If you are planning a Leh Ladakh trip from Kolkata, then this is the post for you. Tourists from West Bengal, especially from Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta), can be seen visiting all the hill stations of the country, including Ladakh, round the year. Come September and October and the whole Leh-Ladakh is thronged by tourists from West Bengal.
Visiting new places every year is in the blood of Bengalis. Be it summer time, monsoon season, spring or winter season, tourists from Kolkata can be seen in everywhere in Ladakh. Bengali tourists are straight forward, honest, they never cheat, can adjust according to the situation and are very friendly. That is why everybody in Ladakh gives them warm welcome.
Reaching Ladakh from West Bengal is not simple like visiting Delhi or Mumbai. Unfortunately, there is no rail or direct flight connectivity between Kolkata and Leh (Ladakh). In this post, we shall guide you about all available options to reach Ladakh from Kolkata.
Whether you are from Kolkata or Howrah, Durgapur, Asansol, Bardhaman, Darjeeling, Haldia, Barrackpore, Kharagpur, Midnapore, Berhampore, Cooch Behar or any other part of West Bengal, either you have to book connecting flight to Leh Airport or have to book train to Delhi, Chandigarh or Jammu from where you can travel by taxi.
Planning a Ladakh trip from Kolkata is very easy. A large number of tourists from Kolkata (Or other cities of West Bengal) love to experience thrilling jeep safari/road journey from Manali to Leh Ladakh or from Srinagar to Leh Ladakh. Some even do a round trip starting from Manali and ending at Srinagar after visiting Ladakh. This trip is possible in the opposite direction as well i.e. Srinagar – Ladakh – Manali. But note that Manali to Leh road remains open from June to mid-October only while Srinagar to Leh road remains open from May to November or depending on weather conditions.
Tourists from Kolkata visit Ladakh to see the nature, landscapes, snow-laden mountains, high altitude lakes, ancient monasteries, trekking, jeep safari, bike tours, photography tours and wildlife tours.
Manali-Leh (Ladakh) road is famous for transformation in landscapes, over a hundred hairpin bends, four major mountain passes, deep valleys, high peaks, morre plains, icy water rivers, glacial views and many more.
Alchi, Likir, Lamayuru, Thiksey, Hemis, Diskit, Spituk, Stakna and Phyang are the most visited monasteries (gompa) of Ladakh. Khardungla pass and Changla pass are the major mountain passes and tourist attractions in Ladakh. Rohtang pass, Baralacha pass and Taglangla passes are main passes on Manali-Leh route while Zojila pass is main pass on Srinagar-Leh route.
Tourists from Kolkata (West Bengal) who are nature lovers love their visit to Pangong Lake and Tso Moriri lake. Though Tsomoriri lake is not visited by all due to its remote location. Both the lakes are situated above 14,000 feet.
As a curious tourist, you will have many questions in your mind and as a travel agent, we get many queries like How to Visit Ladakh from Kolkata? Guide us about Kolkata Ladakh Packages? How to reach Ladakh from Kolkata? What is the best time to visit Ladakh from Kolkata? Complete Ladakh packages from Kolkata? Ladakh packages for Kolkata residents etc.
Discover Leh Ladakh will guide you through some of the key points that will help you in planning a hassle free and memorable trip to Ladakh.
How to reach Leh Ladakh from Kolkata by Flight
There is no direct flight from Kolkata to Leh (Ladakh). Currently, Leh airport o Ladakh is connected by direct flights from Delhi, Mumbai and Chandigarh. Tourists from Kolkata or other parts of West Bengal can get connecting flight from Delhi or Chandigarh.
How to reach Leh Ladakh from Kolkata by Train
Ladakh has no rail network. So, you cannot come to Ladakh by train as well. The nearest railway station is in Jammu or Chandigarh. From where you can take taxi to Leh via Srinagar-Zojila pass-Kargil or via Manali-Rohtang pass and Keylong.
The ministry of railway has finalized a rail network from Himachal to Leh (Ladakh) via Manali and Rohtang pass. The project report is in final stage and work to lay rail track will start very soon. Once completed, this will be one of the highest rail line of the world which will have over two dozen tunnels. Since then, flight and road transport would be the only options to reach Ladakh.
How to reach Leh Ladakh from Kolkata by Road
Ladakh is connected by two roads – one from Manali and other from Srinagar. After you reach Delhi or Chandigarh by flight or rail from Kolkata, you can travel to Manali by bus or taxi.
From Manali, you can hire a taxi to Leh. It is 15-16 hours journey. While locals do the journey in a day, tourists prefer doing the journey in two days with one night halt at Keylong, Jispa or Sarchu. The taxi will pass through Rohtang pass, Keylong, Jispa, Baralacha Pass, Sarchu, Pang, Taglangla and Karu.
HRTC and Himachal Tourism also run buses on this route in a limited time period.
Other option is to take a taxi from Srinagar. Those coming to Jammu railway station need to hire a taxi to reach Srinagar. From Srinagar, it is two days journey. The taxi will take you through Sonmarg, Zojila and Drass before reaching Kargil town. Kargil is the most preferred night halt destination for most tourists.
