Tourist Places on Manali Leh Highway

by Vargis.Khan

This article “Tourist Places on Manali Leh Highway” is in continuation with the previous article in Manali Leh Highway Travel Guide. Last article covered the various accommodation options available on Manali to Leh route. In this article, I will provide some information on some of the major tourist attractions on Manali Leh highway.

The meaning of going out on a trip or vacation is different for all of us. While some people manage to visit Ladakh several times, not all of us would want to do that or maybe find time to do so each year. When I receive a query from someone asking for my help with their travel plan, one of the most common questions is, “Did I miss anything here?” or “Is there any other place or tourist attraction that I should add in this plan?”

So what do you see on Manali Leh highway? Every tourist destination, every hill station, every city has something special to offer, something that attracts thousands of tourists to it each year. What does Manali Leh highway offer? Where do you stop? Which place can you just pass through? Is there a list that you can keep handy to ensure that you did not miss anything? Read on to find out.

tourist places on manali leh highway

Tourist Places on Manali Leh Highway

Quite honestly, the entire Manali Leh highway is a tourist spot in itself. This entire 400 odd kilometers long road is a destination where every turn would dazzle you with its natural beauty. To point out one particular place that can be termed as “tourist attraction” is quite tough and not even fair in my opinion. But yes, I do agree on the part that some places deserve a little more time than others and the idea behind this article is to provide you information on what to keep your eye open for while passing through a certain area.

What to see on Manali Leh Highway?

Below is a list of what Manali Leh Highway will offer you.

  • Natural Beauty like no other: This definitely remains on top of the list. As I mentioned above, every turn here would leave you enchanted. From the lush green hills of Kullu Valley to the cold barren desert of Ladakh, every sigh is worth cherishing.
  • Adventure: Need I say this? Driving on a road that is open for just 5 months in a year and completing the journey would fill your soul with a feeling of accomplishment that is going to last a lifetime.
  • Solitude: In a country like ours, the second most populous in the world, Solitude is a little hard to find but you will get plenty of it while traveling from Manali to Leh.
  • Peace: Imaging sitting on a hill with snow capped mountains all around, not a soul in sight, just the sound of cold wind, and you will get the idea.
  • Culture: Experience and witness culture and customs of Ladakh, the monasteries, the food and wonderful people; things you will not find elsewhere in the country.
  • High altitude passes: A total of 5 high altitude passes that you will cross in order to get to Leh, each one of which is an experience in itself.
  • Nallahs: Ever driven through a stream of water with damaged road and rocks underneath, a hill on one side and straight fall on other? Get ready because you will be doing it several times on Manali Leh highway.
Tourist Places on Manali Leh Highway

With this being said, there still remains the question of what do you see? Where do you stop and spend a little more time than other. Below are a few places that in my opinion are the star of this journey. A detailed description of these places is further in this article.

  • Manali
  • Rohtang La
  • Jispa
  • Deepak Taal
  • Baralacha La
  • Suraj Taal
  • Shaheed Sainik Bhawan
  • Gata Loops
  • Nakeela
  • Lachulung La
  • Moore Plains
  • Tso Kar
  • Tanglang La

I will also list down all the places on Manali Leh highway below with a brief description. You can take a printout of this while on the journey, more like a check list, to ensure that you did not miss visiting some place that was worth a visit.

Manali

One of the major tourist destinations of our country, Manali needs no introduction. At a height of 2,050 m (6,726 ft), this small town is a beauty in itself, though in my opinion it is getting way too crowded these days.




Traveling from Manali to Leh would mean that you will be in Manali between the months of June till September, of which June and July also happen to be the tourist season here so be prepared for a swarm of tourists.

Also read: A Detailed Road Map of Ladakh

Hotels and guest houses are in plenty here so finding a place to stay will not be any problem at all If you want, you can spend a day in Manali before beginning your journey to Leh. This way you can get a final check done on your motorcycles, car and will also provide you with ample time to obtain Rohtang Permits.

Read below for more details on obtaining the permits and restrictions that apply to getting across Rohtang La.

