Ladakh, the land of many passes, of numbingly cold and insanely high barren landscapes, is one of the highest inhabited plateaus in the world. Remote, yet never isolated, this is the land of different cultural and religious influences from Tibet, India and Central Asia.
Don’t miss out on our guide for Bali if it’s your next destination.
There is so much to explore here that without proper guidance, you are sure to miss out on so many of those OMG moments. To make sure you live all those moments and come back with tons of memories from your trip there, we have listed the top 100 things to do on a Ladakh tour. So here goes:
Monasteries to see on Ladakh Tour
1. Phyang Monastery Ladakh – The Abode of the Divine
Give your tired souls a breath of the divine. This summer be at Leh. Visit the Phyang Monastery Ladakh for peace, tranquility and beauty. It is a beautiful monastery located at an easily migrate-able distance of 15-16/40 kms west of the town of Leh in Ladakh, Northern India. Established in 1515 it is the epicenter of the Djung teachings in Ladakh. Adorned with traditional Tibetan architectural embellishments this quaint peace-house resting snugly amidst the mountains is the perfect treat for the eyes and feats for the soul. For ones lured by history the monastery also houses a 900 year old museum containing an exquisite collection of idols and Chinese, Tibetan and Mongolian weapons. Also when planning your trip, be discretionary in timing it with the first month of the Tibetan calendar when it hosts the Gang-Sngon Tsedup Festival and later into the month when sacred dances are held at Phyang. The secret incense of salvation beckoning you already? Then make summer your month of deliverance and let your destiny guide you to the serenity of Leh.
2. Shey Gompa Ladakh – Where the tigers dance
Shey, the once summer capital of Ladakh, houses the famous Shey Monastery of Gompa dating back to 1655. Built in the memory of Singay Namgyal, the Gompa is primarily noted for the giant copper statue of Shakyamuni Buddha with gilded gold. Believed to be the second largest statue in Ladakh it is sure a site must-see on your list. Located on a hillock alongside the Shey palace the gompa overlooks 15 kms towards the south of of Leh, Ladakh City. Shey can be trekked 4 kms upwards from the Thiksey monastery, a route which is lined with chorten fields with hundreds of whitewashed shrines of varying sizes across the desert. The place is also home to the She Doo Lhoo and the Shey Rupla festivals held in the first month of the Tibetan calendar. Also worth witnessing is the Rhupla Dance performed by men in tiger-costumes.
3. Diskit Gompa – The oldest monastery in town
The Diskit Gompa is the largest and the oldest Buddhist monastery nestled in the Nubra Valley of Ladakh. Founded by Changzem Tserab Zangpo in the 14th century, it is the sub-gompa of the Thikse Gompa. The monastery houses a large solemn Maitreya statue in the central prayer hall surrounded by images of powerful guardian deities. An elevated cupola of the monastery depicts a fresco of the Tashilhunpo Monastery of Tibet.
4. Hemis Monastery Ladakh – The wealthiest monastery in town
Dating back to 1630 the Hemis Monastery founded by the first incarnation of Stagsang Raspa Nawang Gyatso is the largest as well as the wealthiest monastery in the region of Ladakh. the monastery interestingly is positioned inside a gorge at a stretch of around 47kms from Leh. Belonging to the sect of the Dugpa Order the Hemos Gompa in Ladakh is stands majestically on the western bank of the river Indus and contains a vast and rich collection on ancient relics including a copper-gilt statue of Lord Buddha, gold and silver stupas, scared thangkas. The hemis monastery is also home to the annual Hemis Festival which is a grand ritualistic celebration of the birth f Padmasambhava.
5. Spituk Gompa – seat reserved for the Lama, Dalai Lama
The Spituk Gompa is a three chapel monastery dating back to the 11th century. The gompa was built under the patronage of Od-de the elder brother of Lha Lama Changchub Od, who envisioned the construction of a monastic community at this place. The name spituk roughly translates as exemplary and was once under the auspices of the Kadampa School. The Dukhang or the main temple in the monastery has a high throne at its far fag end reserved for the Dalai Lama. The images of Tsong-kha-pa and his two chief disciples leads to a dark old chapel in the centre. The Gustor Festival is also famously celebrated at the Spituk Gompa and the two day spiritual extravagaze oversees among othe rituals a scared dance performed by masked monks.
6. Shanti Stupa – Japan’s gift to Buddhism
The japanese Buddhist organization constructed the shanti stupa of Ladakh atop the hill at Changspa. Easily commutable from Fort Road the stupa also known as The Japanese for World Peace commemorates the 2500 years of Buddhism and to promote the cause if peace and harmony. Inaugurated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Shani Stupa is a beautiful white-domed structure and offers magnificent views of the sunrise and sunset. The stupa looks abreathatking at night when adorned with glittering lights.
7. Alchi Gompa – not lost, found in translation
The alchi gompa is made up primarily of three sacred temples-and the main among them being the Rinchen Lhakhang at Lotsa Lhakhang. The Alchi Gompa owes its origin to the translator Rinchen Zangpo who built the monastery in 1000 AD. Legend has it that the gompa was built by an army of thirty-two sculptors and wood carvers from Kashmir, to construct the monastery which lies at a distance of 67 kms from Leh. The interiors of the gompa is adorned with paintings of Vaironca and one of the five families of Buddha flung on either sides with their attendant deities.
8. Lamayuru Monastery Leh – A place that monks call home
The Lamayuru Monastery which serves as permanent residence to 150 monks is located in Srinagar-Kargil-Leh in Kargil district. Boasting a position of being one among the largets monasteries in the region of Ladakh it lies at a close of 127kms of Leh. The gompa founded by Mahasiddhacharya Naropa, owes its lineage in time way back to the 11th century and belongs to the red-hat sect of Buddhism. The monastery has its presiding Rinpoche in the guise of successive re-incarnations of Skyabse Toldan Rinpoche. The gompa consisted of five spectacular buildings but all excepot one have been ruined by time and weathering.
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9. Likir Monastery – the peace of the Nagas
The likir monastery is your pick if you are interested in some moments of sustained peace and quiet along the Leh-Srinagar highway. Located 6kms away from the highway and 62 kms away from Leh-west the Likir Gompa was built in 1065 AD. Being structurally enclosed by the bodies of two great serpent spirits namely the Nanda and Taksako the monastery caem to be popularly identified as Naga/Snake encircled or Likir. The monastery houses a large accumulation of clay images of the three Buddhas-the “Marme Zat-past,Sakyamuni-present and Maitreya-Future. The Gonkhang is done up with ornate mural work of Yamantaka and Mahakala . besides the gompa also is a treasure trove of various old manuscripts, thangkas, religious attires and implements. The courtyard also stands ground to a gigantic Jupiter tree, one amongst the few still surviving. The Likir monastery also hosts the annual Domoschey festival held between the 16-16th February.
10. Thiksey Monastery Ladakh – the home of the Champa Buddha
The Thiksey Monastery-the seat of the Thiksey Rinpoche, is located 20 km far from the towns of Leh and rises 3600 kms above the sea-level. The monastery, one amongst the most important if the region of Ladakh and was founded by Palden Sangpo a few miles away from Stagmo near the Indus river. The monastery is home to some of the largest Buddhist monasteries including the 15 meter tall Champa-the Buddha of the Champa. The gompa is a glaring specimen of Ladakhi architecture and and is situated atop the hill forming part of the Gelukpa order. The monastery also shelters an extensive collection of stupas, statues, thangkas, wall paintings and weapons-it also includes a large pillar engraved with the wisdom and words of the Buddha.
