Srinagar Leh Highway
The travel on the road from Srinagar to Leh is one of the most beautiful travels in the world. This road trip gives a glimpse of landscape and culture from Europe to Central Asia. From Netherlands like Tulip fields to Siberia like harshly cold Drass. From Central Asian looking people of Kargil to the Tibetan Buddhism of Ladakh. Your mind creates a picture of the now destroyed heritage of Buddhism when you see the statue of Buddha carved out on a hill at Mulabekh. The shikara rides and houseboat stays on the Dal lake remind you of Venice. This journey entails travelling from the country’ most lush and green territory to its driest and coldest land via Zojila Pass, the connecting link between the two regions, making it very diversely mesmerising.
Someone has rightly said that Kashmir is heaven on Earth. The green mountains make just the perfect boundary for the waters of Jhelum and the ever so calm Dal Lake. I’m amazed at how people have quickly picked up the pieces after the devastating floods of 2014 and have moved on bravely. Srinagar looks as pretty as ever.
Srinagar or the entire Himalayan region for that matter consists of numerous lakes, both large and small in size. One thing that is common among all these lakes however is that they are all stunningly beautiful in their own way. Below is a list of a few lakes in Srinagar city and nearby areas that are well worth a visit.
Srinagar to Leh Road Trip Map
- Dal Lake
- Nigeen Lake
- Wular Lake
- Manasbal Lake
- Anchar Lake
- Gangabal Lake
- Khushal Sar
Below is a list of a few religious places that you can visit on Srinagar Leh highway. While you are on the Kashmir side, the majority of the culture is Muslim influenced however as you move towards Ladakh, the culture is a mix of Muslim and Buddhism with Buddhism taking the majority.
Lamayuru Monastery: It is one of the largest and oldest gompas in Ladakh, with a population of around 150 permanent monks resident. In the past, this monastery has housed up to 400 monks; many of which are now based in gompas in surrounding villages.Primary attraction of this monastery are the two annual masked dance festivals in the second and fifth months of the Tibetan lunar calendar, when all the monks from these surrounding gompas gather together to pray.
Phyang Monastery: Established in 1515, this monastery is located at a distance of 15 kilometers from Leh in Fiang/Phyang Village. It is noted for several sacred shrines and frescoes dating from the royal period. The monastery is also home to a 900-year-old museum which has an extensive collection of idols including a number of fine Kashmiri bronzes probably dating to the 14th century, thangkas, Chinese, Tibetan and Mongolian firearms and weapons.
Spituk Monastery: Also known as Spituk Gompa or Pethup Gompa, Spituk Monastery is located 8 kilometres from the town of Leh. It is noted for a giant statue of Kali that only gets unveiled during the annual Spitok festival.
Gurudwara Patthar Sahib: It is a beautiful Gurudwara, built in the memory of Guru Nanak Dev and is located at a distance of about 25 kilometers from Leh. Built at a height of 3,600 meters; this Gurudwara is famous for a huge boulder that is believed to have an imprint of Guru Nanak Dev on it.
Places on Srinagar Leh Highway
Mentioned below is a list of all the major towns/villages you will travel through before finally reaching Leh. Negotiating high passes and fragile mountainsides, the journey from Srinagar to Leh is quite fascinating in itself. The first stop of course is Srinagar.
Srinagar: One of the most beautiful hill stations of our country. The whole city is filled with tourist attractions and you can spend an entire week here visiting them.
Sonamarg: The next major town after Srinagar is the beautiful Sonamarg. Literal meaning of the name is ‘the meadow of gold’. It is a prime tourist attraction of Kashmir valley and offers great views of two Himalayan glaciers – Kolhoi Glacier and Machoi Glacier. Thajiwas glacier too is barely a 15 minute drive away. Snow clad Sirbal Peak, Kolhoi Peak, Amarnath Peak and Machoi Peak are also visible from here. Treks to Vishansar Lake, Krishansar Lake, Gangabal Lake and Gadsar Lake start from Sonamarg.
Drass: After Kargil comes Drass, famous as the second coldest inhabitated place on earth (not sure if this claim is valid though). Primary attraction here is the Kargil War Memorial and Mushko Valley.
Kargil: It is more or less the mid point of Srinagar Leh highway; both Srinagar and Leh being at equal distances from here. To be honest, I do not really find Kargil that scenic; but it is a good and preferred spot to break your journey on first day from Srinagar.
Mulbekh: Another small village en route, famous for the monastery and Mulbekh Maitreya.
Lamayuru: Another favored pit stop by many while traveling from Srinagar to Leh or vice versa. This small village is famous for Lamayuru Monastery and Lunar Landscapes.
Nimmu: A small village famous for Indus and Zanskar river confluence. The Chadar trek to Zanskar too starts from here in winters.