Journey to the roof of the world

I just got back from the famous Delhi- manali-keylong-leh–kargil-dras-zozila-srinagar-patnitop-delhi highway and the writeup from bikerdude is really gr8. Atleast for me it would have been of gr8 use…if i would have read it before my trip…primarily becoz i got some handson lesson of what is termed as acclimatization.:))) haha….this trip was first of its kind in my life.



I took manali-keylong route…stayed overnight at chandrabhaga hotel…at keylong…and decided to cover the entire distance to leh in one shot…..which me and my friend did. I started early in the morning 0500 hrs from keylong…and by 1500hrs i was at pang.. Someone once said “Experience is the only teacher which gives test first and lesson later–.Indeed great things learned on this route which will put ur endurance to a test while driving thru rough roads…of rohtang la… tanglang la….and zozila pass..


Honestly speaking going in innova was pretty comfortable as compared to dirt biking and buses……helped me a lot in capturing scenery/videos in my camera/handycam..


In leh i got the innerline permit for khardungla which is mandatory for indian and foreign nationals and finally after reaching khardungla chill was all around me and my enthusiam was growing. Luckily my cellphone signal was coming and i couldnt resist calling my pals back in delhi about this great achievement.


I popped in a diamox to acclimatize faster as i had only 2 days plan for leh..

What i feel..i missed was nubra/panggong and enroute drive to siachen…maybe next year….i will fulfill this dream….

Next day i was all geared up for kargil….as i had planned to spend my night in kargil….on the way i stopped by gurdwara pathar sahib and magnetic hill (a place which defies gravity)and carried out a real time operational test of magnetic hill by taking out the ignition keys and car was moving uphill on its own…..

Thers actually no such great place to stop enroute and its a good thing to carry ur own packed stuff ….i stopped by lamayuru the oldest monastery..and took some gr8 pics at fortula(13479ft) the highest point on leh srinagar road… i got out of my car i felt the high wind speeds at that alitude….

spotting a wild yak is very easy on these routes…but i wonder what they feed on as there are no trees….its just a high altitude desert area….

By evening i was in kargil….which reminds all of us about the 1999 war…The town of Kargil (Kargil is a Muslim majority region of J&K) is located 205 km  from Srinagar facing the Areas across the LOC. places of interest kargil wall and harka bahadur bridge…maintained by indian army

An early wake up call from kargil and i was all set to srinagar…on my way i took a break at Dras (the second coldest inhabited place in the world)..
Dras has a war memorial which is really worth visiting for every indian soul…from the memorial u have a gr8 view of tiger hill and tololing…

My next stopover was at a place called “Dropati Kund” As per the legend associated with this Kund, Draupadi,  of the Mahabharat, had her last bath here before she died forlorn in the Himalayas.


On the way to sonmarg comes zozila pass the last highest pass on this route Zoji La is 9 km from Sonamarg and provides a vital link between Ladakh and Kashmir. It runs at an elevation of approximately 3,528 metres (11,575 ft), and is the second highest pass after Fotu La on the Srinagar-Leh National Highway….

Thers a war memorial at zozila ….after zozila…..its time to say goodbye to deserted and rocky mountains……as u enter the sonmarg valley…HIGH ALPINE MEADOWS WELCOME U……with some breathtaking scenery…..and drive till srinagar…..

by evening i was driving around the infamous lal chowk in srinagar….dal lake is really bigger than what i actually thought… i drove around the perimeter road…..stayed overnight in a houseboat which is one the best ways to stay when ur in srinagar….

next afternoon after a heavy breakfast at nathu sweets near dal lake road…i headed to patnitop….for a night halt.

As my vacation came to an end i was realising what a great trip it was(actually it is WORLDS 3RD MOST SCENIC ROUTE FROM MANALI TO LEH) As i travelled thru one of the highest passes of the world…without any tyre flats.

an unprecedented journey coming to an end…..and i hope to go there every year…..:))


  • Ram says:


    Thanks for sharing this breathtaking trip to Manali, Keylong, Kargil and Dras.

    Welcome aboard and keep on sharing your experiences.

    Would look forward to your next post.

  • akhil bakshi says:

    owesome dude….

  • atul says:

    I would be uploading some great pics of the route….which will definately motivate others to go this route…..

