Must visit places in Ladakh
Needless to say, Ladakh is on the list of every Indian traveller. The sheer enchanting beauty of nature, the thrilling adventures, and the people and culture, everything makes Ladakh worth all the hype it gets. Standing tall at a height of 3,540 meters above sea level, the Himalayan territory boasts of beauty with elegant palaces, mountains, and lakes.
Movies often give us goals and so did the last scene in 3 Idiots, where Kareena Kapoor kissed Aamir Khan in the backdrop of the Pangong Lake. The hub with the crystal blue glacial waters against the peaks of the Himalayas is a traveller’s delight. Spread across India and China, the 150 km long lake, at a height of 4350 meters remains one of our favourite destinations in Ladakh, which is just five hours drive away from Leh. The saline lake freezes during winter to host the Ice Skating Festival while camping near the lake is done during the peak season. Being one of the most serene and tranquil lakes in the country, it is a hotspot for exotic migratory birds.
What to do: Camping at the banks of the lake, Visit Ice Skating Festival, Bird watching, photography.
Best Time to Visit: June to September
Hemis National Park:
Proudly holding the card of being the largest national park in South Asia, the Hemis National Park is home to many endangered species such as snow leopards, Asiatic ibex, the Eurasian Brown Bear, the Tibetan Wolf and the Red Fox. Standing at 3000 metres above sea level, in the Palearctic Ecozone, the park is a heaven for nature lovers and wildlife photographers. It is surrounded by the Indus, which enhances its aura of being a gift of nature.
Best time to visit: Between May to September
The town of Hemis is not just known for the sanctuary but is home to one of the most beautiful monasteries of the country, the Hemis Monastery which houses exquisite antique collections of Buddha with intricate gold and silver cuts and exotic Thangkas. There is a brilliant display of Thai architecture along with it being one of the richest monasteries of India. The place simply evokes an aura of peace and tranquility where one can go and feel the power of faith and serenity.
Timing: 8 AM to 1 PM and 2 PM to 6 PM.
The Shanti stupa lives up to its name, evoking a calmness in the beautiful hill of Chanspa, Leh. What is more aesthetically appealing is the view at dawn and dusk from the monument. Constructed by a Japanese Buddhist, Bhikshu Gyomyo Nakamura, the stupa stands tall at a height of 4,267 meters surrounded by the panoramic view of the snow-clad mountains. It reflects the unique Ladakhi architectural style along with a Buddhist temple nearby which was inaugurated by the fourteenth Dalai Lama.
Timing: 5 AM to 6 PM throughout the week.
Royal Leh Palace:
The Royal Leh Palace is a 17th-century marvel built in a traditional Tibetan architectural style overlooking the town of Leh. Despite its dilapidated look, the palace holds immense cultural significance in the region and brings out the glory of the royal family. The statue of Buddha at the palace adds to its charm and signifies the faith of the royalty, while the palace itself offers quite a panoramic view of the town of Leh against the backdrop of Ladakh ranges and Stok Kangri. For those of you who are curious travellers, you would not be disappointed. There is a museum with artifacts dating back to more than 400 years to feed that thirst of knowledge of yours.
Timings: 07:00 AM to 04:00 PM throughout the week
Best Time To Visit: August
Entry Fee: Indians: INR 20, Foreigners: INR 100
Tso Moriri Lake:
The Tso Moriri Lake is the twin to Pangong Tso Lake which is lesser-known and therefore, much less crowded which makes it perfect for spending some alone time or stargazing at night. Located at the Changtang Wildlife Sanctuary, surrounded by snow-capped mountains, the view is jaw-droppingly breathtaking. The literal meaning of Moriri Tso transforms to ‘Mountain Lake’ which was declared as a wetland reserve and is home to various species including the Brahmin duck, bare-headed goose, the brown-headed gull, and the great-crested grebe and Himalayan Hares, etc. Camping near this lake can be an experience for a lifetime.
Best Time To Visit: May to August
The Zanskar Valley is one of the most sought after places to visit in Ladakh. Set in the desolate Himalayan range, the steep snowy terrains seem to be plain white canvas calling out to you. The Zanskar river is one of the best places for white river rafting when it is not frozen in the winters. The place is inhabited by about 14,000 people and most of them, Buddhist monks. The entire region is closed for eight months due to heavy snowfall. The frozen Zanskar River forms one of the most adventurous treks in the country, that is the Chadar Trek which is a challenge in itself and must be undertaken only by the most experienced.
Best Time to Visit: June to September
Riding a bike in the Khardungla Pass is an adventure one should not let go. Khardung La is the highest motorable pass in the country at an altitude of 18,500 feet and is managed by the Border Roads Organization. The pass leads to Nubra and Shyok Valleys which are worth visiting if you are in Ladakh, with chilly wind against your face as you race against the snow clad mountains to reach the highest point. Have a cup of tea while you sit at the mountains to appreciate the view. There is nothing better than ‘chai and barf’!
Best time to visit: May to September.
You cannot just go to Ladakh and not visit the Nubra Valley, the tri-armed valley with two-humped camels. If you think deserts are just about hot weather, this is where Nubra proves you wrong. The valley transports you to your childhood Arabian Nights stories and opens the way for the long-forgotten Shangri La, Samstanling Monastery, Dixit Monastery, Nubra river and the Panamik village with hot sulphur spring.
Best time to visit: July to September.
The mere remembrance of Kargil reminds us of the brave warriors who defended the country in the 1999 war with Pakistan. This makes it a must-visit place in Ladakh, on the banks of the Indus river. Enriched with history, Kargil was considered as an important trade route to and from China, India, Afghanistan, and Turkey. Being a transit hub too, the place is heavily guarded but remains a sought-out destination for adventure sports such as trekking and mountaineering. Of course, let us not forget the Kargil War Museum.
Best Time to visit: May to July
The village of Lamayuru, also known as the ‘Moonland of India’ owes its name to the resemblance of a moonlike landscape cut into the Himalayan mountains. This remains one of the untouched and non-commercialized places in Ladakh to visit if you are more into the off-beat tracks looking for something other than just being a tourist. The sight is one to behold during the full moon days when moonlight reflects on the surface.
Best Time To Visit: April to May.
There you go! With these eleven places on your list, you would have been to most of the wonderous places of Ladakh. Of course, there are more to explore and if you have the chance, it is good to ask around the locals and try finding out places where you may be the first to go!