Best Cycling Trails in the Indian Himalayas

Best Cycling Trails in the Indian Himalayas

 Last Updated: 12 Feb, 2019 By

Exploring the Indian Himalayas on a cycle can be one of the wildest dreams of an adrenaline junkie. If you are an adventure buff who has fervor of conquering the spellbinding world of Indian Himalayas by paddling on bicycle, the cycling routes in these majestic mountains are the perfect place for you.

Describing the significance of cycling for an adventure enthusiast, David Byrne has rightly said, “There’s a certain amount of freedom involved in cycling: you’re self-propelled and decide exactly where to go. If you see something that catches your eye to the left, you can veer off there, which isn’t so easy in a car, and you can’t cover as much ground walking.”

Placed amid ever-changing and fabulously flourishing backdrop, the Himalayan ranges tender some spectacular cycling trails for the adventure aficionados. To put it briefly, cycling trip in the Himalayas is an ideal vacation idea for those who are born to be wild.

Let’s explore some of the best trails in the Indian Himalayas that are an empyrean for a cycling enthusiast:

Leh Srinagar Highway

Leh Srinagar Highway

Leh-Srinagar highway was previously the sole route to Ladakh. The initial part of this trail is fascinating as it crosses the enchanting Zanskar and imposing Gompas of Lamayuru, Basgo, Alchi and Likir. This route covers almost 271 miles of wonderful vistas.

The roads on the route are in very good condition as they serve as military road as well. After Kargil, the road traverses through the Line of Control between India and Pakistan. The road signs on this route indicate ‘Caution. You are under enemy observation’. The cyclist has to pass through heavy militarized areas of Kashmir.

  • Starting Point: Leh
  • End Point: Srinagar
  • Maximum Altitude: 4105 meters
  • Route Itinerary: Leh – Nimmu – Saspol – Lamayuru – Fotu La – Namika La – Mulbekh – Kargil – Drass – Zozi La – Sonmarg – Srinagar

Dha Hanu Detour

Dha Hanu Detour

If a cyclist going from Leh to Srinagar can increase a day in his itinerary, he can choose going from Leh to Srinagar via Dha Hanu. Throughout the village of Dha Hanu, an adventurer can relish the eye-catching vistas of apricot and walnut trees around the huge granite rocks spread all over. This village is famous for its flora that incorporates apricot and walnut trees. Visiting this place in the month of July allows one the opportunity to witness the joyous harvesting festival. An adventurer can also enjoy loads of Chang, which is a local drink of this region. The trail passes through the scenic spots like Skurbuchan, Samoni, Sanjak, etc.

  • Starting Point: Leh
  • End Point: Srinagar
  • Maximum Altitude: Around 4000 meters
  • Route Itinerary: Leh – Khalsi – Skurbuchan – Sanjak – Dha Hanu – Samoni – Chiktan – Khangral – Namika Pass – Mulbekh – Srinagar
  • Route Distance: Around 417 kilometers

Manali Leh Highway

Manali Leh Highway

Manali to Leh Highway is one of the most spectacular trails for cycling in India. This trail is so high and barren that can fascinate the adventure freaks in no time. It would take a trekker some time to get acclimatized; therefore, one must keep it under consideration. Around one/fourth of the total road in the trail is mud-packed. Thus, a cyclist should have proper expertise in dealing with such tracks. Moreover, an adventurer will have to pass cross a number of streams as well. The cyclist can cross it by walking along with the cycle. In addition, such streams can also be crossed while riding a cycle if the adventurer is a skilled rider.

There is no permanent habitation on the route. The high altitude desert of Nubra Valley to the remote and striking kingdom of Ladakh, this trail has everything that makes it worth scouting on a bicycle.

  • Starting Point: Manali
  • End Point: Leh
  • Maximum Altitude: 5350 meters
  • Route Itinerary: Manali – Rohtang Jot – Kokhsar – Tandi – Keylong – Jispa – Darcha – Baralacha La – Bharatpur – Sarchu – Gata Loops – Nakee La – Lachulung La – Pang – More Plains – Tanglang La – Upshi – Karu – Leh

Leh and the Lakes

Leh and the Lakes

It is a great route for the cyclists who want to explore some of the most beautiful secrets of nature. On the trail, one can relish the fabulous sites of gleaming lakes like Tsomoriri and Tsokar Lake. Carrying out the adventure of cycling in Leh amid the bounty of nature is a matchless delight for the adventurers. The trail also passes through exquisite regions like Chumathang and Puga.

The ride on this route incorporates several bumps as well as elevations. However, the backdrop and the tranquil environs will invigorate the rider to keep on cycling. At Tso Kar, one can take RH fork, which is a new military road. This road is flat but highly corrugated.

