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    Since ages, the rich culture and heritage of India has magnetically drawn tourists from all across the globe. From the mystical gullies of Varanasi to the architectural charm of New Delhi, there are innumerable sights to see and countless experiences to enjoy. The forts and palaces of India, even today, resonate with the glories of the past. It seems like the stories of the conquests and defeats of the Maharajas are captured in the walls of these monuments for eternity.

    Introducing the 12 most popular Indian forts and palaces:

    1. Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, Rajasthan

    The Mehrangarh Fort

    Photo credit - Icekrish - wikicommons

    The Mehrangarh Fort is one of the largest forts in India. Situated on the top of a hill, it has impressive walls that tower over the palaces built inside. At a height of 400 feet, the fort overlooks the city of Jodhpur. There are several beautiful palaces inside the boundaries which are known for their architectural grandeur, expansive courtyards and intricate carvings.

    [Discover more beautiful cities of Rajathan with our Rajasthan Desert Tour]

    The structure has about seven gates, the most notable being the Jayapol and Fattehpol, both meaning victory. The Jayapol was built by Maharaja Man Singh to mark his victory over the Jaipur and Bikaner armies whereas the Fattehpol was built by Maharaja Ajit Singh to commemorate the defeat of the Mughals.

    A must see is the Mehrangarh Fort is its museum which is one of the well-stocked museums in the country. On display are a number of paintings, costumes, period rooms and a grand domed gilt Mahadol palanquin that was won in battle from the Governor of Gujarat in 1730.

    It is in this very fort that the shooting of movie The Dark Knight Rises took place. Apart from that, the fort is a popular venue for several music festivals. While at the Mehrangarh Fort, do not forget to visit the Chokelao Mahal Terrace which serves delectable Rajasthani cuisine.

    2. Amber Fort, Jaipur, Rajasthan

    The grand Amber Fort

    Photo credit: Honza Soukup - flickr

    The Amber Fort (also known as Amer Fort) is situated in the town of Amer, 11 kms away from Jaipur. The fort was built by Maharaja Man Singh and is one of the largest among the forts and palaces of India.

    Made of red sandstone and marble, this structure is best noted for its splendid architectural style and aesthetic beauty. Most famous are the Diwan-e-Aam, which is the Hall of Public Audience; the Diwan-e-Khaas, which is the Hall for Private Audience; the Sheesh Mahal; the Jai Mandir and the Sukh Niwas.

    [Experience the rich culture of Rajasthan with Rajasthan Cultural Tour]

    The construction of the fort was initiated by Maharaja Man Singh in about 1592 and was carried on by subsequent rulers. The royal family continued to live in the palace till Jaipur was built. Attractive features of the palace include cobbled and expansive courtyards, halls and gardens.

    Stunning is sight of the Sheesh Mahal with its glittering walls and ceilings. Today, the Amber Fort is one of the most popular tourist destinations among Indian forts and palaces. Another attraction of the fort is that you get to ride an elephant to the gate of the palace in the mornings. This facility is available only in the morning hours, though. So make sure you reach early to enjoy an elephant ride!

    3. Udaipur City Palace, Rajasthan

    The Udaipur City Palace is one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the city of Udaipur. The palace was built as the capital of the Sisodia Rajput clan by Maharana Udai Singh after he moved out of Chittor. It stands as an excellent example of an amalgamation of Rajput and Mughal architectural styles and is believed to be one of the largest of its types in the country.

    The beautiful palace is situated on a hill top from where the entire city can be viewed. You can enjoy a panoramic view of the Lake Pichola, the Lake Palace and the Monsoon Palace from the Udaipur City Palace.

    A part of the palace is still occupied by the royal family today. The magnificent structure also houses a Museum which comprises the Mardana Mahal (King’s Chamber) and the Zenana Mahal (Queen’s Chamber). As the construction of the City Palace began in 1559 and continued over four and a half centuries, there are influences of Mughal and British architectural styles. This City Palace is the oldest part of the City Palace Complex.

    [Explore majestic forts and palaces of Rajasthan in our Golden Triangle Tour with Udaipur]

    The Museum here houses some wonderful artefacts and paintings of the yore. It also has some very valuable artwork on display depicting the history of Udaipur even before it got its first camera. Tour by the world’s first silver museum and a gallery of royal musical instruments here. The most interesting part of the museum is that it is built like a maze which was done to defend the fort.

