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Best Places to Visit in Jammu and Kashmir in 2019

  • 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.

     

  • Kargil

    Kargil
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    The beautiful city of Kargil is the second largest in Ladakh region in Jammu and Kashmir after Leh. Known for its rich cultural, historical and political importance, this city sits at 2676 meters above sea level, along the banks of the Suru or Indus River. The location of Kargil makes for an extreme climate, with temperatures dropping to as low as -45 degree Celsius in winters!

    The people of Kargil were mostly Tibetan-Buddhist until the 18th and 19th century after which most converted to Islam. They are of mixed Dard and Tibetan descent, and most are Baltis. Kargil is known as the battleground for the Kargil War which was fought in 1999 when Pakistani soldiers, disguised as Kashmiri military insurgents, infiltrated the area in and around Kargil. Ever since several movies and documentaries have been made about the War, the most famous of them being the multi-starrer J P Dutta movie, LOC Kargil.

    Kargil is now a peaceful and immensely beautiful city, which serves as a famous spot for tourists year after year. Nestled right in the middle of the massive, naked mountains of the Himalayas, with the pristine waters of the Indus flowing right beside it, Kargil is nothing short of a piece of heaven.



  • Kargil Attractions

  • 01 Zanskar valley

    Zanskar valley
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    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.



  • 02 Chadar Trek

    Chadar Trek
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    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.



  • 03 Kargil War Memorial

    Kargil War Memorial
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    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.

     




  • 04 Mulbekh Monastery

    Mulbekh Monastery
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    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.



  • 05 Phuktal Monastery

    Phuktal Monastery
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    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.




  • 06 Kargil

    Kargil
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    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.




  • 07 Drass Valley

    Drass Valley
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    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.




  • 08 Zanskar valley

    Zanskar valley
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    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.



  • Leh

    Leh
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    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 travelers 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 ensuring 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 a 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. Explore tourist places in Leh with the best Leh tour packages which will leave you mesmerized by its beauty.



  • Leh Attractions

  • 01 Khardung La

    Khardung La
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    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.



  • 02 Shanti Stupa

    Shanti Stupa
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    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




  • 03 Magnetic Hill

    Magnetic Hill
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    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.



  • 04 Lamayuru Monastery

    Lamayuru Monastery
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    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.



  • 05 Alchi Monastery

    Alchi Monastery
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    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.



  • 06 Royal Leh Palace

    Royal Leh Palace
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    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 the public on all days from 07:00 am to 04:00 pm

    Entry fee: For Indians: INR 20 and for Foreigners: INR 100

    Location: Leh Palace is closely located to the town. Visitors can reach the palace by walking from Leh town as it is about 5 kms away from there.



  • 07 Zanskar valley

    Zanskar valley
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    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.



  • 08 Hemis National Park

    Hemis National Park
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    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.




  • 09 Spituk Monastery

    Spituk Monastery
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    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.




  • 10 Visit to the Hall of Fame

    Visit to the Hall of Fame
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    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.




  • 11 Rohtang Pass

    Rohtang Pass
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    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.



  • 12 Lachulung La

    Lachulung La
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    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



  • 13 Tanglang La

    Tanglang La
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    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



  • 14 Chadar Trek

    Chadar Trek
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    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.



  • 15 Hemis Monastery

    Hemis Monastery
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    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.




  • 16 Kargil War Memorial

    Kargil War Memorial
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    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.

     




  • 17 Mulbekh Monastery

    Mulbekh Monastery
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    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.



  • 18 Moonland

    Moonland
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    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.




  • 19 Nakee La

    Nakee La
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    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 an 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.



  • 20 Likir Monastery

    Likir Monastery
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    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.




  • 21 Tso Kar Lake

    Tso Kar Lake
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    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.




  • 22 Phuktal Monastery

    Phuktal Monastery
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    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.




  • 23 Stakna Monastery

    Stakna Monastery
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    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.




  • 24 Chang La Pass

    Chang La Pass
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    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.




  • 25 Shey Monastery

    Shey Monastery
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    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.



  • Ladakh

    Ladakh
    Image Credit : 

    Ladakh, the erstwhile Buddhist kingdom is spectacularly jagged. Arid mountains, dramatically crowned rocky outcrops, picturesque gompas, meditational mani walls and multi hued flags are few of the many sites that exemplify the beauty of Ladakh. The well balanced traditional society of Ladakh has much to offer the West in terms of ecological awareness.

    Ladakh is a magnificent and an unexplored wonderland of the Himalayas. It is one place that is considered as a heaven by everyone who is on a lookout to satiate their indomitable love for adventure. Besides trekking in Ladakh, you can indulge in a series of adventure sports such as biking, water rafting, safaris, etc. Also known as the ‘Land of Passes, Ladakh forms an alluring part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in India.  

    Situated at an elevation of 2750 - 7672 meters above sea level, Ladakh is indeed blessed with incredible topography that comprises of hilly terrains, high altitude peaks and the lush green grasslands. Adventure fanatics from across the globe visit Ladakh as there are plethora of trek trails and trekking options available here.

    Set amidst snow capped hills, Ladakh is the center of Tibetan Buddhist culture. It is dotted with a number of colorful monasteries. Some of the popular tourist hotspots in Ladakh include Alchi and Nubra Valley. Apart from this, Ladakh is also a land that is popular for the rich heritage and culture. It is home to the rare wildlife including the Tibetan antelope, ibex and yak.

    Still unadulterated by modernity, Ladakh is where you’ll experience life coming to a standstill when you directly communicate with the nature and serenity around.




  • Ladakh Attractions

  • 01 Pangong Lake

    Pangong Lake
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    Rather, the most sought after tourist destination is Pangong Tso in Ladakh region. It is the highest among the high altitude lakes in India which is filled with saline water but provides some awe-struck moments to the visitors with the unbelievable phenomenon of changing colours quite a number of times a day.

    The reflections of the towering Himalayan peaks in the water add more charm to the lake. Currently, Pangong Tso is the favourite 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 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 : 

    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 for 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 centre 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

    To see the pure, rugged face of nature, One must visit Ladakh once in their lifetime.



  • 03 Khardung La

    Khardung La
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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 the public on all days from 07:00 am to 04:00 pm

    Entry fee: For Indians: INR 20 and for Foreigners: INR 100

    Location: Leh Palace is closely located to the town. Visitors can reach the palace by walking from Leh town as it is about 5 kms away from there.



  • 10 Zanskar valley

    Zanskar valley
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    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
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    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 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
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    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
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    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 : 

    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 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
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    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 : 

    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
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    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 : 

    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
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    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
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    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 an 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
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    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
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    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
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    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.