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Best Places to Visit in Jammu and Kashmir of 2017

  • The state of Jammu and Kashmir, is the northernmost state of the country, it is a paradise for tourists and is known for its alluring scenery of the Himalayas; this is the reason visiting this land is always on the top list of any traveller heading to the country. The majority of the part of this state lies in the Himalayan range of mountains and the states of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh act as its boundaries.

    With scenic views to be cherished at every nook and corner, the state is full of natural grandeur, perfect for those who want to explore the truest form of nature. Apart from the scenic beauty, there are several endangered animals in this region such as the Kashmir stag, snow leopard, brown bear and musk deer. Wildlife sanctuaries were later established to protect and conserve these rare species of animals.

    The Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary which is located in this state harbours the rarely seen wild animals such as brown bears, musk deers etc. The hilly region of this state provides a natural habitat to the amazing wilderness which is found in this region. The place is certainly a paradise for the bird watchers as well as for the wildlife enthusiasts.

    The state is a home to many valleys namely the Tawi valley, Kashmir valley, Chenab valley, Sind valley, Lidder valley and Poonch valley, to name a few. Jhelum is the major river which marks its presence in the state of Kashmir. The prime cities of this state include Jammu, Srinagar, Anantnag, Gulmarg etc. Jammu is the summer capital of the region and Srinagar is the other capital city.

    The major attractions of this state include Mughal Gardens, the famous Dal lake and the other hot shopping spots. The spectacular lakes in this region include the Nagina Lake and Dal Lake which also offers houseboat stay to the tourists and perfect for those looking for some peace and solitude amidst the charming mountains of the Himalayas.

     

  • 01 Pangong Lake

    Pangong Lake
    Image Credit : Pangong Lake

    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.



  • 02 Nubra Valley

    Nubra Valley
    Image Credit : Nubra Valley

    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



  • 03 Khardung La

    Khardung La
    Image Credit : Khardung La

    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.



  • 04 Tso Moriri Lake

    Tso Moriri Lake
    Image Credit : Tso Moriri Lake

    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.



  • 05 Shanti Stupa

    Shanti Stupa
    Image Credit : Shanti Stupa

    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.

    History

    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




  • 06 Magnetic Hill

    Magnetic Hill
    Image Credit : Magnetic Hill

    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.



  • 07 Lamayuru Monastery

    Lamayuru Monastery
    Image Credit : Lamayuru Monastery

    The high elevation where Lamayuru Monastery is located at amuses every traveler comes here. Existing on Leh-Srinagar Highway, around 15 kms east of the Fotu La, the monastery is perched on a height of 3510 meters. The murals, frescoes and the images of Buddha have created an interesting setting inside this famous Buddhist temple.

    History

    Lamayuru Monastery was originally the monastery belonged to Bon and the name means Swastika which symbolized eternity. The history says that an Indian scholar named Naropa caused a lake to dry up and there founded Lamayuru Monastery. Seng ge Sgang is the oldest building surviving which is dedicated to the builder-monk, Rinchen Zangpo.

    The structure of the monastery

    There were actually five buildings in the beginning and still one can find the remaining of the four buildings located in the corner. In the past there, were up to 400 monks and currently there are 100 monks residing in the monastery. There is a small temple can be seen which is dedicated to Avalokiteshwara.

    Location: The monastery is located at a distance of 127 km from Leh in the Lamayuru region. You can reach the monastery via road by bus or jeep.

    Timings: It is open on all days from 06:00 am to 06:00 pm.

    Entry fee: INR 30 per person

    Highlights: There will be two annual Mask Dance festivals happen which is the most suitable time to visit the monastery.



  • 08 Alchi Monastery

    Alchi Monastery
    Image Credit : Alchi Monastery

    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.

    History

    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.



  • 09 Royal Leh Palace

    Royal Leh Palace
    Image Credit : Royal Leh Palace

    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.

    History

    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 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.



  • 10 Zanskar valley

    Zanskar valley
    Image Credit : Zanskar valley

    The Zanskar Range is the mountain range in Jammu and Kashmir that acts as the separating line between Ladakh and Zanskar. The Zanskar Range is a part of the Tethys Himalayas, formed with weakly transformed sedimentary series. The average height of the Zanskar Range is 6000 meters. It is an inevitable spot for adventure lovers during their adrenaline rushing trekking trips to the Trans Himalayas every year.

    On the way to Zanskar Valley, one will come across the incredible Suru Valley which puts forth a decent trekking experience to adventure lovers. Zanskar is alluring always with its brightly shining mountain peaks and the presumably attracting villages, sometimes, it looks overshadowing the relishing Changthang Region as well. Tourism has caused a great enhancements on the economic side of the region like education flourished and the lifestyle of the people has changed but it took its toll on the fragile mountain environment.

    Nevertheless, Zanskar is the favorite tourist destination still because of the vast area that is made beautiful by multiple hues, the distinct flora and fauna and the extremely variant climatic conditions. There are two main branches of the Zanskar River; one is Doda which has source near Pensi-La and flows south eastwards to reach Padum and the second one is formed by two tributaries called Kargyag River and it has source near Shingo La.

    Height: The valley is situated at an average height of 6000 meters above the sea level.

    Location: It is located at a distance of about 464 kms from Leh and would take around 10 to 11 hours to reach. Buses are available from Leh to reach the valley.

    Best time to visit: The months of June, July, August and September are suitable to visit the Zanskar Range as the other months will cause heavy snowfall and the roads will be blocked.



  • 11 Hemis National Park

    Hemis National Park
    Image Credit : Hemis National Park

    Around 4400 sq.km is the area the prime attraction of Ladakh spreads into. We are talking about the renowned Hemis National Park named after the popular monastery in the region that is Hemis Monastery. The very rare species of wildlife is the reason behind its global recognition. Bharal and snow leopards are examples for the unseen animal collection found in Hemis National Park. The park is located on the west bank of the Indus River. 

    The animals, the flora, the birds and the nature in the park and its vicinity are coming under the highly protected areas and this is the only place in India where the protected snow leopards are seen in abundance. The Rumbak and Markha catchments were found to be protected with the discovery of the park in 1981 and it grew into 4400 sq.km in 1990 and becomes the largest national park in South Asia. Argali or the Great Tibetan Sheep, Shapu etc are the supporters of the prey base for the predators in Hemis. Asiatic Ibex, the Tibetan Wolf, the Eurasian brown bear and red fox are some of the endangered species found before and some are still present in the park. The crucial problem faced by the park is the regular animal-human conflicts because over 1600 people are living inside the park boundaries, mainly pastoralists living with poultry farming, goats and sheep.

    Height: The elevation at which the park exists is 3000-6000 meters above the sea level.

    Location: The park is located about 5 kms from Leh and Leh Airport is the closest airport to the park.

    Best time to visit: To reach the park there are a number of trekking routes opened from Mid-June to Mid-October. But the best season to spot snow leopards is of course, in late winter.




  • 12 Spituk Monastery

    Spituk Monastery
    Image Credit : Spituk Monastery

    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.

    History     

    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.




  • 13 Visit to the Hall of Fame

    Visit to the Hall of Fame
    Image Credit : Visit to the Hall of Fame

    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.




  • 14 Rohtang Pass

    Rohtang Pass
    Image Credit : Rohtang Pass

    Rohtang Pass is quite famous among Ladakh travelers but the unpredictable avalanche and severe climatic conditions make it scary some times. Nonetheless, it had made adventure seekers’ tour of Ladakh mind blowing. A high mountain pass at an elevation of 3978 meters above the sea level, Rohtang is just 51 km from Manali. It is a part of the proud Pir Panjal Range of the mighty Himalayas. It acts as the connecting link between Kullu Valley and Lahaul and Spiti Valley.

    Being an ancient trade route, it was well maintained by the natives. The generic name of the pass suggests that either the pass was the oldest and the most used pass. With the increase of visitors every year, the fragile mountain ecology will be in threat, environmentalists worry.

