Mobile Phone Services in Leh & Other Areas of Ladakh

by Vargis.Khan

Mobile Phone Services in Leh & Other Areas of Ladakh

In the last few years, tourism in Ladakh has been on rise; and what once was considered a destination for adventurous types now also gets considered for family vacations. A friend of mine visited Ladakh this year;; and had to get in a queue to get his picture taken in front of the board; at the top of Khardung La which means that places where earlier you won’t find a living soul for miles have now started to get crowded.

With that being said, the fact remains that Ladakh is still a region that gets cut off from the rest of the country for several months altogether; in Winter and where even some of the basic amenities are missing in several areas.  One of such amenities is mobile phone and internet connectivity; which is still hard to get in the upper Himalayan region. Add to that the fact that Ladakh is part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir; and is right next to the Chinese border which leads to several restrictions that get applied due to the sensitivity of the region.

mobile phone services in leh

Mobile Phone Services In Leh

How are the phone services in Leh and other areas of Ladakh?

Well the first thing that you need to know while planning your trip is that only a postpaid mobile connection will work in Ladakh. This actually applies to not only Leh but several other parts of Jammu and Kashmir as well. Only prepaid connections bought within J&K will work in Ladakh and parts of Kashmir, all other prepaid connections from rest of the country will remain non-functional. If you are a prepaid mobile phone user, then you should get either get yourself a new postpaid connection or carry one of your family member’s phone.

Also read: How to Plan a Trip to Ladakh – A Complete Travel Guide

Which network works in Ladakh the best?

In terms of network providers, BSNL or MTNL connections work the best in Ladakh. They have the widest coverage range followed closely by Airtel. It is because of the fact that only BSNL, MTNL, Aircel and Airtel have networks in Ladakh. For other operators, if they have a roaming agreement with these companies, your phone will work else it will not. However it is safe to assume that almost all the companies have agreements with each other so if your phone is able to find a network, it will register itself on it and your phone will come back to life.

Do Mobile phones work on Manali Leh highway?

For Manali Leh highway, your phone will be off the network as soon as you start to descend on the other side Rohtang Pass. There is a possibility that you may continue to get network until Jispa and Darcha but do not really count on it.




Until the top of the Rohtang Pass, you will have full connectivity; but as soon as you start climbing down towards Lahaul Valley; network will either completely be gone or may remain on and off. BSNL or MTNL work the best in this area too; and chances of getting network until Jispa or Darcha is highest on their network. For rest, just assume that you will only be connected till Rohtang La. You will get the connectivity back once you start getting close to Leh, somewhere after Upshi but this too is not 100%.

Also read: A Complete Road Map of Ladakh

Of all the times I went to Ladakh, only once I got the network before I reached Leh. For rest of the times, I remained off the network until a few hours after reaching Leh and it was sometime in the night that I got the network back. Since only BSNL and Airtel have networks here, chances of catching the network fast are best with both these operators. For other operators, I believe they take a while to register on these networks and hence the delay in getting the connection back. Best would be to call your folks back home while you are either in Manali or at Rohtang La and let them know that your phone would not work for next 2-3 days and that you will call them after you reach Leh.

How is the mobile phone service on Srinagar Leh highway?

What I mentioned above for Manali to Leh applies for Srinagar Leh highway as well. Your phone will become useless after leaving Srinagar and will remain so for most of the journey until you have reached Leh. BSNL and MTNL users can hope to get network at Sonamarg and Drass as well and there is a high possibility of getting the network for all operators at Kargil and Lamayuru but again, do not really count on it. BSNL and Airtel phones will jump back to Life as you reach outskirts to Leh. For other operators, it may take a couple of hours before you are back on the network. Better to call back home and inform your family that they may not be able to reach you for next couple of days until your reach Leh.

Mobile Phone Services In Leh

No matter which network provider you use, you will get full connectivity in the city of Leh and areas around it. Things however start to change as you start to move away from the city, i.e., towards Nubra valley or Pangong Tso.

