A COMPLETE GUIDE TO LEH LADAKH
Are you looking for a trip to Ladakh? The beautiful Kaleidoscope that this “Cold desert of India” offers can win any heart. Ladakh, with its unparalleled natural beauty, is the most coveted tourist place which witnesses a huge influx of travelers every year. A trip to this paradise will be something that you are sure to enjoy thoroughly. If going to Ladakh is on your mind and you want to make the most of that trip, here is a complete guide to help.
Your Ladakh trip can become a wonderful experience if you have the complete and the right information in hand.
What is the Best Time to Visit Ladakh?
Though flights to Ladakh are available all through the year, some people will advise you to visit there in the winter months to see the barren lands of Ladakh covered by thick snow and its frozen rivers. But, go at your own risk as the winter temperature at Ladakh can drop to -30 degrees centigrade. So normally summer is the best time to visit the place, and therefore it remains the busiest during summer. If you go early enough, you can still enjoy the sight of a frozen lake that just begins to melt and gives you a prismatic view that sparkles with different colors.
*From April to Mid-October
Top Places to Visit in Leh Ladakh
Ladakh is immensely beautiful and it is very difficult to spot only a few top must-see spots here. Ladakh is the land of majestic monasteries, mesmerizing valleys and captivating lands. You would be really confused about what to see here on priority, especially if you are on a short Ladakh trip. So, we have tried to list the top not-to-miss attractions here.
The mere sight of this Buddhist white-domed stupa is so magnificent that it will leave you stunned. It is located on a steep hilltop in Chanspa, Leh district in North India, at a dizzying altitude of 11,841 feet. You will experience what is called the perfect tranquility of mind here. You will encounter a panoramic view of all of Ladakh’s mountains and the entire city. It is the most wonderful Buddhist monument here that you must not miss visiting.
Khardungla and Nubra Valley:
Ladakh is the love of every biker and there can be nothing quite like biking thousands of miles on its barren lands as part of an epic Indian road trip. Khardungla, a town in Ladakh, has the longest motorable road in the world. The spiral road has unpredictable turns, which makes bike riding a thrilling experience here.
A tarred road will take you to South Pullu; from here on till the pass you will move through stone-stacked roads. All through your ride, you will experience nature at its very best. The pristine beauty of the locations here will compel you to stick around for a while and savour each passing moment at this place.
If jaw-dropping scenic beauty is what you wish to see here, Nubra Valley situated 150 km from Ladakh, is the place to go. It is also known as the “Orchard of Ladakh” and “Ldumra” which means “Valley of flowers”.
Pangong Tso Lake:
This lake of Ladakh gained overnight popularity with a shot from Aamir Khan’s movie “3 Idiots” but yes it is the spot that you must include in your Ladakh solo trip or group trip with friends.
Hemis National Park:
Hemis National Park is an abode for the endangered snow leopards. This national park is exceptional and holds the record of being the only national park in the Northern region of the Himalayas.
*A few other not-to-miss spots:
Diskit Monastery, Namgyal Tsemo Gompa, Chadar Trek, Zanskar Valley, Alchi, Diskit Monastery.
Jeep Safari From Manali to Leh:
Though you would wonder why not just bike over Khardungla road, but a Jeep safari from Manali to Leh is an equally interesting thing to do here. It is another most thrilling activity that you can indulge in in Leh Ladakh, especially if you want to catch the breathtakingly beautiful scenery around.
Though trekking here is very difficult and challenging because of the rugged terrains and adverse climatic conditions, it is the most exciting thing to do here. Do not forget the right gear for trekking during your Leh Ladakh Trip. Chadar trek, Drang Drung glacier trek and Darcha Padum Trek are some of the popular treks chosen here.
Camel Safari On Two-Humped Camels or Yak Rides:
If you are tired of driving, riding and walking on the tough and rugged terrains of Leh Ladakh, try a camel safari. Ride on the back of 2-humped camels or on an exotic yak to enjoy the mystique sceneries around you and explore the true fun.
Skiing in the Snow-Clad Mountains:
The snow-clad Great Himalayan range and the steep slopes of the lofty Himalayas will give you a chance to test your skiing skills. This is the most exciting thing that you can do in Ladakh while you’re there. It is indeed the most sought after activity for travelers visiting the Zanskar Valley too.
*Other Exciting Activities That Are Worth Trying Here:
Shopping for Tibetan jewelry, river rafting in Zanskar river, cycling on the rough terrain, camping near serene lakes and tasting the local cuisine
What to Eat At Leh-Ladakh?
On your Leh Ladakh trip, do not miss trying local, Ladakhi cuisine as it is distinct, and totally different from Indian cuisines found elsewhere in the country. Ladakhi cuisines will leave an impression on your palette that will keep on reminding you about your trip here even years later. It is not spicy and originates primarily from Tibet’s culinary traditions.
Tsampa, a typical barley flour, is the staple diet of Ladakhis.
This is the most popular and the most loved Ladakhi clear soup with veggies, and noodles that are made up of barley and wheat. Most of the time, it contains pieces of chicken or mutton. It is served with spicy chutney and tastes incredible. You are sure to savor all the ingredients of this noodle soup when you try it.
Skyu is another conventional Ladakhi specialty that is worth trying. It is a stew that is made with barley or wheat dough. The dough is kneaded into the shape of flattened balls and slow-cooked with water and root veggies (potatoes, carrots, turnips). It is highly super tasty.
It is a Yak Cheese and is made from the milk of a domesticated yak which is called “dzomo.”There are two varieties of this cheese, soft and hard, you can go in for the one you like.
Other Ladakhi dishes to try:
Butter tea, Chang, Khambir, Momos and Apricot Jam.
Where to Stay in Leh Ladakh?
There is no dearth of staying options in Leh Ladakh and you will find plenty of luxury 5-star hotels. Here are a few top choices:
- Mountain Retreat Guest House, Leh, Ladakh in Winter
- Himalayan Bunker
- Gangs-Shun Homestay
- The Grand Dragon, Ladakh
- Stok Palace Heritage
- Hotel Lingzi, Old Fort Road
Leh Ladakh is a wonderful place and a hot tourist destination. A Ladakh trip in your forthcoming vacations can be a memorable experience if you are well-prepared and know all the details. So, pack your bag and head towards Leh Ladakh in the coming vacations and you are sure to have loads of memories to cherish.
*Do not forget to take your winter clothes and trekking gear.
Before you leave, check out this best Indian road trips article that features the scenic Manali to Leh road trip.