A journey along the Manali Leh highway has to be one of the most visually stunning journeys in the world. Add to it, the bad roads, the rarefied mountain passes, the hairpin bends interspersed with the bone-chillingly cold streams of water on the broken, potholed or non-existent roads and you find yourself having one of the greatest adventures ever experienced. The highway passing through some of the highest mountain roads and most inhospitable environments presents to you a range of views from alpine forests to snow-capped peaks to narrow canyons to dusty plateaus to the fertile valley along the Indus river. No wonder that you are left breathless both figuratively and literally!
Manali to Keylong
The journey begins in Manali as heads north on the road up along the Beas river before the ascent to Rohtang La. For most part of the ascent the roads though bad are manageable since it opens up views of pine trees that populate the mountain along with a few water falls here and there. And across the valley one can view snow capped peaks of the foothills of Himalayas. But as one crosses Marhi, a small settlement of restaurants and dhabas, 20 kms short of Rohtang La the clouds and the fog decide to pay a dampener to your excited spirits. Along with this the roads now are nothing more than 2-4 inches of slush and mud with visibility, due to the fog, being reduced to less than a couple of meters. The road, each and every inch of it, demand your unwavering attention. Rohtang La, 52 kms from Manali is pretty close for all the tourists to make a day’s trip and enjoy adventure activities like skiing, paragliding and hence the traffic jams here are pretty frequent. Some of these jams, at times, take up to a day to clear. You will have your first taste of challenges coming up ahead a few kilometers before and after Rohtang.