Also read: How to Plan a Solo Trip to Ladakh

Mobile Network in Nubra Valley

For Nubra Valley, your phone will remain operational until about Khardung La top no matter which network you are on. Post that, once you start descending in to Nubra Valley network will pretty much remain gone; except for Diskit and Hunder where you may or may not get a network. BSNL has good coverage in Nubra valley; so if you are using a BSNL or MTNL phone; chances of your phone remaining alive in Nubra valley are high.

Phone Connectivity at Pangong Tso

Towards Pangong Tso, your phone will go off network the moment you take the turn towards Chang La, somewhere around Sakti; post which it will not work until you reach back Leh. There is a high chance of getting the signal back in the village of Tangste; but there is absolutely no connectivity around Pangong Tso. Offlate, BSNL phones have started to get network at Pangong Tso; or at Chang La; but the voice clarity will be horrible.

Mobile Phone Coverage at Tso Moriri

Tso Moriri : Pretty Much the same as Pangong Tso. Absolutely no phone connectivity in Karzok and your mobile phone will be useless after you leave Leh. There is however a chance of getting the network in Chumathang.

Also read: When is the Best time to visit Ladakh?

Do Mobile phone work in Chushul, Hanle, Loma and other regions of Changthang?

This will be the route you take to reach Tso Moriri from Pangong directly, via Chushul, Loma, Hanle and Nyoma. Absolutely no connectivity in this region, no matter which network operator you are with. I have heard that BSNL covers this region but my phone never worked here. My friend had a BSNL postpaid connection but even his phone remained dead.

  • Mobile connectivity in Zanskar Valley: No connectivity. Your only chance of getting the signal are in Kargil.
  • Agham Shyok Road: No phone connectivity on this route
  • Wari La route: No phone connectivity here as well.
  • Mobile data connectivity in Ladakh: You will get data connectivity wherever the network is available; but it will be too slow. As far as I am aware, only 2G data is available in Ladakh but I may be wrong about this.
  • STD or Satellite Phone Service in Ladakh: You can find a phone booth, either a normal or satellite phone at Diskit in Nubra Valley, Tangste, Phobra, Merak near Pangong Tso, Karzok at Tso Moriri, Chushul and Hanle in Changthang and Padum in Zanskar. However being in a remote region, chances of finding the booth open and operational is always under question.
Can or should you buy a new Sim in Ladakh?

A little off the topic, but if you are thinking to buy a new phone connection while in Ladakh; a BSNL or MTNL, then you might as well just forget about it. It is not really an easy task to get a new connection over there for people from outside the state of J&K. It is not even that wise either to get a new connection for just a matter of few days; so better stick to your own postpaid plan; and keep your family and friends informed about when your phone will not work. However if you are a foreigner; you may apply for a prepaid phone connection by submitting photocopies of your passport and two passport sized photographs.

Fax and post facilities are available in Leh, Padum, Kargil and Nubra valley. In leh, you can easily find an Internet Cafe but in remote areas of Ladakh; no internet service may be available.

I hope this information was helpful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask in the comment section below; or at our Community Forum; and ask and I will be glad to answer.

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50 comments

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Loh WS July 3, 2019 - 8:40 am

Hi… Being a foreign tourist traveling around Ladakh area for maybe 1 week, are we allowed to register postpaid line? In this case for BSNL. Great and informative blog by the way!

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Vargis.Khan July 3, 2019 - 1:00 pm

Hi – Foreigners can get a prepaid Airtel SIM in Leh at the main office that will be activated within several hours. Just bring your passport and a copy of your visa.
If you know a local Ladakhi person who will provide you with a copy of their Voter ID card or drivers license, you can get a prepaid BSNL SIM from the main office near the bus station.

