6 Reasons to Travel to Leh Ladakh via Srinagar

by Vargis.Khan

6 Reasons to Travel to Leh Ladakh via Srinagar

Options are quite limited when it comes to traveling to Ladakh by road. There are just two routes you can take. You can either go from the Manali side or you can travel to Leh Ladakh via Srinagar and Kargil. People often wonder which one is better. In this article, I will provide 6 reasons why and when traveling to Leh Ladakh via Srinagar can be a better and wiser choice.

Before I write anything on this, let me first clarify that both these roads are an absolute beauty in their own ways. No matter what your travel plan is, you must include both the highways in your itinerary. In the end, it is only a matter of which one to choose to reach Leh and which one is better for your return journey.

About Srinagar Leh Highway

Srinagar Leh Highway is a 418 kilometers long road running from Srinagar in Kashmir to Leh in Ladakh. It is one of the two roads connecting Ladakh with the rest of India, the other being Leh-Manali Highway. This road was declared as a National Highway in 2006 and later renamed National Highway 1 in 2010.

A common belief is that the highway starts at Srinagar and ends at Leh which is actually incorrect. This section of the road is only a part of the entire highway that starts at Uri and terminates at Leh, running through Baramula, Srinagar, and Kargil. The entire length of the highway in fact is 494 kilometers between Uri and Leh.

The road generally remains open for traffic from Mid-April to mid-November. The highest point of the highway is at Fotu La pass, at an elevation of 4,108 m (13,478 ft). For a more detailed overview of this road, please take a look at How to Plan a Journey on Srinagar Leh Highway.

Let us now take a look at why traveling to Leh Ladakh via Srinagar can work better for you.

kashmir valley

Better High Altitude Acclimatization

When you reach Ladakh from the Srinagar side, the gain in altitude is gradual. It is spread evenly over a few days that helps in acclimatization, and significantly reduces the chances of the traveler suffering from altitude sickness.

Take a look at this comparison for a better understanding. If you travel via Manali Leh highway, on day 1 you are in the plains at home. On day 2 you reach Manali at a height of 2,050 meters. From there the altitude straight away gets doubled to 4,000 & above meters as you travel through Sarchu and Pang.

However, traveling on the Srinagar Leh highway will see you in Jammu at 327 meters, then Srinagar at 1,585 meters. As you start moving towards Leh, you will reach Sonamarg at 2,800 meters, Drass at 3280 meters, Kargil at 2,676 meters, and finally Leh at 3,500 meters.

Throughout the journey, your body gets sufficient time to adjust itself. Never will the altitude shoot to crazy heights all of a sudden. So the question of traveling to Leh via Manali or Srinagar will definitely see Srinagar as the preferred choice in terms of altitude acclimatization.

Rohtang Permits

I know this is not really a big issue right now after Atal Tunnel was recently declared open for civilian traffic. But if you went that way, then you will skip Rohtang Pass entirely. This in my opinion is something big to miss while traveling on the Manali Leh route. It is possibly the most popular pass in our country and is a must-visit place while traveling from Manali to Leh.

But traveling to Rohtang or beyond requires a permit to be obtained from the DM office Manali. Without the permit, you will not be able to go any further than the check post near Gulaba. Obtaining these permits is not an easy task due to several terms and conditions. You can get it online as well but during the peak tourist season, procuring this permit is no less than a hassle.

Rohtang permit is applicable to all types of vehicles, and there is absolutely no way to reach Rohtang without producing a permit at the check post. The restriction applies more to Diesel vehicles than Petrol and the number of Diesel vehicles allowed is even lesser. For more details, take a look at How to Obtain a Permit for Rohtang Pass.

There is however no need to obtain any permits at all if you are traveling from the other side of Rohtang towards Manali. So if you reached Leh Ladakh via Srinagar, you can just travel back to Manali while crossing Rohtang la. This way you would be able to avoid the hassle of these permits entirely. For a lot of people, it can also save a day that you would else waste in Manali.

leh ladakh via srinagar

Opening of the Roads

Should you reach Leh Ladakh via Srinagar or Manali? If you asked this question between June & October, you will have two answers. But if you asked this question in May, late October, or November, then the answer will pretty much be limited to Srinagar Leh highway.

The reason being is that the Srinagar Leh road opens earlier than Manali Leh road. It also remains open for a longer duration. Recently, the road in fact sometimes opens as early as March and remains open till late November. So if you are planning to travel sometime in April, May, late October, or November then the Srinagar Leh highway is your only choice.

