Leh-Ladakh is a land like no other. Bounded by two of the world’s mightiest mountain ranges, the Great Himalaya and the Karakoram, it lies athwart two other, the Ladakh range and the Zanskar range. The beauty of the place can not be expressed in words. Right from gompas to the sensational momos, the superabundance of attractions to visit makes this city make it heaven on earth. It is said that only in Ladakh can a man sitting in the sun with his feet in the shade suffer from sunstroke and frostbite at the same time. The place holds so many surprises together that one can’t help but be awed. Don’t believe our words? Have a look yourself on 26 places to visit in Leh Ladakh!
1. Because You can stop Time in Leh-Ladakh:
This video captures all the forms of beauty at Leh-Ladakh. It is represented in a stunning 3 minute Time-lapse video and is bound to keep your eyes glued to the screen and make you fall in love with the place!
2. Zanskar and Ladakh Mountain Ranges: Stroll among the giants:
The large mountain ranges of Zanskar and Ladakh will be your companions through most of your trip to Ladakh. They may even be intimidating at times. These huge mountains can make anyone feel small. However, the key is to enjoy the beauty that these mountains have to offer. The steep terrains covered with snow reflect the heavenly skies. The loud rivers rush through these mountains making for an absolutely beautiful combination of view and sounds. Every point here is an echo point so if you find yourself in a safe area, you may want to risk a shout to hear the echos ricocheting from the hills.
3. Pangong Tso Lake: The unending lake from 3 Idiots:
Remember the breathtakingly beautiful lake from 3 Idiots where Chatur lost it all? It’s the Pangong-Tso lake that traverses the boundary international boundary to stretch from India to Bhutan. The lake offers awesome site for camping and is the current hotspot for all people traveling to Ladakh. The rules do not allow boating on Pangong-Tso Lake but when the lake freezes in the winters, if you’re feeling too brave, you might want to ice skate at just the bank of the lake.
4. Tso Moriri Lake: Where you can stay forever:
The place is a canvas colored with the blue-white skies, blue-green mountains with white tops, the calm blue water of the lake and lush green pastures. Who needs any place better than this? The Tso Moriri lake is probably not as famous as the Pangong Lake but it is still a must place to visit in Leh Ladakh for anyone taking a trip in this region.
5. Khardungla Pass: Highest civilian motor road in the world:
It might not look like much of a road but it’s the best that there is. Managed by the Border Roads Organization, Kardung-la Pass is the gateway to the north and can be considered by many as a tourist spot in itself. However, being at such a height, one has to take extreme care of health while traveling through the pass. On the fun side, the numerous Tibetan flags that are said to ward off bad spirits and keep you safe set up a beautiful contrast with the white snow.
6. Nubra Valley: A desert among the snowy hills:
A desert is probably the last thing one expects while planning a trip to Ladakh but there it is. The sand dunes of the Nubra Valley offer the tourists a very much Arabian Nights like experience. The famous two-humped camels are also found in the region and are often the highlight of the trip for those interested in animals. The origin of the desert is supposed to be from the Tethis Sea from the depths of which the Himalayas are said to have risen.
7. Magnetic Hill: Defy gravity – feel superhuman:
The science behind the phenomenon is unknown but it has been observed that if you leave your vehicle at the base of the hill with the brakes unlocked, it will start moving uphill slowly on its own. Magic? Definitely not. It’s simply the superpowers you get when you reach this place
8. Spituk Gompa: Monastery at the hilltop:
Ladakh is known as the land of the monks and monasteries and rightly so. Spituk is one of the many monasteries in the region. This is famous for its beautifully carved location at the top of a hill. With nearby mountains being much taller, the location is not exactly a vantage point but the view from the monastery is still pretty amazing. The winds at the night however may chill you to the bones.
9. Namgyal Monastery: The place for the inner peace:
Namgyal Tsemo Gompa or the Namgyala Monastery is particularly famous for the Buddha statue it hosts. It has previously also been visited by the Dalai Lama himself. Monks and Buddhism enthusiasts flock from all over the country to spend a few days here. Like most monasteries in Ladakh, it allows volunteers to stay and help with the daily chores at the Gompa while enjoying a few peaceful days here.
10. Hemis Monastery: The one with the masks:
Hemis Gompa is the biggest monastery in Ladakh. The annual Hemis festival that takes place in July is visited by people in large numbers. The masked parade is the highlight of the festival and is said to be one of the most sacred rituals here. Every year, on the 10th day of Tibetan Lunar month called as Tse Chu, the Monastery holds this two-day celebration to commemorate the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava who is often said to be a reincarnation of Buddha.
11. Lamayuru Monastery: The night sky zone:
Ever wondered why the sky looks so beautiful when seen in movies but not from your home? This places shows you how being in the lap of nature and away from all the hustle of the city can let you have one of the best nights of star-gazing in your life. If you want to have the maximum from The Lamayuru monastery, plan your trip to Ladakh in sync with the time of shooting stars in the area.
12. Likir Monastery: Intricate carvings on colorful wood:
The beautiful wood work is probably the best non-Buddhist thing about this Monastery. The museum that caters to the history of the Ladakh region comes a close second. The picturesque surroundings come third and the list is unending.