11. Matho Gompa – houses the oldest Thangkas in town
Matho Monastery which hosts the annual Matho Nagrang Festival was founded by Lam Dugpa Dorje in the 16th century. Located on the western bank of the River Indus the Matho Gompa lies at a distance of 26kms southeast of the town of Leh. It is the only gompa belonging to the saskya order of Tibetan Buddhism and has a resident priest oracle. The matho gompa is famous for sheltering a vast repository of thangkas each dating back to atleast 400 years old. The dukhang is adorned with paintings in all sides and situated inside at the far end is a throne reserved for the Rimpoche.
12. Sankar Gompa – the abode of the Yellow Hats
The sankar gompa belongs to the yellow hat sect or the Gelukpa and is situated at a close of 3kms from Leh. The monastery is also the official residence of the Kushok Bakul or the head of the Ladakh Gelukpa sect. the front yard overlooks the Dukhang or the assembly hall and both sides are adorned with paintings of the Guardian of the four directions. The sankar gompa however unlike other monasteries is subject to time restrictions and is open to visitors only between 7:00 am and 10:00 am, or between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm, as the monastery is also the official residence of a few monks of the Gelukpa sect.
Local Places & Sight-seeing around Ladakh
13. Leh Post Office Ladakh – Old-school social media
Spending your summer in Leh? Still hooked onto your facebook and mail accounts for that hour of updates and hellos? Shed the electronic monstrosity and send a few handwritten letters to your loved ones. Disturb not the peaceful equilibrium of the region and visit instead the LCPO or the Ladakh Central Post Office. Now open also to tourists the post office provides tourists and locals to send letters and parcels until late evening. You can also send specially designed picture post cards with delicious descriptions of your holiday to friends back home. If visiting in September you can also be part of the Leh Festival philately exhibition which showcases more than 20,000 rare stamps from India and abroad.
14. Tso Moriri Ladakh – The salty lake
Tso Morori or the salty lake is the largest of the high altitude lakes in the trans-Himalayan region. Studded by Ladakh in the north, Tibet in the east and Zanskar in the west the tso moriri is a surprising piece of magic in the hills. Completely frozen during winter and dazzling in summer, it is home to a wide variety of birds, animals and vegetation. Situated at the end of the Rupshu Valley nearly 250 kms from Leh, it is a brackish lake also known as the lake in the mountains. The first view of the lake, as you drive down the dusty rupshu road is destined to leave you spellbound. The water is so clear and sparkling blue that you can spot the reflections of the mountains right down to the bottom slope. The tso-moriri also doubles up as an ideal camping site with provisions to set up quality and luxury tents. Also, when visiting the Tso-Moriri do not miss the sunset. It’s a promise of something spectacular, one you haven’t witnessed before.
15. Moore Plains Ladakh – A photographer’s heaven
The real photography enthusiasts can indulge in some hard-core landscape photography in the famous Moore Plains lying on road via Pang. Situated on a plateau, it is a wonder for such an expansive flat piece of land to be located at an altitude of 15,400ft. You can also indulge in some fast speed, almost reckless driving here, as the roads are unbelievably even and in great condition. It is advised though to practice safety while exercising bravado and also to definitely make a significant halt to capture some brilliant land-scape and wide angle shots which are bound to impress all.
16. Jama Masjid – The house where the Sufi lives on
Every little bend and every odd turn of the street will lead you to peace and serenity in Ladakh. Let it then also lead you to the Jama(greater) Masjid, nestled in the heart of Leh. The mosque which is a beautiful instance in stone-carved Mughal architecture was constructed in 1666-67 AD following an agreement between Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb and then ruler of Ladakh, Deldan Namgyal. The mosque also houses the Shahi Hamdan memorial dedicated to the much revered Sufi-saitn Mir Syed Ali Hamdani who is believed to have offered prayers at the Jama Masjid.
17. Prayer Wheel Ladakh – Your email to the gods
The mani or prayer-wheels will carry off your prayers to the beyond, when visiting the Buddhist kingdom of Ladakh. A beautifully embossed hollow metal cylinder mounted on a rod handle, the mani contains a mantra-scroll inside and comes attached with a light-weight chain for easy rotation. Each clockwise rotation or mudra evokes 50 blessings. The prayer wheels built for instant salvation can be found in varying sizes all over the country. There are big ones located in central city areas with handles on the left for people whizzing past in cars. Handheld prayer wheels or chokhors are for the ones who want to worship on the move. Also bucket size wooden prayer wheels are lined across all town streets for passed bys.
18. Leh Royal Palace Ladakh – World’s most beautiful office
Reminiscent of the bygone kingdom, the Leh Royal palace is a beautiful specimen of medieval Tibetan temple architecture. Lined with massive buttressed walls and grand wooden corridors, the Leh Royal Palace overlooking the Namgyal Hills evokes a past glory of the bygone era. Located in theHimalayas, one has to traverse a steep uphill climb from the streets to reach it but in all faith it is truly worth it. The palace built by King Singe Namgyal in the 17th century is now the Archaeological Conservation Office for the Government of India. The palace, a gem even though in partial ruins, provides a magnificent view of the snow capped mountains.
19. Zanskar Valley Ladakh – An appointment with self
All those in search of some peaceful time with their loved ones or planning a back-pack trip for that Zen feeling with the universe must follow their heart and spirits to the Zanskar Valley, the most isolated region of Ladakh tour. Located at around 480 kms from Leh and 250 kms from Kargil, the route from Kargil to Padum is the only motor-able road to reach the Zanskar Valley. The valley contains the enchanting Rangdum monastery studded atop a rock-hill right in the middle. A beautiful green and snowy landscape hidden away in the hills, it is also the home to other monasteries like the Suney, Stongdey, Zongkhul, Karsha and Phukta. One can arrange for jeep rides from Leh to the valley.
20. Stok Palace Museum Ladakh – A date with history
Ladakh, the true macrocosm of natural and man-made beauty, should be your destination if you are keen to imbibe in the richness of both. A true nature lover’s paradise, Ladakh is also home to some of the most magnificent monasteries, temples, mosques and palaces. The Stok Palace, home of the royal family of Ladakh, is one such beauty. A short conveyable distance of 14 kms across the Indus river in Leh, the palace is a supreme synthesis of ancient and modern architecture. And you can imbibe the feel of both in the stock palace museum, which houses rare artifacts like royal attires and paraphernalia, copper coins, precious stones, antique royal jewelley and prayer tools. It also, most importantly, showcases the Thangkas depicting the life-teachings of Lord Buddha, dating back to the 16th century.
21. Hall of Fame – A salute to the men who make sure we are safe
On Leh tour, you must definitely make a note of checking out the Ladakhi Hall of Fame, a museum built by the Indian Army. The ladakhi hall of fame houses all war-related memorabilia, mostly relating to the Kargil and the Siachen war. It thus includes poignant biographies of defence-officials, important historic photographs and an extensive armory of weapons; including those used in the Kargil and the Siachen war. Besides exhibiting narratives of the martial life, it also documents and showcases the lifestyle tools and instruments related to use by the native Ladakhi people.