Also Read: Srinagar Leh Highway Current Status and Road Conditions

Better Connectivity

Srinagar Leh highway is more populated as compared to Manali – Leh road. There are several major towns en route like Sonamarg, Drass, and Kargil. Availability of basic amenities like fuel, hotels, restaurants, cell phone reception, and medical facilities is also much better on this road.

You are never really completely cut off from civilization. As a matter of fact, until Kargil, you will see a regular traffic movement and will come across several human establishments on the way. It is only after Kargil that you will be traveling through a sparsely populated region. Even then, you will still be crossing some towns like Lamayuru and Mulbekh.

If your vehicle breaks down or you are in need of help, chances of finding it are better on the Srinagar Leh highway. If either of what I mentioned above concerns you highly, then you are better off skipping the Manali Leh highway altogether and stick to Srinagar Leh road.

I agree that this will be a concern in other parts of Ladakh as well. But if you run in trouble there, you at least have the option of rushing back to Leh.

kargil leh road


This one is very important. If you are traveling solo, then all you got to worry about is yourself. But if you are traveling in a group or with a family consisting of elders and kids, then you must reach Leh Ladakh via Srinagar only.

Altitude Sickness can create a lot of problems if your family starts to suffer from it. If the situation worsens, you will have no other choice but to rush to Leh. There have been instances when tourists have in fact died in Ladakh because of altitude sickness. For more details on this topic, please take a look at How to Handle Altitude Sickness in Ladakh.

A better choice, in this case, is to reach Leh Ladakh via Srinagar. This will ensure that your family gets enough time to acclimatize and doesn’t suffer from AMS. You can return home via Manali but must reach Ladakh via Srinagar.

Driving Skills

This too applies to some extent. Manali Leh highway is more challenging in nature than Srinagar to Leh. So if you are up here for the first time and not too sure if you will be able to handle the roads, high altitude passes, tricky turns, water streams then I suggest you reach Ladakh via Srinagar and return via Manali.

This way, you will be able to gain your confidence on the wheel by taking the somewhat easier road. You will then spend some time in Ladakh as well. By the time you hit the Manali Leh road, you will know better about how to handle the tough roads that it offers.

sonamarg road

Leh Ladakh via Srinagar – Conclusion

These were just a few most important points. But other factors like a more relaxed trip and better itinerary play a role too. Since you would have acclimatized better, it means that you will be able to enjoy the trip better too.

If Tso Moriri, for example, is on your mind, then it would be better to reach Ladakh via Srinagar. You can then include Tso Moriri in your return journey via Manali Leh road.

I hope this information and comparison between the Manali Leh and Srinagar Leh road was of help. If 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.

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prashanth vikky July 18, 2021 - 6:28 am

Am planning to go srinagar to leh next 2022 but which month is better to plan

Vargis.Khan July 19, 2021 - 6:41 am

June or September will be the best months

Gauttam Patel August 14, 2019 - 8:54 am

Hi Vargis Khan.
I have read your blog. Its really informative. I have plan to go Ladakh in Septmber via Shrinagar. Can you please give me an information about road condition right now ? Is it safe to go via Shrinagar in Septmber ?
And how can i get latest road condition when I leave home for Ladakh.?

Vargis.Khan August 14, 2019 - 1:39 pm

Hard to say annything about Srinagar right now Gautam. Only the coming few days will tell how the situation there develops.

Gauttam Patel September 6, 2019 - 9:04 am

thanks for reply
Should I go via Manali right now ? Is there any issue if I go via manali ? And is it OK if i leave on around 10th Sep.

Vargis.Khan September 7, 2019 - 3:13 am

Yes, it is wise to go via Manali right now. No issue from that side.

Ajay Dadwal June 25, 2019 - 11:57 am

Hi Vargis, after reading your blog with great interest we have reconsidered our travel plans- routing.
We plan to hit Srinagar on 22nd. July and travel to Leh …. how are the weather conditions normally en route these times in regards to rains/monsoons.

Vargis.Khan June 25, 2019 - 5:52 pm

Hi Ajay – Monsoon would have arrived in Kashmir Valley by then so you will have to be careful. Keep an eye on the news before you go.

corinne June 3, 2019 - 10:29 am

Hi Vargis , I have read this blog with great interest. We want to travel to Leh from Srinagar and stay a week in Leh before flying back to Dehli. Could you tell me when would be good months to do the road and to stay in Leh . Could you also give me the name of a reliable travel agent in Srinagar who could arrange for the transportation and a travel agent in Leh. We would be 2 people to travel. Thanks !

