Some parts of this lake are in Tibet and China. Covering a total surface area of 600 square kilometres, this lake remains frozen during the winters. Being a saline water landlocked water body, the brackish water of the lake ensures that there is not much aquatic life. You can find a handful of crustacean species and a lot of exotic birds around the lake. One can also go for camping around Pangong Lake as there are few amazing camps around the lake.
There are a plenitude of gulls and ducks that visit the peripheries of the Pangong Lake. If you are visiting during the summer you can see rare species such as Brahmin ducks and bar-headed goose. Out of all the things to do in Ladakh tour, exploring the habitats around the lake takes you to the areas where endangered wildlife such as Kiang and Marmot thrive.
Also called the gravity hill, this region has magnetic properties. The magnetism is potent enough to pull vehicles uphill. Even the passing aircraft increase their elevation from the ground to escape this magnetism. Many people believe that there is indeed an invisible force pervading the Magnetic Hill.
Located on the national highway connecting Leh, Kargil and Srinagar this place is about 11,000 feet above sea level. It is a popular spot for tourists given the legend behind it. When on a trip to Ladakh you could be the next one attracted to the Magnetic Hill not because of its magnetic properties but astonishing scenery as well!
Check out our Srinagar to Leh guide that will help you make your journey more enjoyable.
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Visit Thiksey Monastery
Also called Thikse Gompa, this is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery located about 18km east of Leh and is situated at an altitude of 3,600m. A 12-storey building, there are many items pertaining to Buddhism: paintings, ancient scriptures, swords and statues. It is one of the most famous and popular monasteries in Ladakh.
Built in the 15th century, the assembly hall of this structure is the primary attraction. Inside this wall, their various murals depicting the Wheel of Life. Within the complex, you can also visit the Tara Temple and see the 21 images dedicated to goddess Tara within the building.
Biking Trip around Ladakh
Biking is a creative way to explore amazing backdrops of Ladakh. It is an adrenaline rushing activity and the trails here are considered to be the Holy Grail of all biking trails during your Ladakh Trip. You will be thrilled to bits as you pass through high mountain passes of Ladakh on your bike. The views from these high-rise regions are simply breathtaking. Be in awe and admiration at the unique ecosystem that pervades such regions.
Reclaim your energies as you pass through the Lahaul Valley and cocooned by a wealth of nature-architected splendours. Cool your nerves and settle down in excitement with hot momos and thupka soup at a roadside eatery. Enjoy the biking expedition in Ladakh and feel the free-spirit inside you come out in undulating form.
Cycling on Khardung La
The Khardung La pass is considered to one of the highest roads in the world. Located at 5,633 meters, this route is the gateway to the beautiful Nubra Valley and cycling in this routes is a must on a trip to Ladakh.
Your cycling begins from Leh and you will cover a distance of around 40km. The final 15km to the pass really needs some cycling skills and can take you a considerable amount of time to cover! But once you get to the road of the Khardung La, the effort is worth it. You are treated to amazing views and most of which are fascinating as well as equally captivating.
Here is the guide of Manali to Leh that you should not miss to check out to make your trip amazing.
Go for Trekking in Markha Valley
The Markha Valley is a remote stretch of land cocooned by gigantic mountains. This trekking terrain in Ladakh offers enthusiasts the time of their lives. The spectacular scenery, rugged terrain and sightings of blue sheep and ibex along the way make it for a memorable trek.
The trekking trail passes through the Hemis National Park and along the way you will come across several streams and rivers. You can climb through gorges and walk beside barley and mustard plantations. Along the way you can also visit a mystical Ladakhi village, nestled quietly amidst divine setting.
Might sound hard to believe, but camels or the ship of the desert are also a major source of transportation to navigate some parts of Ladakh. Since ancient times, camels have been deployed in action along with Yaks for people to traverse high ascents. Camel Safari in Ladakh is a fun activity with beautiful sightseeing around.