22. Tibetan Market Ladakh – A shopper’s paradise in paradise!
A nature lover’s paradise, Ladakh is also a major-feast for shopaholics. After having your fill of the scenic mountains and the gorgeous lakes, you must head towards the Tibetan Refugee market at Old Leh Road. It is a wonder-land for interesting and rare artifacts; and local goods to quench your cravings for the good things in life. Keen seekers of souvenirs can opt the nine-metal cymbals; jewellery made from un-polished silver or turquoise and chunky shell bangles-a favourite with Ladakhi women. You can also improve your home décor by investing in some ornate rugs and carpets adorned with Kashmiri and Persian embroidery. The lapis lazuli from Afghanistan can also be bought from here at modest bargains. Thangka paintings, semi-precious stone jewellery, small prayer wheels, shawls, stoles and music bowls make for ideal souvenir for the loved ones back home.
23. Tsemo (Victory) Fort – Be on the top of the world
For breathtaking views of the landscape and the valleys, make a climb to the Tsemo Fort on Leh tour. The Tsemo fort or Victory Fort is a structure which is visible from everywhere in Leh. It is a steep and ziz-zag climb, originating from the Chenrezi Lakhang and halting at the Tsemo. The Namgyal Palace also stands tall and close to the Namgyal Tsemo or Victory Fort. Though an exhausting and undulating climb, it can easily be scaled in 15 to 20 minutes at the most. And once atop the fort, you can roam around to take in the breath-taking view of the mountains.
24. Lala’s Art Cafe – perfect place to hangout with friends
After a hard-day’s climb up an enchanting mountain peak or after a long alone time in one of the many beautiful monasteries in Ladakh, you can unwind and feel a little closer to civilization at the Lala’s Art Café in Old Town Leh. The Lala’s Art Café is a quaint tiny mudbrick house, which has been restored as this café. In an almost fairy-tale turn of things, the café is high on stone steps which is a tricky but fascinating climb. The café showcases some amazing black and white soul photography and the entrance has deep carvings downstairs. The café is the perfect place to unwind and catch up with friends after a hard day of fun or better still, to wind up with a book and a giant cup of Italian coffee for some pure guilt free indulgence.
25. Booklovers Retreat – For the bookworms and the rest
Hunting the perfect café to unwind after a hard day of trekking? That book in your back-pack screaming to be read? That perfect poetry in your mind jostling to come out? Well, follow the stars down to Changspa Lane and enter unabashed into the BookLovers retreat café. But don’t worry even if you’re not one. For here they have something for everyone. Affordable food and even decent middle eastern fare for that matter will keep you gastronomically satisfied. Once full and content you can obtain some soul food too and chuck out some books from a two-case tumbly book-shelf or if a book-nerd pull out one of your own.
26. Chamba Gompa – Hauntingly beautiful past, restored to its full glory!
Located in the Nubra Valley in Ladakh is a beautiful monastery atop the hill, named the Chamba Gompa. The monastery overlooks the ruins of a citadel cap on the hill to its left and presents a precious view of the valley from the gompa. The chamba gompa mural work has been diligently restored and it now colourfully adorns the walls and ceilings. In a small ante-chamber inside the monastery enclosure is the two-storey huge statue of Maitreya. The solemn expression on its face radiates a spirit of detachment. The main structure of the monastery, once erected on a mountain top, is now scaffold-ed by massive mud-brick bases. The weathered stairs leading up to the Gompa have now been restored and so have the motifs which adorn the ceiling beams.
27. Druk White Lotus School – Live the 3 Idiots’ life..
On your Leh tour, you must most definitely plan up a visit to the fascinating Druk White Lotus School, also famously but un-officially Amir Khan’s school in the popular Hindi movie, The 3 Idiots. The school is a brilliant initiative to prepare children in their rich cultural traditions while also equipping them with the faculties to face life in the 21st century. The school spreads across a large landscape and is wholly sustained on solar energy. The architectural plan is one to be marveled at. The school was damaged in the August 2010 floods, but has now been restored.
28. KC Garden Restaurant – Dine in the lap of nature
Got lost on that long chilly trip up the hill? Famished and tired? To give your soul some rest and your self some grub, you can check-in to the KC Garden Restaurant off Changspa area in Leh, Ladakh. It is quite intriguingly done in as a tent with comfortable and vibrant seating arrangements what long and podgy divans lining the restaurant. It has family rooms also, where privacy and peace is greatly guaranteed. The food does not fare bad either, with a wide variety of food on offer, besides being decently priced. The restaurant is a happening place to be in Changspa and it also hosts full night moon parties. On odd days, movies are also screened at the restaurant.
29. Chowkhang Gompa – A little corner reserved for self
Want an easy outlet for peace and some quiet amidst the busy hustle of the Ladakh streets? Seek solace in the Chowkhang Gompa, situated right at the busy street centre or the Town Centre. The Chowkhang Gompa is hardly visible but a roving eye and a discerning traveler should follow the main bazaar right till the back and there hidden in the large courtyard behind the main bazaar is the Chowkhang Gompa. It has an unmistakable gilt-roofed prayer room which is delightfully hemmed with hundreds of prayer flags. The Chowkhang Gompa is also the headquarters of the Buddhist Association for Tibet.
30. Ladakh Apricot Store – All things apricot
Indulge your spend-thrift soul in some meaningful shopping at the Ladag Apricot Store. Located at Old Fort Town Centre this is an exquisite store selling pure organic products, produced locally. For the environmentalists and the health conscious, the array of stuff available here is fascinating. You can find anything here ranging from Apricots, Dried Apricots, packed fresh Apricots; all sold by the Brokpa women of the region. You can quench your thirst with some tsestalulu which is a juice made from sea-buckthorn. When in the ladag apricot store, you can not leave unless you have dried the apricot leather, which is an edible sheet prepared by pounding the pulp of dried apricots and then laying them out to dry as sheets.
31. Donkey Sanctuary – Donkey is the man’s best friend
Aiming for a complete spiritual make-over this summer? Head off to Leh tour and get your fill of spirituality, humanitarian-ship and love. Let your kind-intentions rightfully lead you to the Donkey Sanctuary in the Korean Temple in Ladakh. A deeply satisfying activity, this is sure to elevate your trip from a lot more than an ordinary touristy affair. The donkey sanctuary was established in 1996 by a group of young entrepreneur professionals in Ladakh. The semi-rural sanctuary shelters donkeys rescued from mistreatment of abandonment. Fed on a whole some diet of wheat and grass you can also take in a gift of carrots and build up a repertoire with these hapless creatures. The sanctuary situated on the delightful, seldom visited Upper Leh also provides great scenic nourishment.
32. Pashmina factories of Ladakh – See how beauty is made
If Ladakh travel is on your mind don’t forget to pack in a few exquisite pashminas on your way back from the trip. Pashmina shawls made from the soft and warm wool of the Pashmina goat is sure to keep you beautifully warm. But don’t jst stop there but make a trip also to the factories which churn out these delicate shawls and imbibe in the magical process, so that you have beautiful memories to share back home.
33. Pangong Lake – one lake for China, one lake for India…
Lying at a crucial intersection of the Indo-China border lies the Pangong Lake, situated at a staggering altitude of 14,000 feet or 4,267 m. A picturesque and soul numbing view the lake is a long narrow basin of inland drainage hardly six to seven kms at its widest point and over 140kms long. Seven kms along the southern shore from the head of the lake lies the Spangnik, which is also the farthest point to which the foreigners are permitted. The point affords spectacular views of the Changchenmo range and its almost magical gossamer reflection in the ever changing hues of blues and greens of the lakes brackish water. The glaciers and snowcapped peaks of the Pangong range lie directly overhead the Spangnik.
