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Shanti Stupa

Srinagar Leh Highway

The Srinagar Leh highway is about 434KM long and it remains closed from November to May due to heavy snowfall. Zojila Pass is one of the Major Passes in the route which starts receiving the snow from November and the snow deposits make Leh non accessible by this route. The snow fall also bring a considerable amount of damage to the roads and bridges. The BRO team start fixing this from mid of March ably supported by the melting snow to complete the repair work by Mid of May. The Bro team then flag-off and officially declare the routes to be open around mid of May to first week of June.


Although the roads are open in May, it is noticed they still are in bad shape and BRO continue to work on them and improve as the time progress. Also in the previous years we saw a few landslides in May which slowly get stabilised by June. Hence travelling between June to October is considered to be the best time by this route. However, you will not find any snow from Mid of August as the summer would have melted all the snow by then.

Time to avoid Srinagar Leh Highway

We also recommend our guest to avoid this road in the range of 15 August, during independence day as we have noticed a few bandh and also strikes during this period.

Another time to avoid the road is during Amaranth Yatra as you find a lot of pilgrims travelling leading to huge traffic jams. To maintain the crowd the army forces block the travellers and are advised to proceed only when presented the vouchers of Leh hotel bookings.

Modes of travel on Srinagar Leh Highway

Private car or Private Bike or Self-drive to Leh

Driving in the Himalayan terrain in your own car or bike is always a favourite option for adventure seekers and to do it and reach Leh, the Srinagar – Leh Highway is a better option than Manali – Leh highway. Also the acclimatisation for the higher altitudes is easy when you reach Leh from Srinagar Leh Highway as you cross through only one mountain passes – Zojila pass.

For cars we have seen all type of vehicles ranging from hachbacks such as Nano to Sedans like Etios or MUV/ SUVs like Innova and Xylo. However as per our R&E MUVs like Innova or Xylo are the best to travel in this highway. During Monsoon due to rains it the highway becomes slippery and slushy so it is advised to be slow in the terrains. It is also advised that if you come across any difficult point to cross then wait and watch how other drive in the point and learn from them and take your vehicle also advise your fellow passengers to get out of the vehicle so that it is easy to get your vehicles out of slush when it is lighter. Also if required your fellow passengers should be ready to push the vehicle if required. At times the local Ladakhi or Kashmiri drivers also help tourist to pass their vehicles from difficult points.

For bikes it is a paradise to ride and again we have seen travellers getting their bikes from 100cc such as Hero Honda splendor to mid range vehicles such as Royal Enfield 350cc/500cc to even sports bike such as Suzuki Hayabusa of 1500cc but the performance of Royal Enfield are the best in these roads. Our recommendation is how ever good the roads are do not exceed more than 40Km as your speed as it is one of the major reasons we have seen for road accidents.

Things To Carry:
Basic car/bike repair tool kits.
Puncture repair kits.
3. Small Hammer.
4. 5Liters cans for Petrol / diesel.
5. Start cables and wires.
6. Extra spokes for Bike wheels
7. Spare tyre-tubes.
8. Arm and Leg guard for bikes.
9. Helmets is mandatory for bikers.

There is no restrictions on cars or bikes to any place in Kashmir or Himachal for Private vehicles.
They are free to visit any place on their own.

Hiring a private taxi from Srinagar

Taxis in Himachal and Kashmir are bound to the local taxi union rules and one must be aware of this before hiring a taxi. The taxi can only drop travellers to the destination, but are not allowed for any further sightseeing. Only private registered taxi or taxi from Srinagar Taxi Union are allowed to enter Srinagar airport and these taxis can drop travellers upto Leh town further which they are restricted Leh Taxi Union, and hence for further sightseeing can be done by Leh taxis only.

Since there are unions operating in each region of Kashmir it is wise to consider an option to hire a taxi from Srinagar to Kargil. Stay Overnight and then hire a Leh union taxi from Kargil to Leh. The option is wise as Srinagar Union Taxi is not allowed to visit some of the village which come under Leh territory such as Alchi – Likir – Basgo and so on. You are also not allowed to go for rafting at chilling near Sangam by outside Taxi.

