Published: August 22nd 2007July 23rd 2007
It was an early morning... 3:30am and waking up with strong tea ...and time for... one of the most exciting roads in the world...
The Leh-Manali Highway is a highway in India connecting Leh and Manali. It crosses some of the highest mountain passes in the world, including , , and Tanglang La (5,325 m), Lachulung La (5,059 m - actually this is a double pass, a few km down road you have to go over another, albeit a bit lower pass), Baralacha La (4,892 m) and Rohtang La (3,978 m) and is open only between June and mid-September when snow is cleared from the road. First two passes are the highest and not the most problematic, as there is very little snowfall in Ladakh. Problematic are the last two passes, nearest to Manali, where weather fronts from the south hit Himalaya and drop huge amounts of snow. And not only that, you can observe how the scenery changes from Ladakh to Himachal Pradesh...
Fortunately we were sleeping in a camp at the Tso Kar lake. That ment, we didn't need to go over the Tanglang La pass, and we had only some 350km still to cover. And we
will do it in one day ;) Incredible was the start. Pitch dark and it didn't seem there was any road... fortunately, after some 10km we found the Leh-Manaly highway. Of course, sleeping was impossible, as the road was... well... if you could call it a road, as sometimes it was better to go offroad. Every pass was incredible and had its own "speciality". There were sooooo many curves, that we stopped counting at 100 :)
This is not the most comfortable drive in the world - spectacular, yes, comfortable, no way. This is not helped by the fact that some of the roads have drops to the side of a good few hundred metres. And yes, you can observe crashed and unlucky vehicles cover with rust down the slope somewhere... And some of the passes are really spectacular, especially if you have to wait on the side of the road for a truck to pass... Its incredible what kind of vehicles are using the road - from tankers and goods lorrys, army trucks to whatever else comes along with a motor in it :))) or without the motor, as some cyclist do... ;) We were witness to an
Avoiding the truck
... and don't even want to mention that there was several hundred meters drop on the left
accident, as one lorry "destroyed" the bridge (have a look at the video - will upload it in the following days).
After 14 hours and half we finally reached Manali. Last pass was... well... foggy. On the north side, it was sunny, on the south side there was... monsoon... And, as Rothang pass is close to Manali, its also popular with tourist who go to the snow line. That ment it was very busy, almost traffic jam on the road. Funnily, at the bottom of the shop there are many "shop" where you can rent coat and winter gear... eh, funny... But Manali was really fine, not too hot and good introduction to monsoon India...
... and I cannot stop thinking about the road... gotta go again on this spectacular, albeit dangerous road maybe with a bicycle...
anyway... gotta enjoy again all the hustle and bustle of India... :)))
And link to: Youtube roadtrip video Youtube accident video
There are more photos below