Ladakh, Location of Ladakh, Perfect Getaway for an Adventure Ride, Why Visit Ladakh, Places to Visit in Ladakh, Things to do, and not to do in Ladakh, Places around Ladakh, Best Time to Visit Ladakh, Shopping in Ladakh, How to Reach Ladakh, Things to carry in Ladakh.
A land like no other with superabundance of attractions to visit and phantasmagoric and fabulous landscapes, amazing people and culture, Ladakh is truly a heaven on Earth.
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. Ladakh is mystical in all the spheres it covers, from nature, geography, sceneries to the modest cultures that it fosters. 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.
For those of us living in the constant confusion about the difference between these twin locations, Leh-Ladakh, here is something that might help you. The state of Jammu and Kashmir is divided into three parts: Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh. Ladakh, further is divided into two districts: district Leh, and district Kargil. The former district has a popular town ?Leh?and is a great tourist attraction because of its beautiful monasteries, picturesque locations, and interesting markets defining the culture of the place.
First Approach- Srinagar to Leh
The first route is reaching Ladakh from Kashmir Valley through Kargil, around 434 km away. This route remains open from the starting of June till November. Zoji-La pass, at an altitude of 11,500 feet, is a gateway to Ladakh. Regular ordinary as well as deluxe buses are run by Jammu & Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation (J&K SRTC) between Srinagar and Leh. Hire a car, a jeep or a taxi from Srinagar. If you are traveling in groups, renting a bus for Kargil, Leh, and Padum (Zanskar) from Jammu & Kashmir SRTC at Srinagar is another option.
Second Approach-Manali to Leh
Since 1989, Manali-Leh road stretching to 473 km, open from mid-June to early October, has been the second road route to Ladakh. This road takes you via the desert plateau of Rupsho, ranging between altitudes of 3,660 m to 4,570 m. A number of high passes fall on this route, including Taklang-La, the world’s second highest motorable road, 17,469 feet (5,235m) above the sea level. Ordinary and deluxe buses run between Manali and Leh every day and are managed by Himachal Pradesh Tourism (HRTC) and J & K SRTC. This journey is of around 2 days with night camping in Serchu and Pang. Another option is to hire a jeep or a Gypsy.
Travelling through public buses that have a fixed schedule and route is the best option. This option is pocket-friendly and comfortable too. Another option is of hiring a taxi by fixing its price. It is necessary to take the services of registered travel agency in making your transportation arrangement is you are travelling to Tsomoriri Lake, Nubra, Pangong Lake, Tsokar Lake and Dah-Hanu.
Perfect Getaway For An Adventure Ride
For someone who thrives on adventure and lives his life on the edge, Ladakh is their Mecca. There’s nothing more satisfying than traversing such high peaks with nothing but daunting yet majestic snow clad mountains in the backdrop. Every minute you spend here becomes a memory. From bike riders to cycling enthusiasts, this is the place to test your endurance and skill. For those who aren’t afraid of the water, do not miss the river rafting in Zanskar river at the confluence of Indus and Zanskar. The price per person is around INR 1000 for the long-distance rafting. This is an absolutely unforgettable experience for people who seek thrills. The largest city in this region is Leh and although this city has many monasteries, visit nearby cities like Nubra Valley, Pulu for magnificent views of the scenic beauty. Visit one of the highest motorable roads in the world- Khardung La while on your journey to the Nubra Valley.
Why Visit Ladakh
Thrill – Are you an adventure seeking couple? Leh-Ladakh is well known for some of the most amazing treks – smaller ones to lower ranges and longer ones with base camps at Nubra valley or Ladakh range as well as for activities such as rafting in Zanskar Lake. You can also opt to camp by taking along your own tent to these treks and enjoying your lone bonding time together!
Spiritual Satisfaction – If your partner and you are individuals with a spiritual bent of mind, a trip to the enchanting beauty of this region coupled with a visit to the numerous monasteries here is sure to help you relax and cleanse your mind and soul. Hemis, Alchi, Thiksey Gompa, Lamayuru, Phugtal, and Spituk are some of the many monasteries that one can visit for a peaceful spiritual journey. Apart from these, there is also a famous Sikh shrine here, which is 20 km. away from Leh called the Gurdwara Pathar Sahib that is managed by the Indian Army and also makes for a must visit in your quest for experiencing tranquillity like never before.