Also read: How to Obtain A Permit for Rohtang Pass

Ascent to Rohtang

A task in itself, the ascent to the mighty Rohtang Pass will give you the taste of what you are in for right at the beginning of your journey. Start as early as possible from Manali, well before sunrise. Rohtang top is located at roughly around 55 kms from Manali, the first 40 kms of which are a feast for eyes. Numerous water streams, waterfalls, enthralling landscapes, best of which you will witness at sunrise.

You will not really see the sun rise but that hue at top of the peaks is a sight in itself. This road really gets crowded as the day grows and you do not want to get stuck in traffic hence it’s very important that you start early. Last 10-15 kilometers near the top are a mix of muddy slush, pebbles and water crossings that will both scare and thrill you at the same time. Below is a breakdown of places that you will come across while ascending Rohtang La.

Places on Rohtang Route
  • Palchhan – Just a small village on the route, good enough for a cup of tea or breakfast if you started from Manali without having breakfast. No tourist spot here as such.
  • Kothi – Another small village like Palchhan.
  • Gulaba – Gulaba is at a distance of about 20 kilometers and also known as lower winter snow point after the road to Rohtang Pass gets closed in Winter. Nothing to see here in July except for its natural beauty.
  • Marhi – Also known as highest snow point in Winters, Marhi has a few dhabas where you can stop and eat, and that is pretty much it.
  • Rani Nallah – Just a few kilometers ahead of Marhi, Rani Nala is a glacier point and also a spot where you need to be careful while riding or driving. No matter which time of the year you reach here, you will always find snow at Rani Nala and something the snow walls can be several feet high. Once the snow starts melting, the entire stretch near Rani Nallah gets prone to landslides and road always remains in pathetic condition. If you failed to start early from Manali, this is the spot where you may encounter a traffic jam.
Rohtang Top

This will be your first high altitude pass of the journey. 90% chances are that you will find snow at the top. Spend some time on your first high altitude pass of the journey and revere the sight that you will never forget for the rest of your life, if this is your first time at Rohtang. Literal meaning of Rohtang is “a pile of corpses”, why it is called that is anybody’s guess but do not let this scare you. Beguiling landscapes consisting of fierce wind, chilling temperature, snow capped peaks and lush green valley’s around is what Rohtang Pass is famous for. At the top, total elevation from sea level is 3,979 m (13,051 ft) and total distance between Manali and Rohtang Pass is approximately 51 kilometers.

Also read: Accommodation on Manali Leh Highway

The road across this mighty hilltop connects the valley of Lahaul and Spiti to Kullu valley and remains closed for about 6 months in a year, from sometime in November to April. If this is your first time at such high altitude, it will also be the place where you may or may not feel high altitude sickness. If you do then do not spend too much time at the top and start descending on the other side immediately. As you gradually get to a lower altitude, effects of AMS will also subside.

Gramphu

This is the spot where a road bifurcates towards Spiti valley. There is nothing here except for a small Dhaba which also works as a Chadar tent, offering a bed for as low as Rs. 200 – Rs. 300. If it wasn’t for this Dhaba and the road bifurcation, you probably wouldn’t even notice that you have crossed Gramphu.

Chandra River

Right after Gramphu, you will start travelling with River Chandra until Jispa. There is a beautiful legend related to this river. Click HERE to read about it.

Kokhsar

A few kilometers ahead of Gramphu, Kokhsar is famous as being the first settlement in Lahaul Valley. Kokhsar has several small dhabas that also operate as Chadar tents and a few mechanic shops as well. There is also a PWD guest house in Kokhsar but you really need to book in advance to stay at this guest house.

Sissu

Also known as Khagling, this is another small village located on the banks of Chandra River. The chopper service from Lahaul to Kullu valley operates out of Sissu in Winters. Locals use this service to get on the other side of Rohtang Pass, to Manali, after the roads close in Winter due to snowfall. There are a few Dhabas/Chadar tents and a PWD guest house in Sissu but like Kokhsar, you will have to book in advance to stay in this guest house as well.

Also read: Manali Leh Highway Travel Guide

Tandi

This small town is famous for two things. The first one is that it has the last petrol pump on Manali Leh highway. After Tandi, next gas station is another 365 kms away as you get closer to Leh so ensure that you fuel up here. Second thing that this town is famous for is the confluence of River Chandra, originating from Chandratal Lake, and River Bhaga, origination from Surajtal lake. Together these rivers become one here and form Chandrabhaga river which , after entering Jammu & Kashmir, is called River Chenab. Stop for a while when you cross Tandi and witness the confluence.

