Thursday, May 4, 2017

5 Best Road Trip Himalayan Destinations

If you are in Delhi and have passion to drive, pick your car and head to Himalayas. There are some of the world's most picturesque drives that you can do from here.

#1 Leh via Srinagar 
It's a dream-come-true road trip for every adventure lover. Driving through green pines and then rocky mountains... over the snow covered mountain passes... witnessing vast landscapes that change with every turn and visiting the colorful monasteries and celebrating life with monks, you'll reach the destinations that come straight out of the world of fantasies. The nature's beauty will keep you alert every moment, so much so that you would not want to even blink.

The Trail: Delhi - Pathankot- Patnitop - Srinagar - Sonmarg - Kargil - Mulbek- Lamayuru - Leh (1250kms approx)
Time Required to reach: 3-4 days

The highway drive from Delhi to Pathankot has some of the best road side dhabas offering delicious punjabi food. The first night halt can be taken at Pathankot. From here a scenic drive along river Tawi will take you to Patnitop, a beautiful hilltop enveloped by thickly wooded Cedar and Deodar forests with the breathtaking views of the Chenab basin. The road from Patnitop to Srinagar is dotted by Poplar trees, green fields and small markets. You can take a day break at Srinagar and enjoy beautiful gardens and the Dal lake. The last leg of this journey from Srinagar to Leh through Sonmarg, Batal, Drass and Kargil is the most exciting one. 9 kms from Sonmarg you will reach the first high mountain pass, Zoji La (3,528 m/11,575 ft). The road from Batal to Zoji La is said to be one of world's most dangerous roads. Once you have crossed the pass, the whole landscape changes. Greenery disappears and you will find yourself driving through the vast landscapes. The mountains change texture and color on every turn. Crossing world's coldest inhabited village Drass and Kargil reach Lamayuru, one of the oldest monasteries of the region. Driving through Sangam (confluence of Indus & Zanskar Rivers), Magnetic Hills, Gurudwara Pathar Sahib and Hall of Fame, finally reach Leh.
The high mountain pass you will cross on the way:
Zoji La (11,575 ft) located on the Indian NH 1 between Srinagar and Leh in the western section of the Himalayan mountain range.
Namika La (12,139 ft) is in the Zanskar range on the road from Mulbek Valley to the Lamayuru Monastery. In Mulbek you can see an immense rock carving of the Maitreya Buddha and a Gompa perched high on a cliff overlooking the village.
Fotu La (13,432 ft) is a mountain pass in the Zaskar Range. It is the highest point on the highway, surpassing the famed Zoji La.

#2 Leh via Manali
This is the most sought after road trip and takes you through one of the most difficult terrains in the world Manali- Leh Highway. Pass through high altitude passes covered with snow while enjoying the rare beauty of the Himalayas.

The Trail: Delhi-Chandigarh-Manali-Keylong -Jispa- Bharatpur-Sarchu- Pang -Upshi - Karu -Leh (1030kms approx)
Time Required to reach: 3 days

Enjoy some delicious parathas at Murthal on the way to Chandigarh, take a lunch break around Sundarnagar and driving along river Beas reach Manali by night. Manali to Sarchu is a beautiful drive through gorgeous Solang valley, Rohtang pass, Keylong and Jispa. There are tents in Bharatpur and Sarchu where you take a night halt. At Sarchu, Lahaul region, Himachal Pradesh ends and Zanskar region, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir starts. Start early morning for Leh through NakeeLa and LachangLa. Drive to Leh passing through Skyangchu Thang (Plateau on Stretch of 42 Kms) and Tanglang La. Driving along the Indus River, reach Leh.

The high mountain passes you will cross on the way: 
Rohtang Pass (13050 ft) on the eastern Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas is around 51 km from Manali. It connects the Kullu Valley with the Lahaul and Spiti Valleys of Himachal Pradesh
Baralacha Pass (16040 ft) in Zanskar range connects Lahaul district in Himachal Pradesh to Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir
NakeeLa (15,647 ft) It is located between Sarchu and Pang
Lachulung La (16,617 ft) It is located some 54 km from Sarchu
Tanglang La (17,585 ft).

