Until some time ago, say about 3-4 years, one of the most important aspect to worry about while planning a trip was of fuel availability in leh ladakh; which was indeed rare. If you were going via Manali, then the last petrol pump will be at Tandi and last mechanic at Keylong. From Srinagar side, your only hope of finding a mechanic or fuel was only at Kargil. If going for sightseeing towards Nubra, Pangong or Tso Moriri; the only fuel station was in Leh City and that was pretty much it.
But then those were the days when not many people went to Ladakh. These roads were occasionally used by either the locals, or Indian Army; or travel enthusiasts and adventure junkies. Ironically enough, it was never really the scenic beauty of Ladakh that used to draw tourists here back then. It was actually the remoteness of the region; the tough roads, challenging terrain, harsh weather; and the non-availability of basic amenities for miles is what was the charm of visiting Ladakh.
But all that is now in the past. Thanks to Bollywood, “3 Idiots” to be specific, tourism in Ladakh is on a rise and more and more people have started to visit here each year.
With the increasing number of tourists, facilities in Ladakh are now getting better too. Roads conditions have gotten smoother, new hotels come up each year, more areas are getting opened to tourists and connectivity by public transport has greatly improved. Among all these, the availability of fuel in Leh Ladakh too is now pretty much everywhere.
Surprised? Do not be. Tourism industry in Ladakh is flourishing and everyone here is trying their best to get the largest piece of this cake. There are no new petrol stations though so let me first clarify that. But Locals here have worked a way around it. Almost on every major tourist route, you will easily get fuel either at the Dhabas, or Chadar tents or small shops. Surprising part however is the unlimited supply that the villagers have. If you drove in with a 45 liters Diesel tank empty, they will still have enough to fill it all the way to the top so you really got nothing to worry about.
They of course will add their margin to it so expect the price of the fuel to be anywhere between Rs. 90 – Rs. 100.
Fuel Availability in Leh Ladakh
Let me break it down by areas and mention where you will be able to find fuel.
Petrol Pumps on Manali Leh Highway
The only petrol station between Manali to Leh is at Tandi; and Karu as you get closer to Leh; nowhere else. Total distance between Manali to Leh is about 473 kilometers. Tandi lies at a distance of about 110 kilometers from Manali and Karu is about 35 kilometers before Leh. So this leaves you about 330 kilometers to tackle without a petrol pump on Manali Leh route.
This may have been a problem until some years ago but not anymore really. Apart from Tandi Petrol Pump, you will also easily find fuel at the several Chadar tents in between, including the ones at Sarchu and Pang. The Karu Petrol Pump too remains operational in tourist season.
If you are however not too keen on buying fuel in black, then you will of course have to carry some spare. First thing to do is to know what is your bike’s fuel tank capacity. If it is 15 liters then you may not even carry any fuel at all. Just get a tankful done at Tandi and it will see you until Leh easily. If you are riding a bike like KTM Duke which can only carry 10 liters when full; then get a couple of 2 liters Pepsi or Coke Bottles and get those filled up at Tandi. Keep these bottles safe with rest of your luggage. After every 50-60 odd kilometers, keep emptying these bottles one by one in the tank. Carry 3 such bottles and your job is done.
Petrol Pumps on Srinagar Leh Highway
There are petrol stations on Srinagar Leh route at 4 places; Nagbal, Ganderbal, Kargil and Khalsi. Srinagar Leh highway runs a total of about 420 kilometers. Ganderbal is about 50 odd kilometers from Srinagar. Distance between Ganderbal to Kargil is 183 kilometers. Kargil to Khalsi is 122 kilometers and Khalsi to Leh is about 96 kilometers. So as you can see, you never really go too great a distance without a gas station; so fuel is not really a concern while plying on this route. Just keep getting a tank full at each of these petrol pumps and you will easily reach Leh without carrying any spare. Apart from these 4 places, you can easily also get fuel in Black at Sonamarg, Drass and Lamayuru.
Petrol Pump in Leh
I think this goes without saying but there is definitely a petrol pump in Leh which will remain operational irrespective of the time you arrive here. The other one nearby is Karu Petrol Pump located about 35 kilometers from Leh City.
Petrol Pump in Nubra Valley
There is a hand operated Petrol Pump in Diskit which happens to be the only Petrol Pump in Nubra Valley. There is no petrol pump in Hunder, Panamik, Turtuk or any other village in Nubra Valley. However, you will still get fuel in Black at all these places at small grocery or tea shops. Turtuk however is an exception where you may or may not get it. The petrol pump in Diskit will charge you at the regular price though, not in black.
Diskit is at a distance of 116 kilometers from Leh and Turtuk at 205 kilometers. Distance between Leh to Panamik is 141 kilometers.Distance between Diskit and Panamik is about 55 kilometers. What I am getting at with this is that unless you were planning to head straight to Pangong from Nubra Valley, you do not actually have to worry about fuel while visiting Nubra Valley. One tank full at Leh will do the job for round trip unless your bike has a really small fuel tank in which case, the petrol pump at Diskit will come to rescue.
Petrol Pump Near Pangong Lake
There is really no petrol pump near Pangong Lake. The closest one would be at Karu, about 190 kilometers away. There is no other petrol station at any of the villages en route including Sakti, Tangtse, Durbuk, Lukung and Spangmik. This statement however is only for a petrol pump; as you will easily find fuel selling in black at almost everywhere on this route. Even the small Dhabas on the way will have it.
Pangong is about 225 kilometers from Leh so a tankful at the city petrol station will safely see you arriving at the lake. Once you reach Pangong, ask at the Chadar tents right at the beginning of the lake. You will definitely find fuel there selling for Rs. 100 per liter.
Petrol Pump on Shyok Road
If you are traveling straight from Nubra to Pangong, you will not find fuel selling anywhere on Shyok road, even in Black. You will have to buy it from Diskit Petrol Station and then the next option are the Chadar tents at Pangong.
Petrol Pump on Chushul Route
If you were traveling on Chushul route, going straight to Moriri from Pangong that is; then you will find fuel selling in black at Loma, Nyoma, Mahe, Hanle and Karzok. The only sure shot option that I can confirm is the Padma Homestay at Hanle. They keep unlimited fuel supply in tourist season. Apart from this, you will find surely fuel selling at small shops at Nyoma and Karzok as well.
Petrol Pumps on Chumathang Route
I cannot really say this for sure but I think you will be able to buy fuel on this route as well, near Chumathang. You will not really need to though. One tank full from Leh will be enough to last till Karzok, about 211 kilometers in total. At Karzok, you can then again buy for your return journey if you were not carrying spare.
Petrol Pump in Zanskar Valley
On the Zanskar side, there is a hand operated petrol pump in Padum. Apart from this, the small shops at Sankoo, Parkachik, Panikhar and Rangdum too sell it in black. The Zanskar valley is not visited by all the tourists that come to Ladakh so availability here may sometimes become a problem. For Zanskar, I will still recommend that you carry fuel in spare from Kargil.
Things are definitely getting better in Ladakh and planning a trip here is now way easier than it was a decade ago. I hope the information above regarding fuel availability in Leh Ladakh was helpful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below; or at our Community Forum; and I will be glad to answer.