    But the exciting beauty of the mountain terrains seen from the top of the pass is indescribable and flamboyant. The Indian Government started building a tunnel which is 8.5 km long to bypass Rohtang pass in order to reduce the travel time and distance to Keylong, Lahaul and Spiti and Leh. The tunnel promises to reduce the distance by 50 km and the time by five hours between the south and north faces of Rohtang pass. Currently, the time taken to ascend and descend the pass itself is 5-6 hours.

    Height: Rohtang Pass is located at an altitude of 3978 meters above the sea level in the Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas.

    Location: The pass is located about 51 kms away from Manali and you can reach the pass if you take Leh- Manali Highway.

    Best time to visit: The pass will be open from the months of May to October as the snow starts melting and the paths will be cleared.



  • 15 Lachulung La

    Lachulung La
    Image Credit : Lachulung La

    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



  • 16 Tanglang La

    Tanglang La
    Image Credit : Tanglang La

    Tanglang La is a high mountain pass, the glorious pride of Ladakh, the favourite tourist spot for bikers and trekkers. 5328 meters above the sea level is the dream like height of this pass which happily poses some threatening adventure to those who try to climb up the top. The road leading to the pass on Leh-Manali highway, from Upshi to Tanglang La is completely paved. A 500 meter long section of the road is the only part which is unpaved. Tanglang La is also beautifully paved to the make the climb easier. 

    There are a lot of confusions existing regarding the position of Tanglang La in the list of world’s highest motorable passes and the world believes it to be the second highest which is proven to be wrong. The local sign on the top of the pass shows the altitude of the pass is 17582 feet or 5359 meters. But now, it is said that the sign board gives a wrong impression but the original height of the pass is 5328 meters. The pass is made beautiful by the innumerous Buddhist prayer flags despite the fact the road is tough to conquer and any type of traveler will fall for the scenery at the pass and adventure lovers would love to try their energy level by climbing up to the top. But remember, the oxygen level will be decreased as you cover the altitude and reaches to the half of what you feel at sea level.

    Height: 5328 meters of 1248 feet

    Best time to visit: May to October

    How to reach: The pass is close to Leh-Manali highway and can be reached via 21 Gata loops



  • 17 Chadar Trek

    Chadar Trek
    Image Credit : Chadar Trek

    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.



  • 18 Hemis Monastery

    Hemis Monastery
    Image Credit : Hemis Monastery

    The biggest monastery in the North India is Hemis Monastery, one of the must visit attractions in Ladakh region. Set on the foothills of Indus, Hemis Monastery has 200 branches and over 1000 monks are staying there. It belongs to the red sect Brokpa of Buddhist order. Here the young Lamas are trained for the royal monasteries at Leh, Shey and Basgo.

    History

    Hemis Gompa came into existence 17th century and it was built by Chapgon Gyalshas and from then on the gompa was getting the royal patronage of Ladakh till now. But there is a saying that the monastery was founded by the first incarnation of Stangsang Raspa Nawang Gyatso. After the missing of the head Lama in 1956, a young 12 year old boy from Dalhousie in Himachal Pradesh has been recognized as the head Lama of the gompa.

    Structure of the monastery

    The biggest monastery in the region has a surprising architecture and the building is quite appreciable. There are a lot of big statues and stupas decorated with stones and also the splendid collection of thankas. The collection of thankas is believed to be the largest and it would be shown to the public once in 11 years.

    Location: Hemis Village is located 43 km south of Leh town and it is very easy to reach the monastery by bus or jeep.

    Timing: 08:00 am to 01:00 pm and 02:00 pm to 06:00 pm

    Entry fee: INR 100

    Highlight: Hemis Festival is the prime attraction at the monastery which celebrates the birth anniversary of Guru Rinpoche. The tenth day of the Tibetan lunar month every 12th year is the date of festival.




  • 19 Kargil War Memorial

    Kargil War Memorial
    Image Credit : Kargil War Memorial

    In the history of India, 1999 is a significant one in terms of politics in India and in its foreign relations. The Kargil War to be true has shocked the pulse of India but due to the timely attack of Indian Army against Pakistan made India proud though the war led many of our soldiers to lose their lives.

     To commemorate the victory India achieved and also to pay tribute to our brave soldiers, the Indian Army has built a War Memorial in Drass, the most important location which became famous during the war and now the memorial is known in different names such as Kargil War Memorial and Drass War Memorial. The Indian name of the memorial is Vijaypath. Lulled by the foothills of Tololing Hills, Drass Memorial keeps the soldier still alive through the epitaph which has the names of all the soldiers embalmed on it. On 26th July every year, Kargil Vijay Diwas is celebrated at the memorial. Indian Prime Minister pays tribute to the brave soldiers at Amar Jawan Jyothi at the India Gate, New Delhi on the same day.

     A Sandstone Wall is the prime attraction in the memorial which shows the names of the Indian Army personnel who fought and lost their lives in the war and near to the memorial you can see a souvenir shop as well. On the 13th anniversary of the victory in Kargil War, the soldiers have hoisted an Indian flag that weighs up to 15 kg as a tribute. There is a gallery, Manoj Pandey Gallery that displays the photographs taken during the war, the weapons used and artilleries discovered.

    Location: Drass Valley in the foothills of Tololing is the location of Kargil War Memorial. You can visit the memorial during the visit to Kargil from Leh. It is located 5 kms from the city center across the famous Tiger Hill.

    Timings: It is open on all days except Sunday, from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm and from 02:00 pm to 05:00 pm

    Best time to visit: During the months of May, June, July, August and September would be the perfect time to visit the memorial.

     




  • 20 Mulbekh Monastery

    Mulbekh Monastery
    Image Credit : Mulbekh Monastery

    The two major sects of Buddhism, Drukpa and Gelugpa had two gompas in Mulbekh Monastery. The location is 45 kms away from Kargil and 260 km from Leh town. The nine meter statue of Maitreya Buddha placed in the premise catches the eyes of every visitor. Also, the two gompas are closely connected to the palace of Rajah Kalon of Mulbekh located nearby. To reach the gompa, there is a steep footpath arranged behind the building.

    History

    There are different opinions about the establishment of the gompa but the idol of Buddha placed here dates back to the 8th century and some others believe that it was built in the period of Kushan. The sculptor is the contribution of the missionaries but there is a saying that the artwork present in the sculptor shows that the missionaries were not Tibetans but mostly Ladakhis. Kharoshti scripts were also found in the main sculptor.

    Structure of the monastery

    Apart from the limestone idol of Buddha carved in the rock face, there are other relics of statues and frescoes. The entire monastery is made charming with the very valuable paintings and some relics of the prized items of the ancient period. As Maitreya is famous as Chamba among the Buddhist sets, the monastery has gained the name Mulbekh Chamba later.

    Location: Mulbekh gompa is located in Kashmir, 45 Km from the town and 260 km from Leh in Ladakh region. You can reach the gompa by bus or jeep.

    Timings: It is open on all days from 08:00 am to 06:00 pm

    Entry fee: Entry to the gompa is free

    Highlight: The gompa is 3504 meters above the foothills which gives a mesmerizing view of the valleys down.



  • 21 Moonland

    Moonland
    Image Credit : Moonland

    Since the land resembles that of moon, Moon land near Lamayuru in Ladakh region is fondly called like that. A unique geographical feature appearing here attracts thousands of visitors every year. A traveler comes to Lamayuru will not miss the surprising land. There is also a saying that during full moon, the land becomes exotic and it would be an enchanting sight to behold and rare too. Lamayuru’s fame was dashingly enhanced because of this landscape carved in to the Greater Himalayan ranges. Interested travelers will come to Lamayuru which is located at a distance of 100 kms from Leh on the famous Leh-Srinagar Higway. 

