Lofty mountain peaks, snow covered slopes, breathtaking valleys, rocks everywhere….sounds like an adventurer’s heaven. Isn’t it? Well, this is all that Leh (Ladakh) is about. Over the past few years this rocky terrain has been grabbing all the attention of the adventure hungry tourists around the world.
This blog is meant to be a virtual tour of Ladakh for you people planning your trip. So brace yourself up and read on to an enticing journey of the gorgeous Ladakh.
Leh is the capital of Ladakh situated in Jammu and Kashmir. The development of tourism in this area has made this place easily accessible by road and airways. Most tourists cover the best spots of Leh and some other parts of Ladakh in their trip. A minimum of 6 days is required for a decent trip to this area. Less than that will never be enough as Ladakh is one of the difficult zones of tourist destination just like some parts of Uttarakhand.
How to reach Leh ?
By Air : Kushok Bakula Rimpoche Airport is the main airport situated around 5 kms from the main city of Leh. This airport has direct flights to many Indian city. If not, the options are multiple. Mostly Delhi becomes the junction for travelers if direct flights are not available. Ample taxis are available near the airport to take you to your hotel in the town.
By Road : Leh (Ladakh) is one Indian tourist destination that attracts a lot of road trips. Bikers often conduct group motorcycle trips from Manali, Delhi and from other parts of India. Personal cars also finds its way to Leh. Again Delhi or Chandigarh becomes the junction for road travelers to Leh. You are sure to get your dose of adrenaline rush as you traverse your way through the treacherous terrain of Ladakh.
Basically there are two road routes –
Delhi – Srinagar – Ladakh via Zozi La Pass
Delhi – Manali – Ladakh via Rohtang Pass
P.S – Some parts of the road to Ladakh remains closed during certain parts of the year. Snow clearing operation, maintenance are some of the reason. Kindly confirm the routes from a trusted sources before planning your trip.
Must Read: Tulip Festival is Srinagar
Best Time to visit Leh (Ladakh)
Leh has tourists for almost most part of the year. However, winters are too harsh and it becomes a winter destination for only extreme adventure lovers dare to visit Leh during this time. Summers in Leh is picture perfect with clear blue skies and crisp mountain breeze, so this is the best time to visit Leh for most of the travelers. You can enjoy the song of the mountain birds and even bathe in the warm sunlight. April – May to September is the best time to visit Leh, Ladakh
Leh Ladakh Road Trip
The recent years have seen a boom in the road trips to Leh. Adventure seekers and bike enthusiasts will get everything they can dream of on a perfect road trip. Lofty mountains, deep gorges, steep turns, river flowing past dreary roads, off road experience and much more. These offers a perfect recipe for a road trip. Most bikers follow the popular route for Leh which is stated below :
Delhi – Ludhiana – Jalandhar – Jammu – Srinagar – Kargil – Leh – Khardungla – Diskit – Hunder – Nubra – Pangong – Karu – Sarchu – Manali – Delhi
Points of Interest in Leh (Ladakh)
Nubra Valley :
One of the most popular points of interest in Leh. This is a tri-armed valley with breathtaking views. Two major rivers namely Nubra and Shyok Rivers meet and separate the Ladakh and Karakoram ranges. The beauty of the valley cannot be expressed in mere words. You need to traverse the Khardungla Pass to reach this valley from Leh. Once in the valley, there are a few points to visit in Nubra Valley –
- Diskit Gompa – A Buddhist monastery around the time of 16th century, is an architectural marvel. There is a restaurant in the monastery and a guest house also.
Entry fee is INR 30. Opens at sunrise and closes at sunset.
- Khardungla Pass – Mostly notorious for being the highest motorable pass in the world, this is a high altitude pass. One can find permanent glacial ice spread across. Do not spend much time here if you have breathing problem.
- Hundar Monastery – A must place to visit once in Hundar. Apart from the expansive sand dunes and a ride in the Bactrian (two-humped) camel, the sights of the place is mesmerizing.
Thiksay Monastery : A beautiful monastery with Tibetan history. It is situated around 19 kms from Leh. The monastery is situated on top of a hill. It is home to an ancient nunnery and lots and lots of Buddhist art. People love the ambience of the place. The serenity of the surrounding areas casts a magical spell on the minds of the travelers.
Fact check –
- The entry fee for Thiksay Manastery is INR 30 per person.
- The Thiksay monastery remains open from 6 am to 1 pm and 1:30 pm to 6 pm.
