The Himalayas of India:  Ladakh and Srinagar, Summer 2013
Bonus Page: The Amazing Manali to Leh Road, Indian Himalayas



This is a bonus page for the wild bus trip from Manali to Leh. I've been on most of the major mountain roads in Ladakh, and would go on them again. Except for the Manali-Leh Road. It's beautiful, but once is enough.

What made the mini-bus ride from Manali to Leh so grueling and awful?
- The mini-bus drivers were racing along as fast as possible, driving far faster than I would have ever felt comfortable driving on bumpy mountain roads. Coupled with this is our driver, who had only slept two hours the night before, having made a drive from Leh to Manali. But bus drivers don't say no to jobs, or they are not asked to do them again.

- I was sitting in the very back of the bus, so every bump was magnified. All of us in the back were flying up, regularly getting completely airborne as the bus careened through the mountain roads. I had bruises on my left arm from slamming into the side of the bus.

- The bus broke down, puncturing a tire, about 50km from Leh. We were stuck in the bus for a couple of hours as he fixed it by the side of the road, as it was extremely cold outside.

- The bus ride took 22 hours in total.


Many of these photos were shot through the smudgy, wet windows of the careening bus, but they will give you an idea of the impressive Himalayan landscape between Manali and Leh.

Indian tourists trying to catch a few minutes' sleep on the cold mini-bus.

Old abandoned gas pumps along the Manali-Leh Road. Well, to be fair, it was in back of a building, and not off the side of the road.

A mountain pass rest stop along the Manali-Leh Road.

Careening around another snowy mountain pass on the road from Manali to Leh in the Indian Himalayas.

Caravaning - or perhaps more accurately - racing with other mini-buses.

A shepherd tends his flock high up on the roof of the world.

One of the endless breathtaking vistas along the road from Manali to Leh as seen through increasingly smudgy, wet windows.

Mountain road switchbacks that we had just driven on, as seen through smudgy, rain-pelted windows. Opening the window resulted in a cold blast of mountain air and a spray of ice cold rain or snow on me, my neighbors, and my camera lens, so I didn't open the window at all when it was raining or snowing. Which was most of the time.

This is the interior of the mini-bus.

If you look carefully, you can see this really amazing arch through the front windshield. This was the only shot I could get of it, and I really can't remember where it was, but it was perhaps about 2/3 of the way through our trip from Manali to Leh.

At another rest stop, another view of the increasingly arid mountains as we approach Ladakh on the winding mountain road between Manali and Leh.

To Page 2 of our Himalayas trip!

Ken's photos of Nobel Peace Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as photos of Peru, Burma, India, Morocco, China, Thailand, Ghana, Ecuador, and elsewhere, have appeared in many books, magazines, websites, and galleries.  Visit the Ken Lee Photography Website. Some of Ken's select photos may be purchased through his Imagekind Store.

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The Himalayas of India: Summer 2013


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Bonus Page - Manali-Leh Road
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Bonus Page: The Manali to Leh Road, Indian Himalayas

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