A beautiful full circuit trip that takes you through the Manali-Leh highway to an exploration of Ladakh. Cross the mighty passes and scenic lakes, experience adventure and culture all in one unforgettable trip.
Offering some of the best more scenic landscapes in India, this extensive trip is all about the snow-clad mountains, rugged roads, culture and beauty.
- Atal Tunnel: The highest single-tube tunnel above 10,000 feet.
- Jispa: 2 hrs before Baralacha La, Jispa is a popular overnight pit stop on the Leh- Manali highway.
- Baralacha La: A high mountain pass in the Zanskar range of Northern-India connecting Lahaul district in Himachal Pradesh to Leh district in Ladakh
- Leh: The capital of the union territory of Ladakh. Leh has the only airport in Ladakh and is a centre for trade on the silk route.
- Khardungla: At 5359 m Khardung La is famous as one of the world’s highest motorable passes, Khardungla connects the Indus river valley and the Shyok river valley as well as Nubra and Siachen glacier.
- Magnetic Hill: Popular as a gravity hill, It is actually a downhill road, but creates an optical illusion where vehicles appear to roll uphill, defying gravity, making it a fascinating feat.
- Pangong Lake: Spanning eastern Ladakh and West Tibet and situated at an elevation of 4,225 m (13,862 ft). The lake is a salt water lake but freezes during the winter. Its ever-changing shades of blue and stunning reflections attract visitors from across the world.
- Chang La: Another high mountain pass, at Chang La (5391 m) offers a challenging drive and panoramic views. It is often used to cross over from Pangong to Leh.
- Hemis: Home to the iconic Hemis Monastery, this area is famous for its annual Hemis Festival, which celebrates Tibetan Buddhism with masked dances and rituals.
- Thiksey: A picturesque monastery perched atop a hill, Thiksey offers panoramic views and a glimpse into the spiritual and cultural heritage of Ladakh.
- Rancho School: A Buddhist cultural school located in Shey village rose to prominence after the climax scenes of 3 Idiots Bollywood movie were shot in the school.
|Day||Day Plan||Travel Time|
|Day 1||Land in Chandigarh and drive to Manali. Reach and rest||9-10 hrs|
|Day 2||Manali to Jispa via Atal Tunnel, Sissu, Keylong||3-4 hrs|
|Day 3||Jispa to Leh via Surajtal, Baralacha Pass, Sarchu, Moore Plains, Tanglangla||9-10 hrs|
|Day 4||Around Leh -Leh palace, Shanti Stupa, Hall of Fame and market||2-3 hrs|
|Day 5||Around Leh- Shey, Hemis, Thiksey, Rancho School||3-4 hrs|
|Day 6||Shaam valley tour - Hall of Fame, Magnetic Hill, Pathhar Sahib, Sangam, Alchi||4-5 hrs|
|Day 7||Leh to Nubra Valley, via Khardungla Pass. Visit Deskit monastery, Hundar sand dunes||5-6 hrs|
|Day 8||Day trip to Turtuk||5-6 hrs|
|Day 9||Nubra to Pangong Tso, via Shyok village. Spend the evening by the lake||6-7 hrs|
|Day 10||Pangong to Leh via Changla Pass||4-5 hrs|
|Day 11||Airport drop||1-2 hrs|
Your trip includes:
Your trip excludes:
Here is the ultimate packing list for your Ladakh trip.
If you are travelling the in winter – please carry
Head out in the morning after breakfast to Jispa. The journey to Jispa has been cut down by a couple of ours thanks to the Atal Tunnel that connects Manali to Lahaul. Jispa on the Leh- Manali highway is a popular spot for camping by travellers. As you cross over from Manali to Lahaul you will see the scenery change from lush green covered in trees to dry and sparsely populated with vegetation. Stop for lunch at Keylong as Jispa is just 20 kms ahead. Reach Jispa and rest. You are in for a memorable night of camping under the stars.
Wake up to giant barren mountains and open blue skies. Get on the road to Leh, as its gonna be a long day of high passes and winding roads with spectacular views. Visit Suraj Taal on your way and stop for pictures against this emerald lake. As your cross Zing Zing bar and Baralacha La you get a chance to admire the vastness and the true beauty of the Himalayas. Next you cross the Gata Loops. These 21 Gata Loops or hairpin bends are stomach churning and exciting and take you to the Nakila Pass. By now you would have seen various shades of mountains ranging from brown to red to purple.
