Leh-ladakh: A Traveller’s Paradise
Nestled between the great Himalayas and the Karakoram Range is the epitome of tranquility and adventure. Indeed a heady combination, pristine blue sky, fascinating local culture, invigorating monasteries, awe-inspiring lakes, classic visuals like monks in scarlet robes, shepherds trailing behind their sheep, life in Leh- ladakh is thriving yet so untouched. The days begin with a scintillating sunrise and end with a soul soothing sunset. Just so simple that it seems other-worldly.
The Ladakh region is one of the most sparsely populated regions in India. Its culture is mostly influenced by the Tibetan life. It is surrounded by scenic landscapes like lahaul and spiti on the south, nubra valley on the north. Its landscape is studded with lush green valleys, snow-capped mountains, crystal clear deep blue lakes, exotic birds and all that you can imagine. Some of the most beautiful valleys in this region are:
• Markha valley
• Zanskar valley
• Indus valley
• Dha hanu valley
Places to Visit in Leh that Seem Unearthly
Pangong Tso Lake
The beauty of Pangong Lake speaks for itself. It is a futile attempt to limit the charm of the lake in a few words but those who have been there cannot help it. Every atom screams serenity (ironic isn’t it?). It seems that a beautiful canvas has come to life. The water wears the deepest shades of azure reflecting the vastness of the mountains surrounding it. The sky is adorned with snow-white, fluffy clouds zooming through which is rare flying bliss.
Pangong Lake is one of the highest brackish water lakes in Ladakh. The water-body stretches 135 km from eastern ladakh to Tibet. June-September is the best time to visit Pangong Lake as the weather is hospitable and the roads are clear. But if you are looking for something daunting then December-February is the time to visit for the lake is entirely frozen.
As the lake shot to fame after the movie ‘3 idiots’ a lot of homestays and hotels have come up near the lake. You could always enjoy the view while staying inside a camp and go for a walk around the area.
If you are in Leh and skip this place then you'll miss a lot. Once you visit this fairyland you will fall in love with its aura of supremacy, its wide open vistas, and its total remoteness.
No doubt that the best time to visit is winters but the the Padam pass (the route to Zanskar valley from Kargil) is closed due to heavy snowfall. The BRO opens the highway only during early May so it is the only time allotted to visit.
Since this valley is highly remote you should not expect commercial activities around and so the fun lies in camping and soaking in the beauty and tranquility of this place.
Khardung La Pass
Some claim it as the highest motorable road in the world but let’s not drag this to the debate. Highest or not it still makes you feel on the top of the world. The pass is the gateway to the remote Nubra and Shyok valleys. Many bikers come up here with the dream to take up on this road and test their mettle. The pass also holds a special significance as it is the way to carry supplies to the Siachen glacier. The entire journey promises astonishing and awe-inspiring views.
This trek is like no other trek that you have ever been to. It is one of the most popular winter treks in the Himalayan range. You have to cover a long stretch of 90 km in 8 chilly days.
Wondering why is it named Chadar? During winters the upper part of the Zanskar river freezes entirely and it appears like a snowy ‘chadar’. The trek is filled with mesmerising scenery and it's a heaven for all the adrenaline lovers out there.
Hemis monastery is one of the most popular attractions around the city of leh. It is 45 km from the city and the only way to get there is through a cab or a personal vehicle. The monastery is tucked on a mountain facing the gorgeous Indus River.
The architecture of the monastery is one of the attractions. It belongs to the red sect of Buddhism and is enriched with Thangkas (Buddhist paintings depicting meditating figures). The place also has a museum exhibiting the various weapons, paintings and scriptures of importance of the ancient times
Turtuk was opened to tourists in 2010. It is still not a popular destination but travelers have started to trickle in slowly. Around 300 families live in the ‘border village’ of India. This region has a distinct Balti-Muslim influence unlike most other villages with Tibetan culture. The village is greener than most parts of the ladakh surrounded by fields of apricots, grapes, apples, and cherries. But the village becomes entirely isolated during winters and the locals have to stock up on food.
The white-domes shanti stupa was built in 1991 by the Japanese Buddhist bhikshu, Gyomyo Nakamura as a symbol of peace between the people of Japan and Ladakh. The shanti stupa is the face of Ladakh tourism for the entire structure radiates spirituality and peace. Architecturally also the stupa is a marvel, the white colour monochrome is beautifully interrupted by peacock blues, yellows and greens.
The place is picture perfect and will make a beautiful memory for you to cherish.
Visit Drass valley to experience the splendors of nature. Often known as “the gateway to ladakh”, this valley is the second coldest inhabited place in the world. The temperature goes beyond 40 degree Celsius every winter and features the best snowfall in the season. The mountains are snow capped even till early autumn.
