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Ladakh, the erstwhile Buddhist kingdom is spectacularly jagged. Arid mountains, dramatically crowned rocky outcrops, picturesque gompas, meditational mani walls and multi hued flags are few of the many sites that exemplify the beauty of Ladakh. The well balanced traditional society of Ladakh has much to offer the West in terms of ecological awareness.
Ladakh is a magnificent and an unexplored wonderland of the Himalayas. It is one place that is considered as a heaven by everyone who is on a lookout to satiate their indomitable love for adventure. Besides trekking in Ladakh, you can indulge in a series of adventure sports such as biking, water rafting, safaris, etc. Also known as the ‘Land of Passes, Ladakh forms an alluring part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in India.
Situated at an elevation of 2750 - 7672 meters above sea level, Ladakh is indeed blessed with incredible topography that comprises of hilly terrains, high altitude peaks and the lush green grasslands. Adventure fanatics from across the globe visit Ladakh as there are plethora of trek trails and trekking options available here.
Set amidst snow capped hills, Ladakh is the center of Tibetan Buddhist culture. It is dotted with a number of colorful monasteries. Some of the popular tourist hotspots in Ladakh include Alchi and Nubra Valley. Apart from this, Ladakh is also a land that is popular for the rich heritage and culture. It is home to the rare wildlife including the Tibetan antelope, ibex and yak.
Still unadulterated by modernity, Ladakh is where you’ll experience life coming to a standstill when you directly communicate with the nature and serenity around.
Please avoid wearing sleeveless tops, blouses, undershirts or shorts, etc in public places especially in the mosques, temples, churches, gurudwaras and monasteries. The same rule applies on the trekking routes. Of course you can wear short and comfortable clothing in the camp sites that are away from the human habitation but these should soon be changed to slacks, trousers and blouses in the villages where you might take a stoppage. Under no circumstances should you wear bikini or swimwear in the public places as these are taken as sexually provocative and may lead to possible harassment.
Ladakh is a sensitive city where the people are still a little orthodox especially when it comes to PDAs. So, keep your affection for your partner as a private matter that ought to be confined to your own tents or rooms. Do not display any acts of affection in restaurants, religious buildings, streets or at public events.
Always carry with you essential medicines since the climate here is fluctuating.
During treks, you must take with you lip balms, sun screen and antiseptic creams.
People who travel to Ladakh by air must take a complete rest for a day so as to adjust better to the low oxygen level and high altitudes of Ladakh. If you do not give your body sufficient time to adapt to the acclimatization you might suffer from Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) also known as the High Altitude Sickness.
Carry sufficient cash as credit cards are not accepted in several places.
At the restaurants, 10% of the bill as tip, is more than sufficient. Drivers however, can be tipped at anything between INR 20 to INR 100 depending upon the length of the drive undertaken.
Drinking in Ladakh is not prohibited however the legal drinking age is 21. Even for the adults, moderation in drinking is highly recommended. It has been noted that liquor can cause dehydration in Ladakh and might even result in acute nausea and headaches.
Leh Palace was built in the mid 16th century. Back then, it was regarded as the world’s highest building. When here, you must gaze upon the murals that bring forth the life of the Buddha.
Shanti Stupa is a white domed structure that is perched on a hilltop. Constructed with an object to promote world peace, Shanti Stupa was built by the Japanese monks. It not only has great religious significance but also offers the most magnificent views of Leh.
Stok Palace & Museum
Stok Palace & Museum is home to the exiled royal family. The palace has a museum where the royal costumes, jewelry and artefacts are displayed. Some of the beautiful silk paintings that are housed here were crafted way back in the 16th century.
Spituk Gompa is perched on a hillock near the Spituk Village. This late 14th century monastery houses Skodong Lakhang which is a golden roofed shrine along with ancient arms and masks. Here, you can also find a huge statue of Mahakal that is only unveiled at the Spituk festival.
Pangong Tso is the highest lake in the world and is situated at an alleviation of 4,250 meters. With its tranquil surroundings, ice caped mountains and the crystal clear water, it cannot be hard to tell why it is often referred to as the ‘enchanted lake.’
Some popular restaurants
Some of the popular restaurants that are a must visit here include Tibetan Kitchen and Tenzin Dickey Tibetan to savor on the local food, Lamayuru and Chopsticks for Asian food and La Pizzeria and the garden restaurant for delicious soups and pizzas. To smack on some tasty tarts and homemade cakes, visit the Pumpernickel German Bakery.
There are several adventure sports that you can enjoy in Ladakh. These include:
Biking at Khardung La Pass
Khardung la Pass is the highest motorable road of the world. These days, there has been a road widening exercise going on at this pass. So, you’ll naturally encounter a lot of cement, dirt and gravel stones along the path. When you come here for biking, you must pray that the rain stays at bay or you might end up driving in the knee deep slush of stones and mud.
Camping at Pangong Tso
Pangong Tso lake is bewitchingly beautiful. It is so beautiful that it seems as if it has been airbrushed in God’s own Photoshop. Here, every hue and color seems to come alive at an increased intensity thereby giving a different view at different times of the day. The sight is at its magical best at the dusk.
White Water Rafting at Zanskar
If you want to do white water rafting, the best time to make a visit is during the months of May to June. Ladakh has several swift and scenic flowing rivers and streams where rafting can be done. In the past couple of years, Sangam which is the confluence of Indus and Zanskar has become one of the top destinations for people who cherish white water rafting.
Paragliding from the Khardung La
Paragliding can open up to you new vistas of the Ladakh’s beauty that might otherwise go unnoticed. Take a flight in the clear skies of the Ladakh starting from Khardung La.