Vargis.Khan June 4, 2019 - 12:06 am

Hi Corinne – September would be a good month. In Srinagar, please contact Faisal @ 9596410670 and in Leh, please contact Rohit @ 9910722252

ahappysaint April 28, 2019 - 8:33 am

can i go on a budget of 15k including fuel nd food from jammu ??

Vargis.Khan April 28, 2019 - 4:06 pm

You mean on your bike? For how many days?

Ravi March 20, 2019 - 8:03 pm

Hi vargis ….we have booked flights to Srinagar on 28th april on advice of some tour operators …..we wish to travel to ladhak we are 2 adults and 2 kids …..

Please suggest as there is no cancellation policy ….we will catch flight from leh on 9th may 2019

Vargis.Khan March 20, 2019 - 10:34 pm

Chances are that the road will be open by then.

Mohammed Fowza June 19, 2018 - 11:21 am

Really wonderful blog you have here, really appreciated .
We (2 people) are planning to travel Leh via Srinagar and it would be a great if you could suggest a better plan. We will be reaching Delhi on 21st June 20:00 Hrs from Kerala by train.We have very less time in our like we need to reach back Delhi by 26 or 27th of June. So what/where you suggest for stay and when and how we can reach to Srinagar from Delhi (best route/best mode of travel) , We are planning to take a Rent A car from Srinagar to Leh and Back. What all clothing/stuffs recommended . Really looking for your experienced response .

Nachiketa Patnaik June 10, 2018 - 6:19 pm

Hi we are a group of 4 planning to travel by road on 14th June from Delhi to Leh via Srinagar . We also plan to visit Tso moriri ,along with Khardungla ,Pangong ,Nubra valley ,magnetic hills .
Request to advise the sequence & driving time (day or night).

Vargis.Khan June 11, 2018 - 5:19 pm

How many days do you have in hand?

Sandeep Singh May 30, 2018 - 3:42 am

Helo bro
Is there any risk to travel jammu to srinagar at night?
Are there wine shops available on the way and where?

Shibu May 8, 2018 - 12:54 pm

Hello sir, i would be traveling in group of 4 guys including me from Mumbai to leh by road on 14th July for 20 days trip. Need to cover spity nubra, and remaining strech of srinagar leh manali highway. Is traveling via Srinagar to leh preferable during this ladakh season especially where there is issues in local kashmir area as in stone pelting etc. Please advise how would we proceed.

Vargis.Khan May 8, 2018 - 5:36 pm

Things change in Kashmir overnight Shibu so as long as there is no curfew in place on your date of travel, you should be OK to go.

Shibu John May 15, 2018 - 3:00 pm

Thanks for your advise sir, we have pulled our journey date back to 15th June 2018 to 2nd July 2018.

Need your advise as per your experience during this period in regard to if climate condition would be suitable to travel on amritsar srinager leh manali circuit staying and covering various places.

We have very good experienced long route drivers with us however still need your advise on, would it be smooth to travel via our own vehicle or preferable to hire vehicle or use cabs post traveling to Srinagar via train or flight.

Also need advise on, there won’t be any permit issues while travelling via our own vehicle via srinager leh manali circuit.

Vargis.Khan May 15, 2018 - 4:06 pm

1. If you have experience on long routs and hilly areas then you are OK to go.
2. It may start to rain towards the end of July so please be prepared for that
3. No permit is needed for Srinagar Leh and Leh Manali route. You need permit for visiting places in Ladakh only

Shibu John May 24, 2018 - 12:42 pm

Thanks for your advise again, information you are providing is helping us lot in terms of planning.

I request your advise need advise on itinerary, our journey date starts from 15th June 2018 to 2nd July 2018:

Query on Permits:

1. Firstly You did mentioned I would need permits to visit places in leh, does that mean permits for private vehicle as well.
Would i be able to take permit per person and my vehicle (if required) for next 10 to 11 days to visit all the below mentioned places from one location in leh or wherever available.

Irtinerary help:

2. For irtinerary, we would be leaving from Mumbai on evening 5 pm of 15th June 2018 by road reach Amritsar 17th early morning in the process visit golden temple and take rest all day.