Cultural Heritage – Out of the many places where you can take a look at and purchase unique handicrafts and souvenirs such as carpets and various jewellery from, the Leh market is something the two of you must definitely visit, especially if you’re both lovers of textile and culture. Leh’s main Bazaar Road has multiple shops selling such interesting handicrafts while the road running parallel to it has the Shar market where you can buy traditional Ladakhi dresses from. You should also try and listen to the traditional music of Ladakh especially during various Ladakhi Buddhist monastic festivals. It often includes religious chanting and promises to be a unique experience in itself.
Unique Cuisine – Trying out lip-smacking Tibetan and Ladakhi cuisine will surely be fun when doing so with your favorite fellow foodie. From trying out the cheese made of Yak’s milk, super tasty Momos and Thukpa to the must-try Butter Tea, it’ll surely be a super satisfying trip not only for the two of you but also for your stomachs! When in Leh-Ladakh, also do try out the Qahwa tea – a delicious drink made of saffron and cinnamon in addition to many other beneficial ingredients, Tigmo – a kind of fermented and steamed bread served with veg/non-veg stew and Thenktuk – another version of the Thukpa. These are all dishes that one definitely must try out during their visit to this beautiful area. It’s almost a crime not to!
Natural Beauty – Be it the extremely scenic Pangong lake or sand dune landscape with the backdrop of snow-clad mountains at Nubra Valley, Ladakh is immensely beautiful. Spending time with your loved one while being surrounded by such mesmerizing natural beauty will seem like a dream come true. Isn’t that exactly what you want for your honeymoon? The picturesque destination of Leh-Ladakh is surely a paradise for honeymooners with the pleasure doubling when accompanied with a partner who loves nature as much as you do and gives you an amazing opportunity to bond with him/her. Check out the many Ladakh honeymoon packages offered by Tripshelf and get started with the planning for a trip of a lifetime!
Places to Visit in Ladakh
When you buy a Ladakh tour package, you have a list, full of places to visit. Ladakh houses several places that you should visit at least once. Following are the main tourists’ attractions of the Ladakh, but apart from them, you should visit Tso Moriri Lake, Spituk Monastery, Changtang Wildlife Sanctuary, Gol Market, Stok Palace, and Lamayuru Town. Ladakh has several Buddhist religious and remote places named ‘Gompa’, built to teach the Tibetan learnings and traditions. Also, several monasteries can be visited for the peace of mind.
The first thing we have heard before visiting Ladakh is the famous Pangong Lake. One-third part of the lake is in Indian Territory, and the rest is in Tibet. The beauty of the lake can be witnessed in summer season because the temperature falls to -5°C in winter and the lake freezes completely. The special attraction about this lake is the colour of the water changes frequently, from azure blue to green and greyish blue. The shoot of the several films has been done on the banks of this lake. The hills on the backdrop add more to the crystal waters of the lake.
The briny water of the lake is the reason for not having an aquatic life. In the summer season, one can notice migrating birds, along with ducks and seagulls. Two streams coming from the hillocks contribute to the blue waters of the lake.
Famous as ‘Lhachen Palkhar’, the Leh Palace is one of the most significant historical sites on the plateau of Ladakh. King Sengge Namgyal of the Kashmir built this palace in the 117th century, to reside with the royal family. The palace has nine stories, which helps you see the sights of the entire Leh. Once upon a time, it was one of the highest structures in Leh and its surroundings.
When you visit Leh Palace, don’t forget to witness the beautiful sunrise and sunset from the palace. On any special occasion, the entire palace is lightened up with decorative lights, and the festivals like Galdam Namchot are celebrated by gathering around the palace. Due to the activities took place in the 19th century, most of the palace has been ruined, but it continues to be one of the famous tourist destinations in the region. The palace still houses ancient utensils, old paintings and the historical artefacts.
