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Rather, the most sought after tourist destination is Pangong Tso in Ladakh region. It is the highest among the high altitude lakes in India which is filled with saline water but provides some awe-struck moments to the visitors with the unbelievable phenomenon of changing colours quite a number of times a day.
The reflections of the towering Himalayan peaks in the water add more charm to the lake. Currently, Pangong Tso is the favorite location for tourists as the banks of the lake give soothing bed to relax and the nearby places are enhanced by the beauty of this particular lake. The quiet lake is 134 km in length and 5 km in width is situated at an altitude of 14270 meters. But the major share of the lake lies in the area of China. Now, its recognition is spread everywhere in the world because it is termed as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
The highly saline water does not accommodate any water species not even micro-organisms. But the banks of the lake give space for several birds and animals very rarely seen in the other parts of India. It is an important breeding ground for many migratory birds as well.
Height: The lake is located at an altitude of 4250 meters above the sea level.
Location: Pangong Tso is easily accessible as it can be reached after a five hour drive from Leh and the travel would be on a rough and dramatic mountain road. You will cross the villages of Shey and Gya during the tour and go through Chang La as well.
Best time to visit: The months from May to September are the ideal time to visit the lake as the other seasons may cause challenges due to the heavy snowfall.
Something divine makes Nubra Valley close to heart and it is not an exaggeration but a fact that experienced and shared by the countless tourists visited the paradisiacal location in Jammu and Kashmir. Without touching the spectacular roads of Nubra Valley, a Ladakh tour will not be complete. The tri armed valley has Diskit Village as its capital. Ldumra, a magnificent name is the original name of the valley as the local scholars insist. Ldumra means Valley of Flowers. The large valley is formed after the merging of Shyok River with Nubra or Siachen River causing the separation of the Ladakh and the Karakoram Ranges. The valley is located 10000 feet that is 3048 meters above mean sea level and those who cross the Khardung La Pass can easily come to Nubra Valley from Leh.
Except the river beds, every other place in the valley shows scant vegetation and low precipitation levels. Most of the villages in the valley are occupied by Nubra skat speakers and in the villages, one can find lush greenery and farming which happen through the regular irrigation. Diskit is the place where native people are seen in abundance and Diskit Monastery is the entre of attraction as well. The Shyok River flowing on one side of Diskit has a captivating effect on the visitors. Nubra Valley unwinds a lot of surprising sights when you visit it and an unbelievable fact is that the valley was open to the public till Hunder until 2010. Beyond Hunder, it was the greener region in the lower altitude where the Turtuk village exists. Till 2010, the Government did not allow tourists to mesmerize themselves in the magnificent beauty of Turtuk where numerous apricot trees and other vegetation along with the tribal community were preserved as a virgin.
Height: 3048 meters above the sea level
Location: The paradisiacal Nubra Valley is located at a distance of 140 km from Leh and the main road access to the valley is through Khardung La pass where you have to show the photocopies of your travel permit to the soldiers camping.
Best time to visit: The months from June to September is the perfect period to visit Nubra Valley
Controversies regarding the proclamation that Khardung La is the highest motorable pass in the world is not yet diminished but Ladakh travelers still believe that it is the highest and most adventurous pass in the world. Despite the controversies, Khardung La keeps on attracting hundreds of adventure seekers every year, be it bikers, trekkers or visitors. Nestled amidst the most reverberating surrounding, the ‘Pass of Lower Castle’ is located at an altitude of 17582 feet. Near to the pass, the collection of awesome valleys will lure you and along with the natural extravaganzas, the Tibetan prayer flags are an additional charm.
The pass was constructed in the year of 1976 and later in 1988, it was opened to public and from then on, the pass was inviting uncountable bikers, trekkers and tourists. It is maintained by the Border roads Organization as the pass is highly significant and important to India because it was once used to carry supplies to the Siachen Glacier. Recently, Khardung La became the hot potato of the town with a happy news that a ten member team of visually impaired people is going to conquer the pass through cycling in 2017.
Height: Khardung La is located at an altitude of 5359 meters. But there is an incorrect proclamation on the signboards appear here saying that the height of the pass is 18379 feet.