Keylong

Keylong is the administrative headquarter of Lahaul & Spiti Valley and the largest town on Manali Leh highway. It is also home to Kardang Monastery, the largest and most important monastery of Drukpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Being a major town, place is filled with ample amount of hotels and guest houses, fitting in to any budget. HRTC and HPTDC buses too halt here for the night before continuing to Leh the next day. There is a high possibility that you may get signal here if you are using a postpaid BSNL or MTNL cell phone connections. There is also an ATM at Keylong in case you forgot to withdraw cash from Manali.

Jispa

Another small town on Manali Leh highway and my favorite place to stay. Accommodation is in form of 2 cemented hotels and a few camp sites as detailed in the previous post. There is also a mechanic shop at Jispa which happens to be the last mechanic shop on route. I must recommend spending the night in Jispa and it will be worth every single penny.

Also read: Manali to Leh Road Map With Distance

Darcha

The only thing worth mentioning about Darcha is that it is the end or starting point of the famous Zanskar trek. There are a few chadar tents here if you would like to stay for the night.

Deepak Taal

Right after Darcha and before the ascent of Baralacha La, it is a very small lake but do not let the size deceive you. It may be smaller in size but a giant when it comes to natural beauty. There are a couple of Dhabas / Chadar tents right next to the lake. It also works as a camping spot if you are planning to pitch your own tent. Talk to the Dhaba owner and they can arrange your food and will let you use their washrooms in exchange of a small charge.

Patseo

Nothing too great about Patseo. It is just a small place with a few Army camps.

Zingzing Bar

I really wonder who came up with this name but this is the spot where the ascent of Baralacha La starts. Roads can start to deteriorate post this point and there will be a few Nallahs to cross, formed by the melting snow atop Baralacha La.

Baralacha La

This will be your second high altitude pass on Manali Leh highway. Ironically, though Tanglang La is at a higher altitude, it is actually Baralacha La that remains covered with snow for a longer duration and receives way more snow than Tanglang La. If you are travelling in June or early July, chances are that you will find a lot of snow atop Baralacha La.

Suraj Taal

Also known as Surya Taal, it is a small lake at the top of Baralacha La Pass. It is the source of the Bhaga River and presents a stunning view amidst the mighty hill tops all around. There is also a trek between Suraj Taal and Chandratal that originates from here. If luck favored you, you may find the lake completely frozen even in July. The legend related to River Chandra is also relevant to Suraj Taal. Click HERE to read about it.

Shaheed Sainik Bhawan

Time to get a little taste of Supernatural. The ruins of Shaheed Sainik Bhawan at the top of Baralacha La are considered to be a haunted site. Click Here to read in detail about the haunting story. Not sure how true this is but sounds like just a made up story to me.

Killing Sarai

Another weird name but the road conditions here will be mostly bad, terrible as a matter of fact and this is why I guess the name.

Bharatpur

Also known as Bharatpur City ( I am not sure why) this is a small location for camp sites and Chadar Tents. If you were planning to camp at Sarchu, you may want to consider Bharatpur City as well because camps here are way cheaper than Sarchu.

Also read: Manali to Leh – Available Modes of Transport

Sarchu

Sarchu is the point where the state of Himachal Pradesh ends and Jammu & Kashmir starts. It is like the center point of Manali Leh highway and a famous camping site. A lot of people chose to stay at Sarchu, either in a camp site, or a Chadar tent or camp on their own. If you are planning to pitch your own tent, it is recommended that you do so closer to a camp site. For a small charge, the camp site can give you a spot to camp and will also let you use their washroom facilities.

Gata Loops

A series of 21 hairpin bends that will take you to the third high altitude pass of the journey, Nakeela. It is also reported to be a haunted site. Click here to read about the ghost that haunts Gata Loops.

Nakeela

Your third high altitude pass, located at a height of 15,547 ft. If you are lucky, you may even see some wildlife here.

