh route and return to Delhi via Srinagar route. This way you get to experience both the routes and the scenic vistas they offer.
If you don’t have your own bike or want to avoid the shipping charges, it’s best to rent a bike from Manali. There are plenty of rental providers that offer great bikes in good shapes for the trip. Rentals start from Rs. 1400 to Rs. 2000 per day (depending on the bike you select).
The ride from Manali to Leh is one of the highest-rated bike trips, spanning across 480 kilometers and passing through the famously stunning Rohtang Pass. (Remember to get your pass permit online or at Manali SDM.)
Route: Manali – Gramphu – Khokhsar – Sissu – Keylong – Jispa – ZingZing Bar – Sarchu – Pang – Tanglang La – Miru – Upshi – Karu – Leh
An equally gorgeous route that lets you marvel at the natural wonders of Kashmir. It is across 430 kilometers and passes through the gorgeous Zoji La Pass.
Route: Srinagar – Sonamarg – Zoji La – Drass – Kargil – Mulbekh – Lamayuru – Saspol – Leh
Adventure Road Trips
This is yet another option you can explore from Mumbai to Leh. Bike/car and jeep expeditions to Ladakh have become immensely popular and ‘cool’. Check out groups/organizers like Adventure Nation, Mumbai travellers.in, Enfieldriders.com, Bookcruise.in, Shoesonloose.com, Lifeawayfromlife.com.
Thousands of travellers, photographers, adventure-seekers and bikers take off to Ladakh from Mumbai, and each one returns with inspiring and serendipitous experiences, tales and memories that stay with them forever. So plan your Ladakh trip now. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comment box below.