The first question which comes to a traveler’s mind is how to reach Leh Ladakh? There are various means by which you can reach this beautiful paradise. First, let me tell you why is this place is so famous among travelers. I call this place as the adventure capital of India. Ladakh is one of the very few destinations in the world where the entertainment starts the moment you begin your travel towards it. This place somehow pumps the adrenaline in your body once you start thinking about it. The place is equipped with scenic routes. Furthermore, the place is bestowed with valleys, snowfall, frozen lakes, trekking routes and much more. Let me tell you the ways by which you can reach Leh Ladakh. Let us start with the most preferred way. Reaching Leh Ladakh by Air. Second would be my favorite which is a bike ride to Leh.
Taking a flight to Leh
Taking a flight to Leh is preferred by travelers who are short on time. It’s true, taking a flight is the easiest way to travel. Leh is connected with Delhi, Jammu and Srinagar airports by direct flights. Delhi to Leh there is a daily direct flight service offered by many airlines. The nearest airport is Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport which is located in Leh. The airport is basically a military terminal and thus, the security is a bit strangling. It is advisable to have all your documents ready when you enter Ladakh via the airport. It is better to have a hard copy of your e-ticket. So if you are short on time reaching Leh Ladakh by air is most favorable.
Taking a bus to Leh
There are private buses and government buses from Manali and Srinagar. These two being the nearest and important towns you will get plenty of buses. Most of these buses are early in the morning. If you catch a bus from Manali you will have to go via Rohtang Pass. On the other hand, if you take a bus from Srinagar to Leh, you will go via Zoji La pass. The routes from Manali are open from early June to September. Furthermore, from Srinagar, the routes are open from June to October. Personally I would advise taking the Srinagar route. Reason: It helps you to acclimatize slowly to rising altitude and secondly the route is more scenic from Srinagar.
Bike ride to Leh
If you are an adventure lover and love to ride your bike, this is the best way for you to reach Leh. I have seen in my visit to Leh, that most of the travelers prefer this mode of commute. I went for a solo ride to Khardungla from Jaipur. Luckily I met a few friends at a hostel in Manali. A guy from Holland and a Turkish couple. They were going to Leh bu bus, but after looking at my Royal Enfield, they decided to do a bike ride to Leh. This place has the world’s top three highest mountain passes. Biking along the mountain passes and stopping for a steaming cup of coffee, tea & maggie is something I did every few hours on my ride.
Now, as mentioned in the above paragraph about the routes you can do any of them. However, I would like to be on a record of saying that Srinagar to Leh route is much better and scenic then Manali to Leh.
Train to Leh? Is it possible?
First of all, good news for all the train lovers. Indian railways are laying down train tracks from Bilaspur to Manali to Leh. Imagine being able to travel to the scenic Leh by train, that too on the world’s highest railway line! The proposed Indian Railways line is scheduled to become operational by the year 2022. However, as if now the nearest train station is Tawi which is 700+ km from Leh. Above all, even if you take a train to Tawi, you will have to catch a bus or take a bike ride to Leh. So till the time the train track from Bilaspur to Leh is open, this will be the most NOT preferred way of reaching Leh.
Hire a Taxi for Leh
This is by far the most expensive way of getting to Leh. More expensive than reaching Leh Ladakh by air. Unless of course you are in a sharing Taxi. Price ranges from as low as 12,000 INR to 45,000 INR depending on which month you go. I find taxi drivers in Manali not too friendly. Unless you have a local friend, which thankfully I have. A couple of years back I went on a solo backpacking trip and inquired the price to till JUST Rohtang. To my amazement, the driver told me it was 30,000 for an SUV from Manali and return. Imagine paying 30 grand for 100 km. However, if money is not a constraint, then you can keep this option open.
Note: Please keep in mind that an HP number plate vehicle is not allowed past Leh. Like if you want to go to Khardungla, Pyongyang or Nubra Valley, you cannot take your Manali rental bikes. All personal registered bikes are allowed through. There is some issue between the two tour unions of J&K and HP. Either you take your personal bike or you rent a bike from Leh again with a JK number plate. This sucks though!