To be quite honest, it is hard to name just a few places as tourist attractions on Srinagar Leh highway as the entire route is an attraction in itself. Thousands of tourists travel on this road each year and I doubt that any of them have one particular place in mind that they want to see. Every turn of the road can be counted among places to visit from Srinagar to Leh.
If adventure is what you seek, you will get it in loads. If lush green valleys are what attracted you here, you will not be disappointed even for a second. You can keep clicking your camera all day long if you have even the slightest interest in photography. This is a road that will keep you glued to the window and at the edge of your seat at the same time.
With all that being said, there are things that will remain available to you throughout the journey. But then there are a few places that become highlights of the journey. Below is a list.
Please note that in this post, I will only talk about places to visit from Srinagar to Leh. For other details like the best time to visit, road map, and accommodation details, please take a look at Srinagar to Leh Route Guide and Road Map.
Places to Visit from Srinagar to Leh
I will break the information down into different categories for an easier understanding and then list the places accordingly.
High Altitude Passes
These are by far the top tourist attractions on Srinagar on Leh Highway and also the biggest attraction of a trip to Ladakh. Everyone is excited to be traveling on challenging roads and cross several high-altitude passes on the way. When it comes to the road from Srinagar to Leh, there are three passes that you will be tackling. Mentioned below are the details.
This will be the first high-altitude pass that you will cross while moving from Srinagar towards Leh. It is located at a distance of about 102 kilometers from Srinagar, and 23 kilometers from Sonamarg.
The elevation of the pass is 3,528 meters (11,575 ft). It may not be the highest point of Srinagar to Leh road but is considered one of the most challenging passes in Ladakh. For more details, please take a look at Zojila Pass Road Status and Condition.
This will be the second high altitude pass shortly after Kargil towards Leh, at a distance of 52 kilometers from Kargil. The literal meaning of the name is “Pillar of the Sky Pass” where “Namika” means Pillar of the sky and “La” means pass. It is at a height of 3,700 m or 12,139 ft.
This pass is actually located on the Batalik route. If you traveled from Kargil to Leh via Batalik, this is the only pass between the two places and is located about 30 kilometers from Kargil at an altitude of 4024 meters. It is also spelled as Hambuting La.
Also known as Fatula pass, it is the highest elevation point of Srinagar Leh highway at a height of 4,108 meters (13,478 ft). There is also a Prasar Bharati television relay station located on the pass. Though higher, it is actually considered less challenging than Zoji La.
The natural beauty that you will witness throughout your journey is like no other. The transformation of vistas from the lush green of Kashmir to the barren desert of Ladakh is awe-inspiring. Mentioned below are a few noted places that you should keep an eye out for.
Lamayuru Lunar Landscape
Also known as Lamayuru Moonland, it is a landscape and rock formation at Lamayuru that resembles the surface of the moon. It is located in the town of Lamayuru.
Indus Zanskar River Confluence
Near the small village of Nimmu, you can see the confluence of the Indus and Zanskar rivers. This spot is locally known as Sangam Point and is among the top tourist attractions in Leh.
The two rivers merging into each other to form one, one with muddy waters and the other one with crystal clear waters, is quite a sight. It is a good spot for photography as well. For more details, please take a look at Sangam Point in Ladakh.
This is probably the most well-known place among all of the tourist attractions in Ladakh and one of the top tourist attractions on Srinagar Leh Highway. The common belief about the place is that the hills here have magnetic properties. The magnetic pull will get any vehicle moving uphill even with the engine turned off.
There is a lot of folklore about the place as well which terms the entire phenomenon as supernatural. The fact however is entirely different. In brief, the placement of hills and the inability to see the horizon from this place create an optical illusion. The illusion makes a descending road look ascending.
So when you stop at this spot and turn off your engine, your car will itself start rolling down slowly but since the road appears going up, it will lead you to believe that the car is going uphill. For more details on this, you can take a look at The Truth Behind the Mysterious Magnetic Hill of Ladakh.
