If you are planning a road-trip to Leh, then I am sure you would be thinking which of the two routes is better to reach Leh. An ideal itinerary for the trip would be to cover both the highways. It is just a matter of which one you should choose to reach there and which one to take for journey back home. There are however still a few factors to consider while thinking Manali Leh Vs Srinagar Leh Highway is terms of which one to take first. The question actually is which road to take to get to Leh and which road to take for journey back home. In this article, I will provide some details on both these roads which should help you make a final decision.
Below is a small comparison of these two roads, based on which you can make your decision.
Both these highways are equally beautiful. Landscapes changes at every turn of the road and it is a feast for the eyes all the way.
Manali-Leh highway is tougher and higher in altitude. So if it is your first time at high altitudes or you are new to the entire road-trip thing, you should choose the Srinagar route to get to Leh. Your body will get accustomed to high altitudes better this way and you would have less chance of suffering from Acute mountain sickness. In addition, Manali Leh road is tough on both, the driver / rider and the vehicle. So if you are unsure of your riding / driving skills and your vehicle’s capabilities, hit the Srinagar route first and you can take the return journey via Manali.
Srinagar to Leh route is open for longer a long period of time than Manali-Leh route. It means that the road from Srinagar gets in a better shape earlier than the one from Manali and also remains drivable for a longer period of time.
This should not actually make much of a difference; unless you are planning a trip in October or in June when the road from Manali has just opened. If visiting in June, go from Srinagar; because it will give another week to 10 days and you can hope the Manali route to get in a better shape. If visiting in early October, take the Manali route first; because it can start to snow any time on this road due to which there is a high chance of the road closing down for a few days or for the season.
This is another piece that you can consider before making a sound choice. For example, if you are planning to include Spiti, sensible choice would be take the Manali route first. Apart from this, a lot of other factors count it like how many days you have in hand and what other places do you want to include.
Manali Leh Vs Srinagar Leh Highway?
If asked for an opinion; I would say that it all pretty much boils down to 2 factors; AMS and region. If you have your family with you on the trip, maybe your parents; then you must take the road from Srinagar first. It won’t be as hard on their health from here as it would be if you took the Manali route first. There is also the safety concern. If you have never driven or rode a motorcycle in hilly areas or tough terrains; then please go via Srinagar. You do not want to risk the safety of your own and anyone traveling with you.
However, if you are a skilled driver; confident of your vehicle, have done high altitudes; It doesn’t really matter which one you chose first; because end of the day, you must cover both.
Is Srinagar Leh Highway Safe?
Srinagar Leh highway is safe for tourists as long as you do not end up being at the wrong place at the wrong time. What I meant by this is that things change in Kashmir valley overnight but the locals over there know that tourism is where they earn their bread and butter from. If they started to hurt tourists, no one will visit Kashmir anymore and they will struggle to make ends meet. They ensure that whatever their fight is, tourists do not get bothered by this.
With that being said, as a traveler, you also need to make sure that you do not end up being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Keep a close watch on the news and if there are incidents of violence or curfew, make sure you avoid traveling towards Kashmir. By violence I mean not mean the regular protests which is an everyday affair there. I mean violence in terms of shooting and people dying; curfew for days altogether; incidents of snow pelting everyday kind of situation.
Srinagar to Leh or Manali to Leh?
For first time travelers, taking the road from Srinagar to Leh first makes more sense. If you are with family, then too go via Srinagar. While traveling in either April, May, October or November, then you will have to take Srinagar Leh route only. If there is news of any violence in the valley, then go via Manali and return the same way. For someone who has been to Ladakh a few times before; and want to cover areas like Changthang, Hanle and Karzok specifically; Manali should be the preferred route. If you are short on time and want to make a quick trip, then going via Manali will save you a few days.
I hope the information above on Manali Leh Vs Srinagar Leh highway was of help. 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.