Khardung La is the important pass and a gateway to Shyok and Nubra valleys of Ladakh. The word La stands for ‘Pass’. Khardung La is the highest motorable roadway in the world, located at 5,602 metres from the sea level. The unspoiled and pure air, the picturesque beauty of the glaciers give you heavenly experience all through your journey.
At some of the points, the road is too narrow that not even two vehicles can cross each other. Hence, there is no any option for accommodation within the pass. The only way possible is you can setup your own tent by the roadside.
One of the natural wonders of this earth is the Magnetic Hill, where the gravitational force is defied, and the vehicles move upwards even without starting the engine. The hill is located at the distance of 30 kilometres from Leh, and 14,000ft from the sea level. Sindhu River flows by the eastern side of the hill. This speciality of magnetic properties attracts the domestic tourists as well as foreigners too.
By passing Khardung La, you step into a valley that can be claimed as a masterpiece, situated at 140 kilometres away from Leh. Golden & red monasteries, as well as Nubra and Shyok Rivers, enrich the beauty of the valley. As the road to Nubra valley continues to Siachen, the highest battlefield and the base of Indian Armed Forces; you will be asked to present the travel permit photocopies to the security post at Khardung La.
As you step in this beautiful valley especially in a village named Hundar, you will notice the famous Bactrian Camels rides. The Bactrian Camels are rare and found with two humps. Further, you can buy Tibetan and Kashmiri handicrafts Pashmina stoles, apples and the other specialities of Kashmir.
Hall of Fame Museum
The museum is built and maintained by Indian Army, in remembrance of the heroic soldiers who martyred at the Indo-Pak war. The museum houses seized weapons and amenities of the Army of Pakistan, contemporary pictures, and the memoires of our brave soldiers. A part of the museum is dedicated only to Siachen, showcasing the apparels and the other amenities of the Indian Army. Apart from the military section, you can also witness the history and culture of Ladakh, along with the natural stuff found in the region.
The panoramic views of glaciers, magnificent monasteries carved in the massive stones, and the thrill of river rafting, these alluring facts of the Zanskar valley attract the tourists towards it. The valley is famous for the crystal clear water and the water sports including river rafting.
Leh-Ladakh is popularly known as the paradise for riders. Thousands of the bikes visit Ladakh to experience the joy of riding on the steep, dusty roads. The road from Manali to Leh is the most preferred by the bikers. This way to Ladakh offers not only the adventurous rides but also lets you enjoy the scenic landscapes and Himalayan Mountains. You can start your bike ride in late May and September when the roads are clear.
Things to do, and not to do
Ladakh is a paradise and can be visited only four months a year; hence it holds heavy rush. Hence, the tourism authorities of Ladakh have decided to open single way traffic between Leh and Nubra on every alternate day. It has solved the issue of traffic conjunction in the passes. Leh-Ladakh is situated at high altitude, and the people residing at lower altitude may face breathing problems by the sudden change in elevation. Thus, you need to carry an oxygen cylinder with you. For the foreigners, there is an extra fee of Rs.500 per person to issue the permit for Nubra Valley and Pangong Lake.
- Always collect necessary information about weather conditions before visiting Ladakh, and by reaching the destination, take proper rest at least for 24 hours.
- It is always advised to travel slowly and take deeper breaths to adjust with the level of oxygen in the air.
- Ladakhis are very welcoming and friendly in nature and love to interact with the people. So, try to interact with them too which will help you get more information about the region and its culture.
- Ladakh bike ride is fascinating, but always make sure that you have a group of at least 3-4 bikers with pillions.
- Avoid taking pictures inside any monastery or religious place. Also, do not click photographs of the people without permission.
- Plastic is officially barred in Ladakh and surroundings, hence make sure not to use plastic bags.
- Avoid short clothing in the public places and especially religious ones.
- Always care for the wildlife and nature of Ladakh; do not spoil the purity of the paradise.