13. Suru Valley: The trek to the Drang Drung glacier:
Ladakh is an ideal region for all mountainous adventure sports. The trek through Suru Valley to the Drang Drung glacier is one of the best in this aspect offering a mix of all the possible things one may do on the mountains. The trek is among one of the tough ones in the region and is only taken up by the experienced trekkers.
14. Shanti Stupa: Introspection time:
What better place to invoke some thoughts from within to asses yourself in life. One of the many reasons why people take a trip to Leh-Ladakh is to find some time to take a break from the everyday schedule and re-assess their lives. Shanti Stupa offers the perfect location for the same. The nighttime view is even better and a little meditation besides the Stupa might help you get what you came here for.
15. Leh Palace: Royalty in Ruins:
The ancient Leh Palace might have lost its grandeur but the wood and stone ruins are still a must visit for anyone who is interested in the historical architecture of the area. The palace was built by the Namgyal king in the 17th century and is 9 stories high. The building is under the control of Archeological Survey of India (ASI) and offers a panoramic view of the Stok Kangri and Zanskar ranges across the Indus Valley.
16. Zanskar river: The Chadar Trek:
The Chadar Trek as it is popularly known as is basically trekking over the frozen rivers. The trek over the Zanskar river is the most popular one and is often undertaken in large groups by adventure enthusiasts. The Chadar trek is generally taken in November when the river is frozen and safe to trek on while the rest of the surroundings are still friendly enough to let you survive.
17. Zanskar River again: This time in summers:
The white waters of the mountain rivers in Ladakh including Zanskar are considered to be one of the best rafting destinations in India. However, do not be fooled by the fact that it is only done in summers. The water will still be cold enough to freeze you should you fall in. Only if you’re planning to have some extreme adventure sports in Ladakh, should you take up this ride down the river.
18. Snow Leopards and other wildlife: Simply awwwwww:
The close vicinity with raw nature means the Ladakh region is very rich in flora and fauna. Wildlife particularly has adopted greatly to the climatic conditions and has made a distinct space of its own. Snow Leopard is a specialty of the area; although you might not want to meet it in person in the wild. The local zoos will offer you the best experience in terms of wildlife and is a must-do-activity for anyone visiting Ladakh.
19. A Donkey Sanctuary: Because everyone needs to be cared:
It might come as a surprise to even some of the most hardcore animal rights enthusiasts but there exits such a thing as the Donkey sanctuary. It caters to the old and sick donkeys in the region that are always needed by the locals owing to the geographical conditions but left when sick or old. The place in Leh Ladakh is a very lively barn and will probably set a smile on the face of children and adult alike with its witty posters and graffiti.
20. Backpacking across Ladakh:
The roads in Ladakh are a necessity for effective safety at the border. This means they are always kept in the best possible condition and offer perfect opportunity for a bike trip into the unknown territories. Bikes are easily available on rent as well in Ladakh and surrounding areas. The bikes usually scale these roads smoothly. However, the roads might become treacherous at times so its better to keep some necessary backup items.
21. The Road Signs by BRO: Just Hilarious:
Do we really need say more? The signs talk for themselves and for you as well
22. The local experience: People and culture:
Ladakh is a very friendly place and you’ll find many people willing to share their own experiences and stories of Ladakh with you. The monks and children are particularly helpful and will go out of their way to get you accustomed to the culture of Leh and make you feel at home.
23: Food: Always the best thing to travel for:
The Ladakh region has its own cuisine developed differently from the Kashmiri cuisine. Do experience the local food items and if you get a chance visit a home to experience it in the best way. As for the food options, words are not sufficient. The pictures don’t do justice. The taste and aroma are the only parameters.
24. Shopping: Gifts for the ones unlucky to miss out on the experience:
Most of these things will be the ones that you would have already seen in the Tibetan markets across many cities in India; although if you are shopping in Ladakh, you can be sure the the items will be genuine. The small markets cater to locals and tourists alike and are very friendly. The artifacts and souvenirs are often displayed on the road-side stalls and it’s very convenient to bargain. While you’re at it, do look around for the local Pashmeena wool dresses.
25. Can’t spot celebrities, but you can do Stargazing: The Milky Way
Leh-Ladakh, as already mentioned earlier, is a must visit place for all photography lovers – especially, Astro-photographers! These photographs have been taken by stacking numerous pictures on top of one another.
It is important to note that clicking one such picture may take more than three-four hours! The purpose of clicking such a picture is to capture the route of the stars (generally, around the fixed Pole Star). It takes a lot of patience, dedication and skills.
The Major reason why Ladakh is a favourite among astrophotographers is because it provides clear night skies to complement the scenic beauty. Cities don’t generally have such pellucid skies owing to the pollution around. Some people even try and attach something personal to the stargazing photographs-
26. Because you can get such a view in the loo only in Leh Ladakh
If there’s one thing a man loves the most, it’s the view from the toilet!
Abhinav captured this picture of a loo in Ladakh, and we’re sure it has a better view than the view of the Hotel room from your last trip. :P