Location: The highest motorable pass in Ladakh is lying about 39 kms away from Leh. By road, one can reach the pass. The first 24 kms of the road are paved and from there to the North Pullu check post, the 15 kms of the road are filled with loose rock, dirt and occasional rivulets formed after the melting of snow.
Best time to visit: The season between May to October is the best time to visit Khardung La.
It won’t be exceeding at all how much you describe the beauty of Tso Moriri in Ladakh, a highly protected lake in Changthang Region and a significant portion of Tso Moriri Wetland Conservation Reserve. It is the largest of all high altitude lakes in India especially in Ladakh and is located at an altitude of 4522 meters above the sea level. The length comes to 26 km north to south and 3 to 5 km is the width and the water is wholly brackish.
The water to feed the lake comes from the springs and melted snow from the nearby mountains. There are two major stream systems to lead the water to the lake. One in the north part of the lake and the other comes in the southwest part. Huge, extensive marshes are seen at both the entrances of the lake. Rupshu Valley, a breathtaking area is the guardian of Tso Moriri along with an array of the lofty Himalayan Mountains in the surrounding.
The number of people come to witness the beauty of this splendid lake is lesser when compared to that of Pangong Lake. It is because of the secluded location of the lake. Hence, it is a favorite home town for many migratory birds. They come to breed here especially birds like great- crested grebe, the brown-headed gull and the Brahmin duck. The rare Himalayan hares are also abundantly seen near the lake. Thus, the declaration of the lake as a reserved area is a right option to protect these species from extinction. Less human interference would keep their lives strong.
Height: The lake is situated at an altitude of 4522 meters.
Location: You can reach Tso Moriri via road from Leh. It is 150 kms away from Leh Airport. Kalka Railway station is the nearest one to the lake. You will get buses and taxis from the station as well.
Best time to visit: May, June, July and August are the peak season when tourists come to Tso Moriri in large numbers and other months will be filled with snow and have extreme cold conditions.
The white dome of Shanti Stupa is clearly visible from a far distance when you are on a tour of Leh. Peace Pagoda got its name like that because of many reasons mainly the silence persists in and around the pagoda always. This Buddhist prayer center is the most beloved attraction in Jammu and Kashmir. At a height of 4267 meters, the two storied stupa stands holding its head high and overlooks the bustling Leh town. The uneven mountain terrains in the surrounding gives the pagoda a remarkable shining. It is at a location which is 5 km away from Leh town and one who visits the stupa has to climb five hundred steps. The exotic view of the Himalayan peaks turns the beauty of the stupa also, a peace lover would dedicate his life to have such overjoying moments.
The stupa was constructed by both Japanese and Ladakh Buddhists. The construction was started in 1983, many Buddhists and Indian Government officials have supervised the procedures throughout.
Structure of the stupa
Among the two structures of the pagoda, the first level depicts the central relief of Dharmachakra which has deer on each side and the turning wheel of Dharma also has a golden image of Buddha at the center. The second level displays images which show the birth of Budhha and the death as well. In addition, both the level have smaller images of Buddha meditating. The stupa came into existence in order to spread the word of peace and harmony among people and it came into establishment as a commemoration of the valuable 2500 years of Buddhism.
Location: Any one can reach the stupa via road from Leh, only 5 kms from the town, a walk of fifteen minutes would require.
Timings: 05:00 am to 09:00 pm
Highlights: The sunset and sunrise views from the stupa are inevitably beautiful
Magnetic Hill is still a mystery yet a famed attraction that pulls the adventure lovers on a large scale toward it. A mystifying phenomenon which stunts the science and fiction together and exists as a magic to the normal people visiting here. Magnetic Hill is a trump card of every Ladakh tour because of the awe-struck moments it would promise the travelers. There is a sign board placed which says that the hill defies gravity completely and inviting everyone to experience the magical phenomenon.
If you keep your vehicle in neutral at a position marked on the road and wait, you will be surprised to see the vehicle starts moving uphill at 10-20 km per hour. And this is the unexplainable feature of Magnetic Hill that confuses the world of science. It is located on Leh-Kargil-Baltic Highway and on the east, the beautiful Sindhu River is flowing calmly. Near the hill there is a Sikh Gurudwara maintained by the Indian Army. Due to the natural attraction as well as the human architectural brilliance, the hill has gained popularity in a short term.
