Awesome Road Trip Manali - Himachal Pradesh to Leh - Jammu and Kashmir
After spending some time in Manali it was time to head out to Leh, we inquired with a few travel agents about the expenses to Leh, most of them quoted INR 1200 per head for a shared bus, that left at 1:30 am and reached Leh by 9:00 pm there was also a 2 day bus that cost INR 2400, it included one night stay in Sissu.
Private vehicle to Leh cost about INR 15,000 in most places which was a two day journey, after inquiring with a few other agents we spoke to “NorthFace” a travel agency just off the mall road, they quoted INR 10.5 K for 2-3 nights and they had contacts in Leh, it was the obvious choice.
We started our journey on the 4th of August after a nice breakfast at Mount View, the drivers name was Bittu a 42 yr old man with oiled hair, we started our journey at 10:30 am, the first stop was at Marhi ; a shanty town of roadside restaurants situated at an altitude of 3,360 m (11,020 ft), we were served Kheer on the house, it was the Bhole Nath festival, which marks the start of Shravan, the way to Rohtang pass was completely covered in mist, later we passed through Khosar situated at 3,140 m; in winter this is the coldest inhabited place in Lahul, it is a small settlement with mostly eateries, after travelling for about 14 kms we reached Sissu situated at 3,120 m (10,235 ft) above sea level, it’s very similar to Koksar but has a PWD Rest house, High School and Health care Facilities.
After about 11 kms we reached Ghondala situated at 3,160 m, Bittu suggested we have lunch here, the Dabha was a regular roadside one, the food on the other hand was fresh, tasty and extremely economical, Lunch for 2 people was INR 100, it included two bowls of yellow Dal and lots of Rotis; tea INR 10, the shop owner and the locals we friendly, some of them had worked in Mumbai for a few years, but prefer Himachal, I do too.
After lunch it was time to feed the vehicle, the next stop was Tandi, the next gas station was about 350 kms away directly in Leh, Tandi was a lush green place, even with all the vehicles clogging up the road waiting for their turn to drink, it was still peaceful, Keylong situated at 3,080 m (10,100 ft) was next which was a big mountain town, similar to Sissu but larger, this is usually the stop over for most buses after Manali, after about 37 kms we reached Gemur an extremely tiny village famous for its ancient Monastery.
Navigating through mountains is extremely stressful for man and machine it was time to relax, we reached Jispa at about 4:49 pm, Searched for rooms and tents but they we all expensive between INR 900 and INR 1200, drove about 1.5 kms from the camping grounds we got a room for INR 480 at the PWD Rest House. Watch the Review of the Rest House - Jispa Below.
Jispa situated at 3,200 m (10,500 ft) is a small but beautiful river bank settlement; it has a post office, monastery, folk museum and a Helipad. The moon was particularly beautiful that evening; it illuminated the mountain top very well, unfortunately my camera was out of juice, after relaxing a bit we went to have dinner at Jispa Inn, food was on the expensive side as compared to Ghondala, with each Roti at INR 10 and Dal at INR 80, but the cold weather made it worth it.