Suggested Read: Buddhist Circuit in India
Shanti Stupa :
It is a white dome like stupa in the Leh district. This is one of the peace pagoda located in India amongst the other Buddhist stupas. This place is a photographer’s paradise on account of the breathtaking views of the landscape. The white stupa against the backdrop of blue sky and brown hills is as mesmerizing as it can get. The night scape of the stupa is equally appealing. The stupa remains open from 5 am to 9 pm daily.
Tso Moriri Lake : A trip to Leh (Ladakh) will be incomplete without visiting this lake. This is one of the lesser visited places and hence still intact with its virgin beauty. The snow clad barren hills and the colorful water of the lake is a magical combination. The open sky is a perfect ground for stargazing at night. Many varieties of wild animals like Himalayan Hare or brown headed seagull can be spotted here.
Magnetic Hill : One of the most popular places in Leh as voted by the tourists. This hill is famous for its unique phenomenon. Here, cars are known to automatically move uphill defying the force of gravity. The trick is however something else. The surrounding slopes of the area gives an illusion that the road goes uphill whereas the road is actually downhill. It can be termed as nature’s giant optical illusion.
Hemis National Park : This Park has bagged the title of being the largest national park in South Asia. You can spot endangered animals like Leopard and Asiatic Ibex. Different colorful birds also awaits for bird watchers. Bird watching here is nothing like bird watching in other crowded parks. The serenity of the place makes the experience other worldly.
Suggested Read: Sighting Tigers in Jim Corbet National Park
Pangong Tso Lake :
The Lake which became famous after a Bollywood movie was shot here, is a major crowd attractor in Leh. This lake and its surrounding areas are a picture perfect spot for crowds to spend quality time. A great place for camping, Pangong Tso is on the hot list of Leh trip. You can visit the lake in the off-season if you want to avoid crowd.
Also Learn: Indian city full of lakes and hills
Leh Palace : History buffs will be mesmerized by the ancient charm of the Leh Palace. This century old palace used be the royal address when Ladakh was under a ruler. The palace has now been preserved as a museum that showcases the intricate architecture and plush riches of the bygone era.
The view from the top of the palace is something you cannot miss. The mighty Ladakh ranges and the Indus valley is visible in a panoramic treat. The palace is open to visitors from 8 am to 5 pm.
TRAVEL TIPS FOR LEH LADAKH :
A trip to Ladakh is nothing like the regular holiday trip that you will take. Ladakh has roads where sharp hairpin bends are a regular thing. You will be travelling almost 9,800 feet and more above sea level.
The atmospheric pressure is low at such high altitude and air is thin which leads to lack of oxygen. Thus, based on expert tips and travelers reviews, we are shortlisting some important tips for Leh, so that it helps you with your planning –
- Permits : Certain permit are required for visiting some points in Ladakh. These permits are called Protected Area Permits or Inner Line Permits. You will need the registration to be done on arrival at the airport or through registered travel agencies. You must make a copy of these permits that you need to carry and show before entering points like Tso Moriri Lake or Pangong Tso Lake. Keep your valid ID proofs ready at all times.
- Clothes : If you are travelling in the summer months (November to February) then summer clothes are enough. Needless to say to that winters require heavy woolen clothing. But do carry woolens even if you are visiting in the summer months. Climate changes drastically suddenly. Better to be prepared than suffer.
- Acclimatization : Sudden exposureto high altitude will make changes to your body. You can feel dizzy or even suffer from altitude sickness. Rest a day after reaching Leh. This will give you enough time to acclimatize your body. You will be needing enough fluids to keep your body hydrated. Drink at least 3-4 litres of fluid. Preferably carry ORS. Never overstrain your body. Take it slow.
Other Important Things to Know Before You Pack Your Bags for Leh
- Police station : Nubra Police station and Nyoma police station
- Hospitals and Clinics : SNM hospital in Leh and Army General Hospital in Leh.
- Phone connectivity : BSNL postpaid is mainly operative. Other networks may have issues. Thus, carry emergency contact number in a notebook in case you need.
- ATM : Not much ATM around except Leh, so preferable carry enough cash.
- Transport : Buses are available in Leh that plies between major tourist attractions. Plenty of tourist vehicles available like SUVs.
- Adventure Activities : Leh offers a plethora of adventure activities like white water rafting and mountaineering, camel rides. Thus, carry suitable clothes at hand in case you decide to do these.
Your Leh (Ladakh) trip will be an amazing experience for your family. You will have truck-loads of memories to carry from this heavenly destinations. Do carry a good camera to freeze those wonderful moments. If you are deciding for a self-driven road trip, please be well informed.
If you decide to go with a travel agency then hassle will be less likely. However you choose to go, remember the above stated tips and you will have a journey of a lifetime.