As you approach the flat, dusty stretches of the Moore plains it gives you a welcome break from the stomach churning roads so far. You see cattle and sheep grazing on the green plains. A nice contrast to the high brown mountains you have been seeing so far. The last pass of the day is Tanglang La. Tanglang La at 5328 mtrs is one of the highest passes in the world. We do not encourage you to spend a lot of time here as AMS is known to kick in. The descent to Leh begins after Tanglang La. The turquoise Indus river appears in the horizon with Ladakh's famous picture-postcard views of quaint homes next to small-cultivated farms against barren mountains and clear blue skies.
Once you reach Leh, check into the hotel and get a good night's rest post dinner. Make sure to not over exert as you need to be well rested to acclimatise well.
Begin your with a leisure breakfast before the 15-kilometre drive to Ladakh’s summer capital, Shey. Located on a hillock, Shey Palace and the Shey Monastery, seem unaffected by time since 1655 from afar. Upon closer look, the effects of time are clearly visible with the palace partly in ruins. The monastery however, still maintained with the same vigour as it was before the Dogras invaded in 1842. With the second largest statute of Buddha in the Ladakh region, the monastery’s main attraction is this 12-metre tall statue of Shakyamuni Buddha that occupies three floors. A mere kilometre northeast is the now-famous Druk White Lotus School also known as the Rancho School. Renowned across India thanks to the Bollywood blockbuster 'Three Idiots'.
Drive on to Thiksey monastery, about 4 kilometres away. One of Leh’s largest monasteries, there is a separate residential building for nuns as well. With fascinating wall paintings throughout the 12-storey complex, stupas, thangka paintings, statues and numerous artefacts make for a very interesting visit. The scenic last leg of the day takes you through the valley’s rugged terrain of over 25 kms from Thiksey to Hemis. With stunning views of the mountains beyond with the contrast of green and purple against clear blue skies make for most of the scenery on the drive from Thiksey to Hemis.
Perched on a hill, nestled between mountains, Hemis is better known as India's Shangri- La. The Cham mask dance is performed is in June-July for 2 days at this monastery.
Head to the hotel to call it an early night.
A drive of nearly 48 kilometres from Leh town would take you to the point where the rivers Indus and Zanskar meet. The muddy waters of the Zanskar merge with the turquoise blue water of the Indus to flow westwards. Just before the Sangam, get up close and personal with the super-charged famed magnetic hill. Pay close attention as your car climbs up without any thrust on a seemingly uphill tarmac. After visiting the confluence we head back to Leh with a pit stop at the Gurdwara Patthar Sahib. Legend has it that a demon who terrorised the area, pushed a boulder onto Guru Nanak who had come to help - leaving a hollow impression of a person on the stone and the Guru unscathed. Discovered in the 1970's while building a road, the boulder has now been placed in the gurdwara maintained by the Indian Army.
Our next stop, 15 kilometres away, is the Spituk Monastery. This lovely 11th century monastery overlooks Leh’s airstrip on one side and the gorgeous Indus river on the other. Home to about 100 monks, the monastery halls are adorned by ancient masks, beautiful thangka paintings, miniature chortens and idols. A little higher up is the Mahakal Temple with its veiled Vajrabhairava deity; witness the unveiling of the deity if you do visit in January for the festival.
We end this today with visit to the Hall of Fame. Constructed in memory of Indian soldiers who have lost their lives in the India-Pakistan wars, the memorial showcases information on the wars fought, the soldiers and their sacrifices, and displays the artillery used in the Kargil war.
After breakfast we begin the scenic drive to Nubra valley and the sand dunes of Hunger via Khardung La. One of the world's highest motorable passes, Khardung-La is one of Ladakh's most popular destinations. A couple of lovely photographs later on K-top, we start out descent to Nubra Valley. We do not suggest you stay up here for long and avoid AMS.
The drive will get relatively more comfortable after North Pullu with better roads as the valley opens up. Make your way towards the spectacular Diskit Monastery while crossing through the quaint Khardung village.
Check-in to your camp/hotel in Nubra village and relax for a bit. We will have to make our last visit of the day about 7 kilometres to the sand dunes of Hundar. Get to see and ride the fascinating two-humped Bactrian camels in the sand dunes. The impressive views of the grey dunes, the glacial river and the rugged snow-capped mountain peaks set Hunder in a league of its own here. Hundar, apart from housing the mandatory monastery is a charming little village with several shrines higher up.
As the sun rises, watch the transparent waters turn blue. A hearty breakfast later, begin the long drive back to Leh.
We stop for lunch at Karu on our way back to Leh. With stunning views of the mountains beyond with the contrast of green and purple against clear blue skies make for most of the serenery on the drive to Leh.
Head back to your hotel or visit the local markets for some souvenir shopping once you're back in Leh. A hot dinner awaits you at the hotel.