Leh Ladakh is a region located in the northernmost part of India, in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is a high-altitude desert that is known for its breathtaking natural beauty, unique culture, and ancient Buddhist monasteries.
Leh is the largest town in Ladakh and serves as the main hub for tourism and travel in the region. The town is situated at an altitude of 3,500 meters above sea level and is surrounded by snow-capped peaks, barren landscapes, and picturesque valleys. The town is also known for its ancient Buddhist monasteries, such as the Hemis Monastery, Thiksey Monastery, and Shey Monastery.
Ladakh is also known for its adventurous activities such as trekking, mountaineering, and river rafting. The region is home to some of the highest mountain passes in the world, including Khardung La and Chang La, which are popular among adventure enthusiasts.
In recent years, Ladakh has also gained popularity for its eco-tourism initiatives, which focus on responsible and sustainable travel. Tourists can visit local villages and homestays, experience the unique culture and cuisine of the region, and support the local economy.
However, it’s important to note that the region is also politically sensitive, and travelers should stay informed about the current situation and take necessary precautions.
How to reach
Leh Ladakh is a remote region, but there are several ways to reach there:
- By Air: The easiest and most convenient way to reach Leh is by air. The Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport in Leh is well connected to major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Srinagar, and Jammu. From the airport, you can take a taxi or a pre-arranged transfer to reach your destination.
- By Road: Leh Ladakh is well connected by road to Srinagar and Manali. The Srinagar-Leh Highway and Manali-Leh Highway are two of the most scenic roads in India, but they are open only during the summer months (May to October). The roads can be challenging due to their high altitude and mountainous terrain, so it’s recommended to hire a professional driver or join a guided tour.
- By Bus: There are regular bus services from Srinagar and Manali to Leh, but they can be uncomfortable and time-consuming. The buses are not recommended for long-distance travel, especially if you’re not used to the high altitude.
- By Train: The nearest railway station to Leh is Jammu Tawi, which is located about 700 kilometers away. From Jammu, you can take a taxi or a bus to reach Leh. However, the journey by train can be time-consuming and may not be the most convenient option.
Overall, flying to Leh is the most convenient and comfortable option, but if you’re looking for a scenic road trip, then driving or joining a guided tour can be a great option.
What magnetizes people?
Dominating the Leh area, the Leh Palace is an imposing 9-story structure. The royal family Sengge Namgyal moved out in 1940 and since that time, the building has been empty. A few years back, the Archaeological Survey declared it a protected monument and has been making extensive repairs. The top floor of the palace provides a splendid view of the Indus Valley.
As you move further up ahead of the palace, you arrive at the TsemoGompa. The Gompa can be reached either from Chubi or by walking up the south approach from the Leh Palace.
Inaugurated by the Dalai Lama in 1985, the Shanti Stupa is a newly-added attraction in the Leh area. The Stupa was built with the assistance of the Japanese. The visitors are charmed by the exquisite murals of the structure and the calm ambiance that surrounds them.
Chain of Monasteries
There are a number of monasteries to the southeast and west of Leh. To the southeast of Leh are some popular monasteries of Shey, This key, Hemis, Stanka, Matho, and the Stok Palace. To the west are monasteries like Spituk, Likir, Alchi, and Rhizdong.
What are the adventures in store?
River Indus offers a fabulous option for rafting. There are gentle runs on offer for the first-timers. However, there are tough stretches as well, to get your adrenaline pumping. Ladakh also provides high altitude trekking options. There are two basic treks- one from Likhir to Temisgam and the other from Stok to Matho. You will come across some beautiful villages and scenic spots as you move on.
Which are the nearby hotels?
Hotel Shambhala La (3 km from the airport) is a 5-star deluxe hotel in Ladakh. The hotel has a total of 26 rooms and offers facilities like a banquet hall, restaurant, billiard room, doctor on call, laundry, TV, telephone, etc. There are also arrangements for sightseeing and trekking. Hotel Dragon Leh, a 5-star deluxe, is yet another opportunity to avail oneself of fabulous accommodation. The hotel offers value for your money and exceptional hospitality service to tourists. Moonland Guest House is near the airport offering 15 rooms.
What is the best time?
June to October is the most convenient time to pay a visit to Ladakh, for most of the routes remain closed after the month of November due to heavy snowfall. There is another good reason for visiting Ladakh in the summer months. Most of the Gompas and the Buddhist monasteries hold their annual festivals during this period.
What to See
Leh Ladakh is a region of incredible natural beauty and cultural diversity, with plenty of things to see and experience. Here are some of the must-see attractions and activities in Leh Ladakh:
- Pangong Tso Lake: This stunning high-altitude lake is a popular tourist spot, known for its crystal-clear blue waters and spectacular mountain backdrop. The lake is located at an altitude of 4,350 meters and spans over 100 kilometers, with about 30% of it lying in India and the rest in China.
- Nubra Valley: This scenic valley is located about 150 kilometers north of Leh and is known for its stunning landscapes, sand dunes, and lush greenery. It’s also home to the Diskit Monastery, which is one of the oldest and largest monasteries in the region.
- Magnetic Hill: This hill is known for its magnetic properties, which make cars appear to roll uphill when parked in the designated area. It’s a popular spot for tourists who come to experience this unusual phenomenon.
- Hemis National Park: This national park is home to a variety of wildlife, including snow leopards, Himalayan black bears, and Tibetan wolves. It’s also a great place for hiking and trekking.
- Leh Palace: This nine-story palace was built in the 17th century and served as the residence of the royal family of Leh. Today, it’s a popular tourist spot, offering stunning views of the town and the surrounding mountains.
- Monasteries: There are several ancient Buddhist monasteries in Leh Ladakh, each with its unique architecture and cultural significance. Some of the most popular ones include Hemis Monastery, Thiksey Monastery, and Shey Monastery.
- Trekking and Adventure Sports: Leh Ladakh is a popular destination for adventure enthusiasts, with opportunities for trekking, mountaineering, river rafting, and more. Some popular treks include the Markha Valley trek, Chadar trek, and Stok Kangri trek.
These are just a few of the many attractions and activities that Leh Ladakh has to offer. Whether you’re interested in nature, culture, or adventure, you’re sure to find something that will capture your interest and make your trip memorable.