3. Next day 18th June early morning 6 am, leave for Srinagar.

Could you suggest and help in completing my travel plan as per your experience for next 11 days starting 18th July? Need to cover with sonmarg, leh, khalsar, hunder, diskit, turtuk,sumur, panamik, pangong and tso moriri. We are willing to skip either of the lakes either pangong or tso moriri in case if spity could be covered (apologies if i am being dumb not sure if spity is doable within this time period) or is it advisable to cover spity separately and concentrate on areas of leh and the two lakes. I do understand it still depends upon weather however assuming roads are clear. We are planning to exit via Manali by 29th June towards Mumbai.

Query on tents, sleeping bags on rent or camping:

4. Average price on renting camping gear wherever needed in these region – sleeping bags, tent for 4 person. Is is advisable to bring our own gear?

Additionally, I am hearing roads are opening and closing frequently due to bad weather lately, could you update current status of srinagar – leh highway and also if there is any time limit (am to pm) to cross zozila pass or any of the roads leading to above mentioned placed for that matter including one way or two way traffic limit.

You can take your time to answer the above queries. I do apolozise for throwing some many questions at you however it’s now 3 weeks for our trip hence wanted to confirm few things from you.
Have ready lot of articles written by you which do cover lot of information in regard to some of my queries asked above but again wanted to double check on certain things especially the itinerary and time limits on roads.

Vargis.Khan May 24, 2018 - 4:00 pm

Hi Shibu,

1. Permits in Ladakh are issued on per person basis so yes, you will need to get the permits even if you were going by a bus.
2. From Srinagar, assuming you reach here on 18th, you can travel like this.

19 – Srinagar to Kargil
20 – Kargil to Leh
21 – Leh. Rest and arrange permits
22 – Leh to Diskit
23 – Diskit to Turtuk and back to Panamik
24 – Panamik to Pangong via Shyok
25 – Pangong to Leh
26 – Leh to Tso Moriri via Chumathang
27 – Tso Moriri to Pang / Sarchu via Tso Kar
28 – Pang / Sarchu to Jispa
29 – Jispa to Manali

3. Please bring your own gear from a reliable source in Mumbai itself. I will not advise renting anything either from Manali or Leh. They will just try to rip you off your money unnecessarily.

Vargis.Khan May 24, 2018 - 4:02 pm

Road conditions are fine between Srinagar and Leh, no issues there. At Zojila, Traffic will be allowed from Drass from 0500 hrs. Ladakh bound traffic will be allowed from 1100 hrs.

BALA August 18, 2017 - 4:30 pm

Dear Sir,
We are a couples flying to KASHMIR.
Travelling on LEH = September 1st week or 3rd week, scenes and mainly CLIMATEWISE which will be better. We want travel on better climatice conditions not more/sooo cold.

TRIP DURATION: 15 DAYS. (8D LEH–2D enroute travel–5D SRINAGAR)..

PLAN A: Start at 24th Aug @ Srinagar = end on 8th Sep @ leh ,

PLAN B: Start at 13th Sep @ Leh = end on 29th Sep @ srinagar.

As per your suggestion i need to book my flight.


Vargis.Khan August 18, 2017 - 5:49 pm

Hello Bala Bhai,

Both times are pretty much the same, not much of difference so it all depends on when it is convenient for you. If It was me, I would rather plan after 13th September, less number of tourists at this time.

Health and Glow June 7, 2017 - 8:03 pm

Hello brother..
I am planning to visit leh. From your article it is very clear that if you visit leh via srinagar then there is no need of any permit. Me and my friend are on bullet and i am expert on these type of roads. But i have doubt is it safe to start tour from Mohali, Punjab in 3rd week of july? is there any chances of heavy raining?

Vargis.Khan June 7, 2017 - 8:32 pm

Hey Bro – Yes there will be a chance of rain in 3rd week of July.

DWAIPAYAN MANDAL May 23, 2017 - 7:44 am

Vargis you have written a very good note on travelling to Leh by Manali or Srinagar.We are planning to go to Srinagar to Leh on 9th June and come back via Manali on 14th June.Do you think that by 14th June the Leh to Manali Road will be operating.

Vargis.Khan May 23, 2017 - 2:54 pm

Hello Dwaipayan – Thank you for your appreciating words. Manali Leh highway will open around 3rd or 4th June so you are Ok traveling on 14th.