    To watch the glimpses of the moon land so clear and closer, you can climb up to the Meditation Hill in Lamayuru. The monks from Lamayuru gompa are living in this hill, at a greater height. The rough, uneven landscape of Moon land will be an amusing sight from the top of the Meditation Hill. The entire Lamayuru becomes visible from the top. One will come to know why Lamayuru and Moonland are heard as synonyms for each other and the natives here find Moon land as an inevitable part of their lives also.

    Location: The NH 1-D or the popular Leh-Srinagar Highway is where the Moon land in Lamayuru located. Around 100 kms from Leh is the site. You can reach the destination by bus or jeep. Bikers would get some exciting sightseeing option throughout the journey.

    Best time to visit: The months from May to September are the best time to reach Moon land.




  • 22 Nakee La

    Nakee La
    Image Credit : Nakee La

    As important as the other major passes in Jammu and Kashmir, Nakee La situated at an elevation of 4769 meters above the sea level is a potent competition to Khardung La and similar ones in terms of adventure. On the Leh-Manali Highway, from Manali to Taglang La is Nakee La and it is the third pass among the five passes that to be crossed during the travel from Manali to Leh. The previous travelers shared the experience of driving down the pass was quite dramatic; the expert drivers also find it challenging to steer past the uneven, rugged and off-road paths. But the traversing time would be filled with excitement and thrill if you really love adventure at its level best.

     The frequent sections of ice are another impediment during the journey as well as avalanche, heavy snowfalls etc can be expected anytime making the process of crossing the pass difficult. The climate is very dry over here and the harsh cold conditions make the pass a challenge to overcome for many. 21 Gata loops is a repeatedly heard word during the tour of Leh and the ascent to Nakee La is known in the special name. One have to overcome the 23 km ascent that starts from 4250 meters to 4980 meters conquering the 21 tricky hairpin bends. There is also a rumor you can hear about the pass is that the pass is haunted by a ghost of a tourist who was buried here.

    Height: Nakee La is located at an elevation of 4769 meters above the sea level.

    Location: Nakee La is located on the famous Leh-Manali National Highway. While you travel from Manali to Leh, you would come across Nakee La.

    Best time to go: The summer is the best time to visit Nakee La since during winter there would be heavy snowfall and landslide.




  • 23 Likir Monastery

    Likir Monastery
    Image Credit : Likir Monastery

    The white colour buildings modified by the presence of red roof are a scintillating view from a distance and Likir Monastery is the subject of discussion here. One of the oldest and well maintained monasteries in Jammu and Kashmir, Likir Monastery is in Likir village which had been in existence from the 11th century onward. What makes Likir so special is the serenity is shows from the height and a 75 feet tall statue of Buddha.

    History

    Likir Monastery was known as or its original name is Klu-kkhyil gompa. The word Likir means Naga encircled. There is a belief that two serpents, Nanda and Taksako have guarded the monastery. Being the oldest and most visited monasteries, Likir gompa has numerous stories of its origin and existence. The Yellow Hat Sect or the Gelugpa sect of Buddhism is the guardians of Likir gompa and it is scripted that Tsongkhapa was the founder of this monastery in 15th century.

    Structure of the monastery

    Flanked by the wall paintings, stone relics, murals and art crafts, Likir monastery is a perfect display of Buddhist heritage, the principles and culture. Inside the monastery, there is a school as well. It is run by the Central Institute of Buddhist Studies and also a library open to the public where visitors can read old manuscripts and details of Buddhism. The gompa has two assembly halls, a central courtyard with six rows of seats for the lamas and a throne for the head Lama. There is a Gonkhang room that is dedicated to the divinities guarded the monastery.

    Location: The monastery is located 6 km north of Leh-Srinagar highway before the village of Saspol. From Leh, the distance is 62 km to the west of the town.

    Timings: It is open on all days from 09:00 am to 01:00 pm and from 02:00 pm to 06:00 pm

    Entry fee: INR 5-10 per person

    Highlights: The annual event Dosmochey is held in the monastery from the 27th to 29th day of 12th month of Tibetan Calendar.




  • 24 Tso Kar Lake

    Tso Kar Lake
    Image Credit : Tso Kar Lake

    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.




  • 25 Phuktal Monastery

    Phuktal Monastery
    Image Credit : Phuktal Monastery

    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.

    History

    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.




  • 26 Stakna Monastery

    Stakna Monastery
    Image Credit : Stakna Monastery

    Secluded and perched on a hill top is Stakna Monastery, on the banks of the Indus River and gives the visitors an adorable view of Hemis, panoramic and exemplary. The structure of the monastery is not equal to the other monasteries in Ladakh but the scenery around would make up the blank appearance of the building. This is yet another Buddhist monastery which belongs to Drugpa sect, located at a distance of around 25 kms from Leh. There are around 30 Buddhist monks are staying in the monastery currently.

    History

    A Bhutanese scholar in the 16th century came to Leh for establishing the monastery. His name is Chosje Jamyang Palkar who was a saint as well. The name Stakna means tiger’s nose because the hill resembled exactly a tiger’s nose as the natives say.

    Structure of the monastery

    As you come to the courtyard, you will be able to witness a huge assembly hall like in other monasteries. The walls of the assembly hall are beautified with the paintings of Sakyamuni, Tsephakmad and Amchi. A seven feet tall chorten in silver colour has portrayed a figure of Lord Buddha with some notes. The paintings of Bodhisattva, Padma Sambhava and Tshong-san-Gompa arrayed parallel to the hall give a mesmerizing charm to the monastery.

    Location: It is located across the bridge starting from Km 448.7 on the Leh-Karu road. You can walk around 800 meters to reach the monastery.

    Timings: It will be open on all days from 07:00 am to 06:00 pm

    Entry fee: INR 30 per person is the entry fee at the gompa

    Highlights: The gompa is highly attractive with the big statue of Arya Avalokitesvara from Kamrup in Assam.




  • 27 Chang La Pass

    Chang La Pass
    Image Credit : Chang La Pass

    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.




  • 28 Shey Monastery

    Shey Monastery
    Image Credit : Shey Monastery

    On a hillock in Shey village, 15 Km south of Leh is the most prominent Buddhist gompa of Jammu and Kashmir that is Shey Monastery. Shey Palace and the monastery are the highlighted attractions on any tour of Ladakh. Earlier, Shey was the summer capital of Ladakh. The huge statue of seated Shakyamuni Buddha made of copper with gilded gold is the favourite sight any visitor gaze at for long time when they come to Shey Monastery.

    History

    The monastery was built in 1655 as per the instructions given by Deldon Namgyal in the memory of Singay Namgyal, his father, within the palace complex. Now, mainly the ruins of the palace and the monastery are found here but it acts as the major symbol of tourism of Ladakh.

    Structure of the monastery

    At an average elevation of 3415 meters is the monastery is located. The statue of Shakyamuni Buddha is 12 meter long covering the three floors of the monastery. The walls on the sides of Buddha display the Arhats, 16 in total. Arhats are the saints who reached the status of Nirvana. The upper floor is magnified by the beautiful wall paintings and the lower floor gives space for a library where the preserved manuscripts can be read.

    Location: It is located at a place south of Leh, around 15 km journey from the town.

    Timings: It will be open from 06:00 am to 01:00 pm and 01:30 pm to 06:00 pm

    Entry fee: INR 30 per person

    Highlight: At the monastery, two annual festivals are held. One, to mark the beginning of sowing season and it is called Shey Doo Lhoo. The second one is Shey Rupla to indicate the harvesting season.



  • 29 Diskit Monastery

    Diskit Monastery
    Image Credit : Diskit Monastery

    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.

    History

    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.




  • 30 Thiksey Monastery

    Thiksey Monastery
    Image Credit : Thiksey Monastery

    Gelug sect in Tibetan Buddhism is a famous part and Thiksey Monastery in Ladakh is a significant symbol of the pride and glory of Gelug Sect. In Thiksey Village, on a hill top, this monastery is located, around 19 kms east of Leh.  The Potala Palace in Lhasa has a wide resemblance with Thiksey Monastery and that is one of the reasons for the fame the monastery is carrying with it for centuries now. The 3600 meters of elevation where Thiksey gompa is perched on gives a chance to the visitor to enjoy the panoramic view of the splendors of Indus Valley down. A twelve story complex is this monastery which incorporates many things display Buddhist art such as stupas, thangkas, wall paintings and swords.

