It is hard to apprehend the sheer magnitude of the Himalayas - while most of the world's great mountain ranges can be travelled inside a day or two, the Himalayas seem to go on forever. They fill the horizon like a giant cumulous cloud - indomitable, magnificent and often impenetrable.
The 3,900 m (12,800 ft) high Rohtang Pass, closed to traffic for most of the year, springs to life when the thaw arrives. It provides a vital lifeline for remote communities, as well as the most memorable of bus journeys.
On leaving Manali, the road starts its long ascent towards the pass; beneath you are forests and mountain pasture, whilst ahead lies the permanent snow of Solang Nala. A Temple sits at the crown of an escarpment, and the bus usually stops here to allow passengers to gain sustenance and acclimatize to the thin air. From this vantage point, the panoramic views over the Beas Valley are simply stunning.
A net couple of hours provide the most spectacular scenery of the entire journey. As the bus negotiates its way along the inclines of the valley, you see soaring peaks and suspended glaciers. You are now well above the tree line and surrounded by the most amazing green and red scree, as the bus continues ever upwards.
After an overnight stop at Sarchu Serai and an early start, the bus ascends to a head-spinning 5,328 m (17,475 ft) and the brilliant white of the snow-capped peaks surrounds you. Patches of green return, in land fed by the Indus River, as you gradually make the descent into the beautifully tranquil town of Leh, once the capital of the Himalayan Kingdom of Ladakh.
1. Manali - Many guest houses and hotels in Gulaba, Marhi and Palchan will greet and welcome you before Rohtang Pass. Food is great on the tourist trail to Rohtang at the Dhabas at Palchan.
2. Khoksar - It is an advised pit stop for scrumptious food at the array of Dhabas on both sides of the check post. Basic bed space in the parachute cafés or tents is available for INR 150-200 at Khoksar, Bharatpur, Darcha, Sarchu and Pang.
3. Stay prospects are aplenty till Darcha along the way at Gondola, Sissu, Keylong, and Jispa.