Start you remaining half journey from Kargil passing through Mulbek, Lamayuru, Khalsi, Basgo and Sangam. Some people do this journey in one day as well. But we prefer doing it in two days so that you complete the journey in day time and get enough time for sightseeing and photography.
Unfortunately, Ladakh trip from Kolkata is not possible all by road in winter months (November to mid-May) as Manali-Leh and Srinagar-Leh highways remain closed following heavy snowfall during this time.
You can book your complete Kolkata-Ladakh trip, Manali-Ladakh trip or Srinagar-Ladakh Trip from Discover Leh Ladakh.
Best time to visit Ladakh
You can visit Ladakh year-round. Yes, even in winter months. While Ladakh trip from Kolkata is not possible by road in winter months but you can reach Ladakh by flight from Delhi, Mumbai or Chandigarh even in peak winter months of December to February. If winter is a problem for you, you should visit Ladakh between May to Mid-October. Mercury starts plunging after October. January and February are the peak cold months when temperature at some places in Ladakh dips below minus 30 degrees Celsius. This is the time when lakes, rivers and all water sources get freeze. A large number of tourists visit Ladakh during winters to see a quite different Ladakh.
If you too want to experience winters of Ladakh, you should visit from December to March. Many tourists come for trekking or Chadar Trek (trek on frozen Zanskar river). Some simply come to snow, snowfall and frozen lakes and rivers. June to September is peak summer season in Ladakh. Tourists from Kolkata (West Bengal) visit Ladakh 12 months a year but mostly visit in October months during Durga Puja holidays.
What to see in your Ladakh trip from Kolkata
We know that Bengali tourists are nature lovers and want to see new places, especially peaceful areas. Ladakh has dozens of places of interests for tourists from Kolkata (West Bengal). We have a list of places that Kolkata tourists must visit while in Ladakh. We have a list of places which are of interest of Kolkata, Howrah, Durgapur, Asansol, Bardhaman, Darjeeling, Haldia, Barrackpore, Kharagpur, Midnapore, Berhampore, Cooch Behar or any other part of West Bengal.
Shanti Stupa, Leh Palace, Hall of Fame, Kali Mata Temple, Spituk, Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, Magnetic Hill Point, Sangam (confluence of Indus and Zanskar rivers), Khardungla pass, Nubra Valley (Diskit and Hunder), Diskit monastery, Pangong Lake, Hemis Monastery and Thiksey monastery are the major points of interest for Bengali tourists. This takes 6 to 7 days in Ladakh. If you have more time, you can visit Alchi monastery, Likir monastery, Lamayuru, Moonland formations near Lamayuru, Tso Moriri lake, Phyang monastery and Stakna monastery and Turtuk village as well. If you are coming from Srinagar side, you will visit Zojila pass, Drass village, the second coldest inhabited place on earth after Siberia, Kargil War Memorial. If coming from Manali side, you will visit Rohtang pass, Baralacha pass, Taglangla, Sarchu, Morre Plains.
Inner Line Permit
Ladakh shares its borders with China and Pakistan. For security reasons, both foreigners and Indian tourists are required to obtain inner line permit to be able to visit restricted areas of Ladakh. These places include Pangong Lake, Khardungla, Nubra valley, Tso Moriri, Chushul, Dha, Bhiyama, Hanu, Turtuk etc. Inner-line permits are available very easily after getting your identity verified.
Online permit: You can apply for online permit, take its printout, come to Leh, visit the concerned office in the town, pay the fee and get the stamp on the permit paper.
Or, the best and easy option is to ask your travel agent to get the permit for you. You only need to send scanned copy of your photo ID by email. Please note that inner line permit is not free; authorities charge fees like Red Cross fee, environment/wildlife fee. If you are booking your package from Discover Leh Ladakh, we shall take care of your permit. Passport, driving license, AADHAR, Voter Id are valid photo IDs that can be used to obtain the permit.
If you are traveling from Manali to Leh, you need to obtain tourist permit to cross Rohtang pass. You can book online permit for Rohtang pass. If permit is not available online, you can get manual permit from SDM office at Manali. Please note that permit will not be available for Tuesdays as Rohtang pass remains closed for all vehicles every Tuesday due to Road Maintenance by BRO.
Check out our Ladakh Packages for Kolkata Tourists
If you are coming in peak season, get your taxi booked in advance. Otherwise, you can book it after coming to Leh. But we shall advice you to book the service in advance so that it comes to pick you up at airport, takes you to all sightseeing places and drops you off at airport. This way, you would avoid last moment unavailability problem as well. If looking for a taxi from Manali to Leh, you will get it in Manali. You may face problem in getting a taxi in May and June months, the peak season time in Himachal. Also, the taxi charges in season would be a bit high. You can ask your travel agent to book the taxi for you. If you are buying a complete package, it will have taxi service included. Due to separate taxi unions in Leh, Kargil and Manali, you may need to change your taxis as taxi from one place is not allowed in other place by taxi union people.
Hotels in Ladakh
From luxury to deluxe to standard, Ladakh has all kind of hotels. Depending on budget, interest and requirement, you can book a hotel of your choice. Booking a room in hotel of choice sometime becomes difficult during peak tourist season when thousands of tourists from plains throng the hill stations to get respite from scorching heat. So, book your hotel in advance.