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Navneet Mundhra June 28, 2019 - 12:30 pm

This is 2019. Will Airtel or Jio 4G work in at least Leh city? Do I need a postpaid connection of even Jio and Airtel? I will have some office work to do. Will I be able to login from Leh city? Pls help amigo. Thanks

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Vargis.Khan June 28, 2019 - 1:28 pm Reply
How to Plan a Trip to Leh Ladakh in June? - Vargis Khan May 20, 2019 - 11:38 pm

[…] When it comes to mobile and data connectivity in Ladakh, it is pretty much limited to Leh city only. BSNL here has the widest coverage; but it is only Leh where you will get a stable connection with good voice clarity. All other networks will be dead the moment you leave Leh; but you will get intermittent BSNL connection in Nubra and Pangong as well. Voice clarity will be extremely bad but you will at least be able to send text messages if needed. For more information on this topic, please read Mobile Services in Leh and Other areas of Ladakh. […]

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Abhisek Panda May 1, 2019 - 11:34 pm

Can we go to leh on 3rd week of August..what are the chances that rain will play spoilsport..
Do we need to keep a few day in reserve?

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Richa May 1, 2019 - 2:02 pm

Will jio postpaid will work?

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Vargis.Khan May 1, 2019 - 10:30 pm

yes it will

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How to Plan a Trip to Ladakh in May - Vargis Khan February 5, 2019 - 1:30 am

[…] When it comes to mobile and data connectivity in Ladakh, it is pretty much limited to Leh city only. BSNL here has the widest coverage; but it is only Leh where you will get a stable connection with good voice clarity. All other networks will be dead the moment you leave Leh; but you will get intermittent BSNL connection in Nubra and Pangong as well. Voice clarity will be extremely bad but you will at least be able to send text messages if needed. For more information on this topic, please read Mobile Services in Leh and Other areas of Ladakh. […]

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Inder December 29, 2018 - 5:59 am

I am going 3 jan 2019 leh ladakh than how pack ? Done fight tricks .hotel not

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Vargis.Khan December 29, 2018 - 1:23 pm Reply
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Prateek September 5, 2018 - 6:20 pm

Hello i am planning to visit leh ladkah in 3rd week of September, please suggest is it safe to during this month, what will be the temperature, we are planning by flight.
Please help

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Vargis.Khan September 5, 2018 - 9:26 pm

Yes it is safe and weather will be very cold so pack accordingly.

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ANJAN JYOTI DAS August 26, 2018 - 5:33 am

IS IT WORTH GOING TO TURTUK??? HOW IS THE ROAD?? ACTUALLY HAVE BEEN TO LEH THRICE, FOR STOK KANGRI and CHADAR RIVER TREK. so its only the until my third visit that i could visit pangong lake. this time i want to visit nubra valley, and pangong again, possibly tso moriri, so it worth going to turtuk??? also plz give information how is the road from hunder to spangmik along the shyok river,so that i dnt have to come to leh and wasting one day up and down the khardungla before pangong or tso moriri.

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Neha singh August 15, 2018 - 6:54 pm

Hello
My husband went to the leh ladakh by byk, two days ago he called me from pangong std booth bt after that no communication, what should i do? Please help i m worried for him.

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Vargis.Khan August 15, 2018 - 8:07 pm

I am sure he is OK, must have gone towards Hanle and Karzok where there is no signal. Do you know what his itinerary was?

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Neha singh August 16, 2018 - 2:35 am

He told me on next day he will return back.

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Vargis.Khan August 16, 2018 - 5:47 am

Do you know what his itinerary was? Where was he headed after Pangong?

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Aadi August 16, 2018 - 12:00 pm

Just returned from Ladakh few days back,currently Moble network is really bad even BSNL works only in Leh.
During 15 August I think the Army further limits the network.

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Vargis.Khan August 16, 2018 - 12:32 pm

Thanks Aadi

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Gagandeep Singh August 15, 2018 - 3:33 pm

How can I book online air tickets from Leh .Does internet cafe have enough speed to book tickets

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Vargis.Khan August 15, 2018 - 4:08 pm

Yes they do

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SHUBHRANGSHU SENGUPTA August 3, 2018 - 7:16 pm

,What is your opinion for going Ladakh in september 3rd week ?

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Vargis.Khan August 3, 2018 - 10:20 pm

It is considered among the best times to visit Ladakh.

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Lathika Hariharan July 8, 2018 - 11:51 am

I would like to know if the vodaphone postpaid from India will work in leh and ladak?? Also could you please guide through the internet connectivity of vodaphone?
Or if I convert my MTNL to postpaid will I get a good internet speed??