If you are in ladakh you are bound to find every place paradisiacal and Drass valley is no exception. Hikers and trekkers will dub this place satiable as it favours a lot of short hikes and treks to upland villages. The quaint hamlet and its amicable people make the entire stay worthy. There is lot that you can do in Drass valley.
• Visit Ningoor Masjid
• Visit brigade war memorial
• Trek to Manman top
This beautiful ancient monastery is situated in the lower part of Ladakh. More than 50 monasteries come under the leadership of it and more than 300 monks reside in it. Being one of the oldest monasteries in Ladakh, there are a collection of murals and texts on display. Some people say that the soil of this place is similar to that on the moon that is why it is often dubbed as moonland.
Tso Kar Lake
Known as the ‘white lake’, Tso Kar Lake is the smallest of the three principal lakes in ladakh. It is located 250km from the main city of Leh and is a popular site among bird enthusiasts. The area surrounding the lake is rich in wildlife like brahmni ducks, bar-headed geese, and the great crested grebe but the main attraction is black-necked cranes. These cranes fly to the tso kar lake lay to their eggs and once they take-off, it makes a picturesque scenery with snow-clad mountains in the backdrop.
Make Your Trip The Best Memory: Some Necessities For A Peaceful Trip
Although Almighty has endowed Ladakh with unlimited beauty but nature can test your mettle. The journey to Ladakh is not a cake walk; the paths are rugged for the bikers and the bus travelers equally. Even if you have somehow braved the journey there are certain essentials that you need to carry irrespective of the mode of transportation. While this is no way a one size fits all guide, we have narrowed down to a list of things that we feel might come in handy.
- Water: the atmosphere in Ladakh is more towards the drier side and being at such a high altitude can already create a lot of health complexities so make sure you are fully hydrated as dehydration is a major problem. Carry a couple of 1L containers and keep drinking at regular intervals even without thirst.
- Medicines: carrying a first-aid box should be a well researched and top priority thing. Make sure to carry cough syrups, flu pills, pills and balms for stomach ache, headache and nausea, couple of band-aids. If you are allergic to dust then you should be particularly careful and carry a box of meds and inhalers.
- Sunscreen lotions and sunglasses: if you want to find out the best sunscreen lotion then test them at heights because UV rays there come in bounty. Cover your skin in lotion and your eyes with glasses to protect them from any damage.
- Lip balm and oils: make sure to carry Vaseline or an essential oil based lip balm because the weather, as already mentioned, is dry and causes painful cracking of skin. Sometimes the body lotions do not moisturize to the needs so oils come into aid. Apply oil to your hair roots, on your nails, on your elbows, ankles and knees and on the periphery of your nostrils to keep them safe from the dry gale.
- Glucose: carry a couple of glucose satchels as it provides instant energy on the move. Also it is not diuretic like most caffeinated beverages.
- Chocolates, biscuits and dry fruits: carry a couple of chocolates, a couple of your favourite biscuit packs and a good mix of nuts like raisins, almonds, cashews and pistachios as they do not take up much space and act as a source of instant energy. They also work well in those uncontrollable hunger pangs. There might be times when you will not be able to eat the local food so these snacks will help you.
- Toiletries: these are quite known and understood essentials but for a reminder make sure to carry soaps, towel, toothbrush and toothpaste (though you can easily get them from a local shop), toilet paper, a shaving kit and sanitary napkins.
- Warm clothes: these will occupy most of the space of your luggage. It is advised best to dress in layers. Of your winter clobbers do not forget to carry a heavy jacket, a muffler, a couple of gloves, caps to cover your ears and boots.
- Power backup: well we do not need to explain the usefulness of battery chargers and backups in any case!
- Documents and I.D. : it is essential to carry at least one government authorized identity proof, its multiple copies, a map of ladakh, hotel reservation slips (if pre-booked), copies of your flight ticket if travelling by air, a print of your itinerary.
- Enough cash: it is advisable to carry cash in advance because past Srinagar and Manali ATMs are found only in Leh and Kargil and they too often have long queues of people in front of them.
- Medical checkup: the climate of Ladakh is not an easy one. There is deficiency of oxygen which causes mountain sickness, there is dust and the climate is dead cold at nights. It is best to see a medical practitioner prior to the trip and get a full body check up to be on the safe side.
Revel In The Beauty and Scenic Views Of Leh Ladakh
With so much beauty around, it would be unfair to keep yourselves bound and shackled in the cages of concrete. There would always be excuses but you would have to break free from them if you have to explore the gems of nature. We hope that our list would tempt you to go out and explore Leh and Ladakh. Also, don't forget to go through our other articles to find such great tempting stuff.