Ignatius May 21, 2017 - 5:58 pm

Hi Vargis. Firstly I like u name. Ok sir. We are planing a trip to leh from mumbai via kashmir and back thru Manali. Planning 24th Sep back by 14th oct 2017. We are planning to travel by maruti 800. Could u pls help me and advise me on my itenary. Many thanks in advance.


Vargis.Khan May 22, 2017 - 2:13 am

Hello Ignatius – Thank you for liking my name. I appreciate your kind words.

Better choice would be to go via Manali and come back via Srinagar. Traveling on Manali Leh highway by Mid October is not really advised. You can follow the below mentioned itinerary.

What date are you starting from Mumbai and by when can u reach Manali? Let me know and I can suggest an itinerary. You mentioned the dates but I am not sure if you are starting from Mumbai on 24th or reaching Srinagar on 24th.

Ignatius May 22, 2017 - 7:14 am

Thanks for u reply. We leave mumbai on 25th sept n want to be back in mumbai 6th Oct wold like to send 1 nt at the shikara too. Hope our Maruti 800 would be good for the trip n what sort of clother r apportl at the time of the seas on. Also Vargis if u would call me John would be more comfortabe Thanks n regards John

Vargis.Khan May 22, 2017 - 8:33 pm

Hi John – Drop me an email using the contact me button in the menu with your number and we will talk

Ignatius May 23, 2017 - 9:48 am

Hi Vargis. I am out if station so it will not be possible to call. May be u could kindly assist me with a god itenary , I gave provided you with the dates. Thank you so much for u time and sorry about the inconvenience. Hoping to hear from you.

Vargis.Khan May 23, 2017 - 2:47 pm

Hi John – Below is the itinerary that you can follow. This is the best way to go considering you will be driving an 800.

29 – Srinagar to Kargil
30 – Kargil to Leh
1 – Leh to Nubra Valley (Arrange permits first thing in the morning and head straight to Nubra Valley)
2 – Nubra valley to Leh
3 – Leh to Pangong
4 – Pangong to Pang
5 – Pang to Manali

Ignatius May 23, 2017 - 10:57 pm

Thank you so much Varugs bhai. I wish could actually talk or chat with u online. So many questions.
Thank you so much.

Vargis.Khan May 24, 2017 - 12:01 am

You are welcome John Bhai. Send me your number and will give you a call, Happy to help !!!

avinash naganaboina September 29, 2019 - 9:28 am

hi vargis im avinash from telangana we are a group of 3 friends . we wanted to travel to ladakh from delhi so we chose to leh via flight on mid october 2019 as the road to leh via manali is closed .we will be travelling back to delhi via srinagar road , is this a good plan or would you rather suggest a better one

Vargis.Khan October 1, 2019 - 12:07 am

Hi Avinash – Situation is Srinagar is still tense and curfew imposed. You will be better off flying back home and not travel by road to Srinagar.

Dandawate May 12, 2017 - 6:39 am

We are planning family tour srinagar leh manali in last week of July is it safe or should we drop srinagar from our iternary kindly advice

Vargis.Khan May 13, 2017 - 2:10 am

Srinagar is completely safe as of now but hard to predict how the situation will be around July end. Best would be to keep a watch on the news before you start. If there is any turbulence, drop it from your itinerary else continue as planned.

Manisha May 11, 2017 - 3:47 pm

We are travelling to Srinagar from Hyderabad from 24th May to 5th june by air Is it safe to travel now? We will be going to Leh also. Please advice.

Vargis.Khan May 11, 2017 - 5:53 pm

Yes it is quite safe to travel right now.

Pavan shukla May 4, 2017 - 4:05 pm

I am planning family trip in second week of June via Srinagar to laddakh to Manali.
But considering situation in srinagar kashmir valley, I am not able to finalise.
Need your advice. ???

Vargis.Khan May 5, 2017 - 12:45 am

Hi Pavan – Are you referring to the recent turbulence? It is perfectly safe to travel right now. Just keep a check on the news before you go.

Nimisha Patel April 2, 2017 - 9:04 am

Thank u for your guidance.. It will be helpful

Vargis.Khan April 2, 2017 - 10:50 am

You are welcome Nimisha

deomani bhagat March 12, 2017 - 6:34 pm

Thanks for your wonderful comments for travelling to Leh.

Vargis.Khan March 12, 2017 - 6:45 pm

You are welcome Deomani. Thank you for taking the time out to drop an appreciating note.


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