There is a lot of talk going on about an all weather road connectivity to Ladakh right now. People have started to wonder if they can plan a their trip to Ladakh by road in coming few days; so I thought to post this short article as a quick update for anyone who was wondering the same. Yes, it is a possibility but not right now and definitely not for tourists. We are still a few years away from the time when you can plan a road trip to Ladakh even during peak winter season. As of now, it can only be done by Air and not road.
The route that has started this whole conversation is actually via Zanskar and Shinku La (Shingo La) pass. A motorable road was under construction for last few years which will connect Lahaul Valley to Zanskar across the high altitude pass of Shinku La. It will start from near Jispa in Lahaul and will end at Padum in Zanskar. So if you wanted to get to Ladakh by road then, you will first reach Jispa, cross over the pass to arrive at Zanskar valley; and then go to Ladakh via Kargil.
All Weather Road Connectivity to Ladakh ?
There are two hitches in this plan right now. First is that you cannot reach Lahaul by road. Rohtang Pass is closed already and until the Tunnel is thrown open for tourists, you cannot go to Jispa from Manali by road. The nearest estimate of opening Rohtang Tunnel is sometimes towards the end of next year. Second hitch is that the road across Shinku La is not yet completely operational and open for civilians. Army has completed the road but is still working on it and not allowing civilians traffic.
As a matter of fact, I doubt that BRO will actually be able to keep Shinku La open all year long. Both Lahaul and Zanskar receive high amounts of snow each year and Shinku La is at a very high altitude. Keeping it open during peak winter is like keeping Rohtang open all year long which never actually happens.
So the answer is no, you cannot go to Ladakh by road in winter as of now. Once Rohtang Tunnel is completed and Shinku La is open for tourists, then we will know more about this; but my assumption is that even then it will be a task impossible. Reaching Ladakh by road in winter may become a possibility after Zojila tunnel is completed but not before that. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below; or at our Community Forum; and I will be glad to answer.