    History

    In the mid-15th century, Palden Zangpo, the disciple of Sherab Zangpo who established a monastery for the Gelug sect as per the advice of the then king in 1433 and named it as Lhakhang Serpo has built the larger Thiksey Monastery.

    Structure of the monastery

    Since it is perched on a hill top, the buildings have a special arrangements such as they have kept in ascending order of importance and the architecture is mind blowing. Since it looks similar to Potala Palace in Lhasa, it has the name Mini Potala as well. The courtyard in the foot opens a flight of steps that leads to the main monastery. The temple which has a height of a 12 storied building is one of the main attractions here. The red, white and ochre painted walls of the monastery add brightness to the entire location. It houses 60 lamas also inside. The attached nunnery is also important to have a look at. There is another attraction in the monastery which is the splendid Maitreya Buddha Temple built to commemorate the arrival of 14th Dalai Lama in the year of 1970.

    Location: It is located in Thiksey Village, which is at a distance of around 19 km east of Leh.

    Timings: The monastery is open on all days from 07:00 am to 07:00 pm.

    Entry fee: For Indians and foreigners: INR 20 per person

    Highlight: Cham dance or Mask dance held in relation with the annual festival during the month of October or November is one of the reasons for tourists to visit this monastery.



  • 31 Kargil

    Kargil
    Image Credit : Kargil

    Kargil, the second largest town after Leh in Kashmir has multiple images in the mindsets of Indians. The spot where India’s patriotism won, the spot where India’s soldiers lost their lives, the spot where a dramatic tug of war between two countries happened and the spot which makes India proud always; hundreds of reasons are there to recognize Kargil as one of the primary locations of India. Politically, Kargil has gained so much importance because of the renowned Kargil War but now it is termed as one of the most visited tourist destinations as well in Kashmir. Visitors are curious to visit the sensitive zone in India where history was turned topsy-turvy.

    There are a lot to see in Kargil in the form of monasteries, lush greenery, river basins, trekking points and so on. Mulbekh Monastery, located 36 Kms from Kargil is the most famous gompa in Kargil district which is featured because of the 9 meter tall idol of Maitreya Buddha. Near to Kargil is yet another attraction that is Suru Basin. When the Panzella glacier starts to melt, Suru Basin becomes the richest fertile land in the dry Ladakh region. The fields of wheat, barley and grapes are rich in greenery and thus give a splendid sight to the tourists. If you keep patriotism inside you on a dramatic level, then never miss to visit the Drass War Memorial where the photos, things used during the Kargil war and the hardships during the war are displayed along with the 100 feet high flagpoles. For trekking, the surroundings hill tops are perfect and a visit to Lamayuru Monastery located on Leh-Srinagar Highway will be concluding your tour of Kargil in presumably perfect way.

    Height: 2676 meters above sea level

    Location: Kargil is located 60 km from Drass and 204 km from Srinagar to the west and 234 km from Leh to the east. One can reach Kargil from Padum by covering a distance of 240 km and a drive from Delhi will take around 1047 kms to be covered.

    Best time to visit: June to September is the ideal time to visit Kargil as per the information given by the experts and experienced travelers.




  • 32 Ripchar Valley Trek

    Ripchar Valley Trek
    Image Credit : Ripchar Valley Trek

    Given the climatic conditions and the exceptional scenic surrounding, Ripchar Valley Trek is one of the most wonderful adventure activities done in Ladakh region. The trails throughout the trek keep the trekker intrigued about the sights coming their way. The onset point of the trek comes near the famous monastery in the region that is Lamayuru Monastery. Nestled amidst an assemblage of the lofty mountain ranges such as Zanskar, Karakoram and the Great Himalayas, Ripchar maintains the level of excitement high always. If you take part in the trek, you will come across numerous small villages, green meadows and pasture lands. 

    The regions turns unrecognizable in the months of July and August as the whole area would be blanketed by rare Himalayan flowers and birds. Nature lovers flood to Ripchar during this period to capture the exotic moments in their camera. Moreover, the irrigated vegetation in the ranges are another important section to be visited on your trek; the well maintained crop fields offer a breathtaking view. Usually, the trek would last any number of days but to enjoy every nook and corner of Ripchar you would be ready to spend minimum 5 to 6 days. Chilling, a renowned spot for the production of copper is the last point of Ripchar Trek. The everlasting, untamed beauty of Ripchar is a must visit. Eventually you will reach the point of rejuvenation and bliss.

    Maximum altitude: With Ripchar Trek, the maximum altitude you would cover is 4300 meters.

    Difficulty level: Easy to moderate is the range of challenge a trekker would experience at Ripchar.

    Best time to go: Ripchar Valley Trek happens mostly during the month of June, July, August and September since the climate would be highly favorable during this period.



  • 33 Pattharsahib Gurudwara

    Pattharsahib Gurudwara
    Image Credit : Pattharsahib Gurudwara

    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.




  • 34 Namgyal Tsemo Monastery

    Namgyal Tsemo Monastery
    Image Credit : Namgyal Tsemo Monastery

    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.

    History

    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.




  • 35 Leh Post Office

    Leh Post Office
    Image Credit : Leh Post Office

    One of the high altitude post offices in India is Leh Post Office situated at an altitude of 3500 meters above the sea level. Perhaps, this is the only post office which works even the climatic conditions are unpredictably fluctuating and the roads are not in the proper conditions depending upon the seasons. Leh Post Office belong to Jammu and Kashmir circle and also under Srinagar headquarters region and Leh division.

    However, the tourists of Leh, come to the post office to buy picture postcards. The post office in Leh comes under the category of head post office as there are three major categories such as Head Post Office, Sub Post Office and Brach Post Office. Despite the rigid climatic conditions, all the postal services are available at Leh Post Office as well such as delivery of mails and parcels, money transfer, banking etc. There are many other post offices in Ladakh like Alchi, Keylong etc but Leh head post office is the most easily accessible post office in the region and easy to found also.

    Height: The post office is located about 3500 meters above the sea level in Leh town.

    Timings: It is open from Monday to Saturday from 08:00 am to 04:00 pm.

    Location: The post office is very close to the town, hardly 500 meters from the main city.

    Pin Code: 194101




  • 36 Donkey sanctuary

    Donkey sanctuary
    Image Credit : Donkey sanctuary

    The hard lives of donkeys are read by the public with complete negligence and the reason behind that attitude is unknown. Once, donkeys were a usual member in households in the villages but now they are abandoned and thus they face some critical problems to live. Donkey Sanctuary in Leh is a unique idea executed by Stany and Joanne. After seeing the pitiable situation of the stray donkeys, they decided to find a shelter for them and hence the proper guardians for those stray donkeys have come to India. A native of Ladakh, Sonam Angchuk is now taking care of the donkeys now as his own, feeding them and makes sure that they are getting proper medication and care always. 

    They get wheat and grass to eat on time and one doctor from the Government Veterinary Hospital will visit and check the donkeys monthly. Now they are looking forward to make the sanctuary bigger to have 40 donkeys at a time and for that they are expecting funds from well-wishers and animal lovers. To rescue the animals wandering on the road and meet with accidents often, this shelter is a real blessing and the people behind the shelter are really focused to make their services widened. The name of the sanctuary is Home for Helpless Donkeys. They accommodate the injured donkeys and after they get healed, they will be freed to look after on their own.

    Location: The sanctuary is situated on Korean Temple Road in Khakshal Village, Leh Ladakh. It is only 3 kms from the main city to reach the sanctuary.

    Best time to visit: Any time round the year is suitable to visit the sanctuary.