On an average a taxi would cost you from Rs 14,000 to 20,000 for a planned one day halt at Sonmarg or Kargil or Nurla to reach Leh on the second day. The price depends on month of travel, type of vehicle and of-course on bargain capability.

Here are a list of some reputed travel company who you can offer very good service in Srinagar.
1. Lone Tours and Travels – Mr. Irshad

Srinagar to Leh by Bus

JKSRTC buses for Leh are available at Srinagar bus stand near Lal Chowk and near Polo Grounds in Leh. The Government offer both Standard and Semi-Deluxe category of buses. The fare range from Rs 600 to Rs 1000. There are few private tour operators who provide the similar service but at a little extra cost. These buses halt near Sonmarg for tea breaks and at Kargil for overnight. These buses usually leave at 6AM from Srinagar bus stand.

Shared taxi or Tempo

There are few Taxi Operators who offer shared taxi service. These are usually the taxi belonging to Leh taxi union and had been to Srinagar to drop their previous guest. They now go back to Leh and run from Srinagar to Leh in just one day and hence it seems to be quite hectic as it takes about 16-18 Hrs to reach Leh. The cost of the Taxi vary from Rs 1500-3500 Per Person based on the seat occupied and negotiating capability and in the month of travel.

Srinagar to Leh itinerary

The distance from Srinagar to Leh is about 421 Km and journey can be done in one, two days (recommended) or three days as per your preferences. 

One Day Journey on Srinagar Leh Highway

The one day journey from Srinagar to Leh is one of the most tiring journey for your Ladakh trip. On an average you need 14 – 16 hrs to complete it with minimum stoppages. Although the journey is done in one day only, it is very stressful and also don’t provide body sufficient time for acclimatisation as you will be moving from an altitude of 5200 ft (1585m) to 11500 ft (3500m) without much stoppages or rest. This may also lead to Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) for a non-frequent traveller who has never been to such higher altitudes. However, if someone want to ty this due to time constrain then we suggest you to start the day as early as 04:00 AM so that you reach around 10:00 PM.

Srinagar to Kargil (I Night Stay) and Kargil to Leh

The two day plan to travel to Leh by Srinagar Leh Highway is the most preferred itinerary by travellers. In this you eventually split the journey into two parts and provide yourself sufficient time for sightseeing which again can be done in multiple ways.

Day 1: Srinagar to Kargil

The distance between Srinagar to Kargil is about 210Km and would require about 5 hrs if you rush in one go. However, we suggest you to explore Sonamarg which will consider about 3 Hrs of time. (Note: Neither Srinagar or Leh taxi union vehicles are allowed in Sonamarg and explore Sonmarg can be either done by using Sonmarg taxi or on a joyful horse ride which is most recommended). At Sonmarg you can have your lunch and then proceed further and cross Zojila pass – the only pass in Srinagar Leh Highway and reach Drass for your evening snacks break. Drass is the coldest place inhabited by Humans in the world and is often called “The Gateway of Ladakh” where the temperature will be as low as -25 Degrees. Post snacks proceed further. Also along Srinagar leh highway is located a memorial in the memories of the brave soldiers who lost their lives during Indo _ Pak way of 1999 is the “Kargil War Memorial’, This is one the recommended places by us to visit as you can spend some time with our brave soldiers and then proceed and reach Kargil by evening. Dinner and overnight stay at any hotel in Kargil. (Note: You may expect a limited options of vegetarian food here at Kargil).

It would be ideal if you consider a taxi only till here and then proceed further towards Leh in tai affiliated to Leh Taxi Union as you can visit several places during this part of the journey as only Leh taxi or private vehicles are allowed to these places.

Day 2: Kargil to Leh

The distance to be travelled to reach Leh from Kargil is about 220Km and if sightseeing is added then we can expect it to make upto 250Km. The journey would be pleasant as the road condition in the sector is the best in the entire Srinagar Leh highway. Enroute to Kargil there are several places to visit such as Lamayuru Monastery, Alchi Monastery, Magnetic Hill, Sangam, Gurudhwar Pathar Sahib and hall of fame. Thus by this you will cover all the major attractions of the Sham Valley tour or otherwise called Indus valley tour. Thus can save one day of the entire Leh ladakh trip. If you also wish then just before Sangam is a village called Nimu where one can explore River Rafting in Zanskar River. By visiting all the above listed places one can expect to reach Leh only by 8 PM in the evening.