34. Nubra Valley – can you smell the flowers?
The Valley of Flowers or the Nubra Valley rises high above at an altitude of 10,000 ft over sea level.The valley which can be reached by the worlds highest motorable road-the Khardongla pass lying at an altitude of 18380 ft above sea level lying at a stretch of around 50kms away from Leh. The most important attraction of the Nubra Valley is the Bactrian camel ride along the sand dunes leading upto the Deskit and Samstanling monasteries. The camel safari initiating from Deskit to the Hundar village along the ancient silk-route is an experience of a life-time and a must try at-least once for everyone ever planning for Ladakh travel.
35. Winter Birds of Ladakh – the wings of Ladakh…fly…with them?
The region Ladakh being greatly isolated from the ravages of the modern world is home to an exquisite variety of birds like the Golden Eagle, the Black-Necked Crane, the Bar-Headed Goose, the Magpie, the Chukar Partridge, the Snowcock, the Eagle Owl, the Dove, the Grey Heron, the Kestrel, the Osprey, the Fishing Eagle, the Steppe Eagle, the Himalayan Griffon, the Bearded Vulture, the Phalarope, the Wigeon and the Brahminy Duck.
36. Do not miss the BRO Road signs – The best travel guide you can refer to
The BRO or the Border Road Signs are interesting road signs jotted all along the motor-able roads and are a thrilling turn to the boring old milestone routine. The Border Road Signs don’t just show road markers but they list region specific names and locations or forests, animals and birds found in each area as one progresses along the journey. The Border Road Sign also alert travelers with regards to each check-post and army cantonment and are indispensable in knowing barred or prohibited areas or areas inhabited by wildlife.
37. Hot Water Springs in Panamik – Nature’s jacuzzi
A great mystery of nature the hot soaks of Panamik is located 150 kilometers (93 miles) away from Leh and at an altitude of 3183 meters (10,442 feet). Water bubbles constantly emanating from the water soaks is a natural Jacuzzi. The thick mist above the water adds up to the magical aura surrounding the place. The water hotn due to sulphur is a very healthy soak and is bound to rejuvenate your soul and senses. The panamik hotnspring is not very far from the village and only an uphill walk.
38. Drass Valley – the valley of beauty
The drass valley is home to the Brokpas people and the hoem of the beautiful willow trees which line the river Dras. The Dras which rises in the Machoi glacier near the well-known Zozila, forms the valley. The valley which encloses the beautiful mountain town of Dras appears like a bride decked in yellow in summer and in winter is equally beautiful shrouded by a thick cloud of snow. At an altitude of 3,300m the Dras valley is the second coldest peopled place in Asia with temperature falling as low as 40degrees below freezing point in winter. But barring the extremities the Drass is a potent camping base for a 3 day long trek to the Suru valley. The trek is studded with gorgeous upland villages and flower-shrubbery meadows on either sides of the 4500mts Umbala pass. Besides a longer trek to the holy cave of Amarnath in Kashmir the Drass also opens up shorter trek routes to upland villages.
39. Rangdum – the un-explored
Rangdum is an elliptical plateau bisected by the road to Zanskar. Lying en-route to Padum via Kargil the Rangdum is a scarcely penetrated beauty forming an important part of the Jammu and Kashmir tourism. Its virgin existence makes it the abode of rare animal and plant life. Rangdum can be trekked via Sankoo and thereafter proceed onto the trek-route leading onto Henaskut. The rangdum also houses a hill-top monastery, which is an ethereal occurrence right in the middle of the virgin Rangdum expanse.
40. Library Road Vegetable Market Ladakh – India’s own Laedenhall Market
Hate feeling touristy when traveling ? Well here’s a way out for the ones visiting Leh. For those wary of the whole souvenir and asking around rituals, visit the Library road Vegetable Market to imbibe in the local spirit of the place. Located downhill left from Library Road the vegetable market is a magical menagerie of sight, sounds and smell. The vegetable market which sells vegetables of-course displays at-least a hundred various exotic kinds, most you haven never even heard of before. The market is fragrant with the smell of the vegetables and also perfumes and incenses retailed abundantly on the streets. A place directly out of a fantasy wizard’s tale is most accurate place to get lost especially with your loved one.
41. Takthog Gompa – Discover century-old secrets
Tak Thok in Ladakhi translates as ‘rock-roof’. Located in the Shakti village, 46 kms from Leh the Tak Thok monastery is a frtile-ground for myths, tradition and legends. Built around the mid 16th century around a cave the monastery houses the Kandshur-108 volumes of Buddha’s teachings, rare artifacts with deep scared value. The gompa consists of rooms hollowed out of the stone cliff and the wooden entrance of the gompa is actually a front for the cave-Duphu Lhakahan a popular pilgrimage destination. The winter dripping off fro the ceiling when the valley is frozeb during winter, is believed to be sacred and rich with healing properties. The gompa also witnesses annual lama dances dressed as divine chracters which is a sight so rich with colours that a visit to the Tak Thok Gompa is a must.
42. Padum – home of the shy people and friendly children
Padum at 3505m above sea-level and the capital of the ancient kingdom of Zanskar is home to the shyest people but who are extremely gracious and hospitable hosts. At present the administrative headquarters of the region the Padum is a major trekking base and an even popular tourist destination. The area of Padum can also be traversed on foot for some instant divine-air refreshment. If you are good with people and make friends easily then try and befriend the cute little children and you’ll probably end up being a guest of honour at their home. Else you can always rely on the help of the administration or the tourist bureau to facilitate accommodation. The padum is also home to the Karsha monastery-the largest in the Zanskar region.
43. Kargil – the castle in between
Kargil is a synthesis deriving from the words Khar meaning castle and Kil meaning center. Some also derive Kargil from locally used dialect Gar which means anywhere this placing Kargil anywhere between or equidistant from Srinagar, Skardo, Leh and Padum. Kargil populated by 1.25 lakh people is spread over an area of 14,086 Sq. Km. It is situated at a distance of 205 KM from Srinagar towards Leh. Kargil is called the land of Agas in the present day world. It is due to the fact that Kargil is mostly inhabited by Shia Muslims and Agas are the religious head and preachers. The land of Kargil today houses a multi-ethnic and colorful breed of people.
Activities to indulge in on Ladakh travel tour
44. Summer Holidays cycle trips – India’s Tour de France
Shed all inhibitions of a safe and comfortable ride and embark instead, on an adventurous cross-country cycling trip across Ladakh. A great adrenaline pumping exercise, you can cycle down from Leh to Alchi, Hemis or through the Khardungla Pass. You must be a pretty decent biker and don’t set off if you have just been through a week of cycling experimentation. For the rest, you will love the journey through the various routes because the roads are 80% more easily commutable being paved and evened. Even the distance at one stretch is not long and burdensome and once you have hauled up your luggage and gears in a support car, you can easily glide on, taking in the breathtaking sight of the Himalayas. A definite divine experience and a must-try for all those who want to feel alive and one with the hills.