    Entry fee: No entry fee is required to visit the sanctuary




  • 37 Zingzing Bar

    Zingzing Bar
    Image Credit : Zingzing Bar

    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.



  • 38 Baralacha La

    Baralacha La
    Image Credit : Baralacha La

    A story says like this; there were two lovers in mythology, Chandra and Bhaga, one is the daughter of the Moon and the other one is the son of Sun God, respectively. To do their marriage, both of them climbed to the Baralacha La and from there, they started running in opposite directions. Both of them found Tandi as their meeting point and thus their marriage became eternal. The factor made their love shine is Baralacha La pass, a high mountain pass in Zanskar Range that connects Lahaul in Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir.

    In the ancient times, Baralacha La was considered to be a main trade route. Near the pass, there is this emerald like lake, the Suraj Tal which is the source of Bhaga River. The pass is situated at an altitude of 16040 feet and on this plateau, the famous mountain ranges such as Pir Panjal, Zanskar and the Great Himalayas come together to meet. One who wishes to go to Leh through Leh-Manali highway has to cross this pass which hides plenty of adventure and thrill in it.

    Height: Baralacha La is the most important pass as Khardung La and it is situated at an altitude of 16040 feet above the sea level.

    Location: Baralacha La is located 73 kms away from Keylong on Manali-Leh road.

    Best time to visit: The months of April to October are the best months to visit Baralacha La pass as the roads will be open because the snow melts. If you are going from Manali to Leh, then it is advisable that cross the pass before noon due to the melting of snow and creation of streams on the road



  • 39 Sarchu

    Sarchu
    Image Credit : Sarchu

    On a tour of Leh, either starting from Manali or while returning to Manali, Sarchu is a major halt where properly arranged camping settlement can be seen. To relax, to just roam around or to sleep peacefully under the stars, Sarchu is a significant point in Ladakh region. It is on the border of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir on the Leh-Manali Highway. The travelers from Manali to Leh will have to face some off-road conditions and two days will be required to reach Leh on the journey, hence people will choose Sarchu as a halt station. Near the Tsarap Chu River, one can see the camps arranged by the Indian Army as well. But during winter season, the highway and Sarchu camps would be remaining closed as the altitude passes will not be accessible due to the presence of heavy snow.

    Mainly, the trekking of Ladakh starts from Sarchu because the continuing journey from Manali to Leh would be tiring and the trekkers cannot start the expedience all of a sudden. So an overnight stay in Sarchu will give energy and more enthusiasm to start the walk early morning. The tents are proper and safe with all the facilities an overnight resident would require. There are 25 Swiss tent cottages and 15 luxury tent cottages which are made of canvas so that it would prevent the tents from wind and rain. Inside the tent, you can see twin beds, a center table with lamp and a pair of chair. You will be provided with thick mattress, pillow, bed sheet, quilt and a blanket. There are attached toilets and a dining tent which is well furnished. It can accommodate sixty pax at a time.

    Height: 4290 meters above the sea level

    Location: Sarchu is between Baralacha La to the south and Lachulung La to the north and 220 kms away from Manali. You can reach Sarchu if you take a drive along Leh- Manali Highway.

    Best time to visit: The months from June to October are considered the best time to reach Sarchu.



  • 40 Gata Loops

    Gata Loops
    Image Credit : Gata Loops

    A very mysterious attraction existing on the Leh-Manali Highway is Gata Loops as the stories related to it are creepy and at times scary. Gata Loops is a series of 21 hairpin bends that leads to the top of one of the highest motorable passes in Ladakh region that is Nakee La. Gata Loops is located at an altitude of 17000 feet above the sea level and thus gifts so many wonderful sights of the snow-laid peaks in the back ground and excitement filled journey till the top most portion. 

    The myth related to Gata Loops says that a ghost is present in the road and it will disturb the passengers so that everyone is supposed to pay tribute to the ghost dwelling in a small hut atop the pass by giving mineral water and cigarettes. In spite the fact that the ghost is present or not, people have showered offerings to the mysterious ghost. Nonetheless, Gata Loops is a treacherous route to overcome and during winter, the roads will be blocked as the incessant ice sheets are all over the place. The hairpin bends are sharp and it is unimaginably challenging to enter the next loop from the other but descending the loops is more thrilling.

    Height: The pass is located at an altitude of 17000 feet at the maximum above the sea level.

    Location: The loops are located 25 kms away from Sarchu on Leh-Manali Highway.

    Best time to visit: The roads will be suitable to have ride during the months of June, July, August and September.



  • 41 Keylong

    Keylong
    Image Credit : Keylong

    Kyelong or Kyelang are the other names of a renowned tourist destination in Lahaul Spiti District that is Keylon. Tourists going to Ladakh region will come across Keylong, the administrative centre of Lahaul and Spiti District. From Manali, Keylong is 126 kms away. Along the Manali-Leh Highway around 7 kms north-east of the intersection of Chandra Valley, the Chenab Valley and the Bhaga Valley, this beautiful place is situated. Keylong is sprawling calmly on the banks of relishing Bhaga River.

    Kardang Monastery, the famous monastery in the region is the main attraction of Keylong. The monastery is run by the Drukpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Shasur and Tayul Monasteries are the other major places to visit within one kilometer distance from Keylong. On prior arrangements, tourists are taken to a small temple in the house of Sri Nawang Dojre dedicated to the local deity named Kelang Wazir.

    Height: Keylong is located at a height of 3080 meters above the sea level.

    Location: Keylong is at a place 126 kms north of Manali. From Manali, you can board a bus and a drive of 4 to 10 hours will take you to Keylong, depending upon the condition of the road. Post crossing Rohtang Pass en route, you have to descend the same distance you ascend from Manali and the first village seen is Gramphu and from there, continue to reach Sissu. Proceed to Tandi and finally you will reach Keylong. Experienced travelers advise that it is better to cross Rohtang Pass before 08:00 am.

    Best time to visit: The ideal time to reach Keylong is between May and June. From October end to mid-May the access to Keylong and Rohtang Pass would be blocked due to heavy snowfall.



  • 42 Jispa

    Jispa
    Image Credit : Jispa

    As a part of the adventure itineraries travelers follow on their tour of Ladakh, they will choose to halt in Jispa, a mesmerizing village 20 km north of Keylong and 7 km south of Darcha along the most explored Leh-Manali Highway and on the banks of Bhaga River. At a height of 3200 meters, Jipsa is located and it is the major village in Lahaul district. In the backdrop, the lofty Himalayan Mountains create alluring images.

    There are 78 households in the village and the population is calculated as 332 including 235 males and 97 females. Travelers take a stop over here to stay one night during their travel to Leh. There are camping grounds and many other stay options. The village is occupied with a helipad, post office and a monastery. The small houses shimmering in the multiple colours of nature would leave everyone stunned. Jispa is simply adorned by the rugged mountain terrains in the background and the village seems so small when you see it from a distance as the towering Himalayas play the dominant role.

    Height: Jispa is located at an altitude of 3200 meters above the sea level.

    Location: Jispa Village is a main stop for Leh travelers and it is located 120 kms away from Manali. Keylong is in the north of Jispa about 20 km away and Darch is in the south about 7 km away. You can come to Jispa if you take the Manali-Leh Highway. The nearest airport to Jispa is Kullu that is situated at a distance of 180 kms.

    Best time to visit: The peak tourist season is starting in May and continues till October. After that the roads will be covered by heavy snowflakes.



  • 43 Darcha

    Darcha
    Image Credit : Darcha

    Darcha is a recurring name when you pack your bags for Padum trek as it is the base camp for the moderate yet adventurous trek in the Lahaul region. Darcha is a small village on the bank of Bhaga River in Lahaul in Spiti Lahaul District in Himachal Pradesh situated at an elevation of 3360 meters. In the northern most part of Himachal Pradesh along the Leh-Manali Highway is Darcha, a secluded permanent settlement. Many have described the village as a “lonely cluster of dry stone huts and dingy tent camps”. The total population of the village is 298 among which 152 are men and 146 are women. Travelers going to Leh from Manali take an overnight stay at Darchu. The river nearby causes the nature to be soft and calm especially at night so that the travelers would find better sleep during their tiresome journey.