Srinagar to Kargil (I Night Stay) and Kargil to Lamayuru (1 Night Stay) and Lamayuru to Leh

The option of travelling to Leh from Srinagar is only recommended for the one who is travelling in the private vehicles as Srinagar taxi Union affiliated vehicles are not allowed at Lamayauru or Alchi. Thus an accommodation at these villages is not possible.

The journey remains the same till Alchi as mentioned in the two day plan where your plan deviates once you reach Alchi or Lamayuru where you decide to stay. Based on your stay yo then finish the sham valley tour and reach Leh on Day Three by evening.

Srinagar to Leh via Batalik

There exist another alternate and less explore region of Ladakh where you can take a deviation from Kargil and reach Leh via the villages of Batalik – Dha & Skurbuchan. To explore the route one must acquire an Inner Line Permit (ILP) for Leh DC Office. Hence the route can be considered if one has to return back to Kargil from Leh.
In case if you want to explore the region then do write us an email to call us so that we can help you obtain the permit and deliver it at the hotel in Kargil in a day or two in advance. .

Advantages of reaching Leh by Srinagar Leh Highway
  • Easy for acclimatization
  • Zojila pass is the only higher attitude points to cross in the route
  • The road condition is always better than Leh Manali Highway
  • Lot of sightseeing can be covered in this route
  • Easy options of Petrol Pumps and AMT’s.
  • Greater part of the area has Airtel and BSNL Networks.
  • Less traffic conjunction when compared to that of Rothang Pass.
  • Fewer landslides seen in the past.
  • Several villages offer good food.
  • Opens up by End of April – first week of May
Things to know before you start from Srinagar Leh highway

1. Petrol Pumps or Fuel is NH1 – Srinagar Leh Highway

Since 2015 it has been very easy to get petrol or diesel in the Srinagar Leh Highway. There are 8 points where you get fuel almost all days from April to October starting from Srinagar – Kangan – Sonamarg – Kargil – Mulbek and Khaltsi. Also for a road trip we always advise to have sufficient fuel filled in the tank before the start of the trip. Also, in the case of any leakage or any unforeseen situations we recommend to carry fuel in a 5 litre plastic can under safety

2. ATM’s

The ATMs are available at only two points in the Srinagar Leh highway till 2017 which include Kargil and Drass. Therefore, we recommend to carry sufficient cash. Also, since demonetisation we have noticed few shops and hotel do accept Paytm and other online Money transfer option but are limited due to network issues.

3. Hospitals or Pharmacy

Srinagar has several and very good hospitals and provide good medical care. However, once you start your journey towards once can expect some basic medical centres.
1. Sonamarg Primary Health centre Sonamarg
2. Dras Sub district Hospital
3. Kargil District Hospital Kargil , Army Hospital, OP Sadbhavna etc
4. Khalsi Khaltse Hospital
5. Nurla Nurla Medical Center and
6. Leh Sonam Norboo Memorial Hospital Leh, LHF Hospital and many more
Apart from the listed above, we see there are many other hospitals and medical centres in the journey.

4. Mobile or Network connectivity

The mobile network is always been limited considering the security reasons. Till 2017, we have seen only Airtel and BSNL postpaid connections work at limited places, with the latter has a better network coverage.
1. Srinagar to Sonamarg we have noticed good network coverage.
2. Sonamarg to Dras only BSNL.
3. Kargil BSNL and Airtel both have sufficient coverage.
4. From Lamayuru to Leh both BSNL and Airtel work quite well.

We hope the above article has helped you plan your trip from Srinagar Leh Highway. We will always make effort to provide you an updated information. Please feel free to comment and help improve the article. We also, welcome your query and will make an effort to reply it within 24 Hrs. We will all our readers a very happy and memorable journey in advance.

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