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Vargis.Khan July 8, 2018 - 9:02 pm

Vodafone will only work in Leh city, nowhere else. MTNL will work at several places in Ladakh but reception will be bad. Internet connectivity and speed will be pathetic no matter which network.

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Sneha July 5, 2018 - 7:10 pm

Does Mumbai Postpaid MTNL works in Leh ?

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Vargis.Khan July 5, 2018 - 11:55 pm

Yes it does

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Jnanendra Pattanaik July 5, 2018 - 9:50 am

I have prepaid connection BSNL and Airtel. Will it help me there in leh or not ??

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Vargis.Khan July 5, 2018 - 2:03 pm

No. Only postpaid connections work in Ladakh

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Tina July 1, 2018 - 6:09 pm

As of the current situation, in 2018 , which is the best network provider in Leh City, Nubra Valley and Pangong Lake ?

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Vargis.Khan July 1, 2018 - 6:13 pm

BSNL

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Aadish Mehrotra June 8, 2018 - 11:21 am

very useful blogs …all of them,What is your opinion for going Ladakh in August first week?

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Vargis.Khan June 8, 2018 - 11:40 am

You can go but be prepared for rain on the way as it will be the monsoon season

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Sambhu Halder June 7, 2018 - 2:39 pm

I have a vodafone postpaid connection of Kolkata .Will it work in lehladakh ?? What about internet????

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Vargis.Khan June 7, 2018 - 11:10 pm

Yes it will work but only in Leh city. You will get internet connectivity but it will be very slow.

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Rio May 14, 2018 - 6:56 pm

Will Vodafone Sim of Kolkata work in Leh

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Vargis.Khan May 15, 2018 - 4:44 pm

Yes but in Leh only, nowhere else in Ladakh

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Reji March 27, 2018 - 5:56 am

I have an idea sim of delhi . Is it work in nyoma and nidar

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Vargis.Khan March 27, 2018 - 1:25 pm

No it will not

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DANISH AHMAD September 1, 2017 - 4:05 am

BSNL has started its 3G services in Ladakh this year…………I was able to get 2-3Mbps speeds……..

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Vargis.Khan September 3, 2017 - 8:19 pm

Thanks for adding this information Danish Bhai. Did you get BSNL connectivity anywhere else other than Leh?

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DANISH AHMAD March 15, 2018 - 6:22 am

Brother Airtel has also started its 3g 4g services in Ladakh this year……….And they have added few places to their network like Sonamarg..Baltal….Matayen….Pandras….Drass…Bhimbat……etc….and also in my opinion airtel is the best network now on Srinagar to Leh road…………

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Vargis.Khan March 19, 2018 - 6:46 pm

Thanks Danish Bhai. I appreciate this informaaiton.

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SuperMario June 2, 2017 - 12:57 pm

Does Airtel have 3G data connectivity now in Leh Ladakh ? (as shown in some ad commercials nowadays)

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Vargis.Khan June 2, 2017 - 2:06 pm

It wasn’t until last year. Connectivity will only be available in Leh town, nowhere else in Ladakh and until last year, Airtel internet was barely 2G even in Leh. Pathetic speed. Maybe it will improve this year.

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Ramesh May 18, 2017 - 8:59 am

Most of the information is very useful. I just a have a query regarding connectivity in the hotels. In case we are not having a post paid BSNL or Airtel, is it possible to use landlines of hotels in which we stay? Also what kind of clothes should we pack in for the period last week of May to First week of June? thanking you in advance

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Vargis.Khan May 18, 2017 - 2:50 pm

Hi Ramesh – Yes in case your phones are not working, you can definitely use the landline phones with the exception of Pangong Tso where you will stay at a camp site with no phone available.
Read the following post for details on what kind of clothes you should be packing for Ladakh trip.
https://vargiskhan.com/log/clothes-for-ladakh-trip-pack/

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Chityala Alok December 16, 2017 - 1:56 am

I have a vodafone postpaid connection of delhi. Will it work in leh ?? What about internet????

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Vargis.Khan December 18, 2017 - 3:29 pm

Yes it will work. You will get data connectivity as well but it will be extremely slow

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