  • Starting Point: Leh
  • End Point: Tsokar Lake
  • Maximum Altitude: around 4800 meters
  • Route Itinerary: Leh – Thiksey – Chumathang – Mahe Bridge – Tso Moriri – Korzok – Mahe Bridge – Tso Kar Lake

Nubra & Pangong Tso

Nubra & Pangong-Tso

It is a great delight witnessing snow covered mountains, deserts and hued gardens on the same trail. Nubra Valley offers one of the most beautiful cycling trails of the world.

The valley is an abode of exotic flora. Khardung La is one of the highest motorable roads and hence good physical fitness is necessary while embarking on the cycling expedition here. The trail passes through extremely exquisite sites like Khardung La, Taltok, Wari La, Leh and Pangong La.

  • Starting Point: Leh
  • End Point: Khardung La (From here there is 40 kms freewheel to Leh)
  • Maximum Altitude: 5359 meters
  • Route Itinerary: Leh – Chang La – Pangong Lake – Chang La – Spangmik – Wari La – Khalsar – Nubra Valley – Khardung La

Spiti Valley

Spiti Valley

The road to Spiti Valley starts from the mesmerizing region of Manali. The glinting lake of Chandra Tal adds an extra dimension to the excitement of this trail. The road is a bit bumpy but the amazing sight of Kunzum La makes this difficulty worth facing. Astonishing landscape and marvelous Buddhist Gompas are the cherry on the cake. The condition of the road on the way is not that good and hence the novices should avoid taking this route. However, it is a great experience for all those who are veterans in cycling. This route is a test of endurance and offers jubilation as reward.

  • Starting Point: Manali
  • End Point: Shimla
  • Maximum Altitude: 4567 meters
  • Route Itinerary: Manali – Chandratal – Kunzum Pass – Spiti Valley – Kibber – Tabo – Sang La – Sarhan – Shimla

Cycling in Sikkim

Cycling in Sikkim

The cycling trail from Siliguri to Gurudongmar is an unadulterated route that is extraordinarily diverse as well. The steep gradients on this track provide a wonderful exhilaration to the cyclists. The trail leads to a wooded area in West Bengal to the chilly heights of 4996 meters at the Gurudongmar Lake on the border of Tibet. A great climate swing from hot to misty and cold can be experienced while paddling on this route. Kanchendzonga Peak overlooks the route, which draws the attention of every nature admirer while paddling on the trail.

The roads on the route increase from around 330 meters bordering West Bengal to 4996 meters on Tibetian Border at Gurudongmar Lake. Moreover, the climate oscillates between misty, humid, hot and cold.

  • Starting Point: Siliguri
  • End Point: Gurudongmar Lake
  • Maximum Altitude: 4996 meters
  • Route Itinerary: Siliguri – Zuluk – Nathang Valley (Elephant Lake, Baba Mandirs and Memencho Lake) – Gangtok – Lachen – Gurudongmar Lake

Zanskar Cycling

Zanskar Cycling

Zanskar lies on south of Ladakh. Visiting this place takes the tourists to the traditional Zanskari culture and hued mountains. It is advisable to bring eatables, as there are no eating joints along the road from Kargil to Padum. An adventurer can witness various monasteries on the route. Camping in the fascinating valleys and riding to the glaciated Nun and Kun are some the biggest highlights of the trail.

From Kargil, the adventurer can move on Srinagar-Leh Highway. The route follows the Suru River upstream and reaches Penzi Pass. From here, the adventurer has to follow the Stod River till Padum. There is an upstream road of 40 kilometers after Padum. This road is along the River Tsarap. The route then incorporates a five day trekking with the bike. One has to take horses that lead over Shingo Pass to starting point of Zanskar Sumdo road. From this point, there is a 20 kilometer downhill ride to reach Darcha.

It is a highly demanding route and thus only a handful of people carry out cycling here. The roads are not in good condition but the ambiance and panorama thrashes this issue and offers a great experience of cycling.

  • Starting Point: Kargil
  • End Point: Darcha
  • Maximum Altitude: Around 4000 to 4,500 meters
  • Route Itinerary: Kargil – Lankerchey – Sanku – Damsna – Panikar – Padum – Mune – Raru – Dorzong – Phuktal Gompa – Lakhang Sumdo – Shingo La Base Camp – Jispa – Keylong – Khaltse – Sherlog – Darcha

Cycling in the Indian Himalaya is certainly once in a lifetime experience. Without a doubt, it is one of the best ways to come across paramount tranquility, gripping ambiance and utter euphoria at the same time!

Published: 28 Jan, 2015By
Tags: Adventure

About the author

Arun Joshi

With over 16 yrs of experience in the Himalayas, Arun Joshi, the mentor at the Peak Adventure Tours Pvt Ltd. designs and structures the exclusive ventures of the company. He has a deep knowledge about various exciting and adventurous places in Himalayas and can best assist the travelers in planning a lifetime adventure tour in the Great Indian Himalayas.

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