    The popular Padum trek ends at Darcha and there are many stalls and shops on the street to just relax and have food. The village is surrounded by Naggar Tehsil, Spiti Tehsil, Bharmour Teshil. The nearby cities to the village are Keylong, Dharamshala, Mandi and Chamba. There is a check-point set up by the police to check the passport of all passing people and vehicles.

    Height: Sarchu is located at an elevation of 3360 meters above the sea level.

    Location: Darch is on the border of Himchal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. The nearest railway station is Shimla Railway station only that is 174 km away. Buses and jeeps would be available in plenty to reach Darcha.

    Best time to go: Anytime is suitable to visit Darcha but during winter the cold climatic conditions may pose difficulty to stay there.



  • 44 Pang

    Pang
    Image Credit : Pang

    The nature on a large scale is the description suitable for Pang, an inducing beauty. On a Leh tour, Pang has an inevitable space because it takes every visitor to a point of bliss in seconds and that’s the reason why it seated on a high place in every traveler’s heart. Pang is the right place to take a break from your journey and refresh your mind with utmost beauty prevailing in the region. 

    The principal factor that makes Pang a significant place is the highest army transit camp existing at an altitude of 15640 meters above the sea level. It is arranged as a camping option for the army personnel who will travel through this route between the regions bordering Pakistan and China. Numerous tented accommodation options and food from the tea stalls on the road are really helpful to those adventure travelers and trekkers. The rough, uneven plains on the both sides of the village make the sights awesomely jaw-dropping.

    Since the village is very remotely located, the beauty of the natural spectacle is not exploited and faded. Since it is an option to stay overnight or to just take a break from the long journey to Leh, Pang’s beauty is kept folded till date.

    Height: Pang is located at a height of 15280 feet above the sea level.

    Location: Pang is at a distance of about 180 kms from Leh and the journey to Pang will be along the Moray plains watching the rugged brown peaks on either side.

    Best time to visit: The months from June to October are considered to be the most suitable time to visit Pang.



  • 45 Upshi

    Upshi
    Image Credit : Upshi

    Upshi in Ladakh lies along the Indus River Valley at an altitude of 40000 feet and it is the highest civilized settlements in India. Cycling from Upshi to Mahe Bridge and then from there to Tso Kar is a favorite activity for a lot of people. It lies 47 kms to the southeast of Leh and Tangalag La along the Leh-Manali highway and Gya is lying to the south of Upshi. Once it was a part of an important trade route. According to the latest census, Upshi has 26 households in it and a population of 128.

    The residents of Upshi are the main feature of this town or village. They welcome the guests with a warm smile always and take care of the days the guests spend their; they provide food, stay and they are ready to help them whenever necessary. Goat farming is the major profession the local people do. Also, the literacy rate of the people here is quite attractive and they are really happy to indulge in conversations with the passersby. There is a helipad as well in the village, if you wish to enjoy the bird’s eye view of the village, then think of this opportunity.

    Height: Upshi is situated at a height of under 40000 feet.

    Location: Upshi is located less than 47 kms away from Leh and lies along the Leh-Manali Highway.

    Best time to visit: Any time during the year is suitable to visit Upshi but winter will have rough climatic conditions.



  • 46 Karu

    Karu
    Image Credit : Karu

    A place nobody will miss during the journey to Leh from Manali is Karu, a town, a junction where the natives are found in huge numbers and it is the starting point of Chang La. Throughout the route, one can find many chortens and the splash of multiple hues make Karu a different setting altogether. From Karu the road to Hemis Monstery also starts. Once you ride past the junction, you will be welcomed to the land of bliss where the nature is flanked by the lofty mountains around, the whispering streams and the flabbergasting valleys. 

    The towering rugged mountain peaks are creating big walls around the town to protect it from the external humdrum. Karu is famous for the Army Goodwill Public School started with the support of Tangtse Brigade in 1998. The school was started with the aim of increasing the literacy rate of the village and the management provides education in a subsidized fee structure as well.  Also there are plenty of guesthouses in Karu making the travel to Leh more easy and free of tiredness. The friendly people in this village would be happy to welcome their guests anytime.


    Height: Karu is located at an altitude of 3500 meters above the sea level.

    Location: On the Leh-Manali Highway, you can ride to Leh touching Karu. The distance between Karu and Leh is about 38 kms.

    Best time to visit: The route to Leh would be motorable only in the months from June to October as in all other months, the roads will be blocked by huge snow-flakes.




  • 47 Markha Valley Trek

    Markha Valley Trek
    Image Credit : Markha Valley Trek

    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.



  • 48 Stok Kongri Trek

    Stok Kongri Trek
    Image Credit : Stok Kongri Trek

    Stok Kangri, Ladakh is one of the most popular places for high altitude trekking in India. Although the beauty of Ladakh draws in innumerable tourists and trekkers from all over the country and the world, the Stok Kangri trek isn’t really suited for anyone and everyone.

    It is advisable that only experienced trekkers set out on this expedition as the climatic and geographical conditions of the place may not suit novice or amateur trekkers. Nonetheless, Stok Kangri is one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in the country. It is for this reason that the Stok Kangri trek forms an inevitable experience while trekking in India.

    The trek begins from Leh, which is noted for its natural beauty as well as the warm and hospitable people. During the first couple of days of the trek, you can move around Leh, go sightseeing and get acclimatized to the weather of the region. These couple of days will prepare you for the trek ahead. You will next be taken to Chang Ma via Stok Village by road.

    The journey from Leh to Stok Village takes you to witness the amiable yet fictional setting which includes lush greenery, glistening snow peaks and scenic splendor of the region in this stretch. On reaching Chang Ma, you reach a snow covered region and begin trekking. You will need to climb on for about three hours. From here you will head on to Manokorma, which is at an elevation of 14200 feet.

    During the trek, you will be able to view some very beautiful peaks such as the Gulap Kangri, Parcha Kangri, etc. The base camp of the trek is at an elevation of 16, 300 feet. From here, the journey continues till you reach the Stok Kangri. The rewarding scenery from the top is what draws trekkers from all over the world to high altitude trekking in India. The trek back to Leh is a bit arduous and you may need to be careful while climbing down the mountainous terrain.

    Best Season: June - October

    Difficulty Level: Medium

    Max. Elevation: 5000 m

    Number of Days: Maximum 10 days of trek can be done here



  • 49 Drass Valley

    Drass Valley
    Image Credit : Drass Valley

    Drass Valley in Kargil District in Jammu and Kashmir is popularly called as the gateway of Ladakh. In the infamous Kargil War, Drass has played a significant role. The Pakistani Army in 1999 started dropping shells in Drass and in the surrounding villages and thus the war broke out between India and Pakistan. In the end, India recaptured Drass and other parts in the premises and then on Drass has been recognized as the memorial of the Kargil War

    Drass is nestled amidst the snow-clad peaks on the Leh- Kargil National Highway at a height of 3230 meters above the sea level. Zojila Pass is the beginning of Drass Valley. Even when the harshest climatic conditions of winter hit the inhabitants here, the people kept guarding the valley intact and thus they are called the guardians of Ladakh’s gateway. The residents of the valley is known to be the saviours of stranded travelers who try to cross the pass along the snow covered trails and also they have stayed back in the valley to transport trading merchandise in the extreme cold. Drass is recognized as the base for the three day long Suru valley trek.

     The coldest region of India is Drass where -12 degree Celsius is the average temperature during winter and it falls onto as low as -17 degree Celsius during the peak time of winter. The tours of Drass compulsorily include a visit to the famous Drass War Memorial which is built to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the India-Pakistan War in 1999. There is a Brigade War Valley that also turned to be the space to commemorate the lives and dedication of Indian soldiers during Kargil War.

