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Bus services on world’s highest motorable route from Delhi to Leh resumes

The entire journey from Delhi to Leh costs around Rs 1,400 and it takes around 36 hours to cover the arduous journey of 1,072 km through highest mountain passes to reach Leh.

Sanjeev Kumar |

In a good news for adventure freaks, the bus service on world’s highest motorable route resumed on Wednesday which is undoubtedly one of the coolest and cheapest road trips one can ever experience.

The entire journey from Delhi to Leh costs around Rs 1,400 and it takes around 36 hours to cover the arduous journey of 1,072 km through highest mountain passes to reach Leh.

The bus service by the Himachal Pradesh Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) has also been registered in the Limca Book of Records for providing connection to Asia’s highest village, Kibber which is located at an altitude of 14,200 ft.

“The HRTC’s Delhi-Leh bus service was flagged off this morning and is likely to reach Leh by evening,” Deputy Commissioner, Lahaul Spiti, Ashwini Kumar Chaudhary told The Statesman.

Starting from warm plains of Delhi, the bus passes through the scenic beauty of Pir Panjal Hills, the Himalayas and through the colourful fluttering flags of prayers. The bus service starts from Delhi in the afternoon and it reaches Manali in the morning the next day.

After taking a halt for few hours, the bus makes its way through Rohtang Pass to Keylong in Lahaul Spiti where it makes an overnight halt and leave for Leh at 5 a.m. the next morning. The Himachal Pradesh government had developed a special camping site at Keylong for the night halt for the travelers.

In the arduous adventurous trip, the bus would cross through the cold desert regions of Himachal and Jammu and Kashmir and it passes through the four high mountains that passes namely, Rohtang Pass (13,050 ft), Baralacha Pass (16,020 ft), Lachungla Pass (16,620 ft) and Tanglangla Pass (17,480 ft).

The mountain passes, mainly Rohtang and Baralacha, receive snowfall throughout the year and these extreme weather conditions coupled with flash floods, landslides, hairpin bends on narrow roads and extreme temperature variation are major challenges on the route.

The Manali-Leh route, generally, witness traffic of small vehicles, especially SUVs and it remains open for vehicular traffic for four to five months in a year (from June or July to September or October).

Testing the skills of HRTC drivers, the longest, highest and toughest bus route throws landscapes of myriad hues open to passengers, not to mention the extreme temperature variation.

The HRTC staff is trained to handle emergency situations to ensure the safety of passengers as there is no service station in a large stretch between Darcha, around 116 km from Keylong and Leh. In case of some issue, the bus staff takes help from the Border Road Organization personnel.

In case of any serious breakdown, the HRTC sends in a new bus, but the entire process takes many hours.