45. KhardungLa Pass – the pathway to the clouds
The Khardung Pass is the gateway to the Nubra and the Shyok Valleys. Located in leh, in Jammu and Kashmir, India the Khardung Pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 5602m above sea level and lies at a close of 37 km by road from Leh-north. Visitors to the pass require an inner line permit to cross or visit Khardung La. The weather here however is a harsh and pretty inhospitable and pretty non-commutable due to the winter build up of snow. But that being said, the shortcomings are easily compensated by the jaw-dropping views of the deep valleys and the short-narrow twisting roads affords a pretty thrilling experience- a truly over the top feeling, maybe? Visitors to the Khardung pass, must in no case miss relishing some tea and a steaming bowl of hot noodles at North Pullu.
46. Zanskar River Rafting – Beat the heat with some daredevilry
The crowning jewel of all river-rafting expeditions the Zanskar River Rafting is one of the best in the world. Passing through steep river-carved gorges the Zanskar is also referred as the Grand Canyon of Asia. The river graded as class IV passes through treacherous terrains of Ladakh. The river water is a chilly wetness of around 7degree Celsius and the river freezes completely during winter and is used as a trade route by the native Zanskaris. Amazing right?
47. Biking to Khardungla – Live the motorcycle diaries
The land of Passes- the land of Ladakh is beckoning you this winter. But your ways of approach, may they be a tad different. Why don’t you try biking up to Khardungla trailing past the white-caps of the Himalaya, Karakoram Range, Zanskar and Stok range. Ride atop your hardy Royal Enfields and make this an adventure of a well-lived lifetime. En-route make dramatic halts into the un-disturbed villages, make friends, make memories and give yourself the thrill to sustain all long and drab office hours. Give yourself the amazing trip of biking to Ladakh via Khardungla and barter for your spirit a push closer to the ultimate…
48. Indus River Rafting – Go head to head with the rapids, if you are brave enough!
Flowing across the north west to the south east and passing through Ladakh to enter Pakistan the Indus River or the Singhe Khababs-out of the Lion’s mouth has electrically high white-water levels during the month of June and late August-this affords ideal conditions for exciting rafting expeditions. The popular rafting points are from Phey to Nimo and also from Upshi to Kharu or from Upshi to Nimo. Other points of rafting are Phey to Saspol or Phey to the Indus – Zanskar confluence at Nimo and from Nimo to the historical monastic enclave of Alchi, about 75 Kms west of Leh.
49. Cycling to Khardungla – Revisit the silk route in style
Trace down the foot-steps of history and be a part of the legend this summer and cycle up to the Khardungla traversing the ancient Silk-route and re-invoke the magic of lost adventurers. Quit being the passive prisoner in a car-seat and tighten the noose on life. Cut through the body-splitting winds, take in the breeze and smell the mountains; de-code the secrets of these ancient landforms as the whisper their secrets to you. Take on a back-pack, haul up a hardy bicycle and embark on this journey to edge you closer to life and not just a series of accidental breaths interspersing the daily monotony of life.
50. Yak Safari – Travel in style
This summer while on Ladakh tour plan a date with the humble Yak and plan your own Yak Safari. Be its friend on its back and explore Ladakh travel more intimately more closely. The yak-dong is the largest animal of the cold desert and with its handsome coat of fur makes for brilliant snaps. The slow ride takes you deeply into the rugged interiors of Ladakh and glide past giant peaks. The ride is assure to transport you back in time when the world was a quiter place and the desert of Ladakh was servile to the mercy of this huge and humble beast…
51. Camel Safari – see you aboard the Titanic of the Desert…Land Ahoy
Ladakh is indeed the land of many surprises. Many landforms, mountains, rivers and most interestingly the desert-converge here. Make most of your desert experience by embarking onto an enchanting Camel Safari into the chilly deserts of Ladakh. The humpy camel-ride gives you a one on one view of the valleys and makes you more one with the magical surroundings. In Nubra you can ride atop gorgeous Bactrian camels upto the Panamic village. The camel ride is sure to make your memories brighter and your dreams livelier, even long after vacating the valley the ride will haunt your sleep with beauty…
52. Magnetic Hill – Save petrol, you don’t need it
The magnetic Hill as the name suggests is a high-magnetic stretch of land and the hill, the Magnetic Hill close to Leh. While on your way, in a car you can drive with the cars ignition off-unbelivable? Yes. The magnetic pull allows cars to move up to a speed of 2okm/hr with your engines off. The hill is situated off the Leh-Kargil-Baltic National Highway at a distance of 30kms from the town of Leh at a staggering 14,000 feet above sea level.
53. Paragliding in Ladakh – A bird eye’s view to heaven!
Climb onto the adventure wagon and own the clear blue sky-cut through it and paraglide from the Khardong which is the highest motorable road in the world. The sport is already a popular tournament-sport and attracts aficionados from all across the globe. The sport was first introduced in 1996-97 by the Indus Himalayan Explorers during the Ladakh Festival. Before taking up the ropes, one must acquaint oneself with the basics of paragliding in a short preparatory course available at the institute and then you’ll be ready to take on the world.
54. Jeep Safari – Indiana Jones would have definitely been game for this…
Inaugurate your Ladakh travel on the Jeep Safri. Open to tourists between July and October the Jeep Safari passes upto the Suru Valley arriving at Zanskar. Then pass through the PensiLa the 5,000 sq km vast expanse of concentrated mountains and long valleys of Zanskar. On your trip also don’t miss the Karsha, the monastery at Karsha and Zangla. The jeep safari is available to commuters on all motorable roads, even the highest rising as above 5000m above sea level
55. Skiing – Warning! This is very addictive.
The exhilarating sport of Skiing was the first adventure sport introduced in the Trans Himalayan region to quench demands of an ever-population adventure tourist base. The sport of skiing should be best pursued in the months starting from mid January to late march. The following are some popular skiing routes in the region of Ladakh.Panikhar to Kanji, Drass to Sonamark, Golab Kangri Ski Down Expedition, Nemaling Ski Down Expedition, Igloo Camp and Rocket Trek, Lamochen Ski Down Expedition and the Zanskar Ski Down Expedition.
56.Take a photograph with ZOMO – something you can’t do anywhere else in the world!
There are exotic species of animals, and then there is a Zomo. The female offspring of a cow and Yak, it does offer an interesting photo opportunity. Combine with it the enchanting landscapes of Ladakh and you have a perfect picture to adorn your scrapbook.
57. Kayaking – As if trekking was not enough
The two main rivers of Ladakh, the Indus and the Zanskar are perfect opportunities for a kayaking expedition. Spituk-on the bank of the Indus, is the starting point for river rafting in Ladakh. Rafting to Saspol is a highly recommended activity to take in the full splendour of the Indus Valley. Since most rivers are frozen during winter it’s best to book a trip in summer preferably between August and September. So this summer, fasten your seat-belts-take the high-rad and go kayaking in Ladakh.
58. Horse Polo – Play royally
The Ladakh Festival held during the first fifteen days of September is an event hardly seconed elsewhere. The entire region of Ladakh is bedecked with symbols, prayer flags and adornments, presenting a stimulating synthesis of Buddhist and Muslim cultures. It is during this time that the plains and the valley are shook up under the hooves of well-manicured horses during the horse-polo tournament, which is a treat to the visual senses and charges up the adrenaline flow throughout ones system.
59. Snow leopard sighting in Ladakh – Come face to face with one of the most beautiful creatures of nature.
The Snow Leopard safari is the search-hunt for a glimpse- of the now soon disappearing species. The snow leopards as fierce as they are beautiful are elusive predators and it is difficult to track them down unless you are guided by an informed safari operation. The safari is also highly educational and proceeds from the safari go into sustaining the local communities and critically endangered creatures through the Snow Leopard Trust.
