Leh, the capital of Ladakh is connected with regular flights from Delhi, Chandigarh Jammu and Srinagar. It is also connected with roads that climb to spectacular heights and offers magnificent views.
Reaching Leh by Air: Leh is connected to New Delhi by a one hour flight. Air India, Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines and Go Air operate regular flights. Leh is also connected by flights from Srinagar, Jammu and Chandigarh on select days of the week.
Road Journeys -
The Journey from Srinagar
The 434 kms Srinagar - Leh highway is open from mid May till November. The journey takes two days with a night halt at Kargil.
The main overland approach to Ladakh is from the Kashmir Valley through the 434-km Srinagar-Leh highway, which follows the historic trade route, also known as the ‘Treaty Road’. This road journey provides the best possible introduction to the land and its people. At one step, as you cross the Zoji-la pass (11,500-ft./3,505 m), one passes the lushness of Kashmir into the barren contours of a trans-Himalayan landscape. Drass, the first township over the pass, inhabited by a population of mainly Dard origin, has the local reputation of being the second coldest inhabited place in the world. But in summer when the pass is open and travellers are going through, the standing crops and clumps of willow give it a gentle look. After Drass, the valley narrows down to almost a gorge. Yet even here it occasionally opens up to allow small patches of terraced cultivation, where a small village population ekes out a precarious existence.
On leaving Kargil town, the road plunges into the ridges and valleys of the Zanskar Range, over a huge mound of alluvium known as Khurbathang plateau, now made fertile by a huge irrigation system. Form here it descends to the Pashkyum area and passes through several roadside villages before entering Mulbek, with its gigantic rock carving of Maitreya Buddha and a gompa perched high on a crag above the village. Mulbek is the transition from Muslim to Buddhist Ladakh. Two more passes, Namika-la (12,200 ft/3,719 m) and Fotu-la (13,432 ft/4,094 m) follow the exit out of Mulbek valley.From Fotu1a, the road descends in sweeps and turns, past the spectacularly sited monastery of Lamayuru and the amazing wind-eroded towers and pinnacles of lunar-landscape rocks, down to the Indus at Khalatse - a descent of almost 4,000 ft / 1,219 m, in about 32 kms. From here the road follows the river, passing villages with their terraced fields and neat whitewashed houses, the roofs piled high with neat stacks of fodder laid in against the coming winter. Here and there one notices the ruins of an ancient fort or palace or the distant glimpse of a gompa on a hill. And at last Leh is visible, dominated by the bulk of its imposing 17th century palace.
Road Journeys - The Journey from Manali
The 473 kms Manali - Leh highway is open from June till mid October. The journey takes two days with a night halt at Sarchu.
For much of its length, it passes through areas so barren that it is entirely void of habitation. Lahoul district, through which the road passes, is a typically trans-Himalayan landscape. The first major pass in this road, the Rohtang pass (13,000 ft / 3,978m) which is crossed soon after departure from Manali, cuts through the Pir Panjal range of the Great Himalayas. Lahouli houses are built in the Ladakhi pattern, out of sun-dried bricks. Whitewashed and flat-roofed, they stand among the irrigated fields of the villages, which cling to the mountain slopes. Beyond Keylang, the region's main town, the road follows the Bhaga River up towards its source, passing a few more villages, the last till the territory of Ladakh is entered. Now it hairpins up to the Baralacha-la (16,050 ft / 4,892m), which is a tri-junction, with a trail from Spiti also joining in from the southeast. This is the crossing of the Great Himalayan Range, the watershed between the Indus and the Chenab. Now the barren landscape becomes positively lunar with dusty plains stretching into the distance.
The Zanskar Range, which lies next on this road, is crossed through two more passes, the Lachulung-la (16,600 ft / 5,059m) and the Taglang-la (17,469 ft / 5,325rn). Between these two, there is nothing but rock and sand, rolling hills and broad plains scoured by dust devils. An occasional pasture here and there provides nourishment for the flocks of the nomadic Chang-pa herdspeople who are the region's only inhabitants, apart from the seasonal entrepreneurs from Leh and Lahoul, who erect tents and shacks at various points along the road, to cater to the needs of travellers. Once over the Taglang-la, the descent to the Indus starts, and soon one passes the first village, Rumtse. The road follows the Gya River down to the Indus at Upshi, from where it is plain sailing to Leh, past the Indus valley villages of Karu, Stakna, Thikse, Shey and finally the Tibetan village at Choglamsar, before entering the town.
Lamayuru enroute Srinagar -
The road from Manali to Leh
Roads in Leh