    Height: Drass Valley is located at an average height of 3820 meters.

    Location: It is located 60 kms away from Ladakh and starts from the foot of the famous Zojila Pass.

    Best time to visit: The season between the months of May and September are the suitable time to visit Drass.




  • 50 Rizong Monastery

    Rizong Monastery
    Image Credit : Rizong Monastery

    Yuma Changchubling is the more fascinating name of one of the famous monasteries in Ladakh region that is Rizong Monastery. To the west of Alchi on the road to Lamayuru is the location of Rizong gompa. Lined by the beautiful mountainous terrains, Rizong Monastery is perched on a rocky hill top north of Indus River.

    History

    The history says that before the establishment of the monastery in the year of 1831, there was a hermitage for teaching the Buddhist religion to the monks. Lama Tsultim Nima was the person behind the construction of the hermitage and in the later stage as the number of monks was increased, he started the construction of the current monastery, much bigger and expansive. Now, the monastery belongs to the powerful sect of Buddhism, Gelugpa or Yellow Hat sect.

    Structure of the monastery

    At the centre of the monastery there is a relic shrine which has another name as Sku- Gdung that preserves the relics of the founder of the monastery. The frescoes of Dharmaraja and other deities are all around the shrine. Shakyamuni Buddha’s statue is the main attraction of the assembly hall as well as the idols of other deities give the hall a complete sacred atmosphere. The sacred chamber, Thin-Chen shrine etc have many other idols and all together create the harmonic serenity inside the monastery.

    Location: It is located at a distance of 73 Km from Leh. You can reach by bus or jeep.

    Timings:The gompa is open on all days from the month of June to September

    Entry fee: The entry to the monastery is free

    Highlight: A name that should be read in association with Rizong Monastery is Chulichan Nunnery under the administration of Rizong gompa. 20 nuns are residing there. People visit this nunnery also during the tour.




  • 51 Hemis Festival

    Hemis Festival
    Image Credit : Hemis Festival

    There is a time when the cold deserts of Ladakh wake up to complete entertainment and vibrant moments of the year that is during the renowned Hemis Festival. It is dedicated to Lord Padmasambhava or popularly known as Guru Rinpoche. The Dance Festival is world famous representing the reincarnation of Buddha.

    On the birth day of Rinpoche that is on the 10th day of the fifth month in the Monkey year, the festival happens and that day is the most prestigious and precious one for the people in Hemis Monastery. With an early morning ritual, the festival begins, the echoed sound of the drums, the cymbals and the pipes make the declaration. The monks in the monastery believe that following the festival yearly would help them given more spiritual strength and health.

    The wide rectangular courtyard in front of the main door of the monastery is the witness of the complete festival. There are two raised square platforms which are of three feet height along with a sacred pole at the exact centre. An elevated dais where a cushioned seat will be placed with a small table that has the ceremonial items like holy water, uncooked rice, tormas made of dough and butter and some incense sticks. As the rituals progress, a number of musicians will play the traditional music with cymbals, large pan drums, trumpets and wind instruments. Next to them, you can see the space provided for the current lamas to be seated.

    The Cham Dance, the major event is a slow paced dance and has grotesque expressions aplenty. The dancers wear multihued masks which presents the unusual image of the myth existing.

    Location: It happens at Hemis Monastery, 40 kms away from Leh town.

    When to go: After the tough winter the festivities start and the dates would be fluctuating every year. But usually it falls somewhere in the month between June and August.



  • 52 Losar Festival

    Losar Festival
    Image Credit : Losar Festival

    The Tibetan New Year is the famous Losar; Lo stands for year and Sar stands for New. Since the influence of Tibetan Buddhism was spreading in the north of India, Jammu and Kashmir also celebrates Losar Festival annually. In Ladakh, currently it is Ladakhi New Year too. Falling on the end of January or in February depending on the Tibetan calendar, Losar is celebrated for 15 days but the first three days have the supreme significance. A five day long process of Vajrakilaya is the important part of the festival. For Ladakhis, Losar is a very special time as it mustards all the people in the area and take it to the level of a prominent socio religious festival of the region. 

    The dance of the Ibex deer, numerous religious rituals, staged dance dramas and music together churn the festival to be one of the top-notched tourist attractions as well. One principal ceremony during the festival is Metho ceremony that represents the fight between good and evil. There will be a huge procession in which hundreds of people gather with flaming torches in their hands and chanting the special prayers. 

    The torches will be thrown away after the parade in order to let the evils go away from the society and people and welcome the fresh year to their lives. The festival is celebrated by Tibetans, Bhutanese, Yolmo, Sherpas, Acharyas, Gurungs, Bhutias and several other Himalayan natives and their Diasporas.

    Location: There is no fixed location for Losar as different locations will be arranged every year. Anywhere in Ladakh you can be to watch and partake in Losar.

    Best time to go: The festival will take place any time between the December and February.



  • 53 Monastery Festival

    Monastery Festival
    Image Credit : Monastery Festival

    Monastery Festivals

    Annually, there are some events happening in Ladakh related to the hundreds of monasteries in the region. The natives will eagerly wait for this time of the year when all the monasteries will be decorated and long days of festivities take place. Almost all the festivals are celebrated to commemorate the establishment of the monastery or the birth anniversary of the saint or patron of the monastery. Major events of the monastery are fixed according to the Tibetan Calendar. The locals believe these festivals are a moment of gathering, a moment of equality and happiness unlimited.

    Though there will be a number of events, the dance-dramas known as Chhams are the attraction of any festival for that matter. The choreography of the dance is awesomely done by Chham Spon. The coloured masks using in the dance enhances the overall beauty of it.

    The rites and rituals which are specially designed for the festivals will be conducted by the Rimpoche or the head lama. In the courtyard, the throne for the lama will be arranged and he sits on that high throne and leads the rituals. The other lamas in the monastery and the monk musicians will attend the festival wearing the ceremonial attire. The accompaniment of traditional music by using trumpets, large drums, wind instruments and cymbals will add on more beauty to the colourful festival.

    Spituk Gustor, Dosmochey, Yargon Tungshak, Stok Guru Tsechu, Hemis Tsechu, Korzok Gustor, Karsha Gustor etc are some of the famous monastery festivals. All of them have unique reason and the dates of each festival fall on different months depending upon the Tibetan Calendar. The bright colours, the special items used for the rituals, the dance and music and the themes of each festival are together playing an important role in the lives of Ladakhis.

    Location: Any monastery in Ladakh will have their own festival annually.

    When to go: The time and date of each festival are depending on the Tibetan Calendar.



  • 54 Ladakh Festival

    Ladakh Festival
    Image Credit : Ladakh Festival

    As every Ladakh lover will know, Hemis festival celebrated at Hemis Monastery has a large number of admirers. It falls onto the month of July usually but the dates would be changing according to the calendar followed by the Buddhist monks. Yuru Kabgyat Festival is a two day festival at Lamayuru Monastery in the month of July. In this one as well, there is a mask dance and similar rituals followed in other major monasteries in the region. Ladakh festival is celebrated in the month of September every year in Leh and its villages. Filled with music, dance, traditional art forms, cultural representations, this festival will last for six beautiful days. Deskit Gustor festival at Deskit Monastery, Thiskey Gustor Festival at Thiskey Monastery, Losar Festival, Saka Dawa Festival and Karsha Gustor Festival at Karsha Monastery are some of the major festivals that give the visitors colourful memories of Ladakh and its life.

    One major similarity in these festivals is the presence of dance and music. Each festival includes dance and music for different but unique reasons. The mask dance is seen in almost all the festivals. Also, the music played by using the wide drums, small trumpets, cymbals, large wind instruments and large pipes is believed to be one of the inevitable part of every festival of Ladakhis.

    Location: There are plenty of monasteries in Ladakh, some are really close to Leh town and some are quite far. You can reach the monasteries via bus, bike or jeep.