Lachulung La

Your fourth high altitude pass, located at a height of 16,616 ft. This is also the second highest pass on Manali Leh highway.

Pang

This is another major camping site on route. There is an entire series of Chadar tents here as mentioned in the previous post. The entire location of Pang is quite scenic with a river flowing while you approach Pang from Manali Side and More plains on Leh side.

Moore Plains

A plateau in the lap of Himalayas, Moore Plains are a sight to treasure. Do not however make the mistake of speeding as the road can get a lot bumpy without warning. Stay on the road and do not wander off. If you are lucky, you may spot a Kiyang or blue sheep here.

Debring

This is the place where a road bifurcates towards Tso Kar. There are a few Chadar tens and Dhabas at Debring.

Tso Kar

If you are ready to Leh the road for a little while, you may take the road towards Tso Kar which is about 20-25 kilometers from Debring. I do not really think that Tso Kar is that scenic but worth a visit. There are few Chadar Tents at Tso Kar if you want to stay. Leave the Manali Leh highway, go to the lake, spend some time there and return to Debring.

Tanglang La

Your fifth and last high altitude pass on this road, located at a height of 17,582 ft. In my opinion, it is also the toughest because of the severely damaged road leading to it. This pass is the highest on Manali Leh highway and also considered as second highest motorable pass in the world’ (this claims is disputed though, it may have been such once upon a time but not anymore). You will definitely feel the effects of AMS here and low levels of Oxygen. I recommend that you do not spend too much time at the top. Just stop, take a few pictures and be on your way.

Rumtse

While approaching Rumste and even after this small town; notice how the hills start to become colorful and even the vegetation starts to appear once again. There is a trek to Tso Kar and Tso Moriri, further to Spiti valley, that starts from Rumtse.

Also read: Manali to Leh – Minimum Days Required

Upshi

Nothing worth mentioning about Upshi, just another town on the way as you start to get closer to Leh.

Karu

Karu is a beautiful village on the Manali to Leh highway, just a few kilometers before Leh. The location of the village presents quit a vivid display of colors; the white on top of the hills, the green of trees, the colors of flowers and strangely in the stones as well.

Also read: Best Time to Travel from Manali to Leh

Leh

This is the town where you have been thriving to reach. A heaven on earth in each and every way.

These are however just the highlights. As I mentioned above, this entire road is an attraction of the journey so go ahead; take the challenge and cherish it for life; as there will be no time like the first time; no matter how many times you travel on it after.

I hope the information above was of help. If you need any further information; or have any questions; please feel free to ask in the comments section below; or at our Community Forum; and I will be glad to answer.

Related Articles

21 comments

Nakee La Pass, Ladakh - Travel Guide & Sightseeing - Vargis Khan November 4, 2020 - 12:49 am

[…] Also Read: Complete List of Tourist Attractions on Manali Leh Highway […]

Reply
Avatar
Thatch October 12, 2020 - 3:10 am

Thank you Vargis for sharing your Leh Manali travel and appreciate if very much.

I travel solo end June 2019 to Shimla (Delhi – Kalka – Shimla by train), not Manali.
Also Leh and Pangong Lake, by flight from Delhi. Stay at Jeevanam Villa, Leh is good. Managed by family.
Lovely experience and memorable trip. Luckily made it in 2019 as now Covid pandemic.

Was planning Manali – Leh by road this year. Will plan for mid 2021.
Based on your article, guess Jilpa good place to break.
What is the budget for private taxi, 1 way from Manali – Leh ?
Also, any time saving using new Atal tunnel ?

I’m from Kuala Lumpur. Feel free to contact and I shall provide unexplored route at Malaysia.
If I’m free, we drive together. You have any food restriction – vegetarian or others ?

