Cycling to Leh from South
India > Jammu & Kashmir > States in India > India Travel > Ladakh & Zanskar
| Member

Cycling to Leh from South

Hi - I have cycled in Ladakh before, coming in from Srinagar and from Manali.

For my next trip I am looking for information please on whether there is a feasible route to Leh from the South other than the Manali-Leh main highway?

On Google maps I can see a road leaving the Manli-Leh highway near "Meroo", this road leads east and then joins a more major road heading away from Hanle. There are maybe 2 roads from Hanle? Then it looks like you can go North and then either cross the Mighty Chang La or the Kardung La. Is the easternmost road from Hanle open for cycle tourists and are there any tea shops etc in this area please?

9 Replies

| Layperson
The road from Darcha to Zangskar is almost punched through, and locals say there is only a 3-hour walk between the ends of the road on both sides. Maybe you could ride or carry your bike over that gap, and either enter or leave Ladakh via Zangskar that way.

Darcha is a location on the Manali road north of Rothang-La pass. So you'd still have to go through Manali but you could skip the rest of that road to Leh.

Oh but maybe you could also go through Spiti and skip Manali as well.
| Member
Thanks will have a look at Zangskar route, although I have done much of it from the north side already. I was thinking Lahaul/Spiti route but once past Keylong I was looking for an alternative route to Leh.
| Maha Guru Member
The toughest route/climb is supposed to be over the Sach pass to Pangi valley then onwards to Udeypur, Tandi & Keylong. This misses out Manali completely.
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| Layperson
I'm not sure if foreigners are allowed to go to Hanle at all, and in any case anyplace that needs a permit, such as Tsomoriri, anything east of Upshi or in practice east or south of Mahe bridge on the Indus, and anything north of Chang-la or Khardong-la, require permits that you have to get in Leh. Theoretically they can be applied for along with your visa from the Home Ministry but I think that would cause unnecessary delays.
| Member
Thanks I was aware of the need to get restricted area permits but I have some contacts in Delhi and Leh that may be able to help obtain permits whilst outside of the state.
I will try and find out the position re Hanle. Hanle itself does not look all that interesting apart from the novelty value of going there!
| Member
Very interesting route, I was not aware of this one. Thanks very much for the pointer.
| Maha Guru Member
In practical terms - no.

The two main roads are from Manali to Leh via Upshi - bus/truck route and a jeeptrack that I think extends from Spiti over the range to south of tso Moriri and branches to Hanle. Check Google Earth as well as Maps.

I have walked from Chumutang on the Upshi-Mahe road alongside the 2 lakes to the East of Tso Moriri and although there is a jeep track there is zilch and I mean zilch out there. We saw one shepherd in 2 weeks if I remember correctly. Forget dhabas, there are only a couple on the Upshi-Mahe road itself.

There are army checkpoints at Mahe and Upshi and , I imagine near Hanle seeing as it is off limits to foreigners without a permit. You can get a permit in Delhi but a travel agent friend of mine didnt think it was worth trying a few years back. In Leh its a 24 hour formality, but remember that it is or certainly was only granted to 2 or more people. I have bluffed checkpoints solo with a local's help on several occasions but its a long way to go to be turned back.

Theoretically you could bike/trek from Spiti if you could get a Tso Moriri permit in Spiti but if you exited anywhere other than the open Manali road you will get stopped. The army dont leave the bases much and I have never seen any patrols other than on the roads, but the closer you get to China the more problems you are likely to have if stopped.

There are dirt tracks that criss-cross the areas between Tso Moriri and Hanle and across the Tso Kar from Khorzok back to the Manali road. Water can be a problem
| Member
Thanks Captain Bruce for that information, it is exactly what I was after. Re the permits, I have cycled solo in restricted areas like Nubra before, and my permit did stipulate an imaginary companion. At checkposts I just explained that my companion was behind me on the road. Never had any issues with that.

At the moment I am thinking that I might try the Zanskar route, it sounds like it is almost ready and I have always wanted to go there.

So my plan is currently Dalhousie to Pangi Valley via Sach Pass, then to Keylong, then Zanskar to Kargil, then Dah Hanu road to near Lamayuru, then to Leh. Its only the final part that I have done before so it would be all new to me.
| Maha Guru Member

Happy to help. One pause for thought. I have done variations on that route, trekking 3-4 times before any idiot started running a truck route through an area of outstanding natural beauty and I can vouch for the views, but you may want to consider those trucks.

If there are loops like Gata on the Manali Road and i assume there must be on the North and South ends of Zanskar, then the trucks will be a problem. Not so much on road safety but getting stuck in a convoy; I met a motor cyclist who did Manali-Leh a couple of years ago and nearly died of pollution. It remains to be seen how much traffic will go through in the early years but.....

I dont cycle, but if i did I wouldnt do it for that reason.

good luck

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