Sarchu, a flat expanse of land on the Manali Leh route is popular for its meadows as it is for offering a feel of rough Himalayan terrain. A halting location for travellers who are going from Manali to Leh, Sarchu offers a comfortable night stay to anyone on that route.
Old Silk Route
Incidentally, Sarchu falls on the old Silk route and is a preferred destination for adventurers and nature lovers. You can well imagine the strategic relevance of Sarchu from the fact that Baralacha La is located to its South and Lachulung La, a strategic pass on the way from Manali to Leh is located to its north.
The Tsarap Chu River also flows nearby and offers a pristine location for pitching a tent, if you have the courage of spending night in the wilderness.
Why stop over at Sarchu?
Its location on the mid way from Manali to Leh makes Sarchu a strategic point for stopover in the exciting journey from Manali to Leh. It also lies on the border of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, now the Union Territory of Ladakh. Moreover, it is hotspot for camping lovers and during summer seasons, many paid camping options are available at Sarchu.
The desolate barren patches of Sarchu also attract adventure seekers and it also happens to be the starting point, if you are planning a trek to Zanskar. The trek to Zanskar takes a person through many hairpin bends, river crossings and deep canyons.
A brief halt at Sarchu will also prepare you for this exciting trek, if you planning to head over to Zanskar.
Camping at Sarchu
Camping at Sarchu excites and motivates all those who have interest in travelling and exploring raw wilderness of Himalayas. On a clear night sky, you will feel as if entire maze of stars have descended down on earth and seems as if you could catch some!
There are many camping options in Sarchu with Himalayan Route Camps being a better option. You will get some choicest vegetarian buffet at their onsite restaurant. Could life get better than being able to enjoy freshly cooked meals at 14,000 feet? Himachal Tourism also sets up camps in Sarchu during summer season and in case you wish to enjoy Government Hospitality, this could be a great option to consider.
Tips for Travellers
If you are newbie at travelling, going to Sarchu without proper acclimatization at Manali is not recommended. Altitude sickness can strike you from Manali to Leh route at Sarchu if you are not properly prepared.
Moreover, even if you are at Sarchu, it is highly recommended that you should remain indoors when the weather is bad, else things could turn to the worst.
It is also advisable to keep yourself hydrated adequately as dehydration at this altitude could turn things to the worst. Carry adequate cash as there is no ATM once you leave Keylong and head from Manali to Leh route. After all, you would never wish to be caught in an embarrassing situation where you have lot of ATM cards to flash but no cash.
The only fuel station if you head from Manali to Leh route (after Manali) is at Tandi in Lahaul and Spiti. Do carry spare cans of fuel else you would have seek emergency help from passing Indian Army convoys which obviously are always out there to protect and help us.
All said and done, Sarchu is a wonderful place where you would be away from hustle bustle of everyday life but you would also be far off from mobile signals, ATM and internet services.
Enjoy this solitude; it is worth exploring and experiencing, once in your lifetime!