Reply
Kunzum Pass - Batal - Chandratal : A Day of Adventure - Vargis Khan November 10, 2019 - 10:59 am

[…] we were talking, an HRTC bus came in from Manali on the way to Kaza. We asked the driver and his helper if they could be of any assistance. They […]

Reply
Manali Leh Highway Status 2020 Latest Updates - Vargis Khan October 27, 2019 - 7:39 pm

[…] On of the most frequent questions I get asked is what are some of the must visit places as you travel from Manali to Leh. Well, the answer is that there are plenty of tourist attractions on the way and I have provided complete information on it in Tourist Places on Manali Leh Highway. […]

Reply
Avatar
Madhu Samala April 22, 2019 - 6:22 pm

Hi Virgis khan, Thank you so much for your valuable information. Me and my wife are planning for a bike trip to leh between 25th May to 2nd June. Is it safe to travel as single couple? We want to visit pangong and tsomoriri. Is it possible to stay at pangong.. Will the road from leh to manali will open by 29th May this year.. BTW we r dng this from Bangalore on Dominar 400 with all safety gears. Thank you in advance

Reply
Avatar
Vargis.Khan April 22, 2019 - 11:11 pm

Hi Madhu – Yes it is safe to travel as a single couple and stay at Pangong & Moriri.

And yes, the roads will be open around your dates of travel

Reply
Avatar
Jenny March 24, 2019 - 11:43 am

Hello Vargisji

Let me first appreciate your work and interest . You have given so minute and perfect details and that too with being very honest.
I am planning to visit Leh via Manali with my family in june. I am thinking for two stops at jispa and sarchu. Is that ok? Kindly advise.

Reply
Avatar
Vargis.Khan March 24, 2019 - 4:58 pm

Hello Jenny Ji,

Yes you can do that but I would advise against it since you are with family. Sarchu and Pang are two places where everyone suffers from mountain sickness. It would be better to do Jispa to Leh straight.

Reply
Avatar
GARGESH ASSOCIATES July 13, 2018 - 2:22 pm

Dear Mr.Vargis. Have gone thro your very informative and helpful blogs. I am reaching leh by flight from Delhi on 7th Oct. Plan to spend 3-4 days in leh and travel back to Delhi via Cab / Bus. Need your advise on a few points – Is leh to Manali doable at this time of the year? Bus or One-way Taxi ? What about permits in reverse direction? Guess night stay would still be at Keylong? Any other advises? Thanks

Reply
Avatar
Vargis.Khan July 13, 2018 - 5:27 pm

Hello Gargesh,

1. Manali Leh highway usually remains accessible in first half of October but it all depends on how weather turns
2. HPTDC Bus will not be available, HRTC Bus may remain available, Shared taxis will definitely be available if the route is open
3. No permits needed for Leh to Manali
4. Night stay will be available at Keylong

Reply
Avatar
vatsal June 21, 2018 - 8:16 am

HI MR. VARGIS,

VATSAL HERE AGAIN.
IS IT POSSIBLE THAT I START EARLY BY 5.00 AM FROM JISPA THAN GO TO TSOKAR – CHUMATHANG – UPSHI AND REACH LEH BY 8.00 PM ?

Reply
Avatar
Vargis.Khan June 21, 2018 - 3:22 pm

Hi Vatsal, Yes if you started by 5 or 6 from Jispa. After Pang, take the right turn from Debring, go until Tso Kar, spend some time and be on your way back to Leh. It will take you at least one hour to 90 minutes for this diversion so plan accordingly.

Reply
Avatar
Md Sajid Ansari October 7, 2020 - 6:55 pm

Hello Vargisji
I am planing Leh Ladakh from Delhi to Leh for 15 day.
I will renting bike from Delhi
My route is delhi to Leh via Srinagar and return via manali.
Will I have to kept the bike in Leh for Nubra and panging and rent another bike for 3 day is it will be ok.

Reply
Avatar
Vargis.Khan October 10, 2020 - 8:09 am

Hello Sajid Bhai – Yes, you will have to leave your bike in Leh and rent another for visiting Nubra and Pangong.

Reply
Avatar
Rituparna Chakrabarti May 28, 2018 - 6:51 am

Hello Vargis ji,

We will be visiting Leh and the following is our itinery-

1) Day 1 – (9th June 2018) Flight from Kolkata to Delhi, Delhi to Srinagar. Travel from Srinagar airport to Sonamarg on the same day.

2) Day 2 – (10th June 2018) Start from Sonamarg for Kargil, via Baltal, Zojila pass. Stop at Dras War memorial and reach Kargil, leave the Srinagar car. From Kargil hire a local car (Kargil local car have permission to travel to Alchi monastery, the Srinagar car does not have that permission) for travel up to Leh. On the way visit Mulbek (34 kms, 45 mins), then Lamayaru (100 kms, 2 hrs 30 mins). Night stay in Lamayuru.