    When to go: Mostly, the festivals happen after the winter season. According to the lunisolar calendar followed by the monasteries only, the dates of festival will be declared. But on a usual note, the dates of almost all the festivals fall in between the months of June and October.



  • 55 Hemkund and the Valley of Flowers Trek

    Hemkund and the Valley of Flowers Trek
    Image Credit : Hemkund and the Valley of Flowers Trek

    Just as the name suggests, the place is heaven on earth. It may be difficult to believe, but the Valley of Flowers seems too surreal to believe. The Valley of Flowers is in full bloom in the months from June to October and appears as a carpet of myriad colours.

    The Valley of Flowers is the second core zone of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve and has been now declared as a World Heritage Site. The entire landscape springs into full bloom right after the monsoon rains. The Valley of Flowers attracts a number of tourists, botanists, florists and trekkers all throughout the year.

    The Valley of Flowers is open to the public only during the summers. It is an excellent place for trekking and can be reached on foot by trekking 17 km from the nearest town of Joshimath in Garhwal. You will have to trek about 14 km from Govindghat, which is situated near Rishikesh, to reach Ghangaria. Ghangaria is the last settlement on your way to the Valley of Flowers. You reach the gorge over the River Pushpavati where the valley starts. There are fixed timings for entry into the valley and camping is prohibited there. You will have to return to Ghangaria the same day.


    The beautiful valley is situated at an elevation of 3650 m and is delightful to look at. The best time to visit the Valley of Flowers is mid-July to mid-August. The trek to the Valley of Flowers is very easy and can be undertaken by people who have limited or no experience of trekking.

    The Valley of Flowers has a very pleasant climate during the day time with the temperatures hovering between 15 to 20 degrees. However, it gets pretty cold during the night time and you may want to dress in layers to protect yourself from the cold. The treks are always led by professional guide trekkers who have completed the basic and advance mountaineering course and are certified in first-aid.

    Best Season: May - October
    Difficulty Level: Medium
    Max. Elevation: 4329 m
    More Details: Guide to Valley of Flowers Trek
    Discounted Offers on Tour to Valley of Flowers



  • 56 Zanskar valley

    The Zanskar Valley is the place to witness enchanting visuals of snow capped peaks and alpine lakes. Located in the Ladakh district, there are numerous places to see here. Visit the Zongkhul Monastery by undertaking the exciting Padum-Kishtwar trekking route.

    Visit Zangla, which is an ancient castle that also houses a chapel and also feel amazed at the captivating beauty that you see from the Penzella Pass. Take a village tour through a human settlement in this divine land at Karsha. Get more breathtaking views from Panikhar and also visit the Panikhar Fort.



  • 57 Rahala Waterfalls

    Located at about 17km from Manali, the beautiful Rahala Falls is also amongst the famous tourist spots in Manali. Situated in a region that leads to the Rohtang Pass, the surroundings to this cascade serves as a perfect habitat for picnic lovers.

    Trekking routes in this region are a pure delight to the trekkers and also takes them through lush and forests, scenic landscapes and many more. These trails are also popular amongst the nature photographers. Be it the aromatic air or dense silver birch trees, a visit to this waterfall offers you with pristine views and keeps you immersed in the lap of the nature.



  • 58 The Manali Gompa

    The Manali Gompa
    Image Credit : The Manali Gompa

    Built in 1960, this is amongst the important spiritual pilgrimage centers for Buddhists. People from all over the world come here to see the giant statue of Lord Buddha and embrace the sea of spirituality that pervades here as part of their Manali tour packages.

    Importantly, this place functions as a gathering place for Buddhists from neighbouring regions such as Lahaul, Spiti, Ladakh and Nepal. The monastery is renowned for its unique roof built in the Pagoda style. Inside the monastery, there are splendid paintings that portray the life and teachings of Lord Buddha.



    Top Things To Do in The Manali Gompa

  • Nearby Getaways from Jammu and Kashmir
  • 01 Leh

    Leh is a dream destination for many travellers in India and even for those who are visiting from overseas. It is not just a destination for solo travellers but has so much to offer to young travellers, families and couples alike. Leh is famous for its high altitudes and numerous passes connecting various locations in this difficult terrain. To explore the best tourist places in Leh, one must visit this frozen paradise to explore its secrets and admire its breath-taking beauty.

     Despite its harsh weather and inaccessibility, it remains a popular tourist destination for people from all over the world. But make sure you are physically fit to endure the harsh weather and difficult terrains of Leh.You must be wondering why visit this place is perfect when the terrain is difficult to navigate. Well you must visit this place because not only is it a pocket friendly tourist destination, (provided you book in advance), it is sparsely crowded even during peak season and the local hosts are committed to ensure you to have a terrific experience.

     Leh is a dream destination for many travellers and the holy grail for the adventure enthusiasts. If you are a photography enthusiast then Leh is the paradise you have been waiting for all your life. There isn’t much to offers in terms of nature or wildlife photography, but what you can capture instead is vast empty canvas that you can paint.

     The landscape here is unlike anywhere in India and worldwide and so much of it is still undiscovered and undocumented. In addition to the mesmerizing landscape, there are many turquoise blue lakes, beautifully constructed monasteries, snow-covered mountains and unimaginable sights that change every few kilometres. It’s safe, economical and you can travel here by yourself, or with your friends, families and even that someone special. The tourist places in Leh will leave you mesmerised by its beauty.

  • 02 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.


  • 03 Srinagar

    Silk-sunset, certain shades of white, tar on the roads, gloom beyond the oil lamp floating over the lake, ripples in the water, fog on the mirror, garden of the spring, the palace of the fairies, subject of the poems, emptiness in the eyes, absence of words, forever in ordinary things and the old roses on a breeze, where love arrives in memories of forever to liberate us into life – Srinagar! The tourist places in Srinagar offer breathtaking views and mesmerising locations to die for.

     

    Srinagar wakes up with Fajr (pre –dawn prayers) and zikr where life sings winter melodies on nine bridges, connecting the city that smells of heaven on both sides of Jhelum River, a river that passes through the city, meanders through the valley, deepening into the traveler’s paradise – Dal Lake.

     

    The city takes on the morning light mirroring the mountains, when the moon still hangs pale over the tranquil Dal Lake, which ornaments an array of alluring houseboats where the lovers’ find home watching a promise of the snow filling up the woods. The lake’s less urbanized eastern shore is decorated with the Mughal gardens that speaks of history strung out for several kilometers. The subdued fortress and the familiar wooden mosques of the old times makes a mark at the center of the city in this era of remembering all that once existed. Easy wind, downy flake and the promises to keep between the woods and frozen lake, Srinagar awaits for you, to dream within a dream. So, come and explore the best tourist places in Srinagar.

  • 04 Kargil

    Kargil is nestled at an elevation of 8780 feet above the sea level. It is the second largest town in Ladakh only after Leh. Lying on the banks of the River Indus, Kargil is a town with a population of 10, 657 people. Most of the people residing here are a mélange of Tibetan and Dard Descent. Majority of the locals here practice and preach Buddhism.

    Kargil is the transit hub that has roads which are accessible. They lead you to the Srinagar, Leh and Padum (Zanskar). In the year 2009, there was a major armed conflict between Indian and Pakistan, that was called the Kargil war.  

    Kargil has a number of monasteries which play a host to several festivals on annual basis. Spanned over an area of 15,0000 km, Kargil lies 204 kilometers from Srinagar and 60 km from Drass. You can reach this region of Ladakh via bike ride or via a 4 wheel drive vehicles or via the regular bus services from Srinagar to Leh. The best time to visit Kargil region is between the months of May to July as the temperature here is cool with the frigid nights. You can even hire the taxis to travel from Srinagar to Leh. Since this area is a war zone, be assured that you travel during the time when there’s no civil unrest going on.
  • 05 Spituk

  • 06 Sonamarg