60. Photography in Ladakh – Click till you drop!
For all photography enthusiasts the photography tours in Ladakh is just the thing for you. The chief attraction being the Korzog Dostur festival you can also prop up myour cameras for the annual Ladakh festivals and various other such traditional annual events. The region of Ladakh offers the taste of three different landscapes-the desert-the mountain and the river all in one and this makes for one sweet adventure to click a world of landscape in one single trip.
61. Ladakh Handicrafts
The handicrafts at Ladakh emanate principally as a cottage industry to sustain local communities and provide them with a livelihood. Wooden and stone utensils, tea-pots and cups, puttus and baskets hookah bases and tea-stands are some of the articles churned out locally. One interesting artifact is the Pattu or a warm fabric basket which is gorgeous. It also makes for an ideal gift for people back home as also a precious personal keepsake.
62. Star Gazing in Ladakh
Now you can literally gaze at the stars and achieve your life’s desire indulging in the most fantastical activity you’ve ever dreamt of as a child. The clear skies make for the perfect canvas to view stars. Your dreams will soon be reality when you visit the Pangong Lake, near Line of Actual Control on the Sino-Indian divide, where the Science and Technology department is installing the largest telescope of the world. The site at Merak offers long sunshine hours and a clear and pollution free night-sky which makes for the perfect setting to indulge in the perfect romance of watching stars and letting dreams turn into reality.
63. Truck ride from Leh to Manali – Filmy hai boss!
Go completely filmy on your next Ladakh tour and board a truck to rude into Manali from Ladakh. The trucks ply the routes when they open in summer. Traversing the 490km journey in a cab of one of these trucks is an experience not easily weathered. The journey will take up 3 days of your trip but it is an adventure in itself to move around-travel with locals and eat the same food and breath the same air. Next time shed all inhibitions and the affections of mr.fancy pants and take up the rugged truck ride to travel with panache.
[Check out our Manali to Leh tour guide]
64. Visit Ladakh in Winter – Ice is Nice!
To race on frozen rivers and gape at mountains dressed in white-like brides for a wedding-schedule your trip to the Himalayan region of Ladakh in winter. Be ready for some major brain-freeze but the trip will no doubt be totally worth it as most of the mountain-scape remains shrouded in winter and the sun trickling down the mountain slopes makes for an enchanting experience. Besides you can experience snow-fall on a dreamy evening fall in love with your loved one all over again.
65. Village visit – earthy beauty!
Trek or trudge on foot through hidden and exotic locales amidst valley and hidden gorges amidst mountains and halt on the way in any of the scenic villages scattered on either sides of the highways. The villages in Ladakh evoke the charm of being in a fairy land and place you immediately beyond reality. The shy people are a charm to befriend for when opened up they exude the warmest of hospitality and welcome. To make more of your village experience stay in any of the home stays to acquaint yourself better to the culture of the beautiful people.
66. Take pictures while on flight over Ladakh – your kodak moment
The confluence of multiple landscapes, mountain-scapes, river scapes and desertscapes make for fascinating overhead photographic shots while on board a flight to Ladakh. sit close to the window and click panoramic bird’s eyes view shots of the surprisingly even and occasionally undulating landscape of the region. the mountains and the vast stretches of plain motorable roads carved within the mountains make for an interesting contouring of the plateau ground which appears almost artificially manufactured with such precise and sharp cuts of the valleys, the gorges and the steep gravity defying hill and mountain passes.
67. Sunset from Shanti Stupa – Pure bliss
The shanti stupa or the Japanese Pagoda is a white domed structure located in Changspa. The stupa constructed by the Japanese commemorating 2500 years of Buddhism is a beautiful and sleek white domed pagoda-looks almost like porcelain and reflects of sunrays marvelously over its white flawless structure. The pagoda offers a beautiful view for sunrise and looks magical during sunset when the comes to life with the vast canvas of the sun as backdrop.
68. Sip a Butter tea – a tasty medicine..
Always imagined of having the butter-beer with Harry Potter at Hogwarts? Well now you can inch closer to your wizard-world dreams by sipping on some rare butter tea when in Ladakh. also known as the Po Cha the butter tea is a hot beverage made with tea-leaves, yak-butter and salt. Locals drink it as a way of live and nomads are said to consume around 40 cups of butter tea everyday. The tea is a primary source of calorific value to combat the chill weather conditions and to keep oneself cosy during a snow-storm.
69. Visit HAWS – The school where men are trained
The HAWS or the The High Altitude Warfare School is a must visit when entering Gulmarg via Ladakh. located in Gulmarg the HAWS is a specialist academy set up to train soldiers in mountain warfare and alpine warfare. The haws also has mention in history as the Russian troops also trained at the High Altitude Warfare School in Gulmarg for operations in Chechnya. For the ones in search for adventure and thrill to make a point to visit the HAWS and take a lesson or teo in Alpine warfare yourself.
70. Volunteering Ladakh – Do something good this vacation
Ladakh is a picturesque plateau, the highest in Jammu and Kashmir and the most coveted vacation and adventure spot in India. Those thinking of vacationing here, plan better and volunteer instead. Raise up money instead of spending and work also towards a cause while romancing th view of the mountains. A region completely isolated from the humdrum of the modern world, you can take up various volunteering positions the most popular and constructive being teaching. Still inching towards complete literacy you can contribute your bit to the beauty by enrolling as a teacher in any mountain school.
71. Wish Juley to Ladakhi’s – Whassup!!!!
When in Rome, do as Romans do. Thus taking a lesson from this when on Ladakh travel do as the Ladakhis do and wish them Juley. Juley is the common courtesy to greet natives with a hello and this increases your chances of building a better camaraderie with the sweet but shy Ladakhis. So the next trip planned to the magical realms of Ladakh must also be your tryst with acqaunting yourself to a foreign land, which can be all the more simpler all with the help of a simple Juley.
Amazing treks in Ladakh
72. Jhunglam Trek – brave-hearts only. Please!
If your blood is thirsty for some gutsy and hard-core trekking try out the capacities of the Jhunglam trek this holiday season. Built for the hardy and not so faint-hearted it an adrenaline pumping, gut-rushing adventure over-kill and takes into the depth of wilderness. The Jhunglam trek best traversed in the period between August to October starts from the colourful Hemis monastery entering into Markah Valley and crossing over to Zanskar via Jhunglam.
73. Spituk Stok – U Rating-safe for all
Bitten by the adventure bug? But you do not fit the bill for hard-core trekking? But does it mean you are the one destined for the no-entry trekking zone? Well, of-course not. Pack all your trekking paraphernalia and plan that dream trekking trip to Spituk-Stok, which promises maximum thrill at half the risk. The spituk-stok is an easily traversable trek for people of all ages and caliber and packs in all the fun of a mega-trying trek. The trek route extends from extends from Leh to spituk by jeep and then foot-trudge to Kandla via Zingchen and Larsta. The Stok Pass lying at an altitude of 4900m is the highest point of the trek.
