The Ghost Of Gata Loops On the Manali Leh Highway

 In India, Story

Imagine this – You are on your dream bike trip to Leh Ladakh and have begun your journey from Manali on the famous Leh Manali Highway. Finally, you are living the dream that every biker in the world dreams of – A Bike trip to the land of high passes “Leh-Ladakh”.

You have passed the beautiful landscapes of Jispa, Keylong, Sarchu and entered Ladakh district. Now you just have to pass the treacherous Gata Loops, Naake La, Moore plains, Tanglang La, and a few more small hamlets and then you will finally be in Leh – the ultimate adventure playground.

As you go through the Gata Loops you see a man who appears out of nowhere, just covered in a shawl despite the cold weather. You stop your vehicle and the man asks for some water, you offer him water from your bag and continue your scenic ride.

Now what if I tell you that the man you just offered water was none other than the famous ghost of Gata loops? But you don’t need to worry since you were kind enough to offer him water, you will be safe. And if you did not, then that might be a problem!

Confused? Well, this is a true story of the ghost of Gata Loops. Let’s get into the details and unfold this mystery. But first, let me tell you some facts about the Gata Loops.

About the Gata Loops


As the name says, Gata Loops is a series of loopy roads on the Manali- Leh Highway. These loops cover a stretch of 10 km with 21 hairpin bends. These Gata loops take you all the way up to Naake La (15,547 ft) – the 3rd highest mountain pass on this highway. There is a milestone before the Gata Loops which indicates the beginning of this treacherous journey through the hairpin bends. 

On the 19th bend, you will see a large pile of plastic water bottles and maybe a few cigarette packets lying around a small stone-like structure. There is also a human skull inside the small structure. This the Ghost Temple of Gata Loops and the skull is of the unusual man who appears from nowhere and asks for water!

Who is this ghost? Why does he ask for water? Is there any connection between all these plastic water bottles surrounding the ghost temple? Read further to know the whole story!

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The Story – Who is the Ghost Of Gata Loops?


Around the year 1999, during the month of October, a truck driver along with his helper were transporting some goods to Leh. They started their journey from Manali, crossed the famous Rohtang Pass, and continued on the Leh Manali Highway. Since it was the end of October, it had already started to snow at some of the high passes in Himachal.

The driver was warned about the snowfall, but he had a deadline to reach Leh. Despite the risk, the driver decided to complete the journey within the time limit to avoid getting stuck due to snowfall. That truck was the last one to cross the Rohtang Pass as it snowed heavily the same evening and the pass was closed for the rest of the year.

Other routes to Rohtang Pass were already closed a few weeks ago, so it was the only truck rather the only vehicle on the entire Leh Manali Highway.

The driver reached safely to the Gata Loops. While driving uphill, his truck broke down on the 19th bend and got stuck. After trying multiple times, the driver couldn’t fix the problem in the vehicle. Both the driver and the helper waited for some help, but no one crossed by. With time, due to increasing cold the helper began to fall sick.

Looking at the dreadful condition of the helper, the driver quickly decided to walk to the nearby villager and get some help for the vehicle and his helper as well. They both agreed that the helper should stay in the truck to guard the cargo and also because he was in no condition to walk.

The driver walked for miles and miles until he reached Sarchu, which was the nearest village, but there was no mechanic available there. Before the driver could retrace his steps back to the truck, it started to snow heavily. The driver got stuck in Sarchu for a few days until the weather cleared as it was impossible to get back to the truck.

While being stranded in Sarchu, the driver managed to get help from Manali. As the weather cleared after a few days, finally there was some help from Manali. The driver along with the help crew from Manali hurried back to the 19th loop, where the truck was abandoned.

As soon as they reached the sight, they found the dead body of the helper who died due to cold, thirst, and hunger. The villagers buried the body of the helper at the exact spot of his death.

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Another Story Version of the Ghost of Gata Loops


There is also another version of this story. Apparently, a bus had crashed on this 19th bend of the Gata Loops. The conductor got down from the bus and put a rock behind the wheel to prevent it from going off the road.

The driver was unable to control the vehicle and crushed the conductor by the rear wheels accidentally. The conductor was still alive and asked the driver for some water. But the driver was afraid of arrest and left him to die and ran off. This explains the need for water that the ghost of Gata Loops demands from travelers. 

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The Ghost Temple on Gata Loops


In the following series of events, when the highway opened the next year, many travelers experienced a strange thing. Many reported that they saw/ met a beggar at the Gata Loops, who would wave at the passing vehicles to stop. Then, he begged them for water in a very low tone, as if he would die of thirst. 

Many people did not stop and have reported facing many difficulties on their journey further. Those who stopped and offered water saw that the bottles dropped on the ground as if the beggar’s hands were a mere illusion. Soon, the story of this ghost of Gata loops spread to the surrounding areas which scared everyone.

In order to calm down the ghostly spirit of the helper/ conductor who died there, the villagers decided to build a small ghost temple at the same spot. After the temple was built, the locals and bus/ taxi drivers started to make offerings to the ghost of Gata Loops, by leaving behind a water bottle, cigarettes or even bidis.

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Frequently Asked Questions About the Ghost of Gata Loops

Who is the Ghost of Gata Loops, and what is the legend behind it?

The ghost of Gata Loops is believed to be a person who died at the 19th bend of these loops. Several years ago a truck driver and his helper got stuck here as their truck broke down. In the hope of finding some help, the driver walked to the nearby village but got stuck there due to heavy snowfall. After a few days, when the driver returned to his truck, he found the body of his helper who had died due to cold temperatures, hunger, and thirst.

Is it safe to travel through Gata Loops considering the ghost stories?

Yes, it is absolutely safe to travel through the Gata Loops. In recent years, no one has reported this strange experience of meeting the ghost here, considering thousands of people who cross these loops every year.

Are there any reported sightings or encounters with the Ghost of Gata Loops?

The reported sightings or encounters with the Ghost of Gata Loops were several years ago after which the temple was constructed by the locals. In recent years, no sightings have been reported.

What attracts people to the legend of the Ghost of Gata Loops?

Mostly the ghost temple surrounded by heaps of plastic water bottles is the major attraction to the legend of the Ghost of Gata Loops. Other than that the adventurous ride to Leh required people to cross these Gata Loops which is a thrilling ride in itself, attracting several adventure enthusiasts.

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