    4. Jaisalmer Fort, Rajasthan

    The great Jaisalmer Fort

    Photo credit: Ana Raquel S. Hernandes - flickr

    The Jaisalmer Fort is one of the biggest forts in the world and one of the most interesting among forts and palaces of India. Among all the forts and palaces in Rajasthan and in India, the Jaisalmer Fort is the only living fort in India. The fort is home to about 4000 residents and a business ground for about 40 hotels and restaurants.

    [Experience and learn more about the royalty of India on our tour through the Golden Triangle!]

    The glorious history of the fort is reflected in its palace complex which displays architectural excellence. There are also some havelis of rich merchants inside the fort and several temples of religious and architectural importance. The fort is a major hub of activities in Jaisalmer and is a must-visit destination.

    The fort was built in 1156 by the Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal. The city of Jaisalmer was named after the ruler and the Jaisalmer Fort is one of the grandest forts of the country. The beautiful structure, also known as the Sonar Quila or Golden Fort, stands proud and tall on the sands of the Thar Desert of Rajasthan.

    [Experience the royality and sightseeing in Rajasthan with our Royal Rajasthan Tour]

    Built with yellow sandstone, the fort dazzles in a tawny yellow colour during the daytime and turns into a beautiful golden hue at sunset. The place is one of the most stunning monuments among the forts and palaces of Rajasthan.

    However, the fort is facing serious problems due to illegal construction. Sewage systems are choked, causing water tp seep into the walls of this beautiful monument. In order to curb the damage, the government has announced that it will ban all restaurants and hotels inside the fort.

    5. Jaipur City Palace, Rajasthan

    The Jaipur City Palace

    Photo credit: Richard Moross - flickr

    The Jaipur City Palace is situated in the old city of Jaipur and was built by the Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II between 1729 and 1732, after he moved from Amber to Jaipur. The ruler had to shift from Amber due to growing populations and increasing water shortage.

    [Explore all famous and enchanting palaces and forts with our Majestic Rajasthan Holiday tour]

    Although the palace was built years ago, subsequent rulers kept making additions to the beauty of the palace till the 20th century. Today, most of the palace has been converted into a large, spacious and well-stocked museum named after Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II. The royal family still resides in a part of the palace called the Chandra Mahal and the flag with the royal family’s emblem can be seen flying atop the palace.

    The most attractive part of this palace, which is one of the finest among all forts and palaces in Rajasthan, is the Pitam Niwas Chowk. It is an alleyway which leads to the Chandra Mahal. This is decorated with beautiful paintings and artefacts that reflect the glorious past of the rulers that lived here once. Other features include beautifully painted doors representing the four seasons and dedicated to Hindu gods such as Ganesha, Shiva and Vishnu.

    [Explore the famous old temples and havelis in our Rajasthan Tour with Golden Triangle]

    If you are interested in seeing the interiors of the Chandra Mahal, you will be taken on a tour at an extra cost. Foreign nationals are charged Rs 2500 for the tour while Indians are charges Rs 2000 for the tour inside the Chandra Mahal.

    6. Maharaja’s Mysore Palace, Karnataka

    Photo credit: Kelman Chiang

    The Maharaja’s Palace or the Mysore Palace is relatively new as compared to other forts and palaces of India. It was built by a British architect named Henry Irwin and was the royal residence of the Wodeyar dynasty of Mysore.

    [Take a bicycle tour of historic avenues and monuments of Mysore]

    The Wodeyar kings first built their palace in Mysore between 1897 and 1912. The predecessor of the Mysore Palace built it in wood and showcased excellent styles of the Hindu architecture. However, the palace got destroyed in a fire. The present palace is a beautiful combination of the Rajput, Mughal and British architectural styles and hence is well known for its architectural grandeur.

    The palace has beautiful marble domes that glisten and gleam in the sun light, which lend a mesmerising aura to the palace. The palace has a number of private and public halls, a gallery of antique dolls, a marriage hall, a collection of sculptures and artefacts, a gallery showcasing royal paintings etc.

    [Experience and explore more of Karnataka with the tours that we offer!]

    The most interesting and attractive aspect of the Mysore Palace is that it is lit up using about 100000 bulbs in the evening, momentarily after the sound and light show. The palace is lit up using these bulbs every Sunday evening and it stays so on all nights during the famous Mysore Dasara festival.

    7. Nahargarh Fort Jaipur, Rajasthan

    The Nahargarh Fort

    Photo Credit : jaipurlove.com

    The Nahargarh Fort is one of the most imposing forts among forts and palaces of India. Situated atop the Aravalli Hills, the fort overlooks the Pink City of Jaipur and presents an amazing view of the sunset.

