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Manali to Leh Road Trip, Day 2 | Spectacular is the word!

Written by Poorna & Brinda
Manali to Leh road trip is one of the most beautiful road trips in the world. If day one of our journey was memorable, day two turns out to be more charming.
Sarchu @ 14,000 feet is a high altitude destination in itself. The altitude, strange yet beautiful surroundings and mild AMS kept us awake the whole night at Sarchu. Even the sun did not miss out on the beauty of this wonderful place and was up at about 4.30 AM!
We were ready for the second day’s experience by 6 AM. We will take you through a spectacular drive through mountains through these pictures.
Please click on the pictures to see them in larger size.
Manali to Leh

Mesmerising morning colours as we leave Sarchu

 As we leave Sarchu, Tsarap Chu river gives us company. We drive along side the river. We cross the river which has created canyon like structures all along its course.
Manali to Leh
The road and landscape turn barren and desert like with snow capped peaks at distance
Manali to Leh
We see the canyon like structures which are nothing but wind weathered sand dunes

Manali to Leh

Manali to Leh
Pang is the last habitat of Army establishment you see till you reach the outskirts of Leh
The road begins to climb again. We leave Pang and cross Nakkee la and Lachlung la Passes and notice the terrain changing into desert like as we enter the vast plains surrounded by mountains. We find ourselves in a “wild west” kind of a landscape where we see rocky outcrops, natural arches and tall mountains.
Manali to Leh
Barren landscape looks beautiful with snow capped peaks in the horizon

Manali to Leh

Crossing Tsarap Chu waterway as a convoy

Manali to Leh

From Pang it is all along climb till Nakee La
Manali to Leh
Manali to Leh
The landscape is so barren it resembles wild west of USA. Natural Sand arch – Nature at its best 
Manali to Leh
Close up shot of Sand Arch
Manali to Leh
Streams flowing between huge rocky terrain

Manali to Leh

This stretch is just beautiful – look at the sculpted sand walls

Manali to LehSculptured sand walls
Manali to Leh
Manali to Leh
Moreh plains…….extending for miles

We leave Moreh plains behind and head for our final climb is towards Tanglang la, which is over 17,000 ft. This is a continuous, relentless climb. This is the second highest motorable pass in the world. You can feel the rarefied atmosphere here where the oxygen content is less in atmosphere which makes you tired very fast.

Manali to Leh
The ascent begins
Manali to LehBreathtaking landscape as the ascent to Tanglang La begins

Manali to Leh

Manali to Leh

Manali to Leh
Brinda @ Tanglang La – Second highest motorable pass in the world
As soon as we start our descent towards Leh, we find “Indus” river flowing all along till Leh. The mountains suddenly become more colourful and we find shades of red, amber, violet and brown. It is like driving through a multi coloured tunnel.The Indus brings with it more life and green and we find mustard fields and other crops in the valley.
Manali to LehFrom Tanglang La it is descent to Leh. You are given company by fast flowing Indus river and the mountains turn colourful.

Manali to Leh

Manali to Leh

Manali to Leh

Mustard fields in Indus valley 
We now get a glimpse of “gompas” on hilltops and the mountain air seems to carry with it soothing “Buddhist chants”. The road towards Leh becomes more desert like and we notice “white chortens (stupas)” at various places on the road. The army camps make an appearance and the road is now “alive” with long convoys of army vehicles which are moving towards Leh and Kargil. After Upshi, Karu, Thiksey and we enter Leh.
Welcome to Leh
As we sip tea in a cafe in Leh, we could not help but recall the beautiful moments on the Manali Leh road- the memory of this drive will linger along for years after the road has gone – It’s an experience of a lifetime!
Post Script

Manali to Leh road trip is one of the beautiful one can think of. Travel to Ladakh can not be complete if you do not experience this journey. You cross four passes of different heights, you go through snow, streams and precariously narrow stretches at places. The landscape changes every few KMs. It is a photographer’s paradise indeed. We did the trip in two days and we highly recommend it be done in three days (details in our previous post on this road trip).

Please look at travel tips given on our previous post Manali Leh Road Trip, Day one | Breathtakingly Beautiful! and be well prepared. Always keep a buffer day when you plan for this trips as there may be chances of landslides or snow blocking the passes.
Gompas – Buddhist monasteries
Chortem – Stupa
You can read all about our Ladakh travel – more than 20 posts including a drive to Siachen base camp – by clicking the following post below.

Ladakh Travel – 18 Tales to Inspire you!

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About the author

Poorna & Brinda

We are Brinda and Poorna from Bengaluru, the “Silicon city” or “Garden city” of India.

We travel together. We caught the travel bug 20 years back. On our honey moon, we traveled over the sea, in the train, by bus and in an aircraft! Our adventures probably started in that year. It continues, ever since.

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