#3 Kaza, Spiti Valley
Located at an altitude of 3650 mt (11,980ft.) on the left bank of the Spiti River, Kaza is the largest township and commercial centre of the valley. Being centrally located, it is a good base to explore the rest of Spiti. Day trips can be made from here to Tabo, Dhankar, Langza, Hikkim, Komic, Key and Kibber. Cut off from the tourist map because of its remoteness, Spiti valley along with its twin valley of Lahaul, has retained its pristine charm. Quaint old monasteries, prayer flags fluttering in the wind and monks in their ochre robes, add to the mystic charm of Spiti. The scenic mountain villages perched on mountain crests, Pristine rivers, the vast landscapes and the harsh conditions are all a part of the package that constitute this adventurous Himalayan journey.
The Trail: Delhi-Chandigarh-Shimla-Kalpa-Tabo-Dhankar-Kaza
Time Required to reach: 3-4 days

It will take around 9-10 hrs to reach Shimla. You can take a night halt at Shimla, Mashobra or Fagu. Drive along picturesque Hindustan-Tibet Road which is carved in rock and goes along the wild Sutlej River to reach Kalpa, one of the most beautiful village of Kinnaur. You can also visit Sarahan on the way. Its around 14 kms off the way. The most fabulous part of the drive is from Kalpa to Nako. On the way visit Ribba. Passing through Khab which is hardly 13 km from Tibbet border reach Nako, situated in Hangrang Valley. The existence of lake formed out of the masses of the ice and snow adds beauty to the village. You can either take a night halt here at Nako or proceed to Tabo and halt there. Flanked on either side by hills, Tabo monastery is one of the oldest Buddhist monastic complex regarded by many as only next to the Tholing Gompa in Tibet. It is also known as the Ajanta of the Himalayas for the caves and the frescoes found here. Next day you can drive to Kaza exploring Dhankar on the way.

#4 Sangla Valley, Kinnaur
Sangla valley in Kinnaur is situated in the northeast corner of Himachal Pradesh. The Baspa River flows in the Valley that is surrounded by forested slopes. Do visit Chitkul, the last village of India and Hindustan-Tibet road which finally enters Tibet at Shipki La Pass, Rakcham, a beautiful village in the valley and Kamru village that hosts one of the oldest forts in Himachal. 

The Trail: Delhi-Shimla-Sarahan-Sangla-Chitkul-Kalpa
Time Required to reach: 4 days

The first leg of the journey starts with a lovely drive on NH1 and later driving through Shivalik foothills you reach Shimla. Night halt can done in or around Shimla. Next morning drive along the fierce Sutlej River on the rock cut road that is a great engineering feat.  From Karchham a road goes towards Spiti and another turns towards the Sangla Valley. This 18 km stretch is a narrow winding road with hair-raising gorges & cliffs high above the Baspa River gushing below. Sangla valley is rich in Apple, Apricot, Wall-nut, Cedar tree orchards and glacial streams with trout fish. Drive another 22kms are you reach Chitkul. Once you have explored the valley including Chitkul and Kamru head to Kalpa. Kalpa is situated at the height of 2758 mtr above the sea level, and is one of the most beautiful village of Kinnaur that offers stunning views of the Kinnaur Kailash.

#5 Chandratal
The Chandratal Lake (4270 mtr.) is one of the most photographed lakes in the world. Once a halting place for traders who went to Spiti and the Kullu valley from Tibet and Ladakh attracts a large number of adventure lovers. This typical high mountain crystal clear blue water lake lies in a broad grassy plain, which in ancient times was a glacier, 7 kms away from the Kunzum Pass now a source of the Chandra River and idles for camping. 

The Trail: Delhi – Manali – Rohtang La – Gramphoo – Chattru – Battal – Chandratal.
Time Required to reach: 2 days

It will take around 14hrs to reach Manali. Its a highway drive followed by the drive along Beas River and then through lush green Kullu valley. Take a night halt at Manali. From Manali Chandratal is around 120kms. Driving through the magnificent landscape of Solang valley you reach Rohtang pass. Post which the road is quite challenging. You need to be an expert driver to drive on these roads. The area has magnificent vast himalayan landscapes. But there is no habitation except for the fixed camps at Gramphoo, Chhatru and Battal. This is where you can have your meals of simple rice dal and sabji or maggi with hot refreshing tea and relax for some time. 

The high mountain pass you will cross on the way: 
Rohtang Pass (13050 ft) on the eastern Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas is around 51 km from Manali. It connects the Kullu Valley with the Lahaul and Spiti Valleys of Himachal Pradesh

In case you don't drive but love to go on road trips, check our list of road trips and join one.


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