At Nubra valley, you can book a hotel or Swiss camp cottage/tent. At Pangong, you will stay in tents (Swiss tents) as the region has no hotel. You can get hotels at both Jispa and Keylong while travelling between Manali and Leh. Other option is to stay in Swiss Tents (camping) at Sarchu. Camp service is available at Sissu and Jispa as well. While travelling between Srinagar and Leh, Kargil is the most preferred destination where you will get many hotel options. Some tourists love to stay in family run homestays or guesthouses as well.
Be it hotel, homestay, guesthouse or tent, it will be neat and clean with hygienic bathroom. At Tso Moriri, you will find some camping sites, hotel and homestays at Korzok village. Between Leh and Kargil, hotel and camps are available at many places including Alchi, Tingmosgang, Ule, Khaltse and Lamayuru. In Nubra Valley, most camps and hotels are available at Hunder. However, there are beautiful accommodation options available at Diskit, Sumur and Turtuk.
You will get variety of meal in Ladakh, however, you may have to compromise sometime if chosen to have meal at your hotel where you are staying, or in Nubra valley and Pangong Lake and Tso Moriri Lake. Vegetarian, non-vegetarian, Indian, Chinese, Continental cuisines are available at many places. You will see a lot of restaurants in Ladakh serving multi-cuisines.
We shall suggest you to book your hotel with MAP (breakfast and dinner) as you will get hygienic meal at your hotel. Don’t book your lunch at hotel as you will be travelling every day. We also do not suggest taking a pack-lunch with you until you are visiting to remote areas in winter season. You will see a lot of restaurants, dhabas and eateries at many places while going to a sightseeing place. Give it a try and have meal of your choice in the lunch. Your driver will help you find a better place to eat. If visiting in off-season, you can give your meal preference to the hotel management.
Guide for Bengali tourists
Generally, you need not to hire a tourist guide unless you are interested in deep history of a particular place/monument/monastery. Our driver will take you to all the places himself. Most of the tourists, especially Indians, do not hire any guide as they can easily communicate with the locals. But, if you want a dedicated guide, you can hire one Hindi or English speaking tourist guide who will explain the history and importance of all the places. As only local Ladakhi drivers are available for sightseeing of Ladakh, he knows the place better than anybody. In case of any problem, the drivers know how to deal with the situation.
Language in Ladakh
Generally, Ladakh residents speak Ladakhi and Bhoti language. They also speak Hindi. Some speak Tibetan and Urdu as well. Many people here understand, speak and write good English. The drivers here understand little English and also speak broken-English. But they speak good Hindi. So communication should not be a problem for Hindi speaking tourists from Kolkata (West Bengal).
No one can beat Bengali tourists when it comes to shopping. You can try some shopping in Leh market. Main bazaar is the main shopping area of the city where you can buy all kind of material like dresses, electronics, crockery, variety of souvenirs, Tibetan/Chinese crockery, Pashmina shawls and decorative items. Give a try to the local dry fruits. Ladakhi Chulli (dry apricot) is famous among tourists. Local dresses and ornaments are also available in the market. Buddha sculptures will definitely impress you and are a good option for souvenir. You will find a lot more in the market that you can take back home to gift your family members and friends.
What to carry for Ladakh trip from Kolkata
If you are coming from Kolkata (or other parts of West Bengal), you need to carry some woollens, good shoes (sports shoes are advisable), sun screen lotion, sunglasses, lip balm, your photo ID (Passport, driving license, AADHAR or Voter Id), inner-line permit, Rohtang pass permit (if coming by road from Manali), cash for shopping and to pay necessary bills and your medicines.
Phone Connectivity in Ladakh
The pre-paid numbers from other states do not work in Ladakh. Only post-paid numbers work here. BSNL and Airtel has the widest coverage. However, BSNL is the leading service provider of Ladakh. BSNL works not only in Leh, Kargil and Nubra but also works at Tso Morori Lake (Korzok), Pangong Lake (Durbuk/Tangste area), Aryan Valley (Dha Bhiyama Hanu area), Zanskar Valley (Padum), Turtuk, Sumur, Sham Valley and most parts between Leh and Taglangla pass. However, Airtel will work in Leh, Kargil and Nubra valley. A large area of Ladakh is still out of mobile phone coverage. However, in most places you will get Satellite Phones (PCOs). Even Sarchu has one such satellite phone PCO booth.
Security in Ladakh
Ladakh is one of the most secure tourist destinations in the country. The region is safe and secure for both Indian and foreigner tourists. All the tourists – Indians and foreigners – are needed to obtain inner line permit (ILP) to visit restricted areas of Ladakh. The permit can be obtained easily from Leh administration at easy terms. Unlike Kashmir valley where turmoil affects the tourism time to time, there is no such unrest in entire Ladakh. In case of unrest in Kashmir, tourists can either come to Leh directly by flight or can come in taxi from Manali side.
If you have any other query regarding Ladakh trip from Kolkata, you can write to us at [email protected]