Nonetheless, optical illusion or not, it is still an experience to experience. Magnetic hill is located about 35 km from Leh on the Srinagar Leh highway. The road on this part is mostly excellent so you can go to Magnetic Hill and return to Leh in a matter of a couple of hours.
This is the hilltop that Pakistan captured in the war of Kargil. It is visible from the road itself as you drive through Drass.
Let us now talk about a few man-made wonders that you will see on this route.
It is a series of 18 hairpin bends/loops, driving on which is quite an experience. The view below once you climb up the last loop is quite good too.
I am putting this in the category of man-made wonders because the food out here in Kashmir and Ladakh is so delicious that it can only be termed as wonder.
This village is located about 12 km from Kargil and will take you approximately 30 minutes to reach there. It is mostly in ruins now but you can see the Pakistani village and outpost from here. You can actually see a village across the border on the way as well.
The village is beautiful, small, not developed and the population is 21 only.
Kargil War Memorial
Kargil War Memorial is not just one of the biggest attractions on Srinagar Leh Highway but also in all of Kashmir and Ladakh. There is hardly anyone who passes it by without stopping here and paying their respect. In fact, a lot of tourists from Kashmir reach Kargil only to visit the war memorial, without any intention of going any further to Leh or Zanskar.
Built to commemorate the 1999 Kargil War between India and Pakistan and to honor the soldiers who sacrificed their lives, this monument is a beauty in itself. Standing proud amid the beautiful snow-capped mountains of Kashmir, it is now an important landmark and a major tourist attraction of Srinagar to Leh road; receiving tens of thousands of visitors each year.
The war memorial is also known as Dras War Memorial because it is located near Dras actually, not Kargil. For more details, please take a look at Kargil War Memorial – A Complete Travel Guide.
Next on the list of tourist attractions on the Srinagar Leh highway are the religious places. While you are on the Kashmir side, the majority of the culture is Muslim influenced however as you move towards Ladakh, the culture is a mix of Muslim and Buddhism with Buddhism taking the majority.
Also read: Best time to Travel from Srinagar to Leh
It is one of the largest and oldest gompas in Ladakh, with a population of around 150 permanent monks resident. In the past, this monastery has housed up to 400 monks; many of which are now based in gompas in surrounding villages.
The primary attraction of this monastery is the two annual masked dance festivals in the second and fifth months of the Tibetan lunar calendar when all the monks from these surrounding gompas gather together to pray.
Redzong / Rizong Monastery
Established in 1831, this monastery is located at the top of a rocky slide, west of Alchi on the way to Lamayuru. The monastery is noted for its extremely strict rules and standard and has been termed as “paradise for meditation”
It is an ancient monastery built in the year 1065 AD and is famous for a 25 feet gold-covered Buddha Statue. There are also some artifacts here that are believed to have been created with butter but never melt.
The location of both the villages and the monastery is quite scenic and it is well worth a visit. This village is located about 9.5 kilometers from Srinagar Leh highway and to get here, you will have to take the diversion just about 10 kilometers before Saspul.
For more details, you can read Likir Monastery in Ladakh Travel Guide.
Once you have visited Likir Monastery, return to Srinagar Leh highway and continue towards Saspul once again. Upon reaching Saspul, you will once again leave the highway, turn on the Alchi Bridge and continue for another 7 kilometers until the small village of Alchi.
This is another ancient Monastery in Ladakh, built sometime in the 10th century. There is a path from the monastery that leads down to the shores of river Indus if you want to take a walk.
This is a good place to stay as well in case you want to break the journey. There is a campsite here known by the name of Sumtseg Camps that is run by the monastery itself.
Established in 1515, this monastery is located at a distance of 15 kilometers from Leh in Fiang/Phyang Village. It is noted for several sacred shrines and frescoes dating from the royal period.