Also referred to as the valley of flowers, Nubra Valley is amongst the enchanting valleys in the world. As part of things to do in Ladakh, on a camel safari through this region, you will explore the spectacular landscapes on a camel back. There are numerous double humped camels, also called as Bactarian camels that transport visitors through this valley.
Volunteering in Ladakh
You can take part in volunteering programs conducted by non-profit government organizations in Ladakh. These organizations look for volunteers either on a temporary or permanent basis to carry out daily tasks. You can be part of their activities during your Ladakh trip.
In your own small way you can make a large difference to the lives of the local people. Some of the NGOs are taking efforts to preserve the unique cultural identity of the people that is getting changed due to Western influence. You can participate in such cultural restoration programs and also understand how the people here carry out their daily lives.
We get you the list of best hotels in Leh where you can have a comfortable and sweet stay.
Snow Leopard Sighting at Hemis National Park
Unlike other predators that hunt based on hunger, this predator kills many preys at once and stores them to be eaten over a period of time.
Rafting & Kayaking in Indus River
The best time for this activity is between June and August. There are numerous rafting and kayaking tours conducted on the Indus River during this time. Originating from Pakistan, this river flows through some parts of Northern India and also offers quite a few exhilarating rapids for rafting and kayaking.
While on a rafting expedition in Ladakh, you can also witness and enjoy the stunning views along the riverbanks. Well, if you are in the mood of extreme fun and adventure, you can opt to cruise through rapids called Alchi and Khalsi.
Visit Druk White Lotus School
Located in Shey, this school is an award-winning educational institution. The school imparts education and is also focused on retaining and enduring the strong cultural identity of Ladakh and its people. Besides academic education, students are also spiritual education in the form of religious discourses.
Lessons of Tibetan Buddhism holds the most primal place in the course of learning. In addition to Ladakhi, English is also aptly spoken within this institute.
Check out our guide of Delhi to Leh and make your trip to Ladakh the best experience of your life.
Located in Changthang and amongst the high altitude lakes in Ladakh, Tso Moriri is oligotrophic water body. The best time to visit the lake is during the summer. Home to many endangered and rare species of birds, one can easily spot black necked cranes, bar headed geese and such rare birds here during your trip to Ladakh. There are various camps found around Tso Moriri Lake that attract various tourist.
The forests around the lake are home to the Tibetan gazelle, Himalayan blue sheep, marmot and several such species that are native to this region. If you go deep into the jungle adjoining this lake, you might spot snow leopards and Tibetan wolves.
After the endless mountain peaks, green valleys, high passes, monasteries in Ladakh are the prime factors behind the huge number of visitors to the paradise every year. Alchi Monastery, a group of Buddhist shrines is now a remarkable landmark and a must visit tourist attraction in Leh. The rugged valleys, uneven mountain terrains etc are creating a flamboyant view from the monastery and make the travelers feel elevated. Alchi is a part of the three villages that together constitute to the Alchi Group of Monuments.
Alchi Monastery and its current guardians are grateful the great translator Rinchen Zangpo who was the reason behind the construction of the monastery. He built it in the AD 1000 and there were 32 wood carvers and sculptors from Kashmir to help him. But when the Gelug sect decided to shift the activities to Likir Monastery permanently, it turned to be the administrative shrine of the Alchi Gompa, officially.
Structure of the monastery
Alchi Monastic Complex has three principal shrines named the Dukhang or Assembly Hall, the Sumtseng and the temple of Manjushri. Chortens have a special space inside the complex. The wall paintings seen inside are dating back to the spiritual and artistic nuances found in Buddhism and Hindu Kingdoms. Like we seen in other monasteries, here also, you will find the huge statues of Buddha and several wood carvings and art works appearing in Baroque style.
Location: The monastery is located in Alchi Village in the Leh District, 70 km from Leh.
Timing: May to September on all days: from 10:00 am to 01:00 pm and from 02:00 pm to 06:00 pm.
