Four of my college friends and I had been considering a road trip to Leh for five years. Everyone started to think it would never happen, and had stopped taking us seriously. It was some time after I bought my new Ertiga and I relived our dream of riding through beautiful hilly terrain together. This thought somehow energized me and I decided to plan a trip this time. I contacted my friends, after much fear and persuasion, the long awaited journey had finally begun.
Delhi to Chandigarh
The 250 km distance between Delhi and Chandigarh on the historic Grand Trunk Road was a breath of fresh air. The smooth roads had made the distance pass like a breeze. Also, the SmartPlay with the built-in GPS navigation system made our trip even more enjoyable. Our favorite songs played in the background as we talked and relived our beautiful college days. We realized that in the daily grind we have forgotten what it feels like to spend quality time with our loved ones. The spark of our once-diluted friendship was slowly returning and we could all sense it.
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Chandigarh to Manali
Sitting through endless mustard fields we reached Mandi. Just 145 km north of Shimla, Mandi is a hill station blessed with awe-inspiring natural beauty. After paying our obeisances to Panchavaktra Temple and Ardhnarishwar Temple, we proceeded to Manali. You know you are in Manali when apple orchards appear on every side of the road. Even after a 10 hour journey we felt fresh; thanks to the effortless ride my Ertiga gave me.
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From Manali to Rohtang Pass
Driving past Vashisht, about 30 km outside of Manali, you will get your first glimpse of snow-capped peaks. We parked our car on the side of the road and clicked an obligatory group selfie with mountains in the background. It was the moment we had been waiting for and it definitely brought a smile to everyone’s face. As the road goes up, the landscape changes. Tiny hamlets, lizards and wildflower speckled slopes are replaced by snowy brown mountains and grasslands. At 13,051 feet is the mesmerizing Rohtang Pass, giving you a glimpse of how beautiful the journey ahead will be.
Rohtang Pass to Sarchu
After a comfortable but long ride, we took a break in Tandi. It has the last petrol station before you reach Leh which is 365 km away. After driving further, we reached Baralacha La, located at an elevation of 16,040 feet. We drove on for a few hours and reached Sarchu, which is at an elevation of 13,080 feet. At Sarchu we decided to stay for the night.
Sarchu to Leh
The route between Sarchu and Leh is extremely beautiful in terms of landscapes and quality of roads. Rugged mountains formed by sedimentary rocks could be seen everywhere. After crossing three passes and the famous Gata Loops with 21 hairpin bends, we finally arrived at Leh. The spacious seats in Ertiga made the journey more comfortable for all of us. After resting for a while, we spent a wonderful evening visiting the famous monasteries.