3) Day 3 – (11th June 2018) Start from Lamayaru visit Alchi (156 kms) (Alchi is off the Srinagar Leh National Highway 1D), Gurudwara Pathar Sahib and then reach Leh in the evening and night stay. Lunar landscape or moonland, Magnetic hill etc. are to be covered on the way.

4) Day 4 – (12th June 2018). From Leh go to Khardung La (40 kms, 1hr 20 mins) to Sumur Sand Dunes (116 kms, 3 hrs 20 mins), then to Panamik Hot Springs (139 kms, 4 hrs 15 mins) and Nubra Valley (160 kms, 5 hrs) and then to Diskit (235 kms). Night stay in Diskit or Hunder.

5) Day 5 – (13th June 2018) Start from Diskit / Hunder sand dunes (5 kms, 10 mins), and then to Turtuk (90 kms,2 hrs 50 mins) and return to Hunder (172 kms, 5 hrs).

6) Day 6 – (14th June 2018) From Hunder to Pangong Tso via Agam Shyok road and back to Leh.

7) Day 7 – (15th June 2018) Leh – Tso Moriri via Chumathang.

8) Day 8 – (16th June 2018) Chumathang – Tso Kar – Leh.

9) Day 9 – (17th June 2018) Local sight seeing tour in Leh covering Stok palace,Thicksey Monastery, Shey Palace and Hemis Monastery.

10) Day 10 – (18th June 2018) Jouney towards Manali via Leh-Manali Highway. Nightstay at Jispa

11) Day 11 – (19th June 2018) Jispa to Manali. Night stay in Manali.Take return flight from Leh to Delhi and back to Kolkata.

12) Day 12 – (20th June 2018) Manali to Delhi by road on the way if possible Naggar Castle visit.

13) day 13 – (21st June 2018) Flight from Delhi to Kolkata.

I have few questions regarding the itinery-

First how is the schedule?

Second for Leh-Manali do we need any permit for Rohtang Pass

Third for staying in Leh – manali highway , among keylong or jispa which one to be preferred?

And we are planningto hire taxi from Leh taxi stand. Is it advisable?

For Manali to Delhi from where should we hire the taxi? Manali taxi stand drivers ask very high rate and will they go to Naggar Castle?

Looking forward for your reply.

Reply
Avatar
Shiv Mohan Mishra May 16, 2018 - 1:18 pm

Hi Virgis..
I have planned this from 5th-10th o June. I want to complete going in three (03) days and returning in two (o2) days. Could you please give me the stoppage point.
Thank you..

Reply
Avatar
Vargis.Khan May 16, 2018 - 4:00 pm

For going to Leh, you can do Manali to Jispa, Jispa to Pang and Pang to Leh. For coming back, you can do Leh to Sarchu and Sarchu to Manali

Reply
Avatar
Deepesh May 16, 2018 - 3:25 am

hello vargis bhai
I have planned my bike trip in june 1st week from manali to leh.
do you think the manali leh road will get opened by then ???

Reply
Avatar
Vargis.Khan May 16, 2018 - 3:53 am

Hello Deepesh Bhai – Yes it will be open by then

Reply
Avatar
Karmu May 19, 2017 - 1:02 pm

Hi Virgis khan.thank you so so much for your knowledge about going to leh. You are a generous man an honest man who tells things as they are and not sell a dream of leh with a motive. I hope to go to leh via Manali soon in future. Your heart for a traveller is like that of a family member who never wants his family members to get in trouble. But go for the beautiful place and the adventure that leh ladakh is. I may or may not end up doing the leg trip but will always remember and appreciate you as a most noble soul. Karmu

Reply
Avatar
Vargis.Khan May 19, 2017 - 2:35 pm

Hi Karmu Bhai – Thank you so much for your kind words. I think it is the best compliment that anyone has ever given me and I will always remember this. Regarding Leh, I do hope that you go there some day. Let me know if you want to join forces and accompany me on my next trip to Ladakh. I would be honored to have you travel with me.

Reply

Leave a Comment