    [Tour the famed Golden Triangle, a must do tour for any visitor to India]

    The fort formed an important link in the defense ring, along with the Amber Fort and the Jaigarh Fort, for the city of Jaipur. It was also to be used as a place of retreat for the royal family of Jaipur. A major portion of the fort was built by the founder of Jaipur, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II in 1734. It was later extended under the reign of Sawai Ram Singh in 1868.

    The fort was originally named as Sudarshangarh. It is believed that the spirit of a certain Nahar Singh Bhomia haunted the construction site to obstruct it from being made. To pacify his spirit, a temple was built in the premises of the fort. Today, it is known as the Nahargarh Fort.

    Although the structure did not experience any attacks itself, it stood witness to several important events in history such as the treaties with the Maratha forces that had been warring with Jaipur in the 18th century. The fortress also served as a hideout for several Europeans during the Indian Mutiny of 1857.

    [Get authentic local experiences as you tour through Rajasthan]

    The beauty of the fort is incomparable along with that of the sunset viewed from its premises. There is a small cafe called the Durg Cafe where you can enjoy the beautiful sunset with a beer in hand.

    8. Red Fort, Delhi

    Photo credit: Paolo Mutti - flickr

    The Red Fort in Delhi is one of the most important among forts and palaces of India. Also known as Lal Qila, it was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, when he shifted his capital from Agra to Delhi. The construction of the fort was commenced in 1638 and completed in 1648. The credit of its architectural grandeur is given to Ustad Ahmed.

    [Find out what other experiences await you in Delhi with the tours that we offer]

    Built with red sandstone, the towering building is a stunning example of the Mughal architectural styles. It is situated near the River Yamuna which fed the moats that surrounded the fort. The structure was originally called the ‘Qila-i-Mubarak’ or the Blessed Fort as it was to serve as the royal residence.

    The Red Fort is not only important because of its history, but also has great cultural significance. On every Independence Day, the Prime Minister of India hoists the national flag at this place and delivers his address to the nation.

    This fort has been given high security to prevent it from terror attacks. Tourists can visit the fort five days a week, except on Mondays. A light and sound show is held for visitors to share information about the Mughal period. The Red Fort is one of the grandest monuments amongst the forts and palaces of India and has been declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

    9. Gwalior Fort, Madhya Pradesh

    Explore Gwalior Fort

    Photo credit: Manuel Menal - flickr

    The Gwalior Fort is one of the most outstanding and imposing monuments in Madhya Pradesh. This beautiful fort was initially built around 525 AD, but did not rise to prominence till the Rajput Tomar dynasty took over.

    [What better way to experience the Golden Triangle than on bikes?]

    During the reign of Maharaja Man Singh Tomar, several important additions were made regarding it. The fort has two main parts, the main fort and the Gurjari and Man Mandir Palace. The Gurjari Palace was built by the king for his favourite queen Mrignayani. It has now been converted into an archaeological museum.

    The Man Mandir Palace was built between 1486 and 1516. The most attractive feature of the palace is that it has stunning blue mosaic tiles on its exterior walls and rows of yellow ducks lining the walls. The fort was later taken over by the Mughals and used as a prison.

    Spread over three square kilometres, the fortress has a lot to offer in terms of sight-seeing compared to other forts and palaces ofIndia. There are number of historic monuments within the walls such as Hindu and Jain temples. The entrance gates are a specimen of remarkable architectural styles, the most significant being the Hathi Pol.

    10. Chittorgarh Fort and Padmini Palace, Rajasthan

    Photo credit: Santosh Namby - wikicommons

    The Chittorgarh Fort is the largest fort in India and is reminiscent of the history of the Rajput rulers who resided in the fort. The structure is situated at a distance of about 100 km from Udaipur and sprawls majestically on a hillock overlooking the plains of the Berach River.

    [Explore Best of Rajasthan with our exciting tour packages]

    The fort has a number of palaces, gates, temples and commemoration towers within its walls. It once belonged to the Mewar rulers and was subject to a number of attacks. This fort was taken over by the Mughal Emperor Akbar, after he defeated Maharana Udai Singh II. Following this, Maharana Udai Singh II moved his capital to Udaipur.

    Later, Emperor Shah Jahan returned the fort to the Mewars in 1616, but they never resettled there. The place is also known for its cremation ground where more than 13,000 women and children performed Jauhar or self-immolation after the king was defeated by the Sultan of Gujarat in 1535.