Not just the vehicles hitting the road but the aircrafts and helicopters crossing the radius which Magnetic Hill comes in would feel the same magnetic effect. If the aircrafts are going on a slow pace, then it starts jerking while they are in the circumference of the hill. So the only solution to escape from the clutches of this phenomenon is that the crafts should move at a greater speed.
Height: Magnetic Hill is located at an elevation of 14000 feet above the sea level.
Location: To reach the hill, you can hit the Leh-Kargil-Baltic National Highway and it is situated at a distance of just 30 kms from Leh town.
Best time to visit: The best time to visit the Magnetic Hill is from June to October.
For some years, adventure seekers all around the world have been talking about Chadar Trek in the Zanskar Region. Until this year, hundreds of people have experienced the thrill hidden and the mind blowing sights around Chadar frozen river. In fact, Chadar Trek is the most sought after and one of the breathtaking treks in the Himalayas. The winter trek is so special for those who are ready to have adventure at the maximum level.
The river trek starts from Chilling where the river begins to freeze and mostly, travelers choose February as the best time to cross the frozen river as the ice sheets will be comparatively stable. The precarious snow-flakes would pose severe threats during the trek but in some other time, the challenges would be kind to the trekker. The surrounding of the river are completely vertical cliffs tall up to 600 meters. The Zanskar River is a tributary of the Indus and is 5 meters long.
A trekker would have to cover 16 kms per day to complete the Chadar Trek. Usually, people opt for 10-15 days of trek depending on the climatic conditions persisting here. The temperature at Chadar will come to the lowest at -35 degree Celsius during winter and thus Chadar Trek becomes more intimidating. Approximate trekking distance one would have to cover in total is 75 kms.
Maximum altitude: 11123 feet is the height at which Chadar Trek would lead you to.
Location: To take part in Chadar Trek, one should arrive in Leh and from Leh, the journey starts and goes to Chilling, the beginning of the Zanskar River in the frozen state. From Leh it would take about 65-70 kms to reach Tilad via Chilling, the base camp of the trek.
Best time to visit: January end to February is the best time suitable for trekking in the frozen river of Chadar. Quality and safe trekking gears and highly warm clothes are required.
Adventure lovers always had an affection to Markha Valley and still it fulfills the dreams of a trekker or adventure seeker with the unrivalled collection of natural spectacle. Long day trekking tours are offered by a lot of tour providers all over India which promise a journey through the most scenic locations and villages. The awesomely exciting feature of this trek is that it will let the trekker cross two high altitude passes in Ladakh; Gandala La at 4980 meters and Kongmaru La at 5276 meters.
Being one of the diverse treks in Ladakh region, Markha Valley trek offers a lot of adventurous moments throughout. The barren land of Ladakh and the Buddhist temples found throughout the journey make the trek special. The route winds past the Ladakhi villages and it goes to Hemis National Park where the chances to spot some rare wildlife species are comparably high. The nomadic groups of people will be a unique picture to keep in heart. The symbols of Buddhism like ‘chortens’, stupas, multi colored prayer flags and numerous monasteries narrate the story of Buddhist culture embraced Markha centuries ago. Another interesting fact heard about Markha Valley trek is that it is also called ‘tea house trek’ due to the accommodation provided in parachute tents in most of the villages during the tour.
Maximum altitude: 15000 feet is the maximum altitude the trek will cover.
Location: In most of the cases, the trek starts from Leh. The trail usually goes through Chilling, Skyu and then to Markha. From Markha it would take the trekker to reach Hankar and Nimaling and finally return to Leh. The ideal trekking distance is 75 kms and it would be graded as difficult.
Best time to visit: The months of June, July, August, September and October are recommended as the best time to do Markha Valley trek.
07 March 2017
Such an amazing bike ride, challenging but with thrill till the end. Make sure that you are prepared to prevent the cold, the rough wind, the altitude sickness etc because even the symptoms of sickness will affect your trip. Khardung La Pass is quite a challenging one, also there are different shorter and longer passes throughout the journey. The service was also nice, not many complaints. The guides will know the place better because they are doing it for long. But still keep the track of the route before you start the trip. The guide was nice to us, keeping everything coordinated. The accommodation and food were also flawless to me.
