The most talked about route by any bike or car enthusiast has got to be the road to Leh. If you too have always dreamed of owning the coveted title that comes with making it there on two or four wheels then we have got the road trip guide for you.
Why is it popular?
Although many do make the journey from their hometowns all the way to Leh in their own vehicle, the vastness of our motherland can be daunting. A great way to get a head start on an adventure of this proportion is simple: get to Srinagar, rent a motorcycle or car, make the trip!
With so many options for hiring out vehicles, gear and supplies in Srinagar itself, you need not spend days on the road, lugging around your own stuff but rather tackle what you came to do fresh from day one when you land.
Best time to visit
Summer is the best time to head to Leh from Srinagar by road. May to September sees the best riding and driving conditions as well as the least amount of weather-related road closures. You will also not find many opportunities to hire a vehicle off-season.
How to get to Srinagar?
- Road: Get on the road and head out on the National Highway network to get to Srinagar within 2 to 7 days, depending on how far you are willing to travel daily.
- Bus: The bus route can be quite an adventure in itself but might leave you a little worse for wear once you arrive at Srinagar. Losing out on time you could be exploring Leh and surrounding areas, it might be simpler to just take your own bike or car rather than rely on a bus.
- Flight: Flying into Srinagar and landing at the Sheik-ul-Alam International Airport is also a great option as you can save days on the road and rent a vehicle once you land in Srinagar.
Srinagar to Leh Road trip – Route
Once you have reached Srinagar, getting to Leh has a couple of road options but we highly recommend taking different routes to go and return in order to maximize your road trip experience.
Getting to Leh from Srinagar
Srinagar → Sonamarg → Lamayuru → Leh
- Distance: 430 kilometers
Srinagar → Sonamarg
The first leg of your road trip to Srinagar will lead you along the NH1 for approximately 80 kilometres and should not take you more than a couple of hours to complete. Stop and see the amazing natural beauty of Sonamarg with glaciers in the distance.
Sonamarg → Lamayuru
Continuing on the NH1 for a little over 200 kilometers will get you to the next pit stop, Lamayuru. The road leading here is usually good but slow; plan for at least 4 hours to get to Lamayuru. With a lot to see and good staying options, some sightseeing and an overnight stay should be considered before you move to the next leg taking you up to Leh.
Lamayuru → Leh
The final 100-odd kilometers to your destination is likely to take you no more than three hours. Once at Leh be sure to explore the multitude of options available to visitors such as paragliding, kayaking, camping and much more.
You will probably need at least three or four days here to try the amazing local cuisine. Visit Gurdwara Pathar Sahib, Magnetic Hill, Khardung La, Nubra Valley, Sarchu and Manali all only a few hours away by road, and then back to the hotel before heading out the next day to Srinagar via Batalik and Kargil.
Getting back to Srinagar from Leh Road Trip
Leh -> Batalik -> Kargil -> Srinagar
- Distance: 462 kilometers
We take an alternative route on the way back to Srinagar, via Batalik and Kargil. Although the road may be a few kilometers longer, heading back this way will mean more sights to document.
Leh -> Batalik
Back on to the NH1 and this time heading North West towards Batalik. Only a couple of hundred kilometers from where you are, this stretch of the highway is bound to take you no more than four or five hours though it can get congested with heavy vehicles. If you happen to be a rock climbing enthusiast then be sure to spend a night here and plan a climb with one of the adventure sport operators here.
Batalik -> Kargil
Your next check point, Kargil is merely 50-odd kilometers and should take you no time at all to get to, however, heavy traffic later in the day can cause congestion along the way. Ideally, head out early and beat the crowds, stop at Kargil for a little sightseeing and a meal, and then its back on to Srinagar.
Kargil -> Srinagar
Continuing down the NH1, another four or so hours and you will have landed back in Srinagar, the place where this adventure all started. From here it’s only a matter of time before you are on a flight back to your hometown.
Renting a vehicle
- With quite a few options for renting a vehicle in Srinagar, you can either contact tour operators beforehand to reserve something particular for you or take a chance when you get there and make do with what is available on hand.
- Motorcycles are easy to find on hire costing between Rs. 1200 and Rs. 2000 a day including much needed gear, usually at no extra charge.
- As for renting out a four-wheeler, you may have to settle for one with a driver included as is the way most rental companies prefer to operate.
- These can get a little costly, going up to as much as Rs. 5000 a day for a decent vehicle, however consider the number of occupants that can split the cost.
- Clothes to protect against the weather
- Water and food
- Maps or Satnav
- First aid kit
- Chargers for all devices
- Some identification
- Cash for food, fuel, etc
The trip from Srinagar to Leh is an amazing one full of sights and experiences. Once you reach Leh, enjoy its beauty and the activities on offer. Got any questions regarding the trip? You should. Do let us know in the comments