Places Around Ladakh
Visitors to Skara village near Leh are treated to a local archery contest. As the contestants draw bow and arrow, bowls filled with the delectable apricot, apple and dry fruits are served to the visitors followed by chang, a heady brew made of barley and gur tea, a regional favorite. There is a change of scene as the Festival shifts to the Nubra Valley. The sleepy pastoral countryside of Nubra which has recently been thrown open to tourism is located on the Indo-Pak border. A trip by helicopter over flies an intricate network of mountains including the Khardungla Pass, the highest motor able pass in the world. The mountains have a reddish hue.
Nubra boasts of a more liberal and progressive attitude having been on the ancient silk route and thus open to outside influence. The people are educated and speak fluent Hindi. Nubra is also the home of the double humped Bactrian camel rarely seen elsewhere in Ladakh. It is in Nubra that one sees the co-existence of water, mountain and desert-a rare sight. But then as many will testify, Ladakh is indeed a rare destination.
Permits are required (also for Indian Nationals) to travel the inner line areas of Nubra Valley, the Durbuk Block, Khardung La, Dha-hanu, Tso-Moriri and Tsokar Lakes and Pangong Lake. These are available in the Leh town and you are advised to get them from trusted travel agents. Take the photocopies of the Protected Area Permit (PAP) or Restricted Area Permit (RAP) with you wherever you go in Ladakh. Government authorities have launched a web portal http://lahdclehpermit.in/ on June 1, 2017, making it easier for the travellers to obtain a permit. A fee of INR 400 + INR 20 per day as an Inner line fee is applicable. Note: There is no online payment option on this portal. Take the printout of the permit and visit TIC Office, Opposite J&K Bank, Main Market, Leh. You can get permit signed and stamped there. The timings of the office are 9.00 AM to 03:00 PM.
Best Time to Visit
Ladakh region witnesses summer season between the months of April and September and this is the best time to visit Ladakh. This is the time when Ladakh experiences sunny days and the temperature lies around 20 to 30 degree Celsius. The views are lovely and clear, and the nights are very pleasant. In the summer months, the two road approaches to Ladakh, the Srinagar-Leh Highway and the Manali-Leh Highway get cleared of snow and become motorable.
With stunning views and adorning the ethereal surroundings, Ladakh is one of the most beautiful places in India. A conglomeration of small villages and monasteries, Ladakh deeply enthralls visitors. No doubt everyone who visit this place wants to take a piece of this “heaven on Earth” with them. Whether it is curios and souvenirs or Kashmiri Pashmina shawls, stoles or rugs, there are plenty of things one can shop for in Ladakh.
Some of the most popular items with tourists are carpets, dry fruits and various small Tibetan souvenirs. Besides shawls and rugs, one can purchase diverse handicraft items such as prayer wheels, Buddhist masks and Thangka paintings. Moreover, Tibetan silver jewelry and Ladakhi jewelry with turquoise also fairly attract travelers.
Most of the tourists who visit Ladakh want to take away locally made items and hence wool garments especially handmade woolen socks, gloves, caps and sweaters are tourists’ favorite. The carpets are thick, dyed with natural dyes, beautifully designed and are long lasting. Apricots are another favorite items for travelers and they grow abundantly in Ladakh and are of really good quality.
There are a number of markets in Ladakh. Some are open markets, some are government run emporiums and some like Women’s Alliance in Changspa are run only by women. The prices are subject to bargain and how much one is able to bring down prices depends upon the bargaining skill of the buyer. Some good venues for Shopping in Ladakh can be listed below.
Moti Market: Moti Market is located near the Leh bus stand and is a well-known place for purchasing pearls and other precious items of jewelry as well as semi-precious items of stone and jewelry. Lamo Pearls, located in this market, is one of the oldest shops here.
Nowshera Bazaar: The bazaar has tiny shops and is good for purchasing prayer flags and other items related to Buddhism and its rituals.
Tibetan Refugee Market: This place best for buying a variety of souvenirs. Besides one can shop for clothes, flags, singing bowls, bracelets, earrings, prayer wheels, metal stuff and a lot of small and other beautiful items. The market is located in the center of the town and one need good negotiation skills to get through the market and purchase the items at the desired price.