74. Kang Lat Se Trek – floating above…far far above
Explore the un-explored virgin hidden valley on board the Kang Lat Se Trek from Chame heading upto the Annapurna trek. The Kangla pass lying at a staggering 5100m above sea-level must be crossed for breath-taking eastern views of the Chulu East joining the main Annapurna trail. The trek-route also overlooks the Nar and Phu villages with the Himalayas propped up as a massive back-drop. For the seekers of peace amidst the wilderness the trek-route is also occasionally dotted with monasteries dedicated to the Nyingmapa sect.
75. Lamayuru Zanskar Trek – enter at your own risk
For the lion-hearted this is the adventure of a life-time. Battle nature and tame the wilds on the Lamayuru Zanskar Trek a 14-20kms of hardy trudge propped alongside with heavenly mountain views. The trek emerging from the Western Himalayas links Darcha in Lahaul with Padum in Zanskar and Lamayuru in Ladakh. the trek is animated with the occasional stations of peace like the Phuktal monastery built under a huge cave, Sani Gompa, Mani Gompa, Burdan Gompa, Karsha Gompa, Lingshed Gompa and the Lamayuru Gompa. The highest point of this region will lead you 5100m.
76. Tsomoriri Rumtse Trek – walk up to the Korzoks
This summer plan the trip of a life-time and meet up some nomads in the high Rupshu plateaus across the rolling mountains. The barren region with scarce humanity is consequently home to some fascinating wild-life including the Ass Kiang, Himalayan Marmot, Tibetan Antelope, and Himalayan Ibex. The route crosses over high passes and is studded by the great saline lakes of Tso Kar, and Tso Moriri ending course in the Nomads village of Korzok. Time best suited to imbibe in the complete worth of the trek one must try and plan a landing somewhere between June and September.
77. Lamayuru Alchi Trek – say a quick prayer at the Alchi Gompa
The lamayuru Alchi trek consummates your journey upon the Yung-Drung/ Swastika the oldest surviving monastery in Ladakh. The Alchi monastery lying 69kms west of Leh is the largest and most celebrated Gonpa built by Rinchen Zangpo. With the Gonpa as lead initiates the Lamayuru Alchi trek. The trek is inclusive of the Ripchar and Indus Valley region and has a minimum traversable altitude of 4900m. The trek varies between easy to moderat and thus can accommodate amateurs as well. Planning a trip, do it between June and October.
78. Stok Kangri Trek – designed to thrill
Follow this unusual high route to Stok Kangri Base Camp a 3 day trudge up the mountain with campsites spread as far Tibet and the Eastern Karakoram range. Though apparently a simple gamble but still the Stok Kangri Trek leaves no stone un-turned to quench your craving for some real dense adventure this holiday season. Though decently straightforward the Stok Kangri Trek is utterly a super adrenaline junkies delight as it appropriates an ideal first time trip to the Himalayas across picture-perfect villages and sharp angled elevations. This trip is a must trek and specially recommended for first time brave-hearts. The stok Kangri at 20075ft brilliantly etches out into the southern skyline.
79. Sabu Nubra Valley – Test your endurance
The Nubra Valley or the beautiful Valley of Flowers is placed north of Leh and props up the villages of Khardong, Khalsar and Deskit. The Sabu Nubra valley, honestly and practically so is not for the faint-hearted. So if you’re been recently in initiated into the cult of the high-machismo trekking environ, please don’t’ take a risk. For the rest, the rugged hill-boys and girls the Sau Nubra is a highly demanding trek-route placed at more than 4500m above sea level, with two passes, the Digar La and Lasermo La both towering higher than 5000m above sea-base. Besides affording spectacular camping base, the valley also presents for the spiritually inclined a rejuvenation point at the Phyang Monastery.
80. Parang La Trek – Walk amidst beauty!
Catch sight of soul-numbing views of the mountain at the mouth of the Pare Chu River on your way to the Parang La Trek. One of the most demanded trekking tours the skyward pilgrimage traverses to the Parang La pass-18,300ft via Kaza into Ladakh. The route traces the historic trade-route between Ladakh and Spiti looking down on steep gorges cut through by drastically sharp deserts, opening up into the high Tibetan Plateau curtaining up into Ladakh. The trek reaches the point of ultimate catharsis at the Tsomoriri Lake which gives you a taste of the pleasures of heaven while still alive. Trust me; the view will make you weep.
81. Markha Valley Trek – Trek at an insane height
The trek through Markha Valley along the Markha River through Little Tibet is one among the rare highest inhabited plateaus in the world. Sprawling across the region of Ladakh in the Himalaya it is a moderately trying trek taking trekkers upto a height of 5200 mts/17055 ft. the major high-point of the trip is camping at the base of the Kang-Yutze peak on the plains of Nimaling. To reach it however you’ll have to journey across the passes triumvirate- Stok La 4848 mts, Kongmaru La 5274 mts, Gandla 4878 mts-all along the banks of the Markha river.
[Wanna go on a thrilling Markha Valley Trek with Stok Kangri Climb]
82. Chadar Trek – Trek of a lifetime
Embark on a journey-the Chadar Trek-to be blessed by the experience of a lifetime. This because, it primarily involves walking along a river of ice, the frozen river of Zanskar which appropriates to it the name of the frozen sheet or the Chadar trek. Becoming thus a sheet of ice the Zanskaris have used the ice-path as a major trade-route for centuries. If walking on glass, atop centuries of water frozen beneath your feet interests you then the Chadar Trek is the right deal to break this holiday season. Seated at an altitude of 3850 mts/12628 ft the Chadar trek will sure give you goosebumps and memories to last a lifetime…
Festivals of Ladakh
83. Hemis Festival – The grandest birthday party ever!
To imbibe in the culture of Ladakh when there for a vacation or an adventure trip, its always a plus to participate or witness popular local festivals. The hemis festival presents one such opportunity. Held in June or July every year, it is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Guru Padmasambhava who founded Tantric Buddhism in Tibet. The festival is organised in the 300 year old Buddhist monastery of Hemis Jangchub Choling near Leh. This is the biggest Gompa in the region pf Ladakh. The festival witnesses a masked dance performed by lamas, a metaphorical re-telling of the fable depicting the victory of good over evil.
84. Gustor Festival at Hiksey, Spituk and Karsha – A celebration of Good defeating Evil.
The Gustor festival is a two day long cultural extravaganza which marks essentially the victory of good over evil and the mythical re-ordering of balance and divine equilibrium. The Gustor festival is celebrated in Hiksey, Spituk and Karsha on different days of the month destined for celebration. The celebration involves masked dance performances invoking various guardian spirits and deities, protectors, Gods and goddesses. The gustor festival also involves a symbolic assassination of evils and the traditional burning of the effigy of evils.
85. Ladakh Festival – The best way to learn about Ladakh
The month of September, or precisely the first week stretching fro 1-15th September each year is reserved for the grand Ladakh festival. Primarily an initiative of the tourism board of Jammu and Kashmir it as a practice for fostering the rich ladakhi culture through various dance performances, polo and archery competitions. Various cultural troupes participate in the event also marked by vibrant masked dance performances. This also precedes numerous musical concerts and dance programmes, all of which are organised to draw in not only the local but national and international crowds and to highlight the vast and varying richness of Ladakh far and wide.
86. Losar Festival – Happy New Year
Losar or the Tibetan New Year is held to commemorate the 17th expedition of King Jamyang Namgyal against the forces of Baltistan in winter, who decided thus to celebrate the festival two months before the actual New Year. It now has transpired into a tradition of the eleventh month, when it is celebrated with much pomp and splendour. The festival lasts around a month. Ibex, an important symbolic image is painted on walls and houses, which is believed to bring in good fortune.