02 August 2015
We started our tour by sightseeing of Manali. After the sight seeing, we rode our bikes on various high-altitude roads, including the Khardungla pass, the world’s highest motorable road which is more than 5600 m, above the sea level. I was all alone, feeling like the king of the road. We got to stopover at lovely lakes, some antic terrains, and peaceful out backs. We drove through there. It was awesome.
06 March 2017
It was one of the best and the most memorable trip I ever had. I always wanted to visit Ladakh and so this time I booked this package. Like they say the adventure begins it was indeed one hell of an adventure. Everything was very well organized for us. The pickup service was on time and so was the accommodation. Once we reached Leh, we could not stop ourselves staring at the serene roads and enjoy the peaceful environment. We visited some of the places like Hall of Fame and the famous Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, Magnetic Hill. The Deskit Monastery was one of the most beautiful sights at Nubra valley. Overall it was an amazing trip.
11 May 2014
There is some magic in leh that drives many visitors. i loved to discover the ever flowing rivers and straight mountains.The elegant Tsarap River , Rupshu plateau and the Baralacha Pass was worth visiting.
25 November 2013
The travel to Ladakh was good. This thing seems a little expensive, but it is highly worthy. To start with it covers a lot of places and two major motorable roads, so the whole package is worth it. This does not involve any physical exertion except of course driving along. That being said, the trip was well planned and nicely done. The co travellers were all too friendly too. I really liked this travel experience a lot. I learnt a lot from this trip. I wish more such trips are done across India.
14 April 2014
The panaromic views of leh catches our attention. We were not only the single group who had gone for the adventure, there were many other groups too. We had started our journey from manali but i realized this location has some more beautiful points than manali.
What You Should Know More About Ladakh
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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 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.
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.
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.
For detailed information, you can refer websites like
Books based on Ladakh include: Reflections on Ladakh, Tibet and Central Asia Trekking in Ladakh Forsaking Paradise Ladakh Zanskar The Rare 19th Century Travel Account as told by a Native of Ladakh
Ladakh is frequented by all kinds of riders, adventure tourists, photographers, honeymooners and the nature seeker. The destination offers easy road connectivity. However, anyone visiting the place should be prepared for intense off roading. If you have been looking for some adventure in your life, head on to Ladakh!
Primarily, Ladakh is reached by two prominently laid out routes.
The first is the Srinagar to Leh Highway that takes you through Kargil and the Kashmir Valley. The journey would be about 434 kilometers but this route will be open between June and mid November. The highest point you will touch at this route would be the Zozi La Pass at at altitude of 11,500 feet.
The second route starts from Manali and it would be again about 473 kilometers of drive. The route opens from mid June and is allowed till October. This will be the road where you would be crossing several high passes including Tanglang La, arguably, the second highest motorable road in the world.
Ladakh by Road: The Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh Transport Corporation runs buses to Ladakh, and your choice will depend on the route you take. Both journeys will last a couple of days with several stops that would gradually open up the vast Himalayan landscape. Although cheap, public transport can be a bit inconvenient.
Many prefer hiring jeep or shared taxis to get flexible with the travel timing. Riding your own vehicle to Ladakh is also an option and is more popularly sought. If you are a solo traveler, it would however be recommended that you take the service of registered travel agencies to ferry you to Ladakh. In most case, you will join a group of other travelers.
By Train: The closest you can get to Ladakh by train is the Jammu Tawi Station. From there, you will have to pursue road transportation, by either using public transport or renting your own vehicle.
By Flight: The Leh Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport at Leh serves for a visit to Ladakh. You will get connecting flights from Srinagar, Delhi and Jammu. The most common service providers in this route include GoAir, Air India and Jet Airways. However, remember that the availability of flights is subject to weather conditions and the weather, needless to say is quite unpredictable here. Make sure you are okay with delays!
The recommended months to travel to Ladakh is between May and August. This is also when most of Ladakh would be open. In Fact, May is the month when most tourist activities start. It will be comfortable during the day but even so, nighttime temperature in Ladakh summers can well go beyond freezing point. However, some trekkers also seek Ladakh during the winter season, especially for destinations like the Chadar Trek. This would be time when most roadways would be closed and it would be hard getting any convenience or driving on your own.