  • Manisha Gogoi says:

    hey nice…good to see sucha nice thing afta long time..u made it urslf sir ? all da best

  • Nimmu says:

    Awesome Post Brother…..The Coolest Aircraft Engineer……Would Love to so to these places….Everything has got it’s Place n Time……

  • ATUL BEHAL says:

    i have already uploaded many pics on facebook….

  • Mani Gahatraj says:

    hi atul, very well done, fantastic pics and joyful ride across your well narrated lines of beauty. Thanks for sharing and keep doing it !!

  • Magnetic hill sounds fascinating.

  • atul says:

    magnetic hill is on the way from leh to kargil. Car gets pulled if u park it in white box due strong presence of magnetic material around ….

  • Patrick says:

    A innova u said? did u hire it? if so what did it cost? awesome pics by the way

  • gp.bhardwaj says:


    did you meet your target.

    • atul says:

      @patrick…an innova or any other muv would cost around 10 rs per km…

      you need a 4×4 vehicle preferably on manali-leh-srinagar route…,but innovas ,scorpio they perform nicely…..nothing like taking a pajero or an endeavour……higher ground clearance and bullet proof suspension…will speak foritself ….another point worth mentioning is careful driving skills irrespective of the car….

      i saw a grounded innova….with a fuel leak from the fuel tank….caused by running over stones and rocks,,,…on such a route with no technical help upto 300 kms be prepared to be grounded for 24-48 hours……in extreme weather conditions…….Crux is “complacency is a killer on such route ” and we saw vehicles which were damaged beyond economical repair (enroute)

      one has to precisely understand the ground clearance and manoeuvring capabilities and limitations of the vehicle…

      @ bhardwaj….yes sir very much on time…..

  • atul says:

    why Pajero???


    Sometimes the road throws an unexpected surprise in your path, On such routes….pajero has the real advantage because it has Collapsible Propeller Shaft; Designed to collapse on impact, preventing it from entering the fuel tank

    Safety-Design Fuel Tank; Situated ahead of the rear axle for protection against punctures in the event of a collision

    Pajeros fuel tank is also guarded by a tough resin underprotector.RISE (Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution) body, using front and rear crumple zones to absorb and diffuse collision damage before it can reach the cabin interior.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Recently another Ghumakkar, Pronil Sengupta (, made the same route (Delhi – Manali – Sringar – Jammu – Delhi) in a Santro. Two couples , and pardon me Pronil for this, and all four from khate-peetay ghar waale.

    As I say all the time, the horse power is in the driver :-) and not the car.

    Often I get hooted by a Alto or a WagonR on various highways and I wonder that how the hell they go past me :-), I dont even compete with Swifts and Skodas.

    From my personal experience, a well build Bolero or a Scorpio would do well. Just pay a lot of respect to the terrain and never be in any hurry.

  • atul says:

    Hello friends,

    to know the status of manali-leh road and srinagar -leh road….

    please log on to

    thanks and regards

  • Patrick Jones says:

    One hell of a trip, Atul.

    In your excitement you forgot to be a little more descriptive :-)

  • atul says:

    yes sir ur absolutely right…….but i assure you i will cover the rest of story in THE PART 2 OF JOURNEY TO THE ROOF OF THE WORLD ….

    it will be like a VIRTUAL TOUR TO THE ROOF OF THE WORLD…….haha…this route deserves a lot of appreciation in the world of sports and adventure……i guess it wont be justified to wind it up in few paras…and snapshots…in essence you have to see it to believe it….

    Something i would like to share :::

    During my journey from Delhi to Manali i rang up the hotel guy in keylong to inquire about the manali-leh road status….and later near bilaspur i was shocked to read in local news paper amar ujala that “the highway has been temporarily closed for traffic following snowfall and has broken a 55 year old record and about 282 passengers, including 60 foreigners, were stranded near the Baralacha Pass due to the untimely snowfall, were being rescued”.

    It was a good idea to contact Himachal roadways guys at manali bus station as they had the correct info about the route till keylong and beyond…….we kept our fingers crossed and headed straight to keylong..
    (ab jo hoga dekha jayega…..)

    Such things are very common on this route and i was lucky to get clear blue skys all the way upto khardungla…….my special thanks to mother nature…for being so kind.(for making my first trip fantabulous…)

    So for now i will take the pressure off myself, and just post from time to time, when the inspiration (and time) hits me.

    more to come….!!! :))

  • nandanjha says:

    I was chatting with Deepak and he told me that you are keeping up with your Ghumakkari. Good Good. Keep traveling.

    And tell us your stories as you find time. Best Wishes.

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