Entry Fee: For Indians: INR 25, For Foreigners: INR 50
Highlights: The views from the monastery have attracted a lot of film production sets. Good photographic location as well.
A nine storey high building displays the influence of Potala Palace in Lhasa is the famed Royal Leh Palace that stands with its head high on a cliff top overlooking the ravishing Leh town. Leh Palace is a must visit during anyone’s tour of Ladakh region as it has been standing there as a symbol of the old glorious days of the royal family lived here. The top floors accommodated the members of the regal community and the low floors were occupied by stables and stores.
In the 17th century, King Sengge Namgyal led the construction of Leh Palace and it gained fame in a short span of time. Later, it was termed as an architectural icon and the symbol of pride and glory of Leh. The history says that during the time when Dogra forces took control of Ladakh, Leh Palace was abandoned and the members of the family were asked to move to Stok Palace. The Archeological Survey of India has restored the valuable ruins of the palace and opened to the public as a remarkable tourist attraction.
Structure of the palace
There is a monastery behind the palace which is a part of the palace and there you will find the statue of a seating Buddha in there in the monastery behind the palace. On the walls of the palace, you will see the old pictures and paintings including Tibetan thangka.
Timings: The palace is open to the public on all days from 07:00 am to 04:00 pm
Entry fee: For Indians: INR 20 and for Foreigners: INR 100
Location: Leh Palace is closely located to the town. Visitors can reach the palace by walking from Leh town as it is about 5 kms away from there.
Spituk Monastery in Ladakh has another name that is Pethup Gompa, very famous among the locals. It is located at a distance of 8 km from Leh and there are 100 monks inside the gompa. The major attraction at the monastery is the giant statue of Goddess Kali. The Buddhist monastery is at a site which was blessed earlier by Arhat Nyimagung.
Spituk Monastery was founded by Od-de. He was the elder brother of Lha Lama Changchub Od. When he came to Maryul, he built the monastery and introduced the monastic community. But Lotsewa Rinchen Zangpo on his arrival said that an exemplary religious sect should be there and thus the name of the monastery was changed to Spituk which meant exemplary.
Structure of the monastery
There are three chapels in the gompa with numerous statues of Buddha and several thankas as well. The Dukhang Hall is the highlight and the two rows of seats running to a throne at the end are also something unique found here. Visitors will come across the beautiful sculptors and chortens.
Location: The monastery is perched on a thrilling hill top near Indus and about 8 kms away from Leh on Srinagar road. It is at an elevation of 3307 meters.
Timings: It is open on all days from 08:00 am to 01:00 pm.
Entry fee: INR 20 per person
Highlights: Gustor Festival held from the 27th to 29th day in the eleventh month of the Tibetan Calendar and it is for two days with mask dance and prayers. Usually, the festival falls on winter time which guarantees the presence of natives in large but the number of tourists would be comparatively lesser.
Hall of Fame is a proud displayer of Indian Army simultaneously acts as the symbol of those dark days of India’s war against Pakistan. The museum that showcases seized arms and weapons of Pakistan army is located in Ladakh, the paradise of adventure lovers lying in the beautiful Himalayas. Moreover, the museum is considered to be a tribute to the brave soldiers who lost their lives during the war. To make it more appealing, the Indian Army has kept the photos and the things of those soldiers inside the museum. Also, the arranged items related to the history and culture of Ladakh, wildlife and vegetation have importance and amuses the visitors definitely.
There are things which enhance every Indian’s patriotic feelings as well as they let us appreciate the bravery shown by every Indian soldier during the wars, from the heart. Different quotes, letters written by the soldiers, the tools, aircrafts, weapons, tents and what all the soldiers have used during the period are preserved which give every visitor a minute to think and pay tribute to those brave hearts who lost their lives to help every one of us sleep in peace. Located next to Leh Airfield, the museum is opened on all days. Every day, visitors will be able to watch a detailed documentary on Operation Vijai or Kargil War screened.
