Manali Leh Road Map
The average elevation of Leh-Manali highway is more than 4,000 m (13,000 feet) and its highest elevation is 5,328 m (17,480 ft) at Tanglang La mountain pass. It is flanked by mountain ranges on both sides featuring some stunning sand and rock natural formations.
The highway crosses many small streams of ice-cold water from snow-capped mountains and glacial melts without a bridge and it requires driving skill to negotiate fast-flowing streams. The landscape changes immediately after getting past Rohtang Pass and entering into Chandra river valley in Lahaul region that lies in rain-shadow. The greenery on the southern side of the mountain pass disappears and the mountain slopes on the leeward side become brown and arid. However, the mountain peaks are covered in snow and shine brightly in sun.
Leh-Manali highway is generally two lanes wide (one lane in either direction) without a road-divider but has only one or one and a half lanes at some stretches. The riding quality is not good at many places and fast speeds can cause discomfort. But the leisurely speed itself is a USP of the highway.
For normal tourists, the nearly 500 km long road is recommended to be covered in two days or more with one or more night halts along the highway because the real fun and pleasure are in the journey itself and not in reaching the destination. Awesome and breath-catching scenery and not-even-thought-of surprises along the highway should be savoured leisurely.
Mountain Passes on the Highway
The highway crosses some of the highest mountain passes in the world, including Rohtang La 3,978 m (13,051 ft) in Pir Panjal range and three passes in Zanskar range that separate Zanskar valley from Leh valley, namely, Baralacha La 4,892 m (16,050 ft), Lachulung La 5,059 m (16,598 ft) and Taglang La 5,328 m (17,480 ft). The Rohtang La pass and Baralacha La receive more snowfall than the Taglang La, but all three passes are blocked in the winter . The road crosses the More plains between Lachlung La and Taglang La.
“Every year bikers from across the globe plan to ride on what is termed as one of the best routes to ride in the world, the 475 kms long Manali-Leh Highway.”