The journey for Manali to Leh by bus takes the usual route to get into Leh: the Manali Leh Highway Covering a total distance of about 475 km, the bus takes about 2 days to reach the destination, with the total travel time being somewhere between 18 to 20 hours, depending on traffic and weather conditions.
The first leg of the journey starts from Manali and takes you to the famous Rohtang Pass. The snowline starts from this pass and it is one of the most scenic places near Manali. Located at about 51 km from Manali bus stop, the Rohtang Pass is one of the two ways that travelers use to get into the rain shadow side of the Himalayas, and the only one in Himachal Pradesh.
This may mean that you will find a lot of traffic and crowd here, making the progress a little slower than expected. Nonetheless, Rohtang Pass is an important point in the journey, and on the other side of the pass is the famous Lahaul and Spiti region of Himachal Pradesh.
The road from here then leads to the small village of Gramphu. Famous for the Gramphu Dhaba, this where the road bifurcates into two, one which leads to Leh, and the other takes you to Kaza in Spiti. A straight stretch of about 45 km from here brings you to another small village in the region, which is a major stop right before the famous Keylong district of Spiti. This small village on the way to Leh does not even have a total of 100 people. At about 10 km from here, there is the famous city of Keylong.
The journey continues as the bus hurtles towards the next for about 23 km, until it arrives in Jispa. A major stop for a lot of travelers going to or coming back from Leh, Jispa has a lot of facilities that one can want. Mostly, the buses will stop here for refreshments and in some cases, night stopovers. This scenic town in Lahaul is located on the banks of Bhaga River.
Moving on from here, the bus drives on the side of Bhaga River for about 10 km to arrive at another village in Lahaul, Darcha, a place described as "a lonely cluster of dry-stone huts and dingy tent camps" in The Rough Guide To India.
As the route turns from hilly to mountainous, you will cross many amazing settlements and High mountain passes
as you travel from Darcha to Patseo (13 km), Patseo to Zingzingbar (8 km), Zingzingbar to Baralacha La Pass (22 km), to finally arrive at Sarchu, another major town and stopover on the way.
A place most disputed about its positioning, Sarchu is located on the very border of the 2 states of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. This beauty of a town is located north of Baralacha La Pass and to the South of the Lachulung La Pass. This is where you will actually be stepping into Ladakh.
Starting from here, the 36 km ride will take you to Nakee La, another high mountain pass nestled at a height of 4,769 m above sea level. On the way to the pass, however, one has to cross the famous 21 Gata Loops. These hairpin bends are a true nightmare of every rider and traveler, and show the true grit of anyone who knows how to drive.
As you sway from one side to the other with the loops, you will finally arrive at the top of Nakee La, from where the ride takes you up further to a height of 5,059 m above sea level. After about 19 km, you will be arriving at Lachunlung La. From here, a drive of about 21 km takes you to the highest transition post in the world in Pang. On a road trip to ladakh
, you show your permits here for entry. After Pang, the road climbs further uphill to reach the highest pass on this route, Tanglang La, about 66 km by road.
A ride of 61 km further from here will bring you to Upshi, a famous junction town in Ladakh that stands at the meeting of two famous roads. The right turn from here will lead you on an ancient trading route that takes you to Tibet.
The straight roads from here, however, will take you further into Ladakh, where after about 14 km you will arrive at another junction town called Karu. This is the way that also leads to Chang La, and eventually, to Pangong Tso Lake.
On the last leg of the journey, driving along the Indus River, you will arrive into the great land of Leh
. This is where the bus terminates and drops you at the capital of Ladakh, and is the end point of your journey to Leh from Manali by bus.If you need complete information for Delhi to Leh check out our full guide