It is true that the journey is as important as the destination and if you are an adventurer and want to hit the road, then embark on a journey of a lifetime; head out with our guide from Bangalore to Leh by road. With a couple of routes to choose from, its ideal to go one way and return the other as this means hardly a few extra kilometers but loads of added adventure.
Why is a Bangalore to Leh Road Trip Popular?
Popularity has grown over the years for this particular route as its is considered challenging and once completed, you have bragging rights over anyone boasting about most any other road trip; with distances long enough to cross continents, and a first hand view of this great country, we couldn’t agree more.
Best time to visit Leh
Due to the harsh weather conditions in the region, it is best to plan your trip when mother nature is a little more predictable. Even so, with all the planning you still need to account for unexpected road closures and spontaneously crippling weather; Summers are usually less eventful on the road. May to September is ideal to hit the roads as it’s the peak summer months and the weather is normally good.
Take a flight to Leh and land at the Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport. April to October is best as the airport stay shut for long periods during the winter.
How to get there?
To get from Bangalore to Leh, you have three options:
- Flight: Many airlines offer flights into Leh usually with one stop over and travel time averaging 10 hours.
- Bus: Taking the bus route entails changing a number of buses and being on the road for almost a week; this is probably not advisable.
- Car or Bike: Via the NH 44 or NH 48 to Leh from Bangalore, the distance is over 3000 kms and will need multiple stops along the way; time required to be on the road itself is 60 to 65 hours.
Bangalore to Ladakh Road trip – Route
With two options, via Srinagar or Manali, we suggest you go one route and return by the other if you want to maximize your road trip experience. Here we look at heading to Leh via Srinagar and returning from the Manali route.
Bangalore to Leh Road trip – Route Via Srinagar to Leh
Bangalore -> Mumbai -> Jodhpur -> Amritsar -> Srinagar
- Distance: 3170 kilometres
With miles and miles of highway road to cover, its best to just admire the passing scenery to make good time. Be sure to stop at Dhabas along the road for meals, especially just out of Mumbai and near Amritsar.
Also, we recommend you get a good night’s rest at one of the many highway motels along the way. The smaller hotels are more affordable and offer exactly what you need to get back on the road without any fuss.
Srinagar -> Kargil (202 kilometres)
The next leg of your journey will take you approximately 200 kilometres along the NH1 from Srinagar to Kargil. Roughly a 6 hour drive, you can make time to stop at Sonamarg to catch a glimpse of the Kolhoi and Machoi glaciers and at Feroz General Stores, just before you hit Kargil, for all kinds of supplies.
Kargil -> Leh (217 kilometres)
Continuing along the NH1, the next 200 kilometers will lead you from Kargil to your destination, Leh. All going as planned should take you no more than 4 and a half hours to arrive. Stop at Sasol on the way to see the amazing stupas and chortens there.
Once in Leh, there’s a lot to see and do. Popular tourist sites are the Leh Palace, the Thiksey and Diskit monasteries, magnetic hill, Marka valley and much more in this magnificent region. Enroll yourself for some treks and camping if you want to enjoy nature as its beautiful best.
Also be sure to sample the local cuisine; momos, thukpa, qahwa and many more delicious heart warming dishes will keep you going. Continue by car or bike to some of he most spectacular places on earth while in Leh next on our guide…
Road Trips from Leh
Leh -> Pangong (223 kilometers)
Drive down to Pangong via the Lake Road for some bird watching at Pangong Lake also for some great photo ops. The Spangmik village in Pangong is a great place to make a pit stop for some superb local cuisine and a view of the Chang-Chenmo mountain range.
Leh-> Khardungla (40 kilometers)
Close to Leh, one of the highest motorable passes in the world, Khardung la, has got to be on your to do list. At an altitude of over 5000 meters, the view will take your breath away too. Visit Magnetic hill and find out its gravity-defying story for yourself.
Leh -> Nubra Valley (160 kilometres)
A little further from Khardung La lies the Nubra Valley. Beautiful wild flowers by the river and ancient monuments around the area make for a magical experience.
Road Trip from Leh to Bangalore (via Manali)
Leh -> Sarchu (250 kms)
Heading back to Bangalore, it only makes sense to take an alternative route that is equally scenic and spectacular especially if this means not really adding too many more miles to your journey. Head down the Leh-Manali highway for around 250 kilometers to reach Sarchu. Stay overnight at one of the campsites before heading to Manali.
Sarchu -> Manali (223 kms)
The next leg of your journey will take you south to Manali; about 7 hours by car, follow the Leh-Manali Highway for 223 kilometers. On the way stop at ZingZing for a quick bite. With plenty of things to do in Manali like rafting, trekking, paragliding and much more, you may want to spend more than a night here.
Manali -> Delhi (539 kilometers)
Next stop, Delhi. Between 10 and twelve hours on the NH 44 will bring you to the city. With so many Dhabas along the way be sure to plan for more than a couple of pits stops to have a quick meal.
Delhi -> Bhopal -> Hyderabad -> Bangalore (2207 kms)
Once you leave Delhi, the NH46 will be your home for the next few days. A total of 2207 kilometers will lead you back to Bangalore via Bhopal and Hyderabad. With average times being around 40 hours on the road to cover the distance, it’s better to stretch it out over 4 days if you don’t have a second driver. Plenty of great food on the way at the many highway dabbas but not much excitement along the highways in terms of things to see or do without having to take a detour. Motels en route are easily available and serve the purpose for a nights rest.
- Clothes etc
- Water and food
- First aid kit
- Maps for Satnav
- Change for tolls
- Chargers for devices
- Some identification
- Get a professional service done and inform your mechanic of your road trip plans
- Carry basic tools for changing tires etc
- Check spare tire
- Don’t over work your vehicle
- Obey the rules of the road, they are for your safety
Permits and Fees
Although you may not need a permit for a private vehicle to travel across India, if you plan on hiring a car, you may need it to have the appropriate documents to travel interstate. As for tolls, they are not much at most points but do add up along the way. Be sure to carry change so you don’t hold up the queue.