Traveling across Ladakh in a bike is safe as long as you stick to being a responsible driver. It is always recommended that you go in a group or pick up a packaged tour, if you are travelling alone. Being around people helps in this part of the world as the problems you can face can be multi-faceted. Before renting a bike, it is also essential that you understand the permits and regulations attached to the same.
Male or female, a trip to Ladakh can be quite revealing. There is no direct safety threat for female travelers. If at all, male and female travelers share the same kind of challenges.
Ladakh is a perfect challenge for passionate riders. However, safety always comes first and here are the gears you will need to tag along:
Ladakh witnesses extremes of climate. During the months between October and March, it can get uncomforting cold, with temperatures recorded as low as minus 23 degrees centigrade! The summer months, on the other hand, are very pleasant but cold in night. Consequently, you will need to protect yourself at all times.
Ladakh in the winters can be one of a kind of experience. Though it would be at its hardest best, it would also be a paradise. Many call a trip to Ladakh in the winters as a ‘detoxification trip’, wherein space and time will have no relevance. Be prepared for a lot of snow and ice and temperatures well below minus figures. The best places to be at Ladakh during the winters include:
Ladakh is best experienced on a road trip. More than the important stop across the place, it is the road that your travel is more exciting. Try doing a road trip in groups or join a group where you can make new friends and see Ladakh in a whole new form!
There are a lot of particulars you need to understand and research if you are visiting Ladakh for the very first time. Common details should include:
Fitness is highly crucial for your trip to Ladakh as it is always easy to fall ill. The low temperatures, low air pressure and the lack of oxygen can take a toll. People who suffer from heat conditions like asthma can get very ill and are recommended to limit their trip to lower regions of Ladakh. There have been several cases when people have become fatally ill.
There is a range of hotels and other forms of accommodations that you can hope to get in Ladakh. For budget travelers, the economical options are widespread and range from hostels to dormitories and even tents. You might even hope to stay for longer terms, as long as a month! However, if you have been looking for extra facilities like hot water, TV, satellite phone, you will have to shell out a little extra money.
With budget accommodations, the prices are in the range of INR 400 and can go up to INR 1000.
Luxury accommodations start at INR 1000 per night and can go as big as INR 10000 per night.
The kind of clothes you should be carrying depends on the kind of itinerary you plan to follow. Being a cold desert, you will certainly experience a lot of temperature fluctuations between nights and days. Further, summers tend to be a bit warmer with temperatures ranging between 33 and 40 degree centigrade. However, even in the summers, the night temperature can get to negative figures. Ladakh is probably also one of the easiest regions to get sunburn as are the chances of frostbites. The thumb rule about clothing in Ladakh is to pack yourself in layers. Layers of clothing help beat the cold and it is also the best way to adjust to the outside temperatures. Here are the clothing essentials to Ladakh:
The oxygen level is quite low in the Ladakh region. If you are visiting the place for the first time, there are pretty good chances that you are left gasping. According to a recent research, the oxygen level across Ladakh, especially in the passes is 50% of what you would encounter in the plains. The rarefied atmosphere can take time to adjust to and it is thus recommended that you spend a few days without any travel and acclimatize yourself. The good news is that widespread plantation drives and plantations have also helped improve the oxygen content in the recent years.
Taking your own bike allows you the flexibility of travel. If you are planning to rent your vehicle from Chandigarh, you will be able to reach Manali on the same day. It is not recommended to drive overnight as the risks can be too huge. The number of days you spend travelling Ladakh depends on the stops you make and the places you would want to cover. Normally, a week long drive with night stops and sight halts can be a comfortable trip to witness Ladakh. It is also important to understand the road condition in the season you are traveling. In the monsoons or the winters, it could take days for some roads to clear up and you to move ahead.
Ladakh is an awesome place but at the same time, it can be quite pressing too. You would be traveling through the highest passes in the world and the terrain too isn’t very smooth to ride upon. Sometime, you will just have to drag your vehicle on foot! consequently, you should not be looking beyond a 100 – 150 kilometers distance in a day. This also suggests that the minimum stay should be for a minimum of 2 weeks. Never push yourself too hard – it can get even more difficult to survive.