Entry fee: For Indians: INR 10, for Foreigners: INR 50
Timings: 09:00 am to 01:00 pm and 03:00 pm to 07:00 pm
Highlight: Evening parade or march is a major event happening here
Location: 4 kms from the main town, on the way to Magnetic hill via Leh Srinagar Highway.
Tips: Camera and video are allowed inside but at an additional cost.
Apart from Khardung La or Baralacha La, Ladakh has numerous other passes at great heights which stand as Ladakh’s pride for centuries now. The glitters of other passes may be diminished by Khardung La mainly but all the other passes are equally important. Lachulung La is a single example.
The elevation of this pass is 5059 meters above sea level which is considered to be a dangerously exciting height for any pass after Khardung La. Lachulung La is on the border of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. Also, it separates the valleys of Tsarap Chu and Tozay. If you take Leh-Manali highway, you will be able to cross this pass that has other names such as Lachalung La, Lungalacha La etc.
A fact that to be remembered before you head to visit this pass is, it is open only for four and a half months during summer. Any traveler should be prepared not to fall sick during the conquering of Lachulung La because its geographic status, the height, the rugged pathways and the remote villages it goes through may cause dramatic influence on your body. Being one of the most adventurous passes in Ladakh, Lachulung is a favorite stop avid adventure lovers.
Also, the surroundings are quite fictional as the towering Himalayan passes and the nature lying in correspondence to them are creating soothing visuals. Trekkers should be very careful while climbing the altitude up as altitude sickness is assured at the top and keep hydrated to maintain your body conditions with respect to the climate. But the descent is smooth and easy so that you will feel overjoyed till the end.
Height: 5059 meters
Best time to visit: May to October
How to reach: Take Leh-Manali highway, from Sarchu 54 KM and from Pang, 24 Km
In the southern part of Ladakh, there is a marvelous lake called Tso Kar which is known to be the most beautiful yet fluctuating saline lake. The lake is situated in the Rupshu Valley or Plateau and has attracted hundreds of people with its unique features especially the size and depth it possesses. The lake is located at an elevation of more than 14700 feet. The surroundings or more clearly, the banks of the lake are marshlands which play an important role in the lives of a variety of migratory birds.
They come to lay eggs and breed over here and thus make the environment cherish-able. During the time of the arrival of these birds, the lake and its nearby places will be filled by innumerous bird watchers and nature lovers. Some distance away from the lake is the space where certain nomadic groups are staying. They collect salt from the lake and sell to the needy and thus make a living. If we take about the geographical features of the lake, the importance of Startsapuk Tso comes to the scene. Tso Kar is connected to Startsapuk by an inlet stream at the south-west end. With this small lake, Tso Kar creates the 9 sq.km wide More plains pool. The towering Thugje and Gursan are the guardian angels of this pool.
Height: The surface elevation of Tso Kar is 4530 meters.
Location: From Leh, one has to drive about 160 kms to reach Tso Kar. The Leh Manali Highway passes about 30 kms west to the lake. About 540 kms of distance is there between the lake and Srinagar.
Best time to visit: The months of May, June, July and August are considered to be the ideal time to visit the lake.
Phugtal or Phuktal gompa or monastery, a significant Buddhist monastery located in the Lungnak Valley that too very remotely from the main town and this one is reachable only by walking. The essential things for the monastery will be carried by animals during summer days and during winter they will be transported through the frozen Zanskar River.
The etymology of the name Phutkal is interesting and the name means the cave of liberation or leisure as per the information given by scholars. The birth of Phutkal Monastery was 2500 years ago and it was built around a cave with the aim of inviting any number of sages or saints to come and meditate. But the current status of Phutkal Gompa is because of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism. It was established in the early 15th century by Jangsem Sherap Zangpo.
Structure of the monastery
The honeycomb structure of the monastery surprises every one. Given the increased number of tourists, the monastery is popular now as a favorite trekking point. The cliff side structure houses a temple, prayer rooms, apartments, quarters, library with sacred manuscripts, teaching facilities and the original cave and a spring. Around 70 monks who are residing in the monastery are always seen chanting or meditating.