87. Sindhu Darshan Festival (Indus Festival) – In honour of the brave men who guard our lives.
The Sindhu Darshan Festival or the Indus festival is celebrated on the bank of the Indus river between the 1st and 3rd of June in Shey Manla. The festival was first organised in October 1997 to strengthen communal harmony, unity and national integration. The festival is in commemoration of all brave defence personnels, soldiers and army men who have been battling human and natural calamities. The festival, panning over three days in june, comprises of traditional costume dances and witnesses participation of people across religious sects.
88. Lamayuru Festival – The merry masked monks…
The Lamayuru festival, held in mid july-august is as colourful as any other festival performed in Ladakh and on a much grander scale. A must see on Ladakh travel trip during these months, the Lamayuru Yuru Kab-Gyat festival is organised at the Lamayuru monastery, also the oldest monastery in the region of Ladakh. The festival spans over two days and presents an array of sacred dances and other traditional rituals performed by lamas in masks, representing the guardian deities from he Dri-gung-pa monastic order. The scenic splendour of the monastery, the beautiful moon-land surroundings of the remote village high above adds on to the whole ambience overlooking the Lamayuru Gompa precariously positioned atop a steep hill.
89. Phyang Festival – the colourful dance of colours…
In mid July and early August, roughly the 5th month in the Tibetan calendar, the Phiyang Festival is celebrated with much pomp and gaiety. The phiyang festival also know as the Phiyang Tsedup witnesses colourful dances performed by monks from different monasteries. It is the spectacle of a lifetime with dancers adorned in colorful traditional costumes and masked with the face of deities. The main attraction of the Phiyang Festival however is the unveiling of the Thangka of Skyoba Giksten Gonbo, which is exhibited at the courtyard during the festival.
90. Yuru Kabgyat – In the name of peace!
The Yuru Kabgyat is a monastic festival to ward off disaster and establish peace and harmony in the world. The Yuru Kabgyat festival in celebrated in July and held at the Lamayuru monastery, which lies at a distance of 125 kms from Leh. Like most other festivals in Ladakh, the Yuru Kabgyat is also marked by masked dance performances by monks who dance and perform rituals to invoke the good spirits. The aim is to keep all disaster and calamities at bay and to invoke the spirits of the blessed to inculcate peace in the world.
91. Stok Guru Tsechu – God’s long distance call
The first month of the Tibetan calendar or February, marks the celebration of the Stok Gruru Tsechu festival. The festival is celebrated chiefly by the monks of Stok and Spituk monasteries and carries on for two whole days. In that time, colourful and traditional dances are performed. The festival is also highlighted by the presence of two oracles, laymen from the same villages, who are prepared and initiated into the art by the monks, to convene communication with the spirit of deities and the divine. The festival is held generally a week before the matho narang.
92. Matho Nagrang – Where Gods and Goddesses dance!
If you are planning Ladakh tour in February, you must plan to witness the 2-days long Matho Narang Festival held on the 15th day of the first month of the Tibetan calendar. The festival is held at the Matho monastery of the Sakya School of Tibetan Buddhism. The two long days feature dances by monks in bright and colourful silk-brocade robes and masked in forms of different Gods and Godesses. The festival is also marked famously for the appearance of two oracles accompanied by dancers who come out into the open after a month of mediation in complete isolation. People from far and wide attend the festival primarily to seek advice of rituals and disaster management.
93. Dosmochey – Celebrating the victory of Good over Evil!
The Dosmochey Festival in Laddakh is a great even to witness and plan your trip for, Celebrated in Leh-Leh Palce, Liker-Lower Ladakh and Deskit-Nubra Valley monasteries in February t makes for a marvelous winter spectacle. Among them the most celebrated is the Leh Dosmochey festival which continue for two days in the courtyards of the Leh Palace. It is timed to coincide the start and the end of the Tibetan New Year it includes the Chams performance by monks from different monasteries every year. It is in essence a festival re-creating the mythical good versus evil confrontation of legends and fairy-tales but as significant still.
Food, Culture and other things
94. Ladakhi Food – Need we say more?
Ladakh-the home of everything beautiful in nature and architecture-also has an impressive array of delectable grubs-most of them now available as popular fast-foods all around the world. Banking mostly on organically produced goods and dairy-products the Ladakhi menu will leave you satisfied but still its repertoire wouldn’t be complete. Favourite and the most well know have to be the Thukpa, momos, Laksa, Phalley and a variety of noodle and soup based preparations always served up in amazing combinations of condiments and sauces. The fiery chilly sauce is one such recurrence. Ladakh is also a famous for freshly baked good served often with Apricotn Jam. You can check out the following restaurants to get the taste and feel of the food…Himalaya Café – for good Tibetan fare, Shangri La – offers Korean cuisine, Budshah Inn – offers Chinese and Kashmiri cuisine, Dreamland Restaurant – offers Tibetan, Kashmiri, Indian and Italian food, Penguin Bar and Restaurant – has a German Bakery with a wide choice of baked goods, Mentokling Restaurant – offers pizzas cooked over a traditional wood-fired oven Pumpernickel German Bakery – offers lasagna and a fixed-price breakfast, as well as picnic meals.
95. Art & Culture – There’s a lot to be learnt in Ladakh
A state of many virtues the steepm plateau region of Ladakh is a place thriving with a rich artistic and cultural vibe. The old and ancient monasteries are excellent specimens of century old Tibetan architecture. The monasteries are also important educational, cultural and spiritual centers accommodating people from across all religion, sect and creed. The natives are shy but extremely hospitable. Buddhist philosophies reign strong in the cool and composed disposition of the Ladakis. The region also harbours sports like horse-pole, archery. The annual festivals of Ladakh must not be missed when visiting to witness the masked-dance performances-a shown in spectacular awesomeness.
96. Ladakh Homestays – Come home to ladakh
Now come truly home to Land of Ladakh and feel at peace with the environment by making your stay not only fun but also worthwhile. The homestays allows you thr favour to do just that, and combines travel-tourism and ecological betterment in on unparalleled experience. Now avail of the homestays to share the culture first hand in close company of the native Ladakhis. Stay with the natives and better their conditions by paying rent and enjoying Ladakhi hospitality and home-cooked food.
97. Thukpa – Food fit for gods!
The thukpa is the much known and greatly favoured flat noodle soup dish which is also un-offically the official food of Tibet and Ladakh. famous and much revered by locals and tourists alike the thukpa is a flat noodle dish-boiled-served with a chicken, vegetable, beef or pork broth with meats, vegetable and other condiments. The thukpa which is quite a bowlful packs in the perfect carbs and calories to see you through the cold atmosphere of Ladakh and instills a warm fuzziness in your body-filling you with content and a happy smile after each serving.
[Wanna know in details about Leh Ladakh tour]
98. German Bakery – A quick bite, new friends, lots of gossip..Ah! Bliss!
Located in the busy Old Fort road in Leh the German Bakery is an outlet of a larger chain operating in wide locations all over India. The pumpernickel german bakery located in the main bazaar is a travelers delight to catch up on a quick bite and some gossip. Once here, you must try out a great slice of apple pie or lemon tart. Travellers can opt for their breakfast here or even a lunch o dinner with a lasagne or sandwiches. When visiting the bakery, be aware of giving the pastries a must try for that perfect sweet ending to a sweet rendezvous.