If you ask the question in general, the most common answer you would get is a Royal Enfield. Even people who rode a different bike at home seek to borrow a RE or rent one. But, once you open your mind and take a closer look at the demands, the options are more. While there is no best motorcycle as such, you will need to consider a vehicle that will hold your luggage. Other factors for choosing a motorcycle include questions like if you have a pillion, the age of the bike you aim to drive and more. A more powerful bike will obviously give you the maximum support in this terrain but even a lighter motorcycle can do the job if it is in good condition.
Overall, your choices can be from a Royal Enfield, Bajaj Pulsar, Hero Impulse, Yamaha FZ/Fazer, RE Himalayan, Bajaj Vikrant, CBR 50 and KTM Duke.
It is particularly essential that you ride a perfectly fine vehicle. Servicing your bike, whether you are hiring a vehicle or taking your own is important to ensure a smooth drive. The Ladakh terrain can be very tasking on your bike and you cannot do with anything less than perfect vehicle. Knowing how to do repairs is always an advantage.
The risk of a road trip in Ladakh is directly related to your focus on the road. While many roads have been mended and made motorable in recent years, you will always need to be extra cautious. A rider will have to make continuous u-turns along the mountain highways and even a small rock unnoticed on the road can do the damage. Further, if you are riding before and after a rain, it is needless to say that you needn’t think about anything else but your safety to reach the destination. It takes some amount of experience to be able to ride across Ladakh.
Carrying extra fuel in Jerry Cans is a must when you are riding into Leh-Ladakh. While there are a few filling stations at important stops, you never know when a detour has cost you all the fuel you had had in the tank. A couple of loaded Jerry cans per bike are highly recommended. It is also necessary that you refill your Jerry cans when you come across the next petrol pump.
The Leh City is a cool place and if you are spending a day don’t miss out on:
Ladakh is popularly known as the “Land of High Passes”. In fact, the word Ladakh is about ‘La’ or passes and ‘Dhak’ meaning many. Some of the most important passes include:
While there are several monasteries spread across Ladakh, the ones you should pay a visit to include:
Monasteries are the heritage of Ladakh and are the most revered and spiritual sites for the local community. Consequently, you will need to follow some unsaid protocols:
The most famous trek in Ladakh is the Chadar Trek, wherein you get to trek across the frozen Zanskar River. Temperature goes as low as minus 35 degree Celsius but it is one of the most beautiful experiences you would ever have.
Other important treks across Ladakh include:
There is no better way to experience the culture of Ladakh than its festivals. As opposed to the festivals celebrated in the rest of the country, the culture here is highly unique and can be quite enchanting for someone interested. The festivals you should be planning to attend include:
Ladakh is a land of endless discovery and if you are looking to pitch your own tent, there’s a big and vast open playground all across. Camping in Ladakh is something you must do, either to take a break from the sun or to sleep under the Milky Way at night. If you aren’t carrying your own tent, you can rent one along the:
Ladakh is one of the most popular Himalayan destinations and in the tourist season, between May and November, it’s fully packed. While there would always be availability on the spot, it is safer to book well in advance if you want the best of the trip. With last minute bookings, you might need to compromise due to limited availability.
Most tourist agencies and trip organizers across Ladakh will be able to provide you with an accompanying guide. Depending on where you plan to go, a local guide will be a valuable asset to the trip. In some case, you might also find an English speaking guide. However, for the same, you will need to enquire and book beforehand.
If you are riding into Ladakh on a Royal Enfield, it would be best to not have a pillion. The pillion space can be favorably used to tie up your luggage. However, for short trips, where you needn’t carry much, a pillion would be a great idea to save fuel. In general, it would be a comfortable enough ride for the pillion but in some places it can get very jerky and the pillion might want to get down and walk.
You will not get to buy extra adapters or chargers for your car after you have reached Ladakh. It is important that you carry spaces. A car charger will be vital to your existence here. While the mobile network keeps fluctuating, you will need to save battery for places that it does connect.
For the budget traveler, a minimum of INR 30,000 should be a comforting budget for a weeklong trip across Leh Ladakh. Even if you save some money, you never know when there would be need for emergency cash. Buying food can be pretty expensive but you can always find budget hotels.
Public buses will mostly be able to take you to important stops across Leh. However, they will also limit you on the time you can spend on each site. Availability is always an issue. The best way to sightseeing is to hire a taxi from Leh or drive your own bike.