Location: The location of the monastery is Lungnak Valley in south-eastern Zanskar.
Timings: It is open on all days of the week from 06:00 pm to 04:00 pm.
Entry fee: To enter the monastery no entry fee is required. But cameras and food from outside are not allowed.
Highlights: There are a number of festivals happen everywhere at the monastery which are celebrated for different reasons. Every year the dates of the festivals change depending on the lunisolar calendar. Smonlam Chenmo is the most important one as it signifies the entry of the New Year.
Among the repeated names of the high altitude passes in Jammu and Kashmir, Chang La stands out because of its beauty and the remarkable thrill hiding in the trails. The pass is closely connected to Leh via Kharu and Sekti village by a tricky asphalt road. Travelers have shared their experience of climbing the pass as it is very steep and one must be very careful while drive up. The small streams appeared on the road during summer give more challenge to the adventure seekers coming here. Since the altitude difference, trekkers or climbers are advised not to stay at the top for more than 20 minutes otherwise the altitude sickness will be unpredictably severe.
The name Chang La means pass to the south and there are numerous stories have been told regarding the etymology of Chang La. The main story is related to Chang La Baba on whose name there is a temple at the pass. Tangste, a small town existing near the pass is the only inhabited region in the vicinity.
Chang La can be seen on your tour to Pangong Tso from Leh and the pass is recognized as the major gateway to the famous Changthang Plateau in the Himalayas.
Maximum altitude: 17586 feet is the measured height of Chang La Pass which seems to be a great height for trek lovers and bikers.
Best time to visit: The months from May to October is believed to be the suitable time to cross the pass since during winter the paths would be covered by thick snow.
How to reach: Chang La lies on the national highway 21 or the famous Leh-Manali highway. It is located on the road to Pangong Tso from Leh. You can reach the pass by bike, jeep or bus. It is thrilling to reach the pass by trekking.
Belonging to Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism, Deskit or Diskit Monastery is the largest and oldest in Nubra Valley. Hence a visit to the monastery is an inevitable part of any kind of Ladakh tour. The significant fact related to the monastery is that it runs a school with the help of a Non-Governmental Organization to teach science subjects in English to the Tibetan children of the region. The fourteenth century monastery is a favourite tourist destination as well.
The history of the gompa dates back to the fourteenth century. It came into existence with the help of Changzem Tserab Zangpo, a disciple of Tsong Khopa. He was the founder of Gelukpa sect in the region.
Structure of the monastery
The hilltop where the monastery is perched on will offer the visitors mind blowing pictures of the surrounding valleys, the villages and the mountain terrains. The rocky steps leading to the monastery would let you see first the prayer hall beautified by the statue of Maitreya Buddha. The huge drums and several images of the guardian deities are some other factors that enhance the outlook of the monastery. It features an elevated cupola with a fresco that displays the Tashilhunpo Monastery famous in Tibet. In the storehouse of the monastery, the texts of Mongolian and Tibetan texts are kept.
Location: At a height of 3144 meters above the flood plains of Shyok River, in Diskit Village in Nubra Valley is the monastery. You can reach the village from Leh via Khardung La Pass.
Timings: The gompa is open on all days from 07:00 am to 01:00 pm and from 02:00 pm to 07:00 pm
Entry fee: INR 30 per person
Highlights: The major highlight is the festival named Desmochhey or Dosmoche which is popular as the festival of the scapegoat. It is a prayer festival.
To commemorate the very important person in the history of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev, the disciples built a temple in Ladakh region and that is the famous Pattharsahib Gurudwara. The temple is located at a distance of 25 miles from Leh at a place believed to be where Guru had vanquished one demon centuries ago.
The stories behind the establishment and Guru’s visit to Ladakh are really famous. One story goes like this, a demon who lived in Ladakh region was killing the natives and to help the grieved Guru reached Ladakh and people were happy to be with him. But the demon became furious to see this and he deployed a plan to kill Guru. He came into Guru’s place and saw he was praying and the demon threw a huge stone onto his body but a miracle happened and the stone was turned to be a wax like substance when it touched Guru’s body.