Ladakh Art Palace: Established in 1970’s as a small shop, the Ladakh Art Palace has grown into a place, full of most diverse artefacts, which are original and quality products and which fully meet the demand of discerning customers.
Tibetan Handicraft Emporium: The market has a huge collection of arts and handicrafts and is a wonderful place to purchase souvenirs and gift items.
Dalai Lama’s Charitable Trust Handicraft Emporium: This market is famous for Pashmina Shawls, Kashmiri Carpets, woolen items as well as wooden handicrafts. The proceeds of this market goes to the local artisans and help sustain their art and ways of life.
How to Reach
BY AIR – Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport of Leh is the main airport of the region. This airport is connected to Delhi, Jammu and Srinagar by direct flights of Jet Airways, Air India, and Go Air. The timings of the flights are subject to change due to weather. Plan your trip accordingly.
The easiest way to travel to Ladakh is by air. The nearest airport is Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport located in Leh. This airport is connected with many international airports in India like Delhi. It also receives flights from Srinagar, Jammu, Chandigarh and other common destinations in India. The airport is a military terminal and thus, the security is a bit strangling. It is important to have all your documents ready when you enter Ladakh via the airport. It is better to have a hard copy of your e-ticket.
You can find a few taxis outside the airport to reach required destination. Not all destinations have daily flights to Leh. It is better to book your accommodations after you book your tickets. The most common flights to Leh fly from Delhi. The cost of an air ticket from Delhi to Leh starts from INR 8,000. The cost varies with the service provider, season and other factors.
There are government and private buses from Srinagar and Manali. If you are choosing Srinagar, you will pass through Zoji La Pass to reach Ladakh and you will scale Rohtang Pass to reach Ladakh from Manali.
The Srinagar path is open from June to October for bus entries. The Manali route is open for bus routes from June to September. If you were planning to hire bus from New Delhi, it would take minimum 4 days to reach Ladakh
The nearest railway station to Ladakh is in Tawi, which is 700 km away from Ladakh. This railway station receives trains from many important destinations like Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi and others. From the station, you can find cabs to reach Ladakh. You can also pre-book cabs. It would take two days to reach Ladakh and the trip will cost INR 10,000. Other nearest railway stations are in Chandigarh and Pathankot. It would take at least three days to reach from the railway station to Ladakh. This is the most inconvenient method to reach Ladakh.
Most tourists visit Ladakh in bike. The place has the world’s top three highest mountain passes that can be scaled on a vehicle. Biking along the mountain passes and stopping for a steaming cup of tea i
Anyone wanting to enjoy the adrenaline rush of a bike ride but not able to handle the activity can choose jeep. Jeep ride is easier than bike and more comfortable. You can choose either one of the highway routes as mentioned before. If you are choosing jeep, you ought to visit Zoji La, the door of Ladakh that is found in the way from Kargil to Ladkah in the Kashmir Valley. The price of a jeep safari can start from INR 32,000 and the price is subjected to change.
You can hire taxis from Manali to Leh. Bargain before you agree upon a charge. It would cost minimum INR 12,000. Hire local drivers as they have more experience in driving through the rocky terrain. If you are choosing a taxi from Manali for reach Leh, you can hire cars with Manali registration or any other registration. If you are planning to use the same car for sightseeing inside Leh, you ought to have a car registered in Leh or a private (white board) car. Rented cars with other city registrations are not allowed for sightseeing in Ladakh.
Things to carry
If you are travelling by car or bike then make sure you carry a basic repairing tool kit along with necessary spare parts with you. If your vehicle breaks down in the middle of nowhere, these can be of great help
- Consult your doctor before the trip and carry essential medicines
- Carry sunscreen and moisturizer, sunglasses too
- The roads can be quite dangerous at night, so carry a torch along with you.
- Carry enough warm clothes, gloves, boots and sneakers too
- You will get food out there, but just to be on a safer side, carry a few food items and enough water with you.
- Carry all the official documents and permits with you
- Even though there are ATM’s available out there, carry as much cash as you can.