Every Indian traveler has one trip on his bucket list. The Leh Ladakh road trip or for most of the people it is the Dream Road Trip. Young travelers strive to have this road trip with their friends. A fully loaded adventure trip that can be completed in many ways.
Before we dive into the details and the experience, you need to plan your trip likewise. You can know all about trip planning in our article ‘How to Plan a trip’. Do read that if you haven’t yet.
Leh is a place which is accessible only in summer for a few months by road and is the peak months of the road journey. It can be reached through two main roads that start from Manali and Srinagar respectively. Both the roads are equally dangerous and difficult to drive on. Before going on such an adventure trip, the first thing you need to do is study everything about it. (We studied this area for about 3 months contacting many of the locals).
So let’s start with the where. There are many versions of this trip but we researched and found out this as one of the best and affordable option. The trip Starts at Delhi. We had many transport options but this being a road trip, we wanted to drive the vehicles ourselves. We asked around for self-drive vehicles but the best solution was this website called zoomcar.com (which many of you might already know). The cost varies for each vehicle but we were about to cross some really dangerous roads and mountains so we had to have an SUV. The best option we found was a Mahindra Scorpio. This cost us about Rs. 37000. This booking was done a month prior to the trip.
We found several motels online. But always remember, when you are on a road trip, avoid booking any motel as this gives you the flexibility of traveling extra distance. That is indeed if you reach early to your decided destination. In this trip, we had decided some specific destinations every day which were a big stretch but we pulled it off. Motels online will cost you much more than the on the spot price. The cities we came across on this trip are pretty small and many of the motels don’t have a digital footprint. Though a search on the internet never hurts anyone.Enough with the planning. Let’s get into the itinerary.
We started from Delhi railway station (as we took a train from Pune). We had the Zoomcar delivered to us at this point. We had to get our breakfast and freshen up, so we headed to the nearest McDonalds as that seemed the best option (it’s not a promotion). We left at about 10 am which was a huge mistake. We were not familiar with how big Delhi is and how “good” (sarcasm intended) the roads are here. It took us about 2 hours just to reach the outskirts of the national capital. But never the less, we were on our way to the first destination Pathankot. Pathankot is a small town on the Punjab and JK border (but we all know it now. Thanks to the terror attacks). I have to say, one of the best roads I have ever come across in India is the Punjab highway. Clean roads with three lanes, service road with just an entry and exit point every 5 km. This is a paradise for driving enthusiasts.
And now for the food lovers, the food from Punjab is not a mystery. And we were not let down by Punjab. We stopped at a Punjabi Dhaba (well they just call it a dhaba there). For the vegetarians, paneer butter masala is always the go-to thing. For the non-vegetarians, you would be a fool if you don’t order Butter chicken. You will be shocked to know that even half of the portion is enough to fill four people up. About a centimeter of butter layered on the dishes and you will know how little butter you eat normally. And the obvious choice here is the butter naan. Oh, the heaven! The naan her are huge but that’s not the best part. A butter naan is literally dipped into a huge bowl of butter which makes it amazingly tasty.
It’s a long ride from Delhi to Pathankot which took us about 11 hours with food breaks. We had found a hotel online. We went there and negotiated with the guy. It cost us about Rs.700 per room which was air-conditioned. This was most probably the last place where we needed AC. This hotel has a nice restaurant which serves good food.
That’s it for Part 1. Read Part 2 here.