16 Things you Must Do and See in Leh - Ladakh
Ladakh is known for its breathtaking valley views, winding roads, numerous monasteries, passes and serene water bodies. Despite the difficulties in accessibility and distance, it attracts travellers other than motorbikers, from all over the country. Below is a list of places to add to your itinerary when visiting Ladakh.
The saltwater lake, also known as Pangong Tso, is located at an elevation of 4350 metres above sea level and changes colours from a vibrant blue to sea green. The lake is 134 kilometres long, with one-third of it in India and the other two-thirds stretching to China. The lake was also featured in the well-known film "3 Idiots".
The semi-arid region is 13154 feet above sea level and is covered in snow-capped mountains, rivers, and numerous monasteries. You can take part in various adventure activities such as water rafting and paragliding in Zanskar, or you can go on renowned treks such as the Zanskar-Sham Valley trek. Due to a lack of petrol pumps and ATMs in the area, make sure to fill your vehicles with fuel and your wallets with cash.
The Nubra Valley, formerly known as Ldumra (Valley of Flowers), is located in the northeast of Ladakh and is known for its cold desert, breathtaking landscapes, and sand dunes. It is also one of the few places that offer the Bactrian Camel (two-humped camel) safari, which is not to be missed. To visit Nubra Valley, make sure to obtain an inner line permit.
The mountain pass is 40 kilometres from Leh and serves as the entrance to Nubra Valley. Khardung-la pass, perched at an elevation of 5602 metres, is one of the highest motorable passes, attracting motorbikers as well as tourists from all over the country for its scenic route that can also be enjoyed in a car.
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The small village located on the Leh-Kargil highway is home to one of the oldest and largest monasteries - Lamayuru Monastery. More than the monastery, the place is of interest and on the itineraries of many for its landscape and formation that resembles the moon, thereby earning the moniker “Moonland of Ladakh”.
If you enjoy art and history, the Leh Palace should be on your list of places to visit in Ladakh. The former palace of Leh's royal family is now a museum and overlooks the majestic mountains and picturesque town. Admire everything from old paintings made using colours derived from powdered gems and stones to a collection of royal jewellery, ceremonial dresses and gowns when here.
Situated on the Leh-Kargil-Srinagar national highway, the famed hill is also referred to as "Mystery Hill" or "Gravity Hill". The location, true to its name, defies gravity and pulls objects uphill. A car is said to move forward at a speed of 20 km/hr from a designated white spot towards the hill. The Sindhu River flows to the east of the hill and makes for a lovely backdrop for pictures.
Gurudwara Pathar Sahib
Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, located 12000 feet above sea level, was built to commemorate Guru Nanak's visit to Ladakh. The shrine is located on the Leh-Kargil road and includes a boulder rock bearing Guru Nanak's imprint. Pay your respects and meditate for a while here.
Spituk Gompa is an 11th-century Buddhist monastery 8 kilometres from Leh. It houses a magnificent Mahakal/Kali statue that is only revealed during the Gustar festival, making January the best time to visit. A museum with a large collection of Buddhist paintings, ancient masks, and antiques is also located on the premises.
Hemis Wildlife Sanctuary
The high-elevation national park is situated in the north of the Himalayas and is home to incredible flora and fauna. The national park is known for having the most snow leopards in the world. Other endangered animals found in the dry forest include the Asiatic Ibex and the Tibetan Wolf. The destination is also well-known for treks and mountaineering expeditions.
Tso Moriri Lake
Tso Moriri Lake is a tranquil high-altitude lake entirely within Indian territory. It is 7 kilometres wide and 19 kilometres long. The lake is located in the Changthang region and resembles the famous Pangong Lake, with its clear water reflecting the clear skies and the sloped mountains, creating a lovely picture that you don't want to miss clicking.
The six-day frozen river trek is best experienced in January and February, when the Zanskar River freezes, resulting in a sheet of ice. The river changes colour every few hours due to ice formation and breakage, and the temperature drops to minus ten degrees during the day, making it a one-of-a-kind trekking experience.
The white-domed stupa was constructed by Japanese and Ladakhi Buddhists on a hilltop in Chanspa, Leh district. It is a two-story structure 5 kilometres from Leh that offers panoramic views of the city and its surroundings. The first level features the statue of Buddha with the wheels of life, while the second level depicts the life and death of Buddha.
Also known as Sangam at Nimmu or the Sangam Valley, it is located 35 kilometres from Leh, where the Indus River meets the Zanskar River near the village of Nimmu. It is situated on the Leh-Srinagar highway, nestled between stunning mountains.
The Tibetan-style monastery is 19 kilometres from Leh on a hilltop overlooking the Indus Valley. It is the largest gompa in central Ladakh and resembles Lhasa's Potala Palace. There is also a 12-storey complex with Buddhist wall paintings, swords, and statues. The highlight of the monastery, however, is the Maitreya Buddha temple.
It is a sub-gompa of Thiksey and one of the oldest monasteries in Nubra Valley. In the prayer hall, there is a beautiful installation of a crowned Buddha. Take a short hike up to the monastery, which offers stunning views of the valley.
Images are sourced from LehLadakhIndia website.