Then demon realized his fault and sought apologies from Guru. The stone is also placed in the temple. Though it is a Sikh temple, Buddhists in large numbers come here to worship Guru Nanak. Currently, the temple is taken care of by the Indian Army. Everyone who goes to Kargil stops here and pays tribute to Guru Nanak in the temple.
Height: The temple is located at an altitude of 12000 feet above the sea level.
Timings: The temple is open on all days from 06:00 am to 07:00 pm.
Entry fee: The entry to the temple is totally free.
Location: On the Leh-Kargil Highway, about 25 miles away from Leh is where the temple is located.
Best time to visit: The months between June and October are the suitable time to visit the temple.
A peaceful monastery that assures your tour of Ladakh would go to a different level is Namgyal Tsemo Monastery. Among the monasteries of Leh, Namgyal Tsemo has a significant charm that is enhanced by the multiple layers of Himalayan peaks lying in the surrounding. The spiritual blend appears on the walls of the monastery has attracted hundreds of travelers to the monastery for so many years.
The monastery situated high on a hill top behind the Leh Palace is founded in 15th century by King Tashi Namgyal, an ardent follower of Buddhism. The breathtaking views from the top of the monastery’s location is one of the reasons why travelers just flow toward it and it is considered to be the most beautiful piece for photography as well.
The Structure of the Monastery
The architecture the monastery displays is renowned and that is why it has a special place among the history of Ladakh. It has an assembly hall and a temple with large frescoes, painting and the attractive statues of Buddha in different positions. A gold idol of Maitreya Buddha or the future Buddha which measures to be tall as a three storey structure is the quaint feature of the gompa. Avalokiteshwara and Manjushri are two other charming statues of one-storey height placed in the monastery. Visitors are allowed only during morning and evening. It will take around 2 to 3 hours to enjoy each spectacle at the pagoda to be elaborately explored.
Location: The Namgyal Hill is the seat of the monastery just behind the Leh Palace and it offers a panoramic view of the Leh town and nearby valleys, the Indus River and the towering snow-clad peaks of the Zanskar range.
Timings: The pagoda is open on all days of the week from 07:00 am to 09:00 am and then from 05:00 pm to 08:00 pm.
Entry fee: INR 20 per person
Highlights: On a daily basis, the monks from Shankar Gompa come to Namgyal Tsemo to worship the idol and light the butter lamps at the gompa and it is considered to be a precious sight to witness.
A quintessential location and a high altitude roadside bar is Zingzing situated on the road from Manali to Leh. Travelers come here to refresh with a sip of coffee or to have food to energize the body and soul to resume their journey to Leh. The multi-purpose shacks can be availed to stay overnight as well.
A space where you will love to roll a joint and smoke it up to escape from the extreme cold. Located at an altitude of 4270 meters above the sea level, the place is recognized to be the most suitable one to take rest. Peaceful ambience and the silence prevailing would leave everyone addicted to it.
The fame of ZIngzing Bar was enhanced because of Baralacha La pass also; the starting point of Baralacha La, one of the most loved passes in Ladakh is Zingzing Bar. Thus it cannot be missed during one’s journey to Leh. The temperature level at the bar will be crazily as low as -2* Celsius and as you ascend from a different temperature from the base, chances to feel altitude sickness and fluctuations in the body are quite higher.
Height: The highest roadside bar in the world is located at an elevation of 4270 meters above the sea level before the steep Baralacha La roads starts.
Location: From Manali, Zingzing Bar is situated at a distance of 193 kms and a drive of about 3 hours will take you to the bar and from Leh it is about 337 kms away.
Best time to visit: Zingzing Bar is found the most scenic during the months of December, January and February when the winter hits at its peak. For those who are searching for peace over a joint, Zingzing bar during winter would be the best option.