The charges for a trek in Ladakh will depend on the difficulty of the terrain. Treks like Chadar Trek will always require a guide and special equipment. Also, depending on the season, some treks might need special equipment, even a snow mobile to get your things across. This adds to the amount you need to pay.
Ladakh is the land of adventures. There are a lot of opportunities if you have been planning for river rafting. However, here are also the most dangerous rapids to put yourself into. However, with risk also comes the fun!
For river rafting, there are mainly two rivers – the Indus flowing southeast and then into Pakistan and the Zanskar River, the north flowing tributary of the Indus. Adding to the swift flowing rapids is the undulating terrain, criss crosses by ancient monasteries, beautiful valleys and remote villages.
The most prominent river rafting location is from Phey to Nimmo in Ladakh. If you are a beginner, the ideal stretch would be between Phey and Saspol and again between Kharu and Spituk. If you are looking for a more adventurous day, go for the stretch between Chilling and Nimmo on the Zanskar River! Be prepared to combat Grade 4 rapids!
While your trip in Ladakh is a memory of a lifetime, it also sounds delightful to be able to bring some kind of souvenir from the country of passes. Well, Ladakh is famous for its:
If you are traveling to Ladakh, there are some traditional dishes that you must try out. They will include:
Once you leave the main town center, finding a shop selling water bottles or biscuits would be a rarity. Even if they do, the prices can be bewildering. It is always necessary that you carry your own water. Food items like chocolate bars, nuts, glucose biscuits and the like can be life savers in your Ladakh trip.
Manali to Leh is a total distance of 473 kilometers. It is necessary that you take a few breaks. Sarchu is 230 kilometers from Manali and would be a motorable distance within a day. However, the road after that can get a bit tasking. Driving continuously in this terrain is a great experience but you will need to save the energy for later. While a break at Sarchu is mandatory, it will also help if you can add a few more stop over.
Leh to Nubra Valley would take 6 hours of drive, which is pretty doable if you start early in the morning. Consequently, you can go to Nubra Valley and be back at Leh at the same day. However, this way you also miss the breathtaking beauty of Nubra and the road you travel across. A night’s stay at Nubra is highly recommended. Only if you are too short of time, you will want to be back on the same day and not go back!
Toilets in Ladakh come in many form but finding a place to take a dump can be quite of an exercise! While modern toilets are rare, the good thing is that Ladakh has a vast and desolate landscape. So, find yourself a bounder! The proper toilets that exist may not have water facility. It is necessary that you are carrying your own bottle. Tibetans usually have pits in the ground as common toilet grounds. Privacy can however be a concern here. So, look up to the mountains and get your job done as soon as possible.
There will be a few ATM stops on your route to Leh and it is important that you get the cash required for the trip. Important stops for ATMs include Ganderbal, Kargil and Drass. Next to this, you will find an ATM at Keylong and the next one at Leh. Finding an ATM after that is hard.
There would be a few hotels in Leh and Ladakh that would accept credit cards or debit cards. IT is however best to have cash handy.
The State Bank of India has a couple of currency exchange facilities in Kargil and Leh. However, it helps if you are already carrying enough cash in Indian currency before you have entered this territory.
BSNL postpaid will be the best answer to this question. Nothing else seems to work better.
Kids can be taken to a Ladakh trip but it is recommended that they don’t tag along to high altitude area like Khardungla Pass. With low air pressure and lack of oxygen, it can be a problem to find medical help.
The recommended pre-exposure vaccinations before your trip to Ladakh include:
High Altitude Sickness (HAS) or simply Mountain Sickness is experienced due to decreasing levels of oxygen and air pressure. While there are three kinds of HAS: acute altitude sickness or mountain sickness (AMS), high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) and high altitude cerebral edema, the symptoms are more or less the same and include:
Medical emergencies are quite frequent in Ladakh. It is necessary that you carry you own medical kit. If things go out of hand, you can always get help in the army camps. They are perhaps the ones that have been saving a lot of tourists from a certain death.
Whether you are stranded on the road or are having a medical emergency, the Indian Army is your only hope. Army jawans will readily take you to their camps and help you with medical and other emergencies. They will even give you essentials like food, warm water and bedding for the night, before you are ready to go again.
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