The monastery is also home to a 900-year-old museum that has an extensive collection of idols including a number of fine Kashmiri bronzes probably dating to the 14th century, thangkas, Chinese, Tibetan, and Mongolian firearms and weapons.
Also known as Spituk Gompa or Pethup Gompa, Spituk Monastery is located 8 kilometers from the town of Leh. It is noted for a giant statue of Kali that only gets unveiled during the annual Spitok festival.
Also read: How to Plan a Trip to Tso Moriri from Leh
Gurudwara Patthar Sahib
It is a beautiful Gurudwara, built in the memory of Guru Nanak Dev, and is located at a distance of about 25 kilometers from Leh. Built at a height of 3,600 meters. This Gurudwara is famous for a huge boulder that is said to have an imprint of Guru Nanak Dev’s hand on it.
Mulbekh Monastery / Maitreya Buddha
This monastery is famous for a grand 9-meter high statue of Buddha, known as Mulbekh Maitreya, and is a must-see place to visit. The sculpture dates back to the 7th and 8th centuries when Buddhist missionaries from the eastern Himalayas came to this region.
Basgo Monastery / Basgo Palace
Located around 40 km from Leh is the small village of Basgo which in ancient times was considered a political and cultural center of Ladakh. The ancient Basgo Palace which also houses the Basgo Monastery is located here. The ancient palace was built in the 15th century but the Monastery is believed to be even older than that.
These are just some of the noted monasteries that I mentioned here. There are however several others; maybe smaller but equally beautiful.
There are no glaciers located along the highway though you will get to see plenty of snow if you are traveling early in the season. If however, you can break the journey at Sonamarg then you can visit the Thajiwas Glacier.
If you are planning to take a detour from Sonamarg towards Zanskar valley, then you will get to see Parkachik Glacier, Shafat Glacier, and Drang Drung glacier from the top of Penzi La pass.
Please take a look at Tourist Attractions in Zanskar Valley for a list of tourist attractions in Zanskar valley.
Towns on Srinagar Leh Highway
Mentioned below is a list of all the major towns/villages you will travel through before finally reaching Leh. Negotiating high passes and fragile mountainsides, the journey from Srinagar to Leh is quite fascinating in itself. The first stop of course is Srinagar.
It is one of the most beautiful hill stations in our country and a major tourist destination. The whole city is filled with tourist attractions and you can spend an entire week here visiting them. Read Tourist attractions in Srinagar City for more details on sightseeing in Srinagar.
The next major town after Srinagar is the beautiful Sonamarg. The literal meaning of the name is ‘the meadow of gold’. It is a prime tourist attraction of Kashmir valley and offers great views of two Himalayan glaciers – Kolhoi Glacier and Machoi Glacier.
Thajiwas glacier is barely a 15-minute drive away from Sonamarg. Snow-clad Sirbal Peak, Kolhoi Peak, Amarnath Peak, and Machoi Peak are also visible from here. Treks to Vishansar Lake, Krishansar Lake, Gangabal Lake and Gadsar Lake start from Sonamarg.
For more details on sightseeing here, please take a look at Places to Visit in Sonamarg & Things to Do.
After Kargil comes Drass, famous as the second coldest inhabited place on earth (not sure if this claim is valid though). The primary attraction here is the Kargil War Memorial and Mushko Valley.
It is more or less the midpoint of the Srinagar Leh highway. Both Srinagar and Leh are at equal distances from here. To be honest, I do not really find Kargil that scenic. But it is a good and preferred spot to break your journey on the first day from Srinagar.
It is another small village en route, famous for the monastery and Mulbekh Maitreya.
Lamayuru is one of the favored pit stops by many while traveling from Srinagar to Leh or vice versa. This small village is famous for Lamayuru Monastery and Lunar Landscapes.
It is a small village famous for Indus and Zanskar river confluence. The Chadar trek to Zanskar starts from here in the winter season.
Tourist Attractions on Srinagar Leh Highway – Conclusion
I hope the information above on tourist attractions on the 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 happy to answer.