    The Padmini Palace is situated on the southern part of the fort. The palace overlooks the Padmini Talab, in the centre of which is the Khattan Mahal. The Padmini Palace is known after Rani Padmini whose beauty mesmerised Alaudin Khilji and finally led to the siege of Chittor. During the attack, Raja Rattan Singh was killed and Rani Padmini committed Johar.The fort spans over a large area and it is best that you allocate at least two to three hours in exploring it.

    [The Golden Triangle and Rajasthan are waiting for you to be explored]

    11. Golconda Fort - Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh

    Photo credit: Sanyam Bahga - wikicommons

    The Golconda Fort is situated at a distance of about 10 km from the capital city of Hyderabad. Although the original mud fort was built around the 13th century, the fort as it stands today was built by the Qutub Shahi dynasty from 1518 to 1687. It was founded by the kings of the Kakatiya dynasty of Waranga.

    During the 17th century, the region rose into prominence due to its diamond mines and diamond markets. Some of the world’s most precious gems such as the Koh-i-Noor, the Darya-i-Noor and the Hope Diamond have been mined from here.

    The fort has a number of gateways, stables, apartments and halls, mosques and beautiful temples within its premises.What sets it apart from other forts and palaces of India is its acoustic design. If you stand at a certain location near the dome at Fateh Darwaza and clap, you can hear its echo till more than a kilometre away. This is believed to have been a system of warning the royal family of attacks.

    12. Agra Fort, Uttar Pradesh

    Discover the Agra Fort

    Photo credit: Matthias Rosenkranz - flickr

    The Agra Fort is one of the finest examples of Mughal architecture in India. The fort originally belonged to a certain segment of Rajputs, but was captured by Emperor Akbar, who later on decided to shift his capital there in 1558. It was Shah Jahan, Akbar’s son, who later made the fort into a palace. Unfortunately, Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son in this very castle later on. This magnificent structure was also witness to the Mutiny of 1857.

    [Explore more of Uttar Pradesh on the activities and experiences that we have to offer!]

    The most attractive feature of the Agra Fort is the Delhi Gate. The beautiful marble work on the gate makes it look stunning and one of the most attractive amongst forts and palaces of India.  However, it is not open to the public anymore.


Attractions

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Corbett National Park

Expanded over an area of 308 sq km, Jim Corbett National Park was established in the year 1936 and is one of the oldest national parks in the country. Situated at the base of the magnificent Himalayas, it is the first Tiger Reserve in the country and stands to be one of the most popular weekend getaways from Delhi. Though visitors are allowed to certain parts of the reserve, the park makes for a fun and exciting wildlife tour.

The national park is the perfect place for those wildlife species that seek refuge in its wonderfully green thickets. As the first national park to introduce and execute the ‘Project tiger’ campaign, Corbett national Park has been repeatedly termed as one of the best national parks in the country! So get your cameras and binoculars ready to go wildlife exploring soon!

Distance from Delhi: 254km

Best time to visit: November to June

Attractions: Bengal Tigers, Indian Elephant, Wild Buffaloes, Leopards, Crocodiles and Gharials

Activities: Jeep Safari, Elephant Safari, Wildlife Tours and nature photography

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Lal Tibba

In the local language, Lal Tibba means the Red Hill. This is said to be the oldest and the most populated place in Mussoorie. The place is known for its scenic beauty courtesy the pleasant sunrise and sunset that leave the visitors spell bound. Do carry woolens irrespective of the month of the visit.

Location: It is situated in the Landour area and lies at an altitude of 8000 metre above the sea level.

Highlights: Lal Tibba is even famous as the Depot Hill because of the presence of a depot here. Besides this there is camp of the Indian Military services, All India Radio and Doordarshan. Hills of the Lal Tibba are also popular amongst the shoppers as there are a number of markets in the nearby areas.


Best Time: The best and the most ideal time to visit Lal Tibba is the summer months of March and June. Avoid travel during the monsoon months as there maybe leeches here.
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Valley of Flowers Trek

Amongst all the exhilarating trekking in Uttaranchal or Uttarakhand, the trek to the Valley of Flowers is known to be the most enchanting and mesmeric. Discovered in 1931 by Frank Smith, a vivid botanist, explorer and mountaineer, the locals still believes the valley to be the abode of the angels and fairies.

The mystical and heavenly appearance, mesmeric beauty and the splendid outlook of the valley make it such.
Originating from Ghangria; on the foothills of the Western Himalayas, this fascinating trek comprises of rugged terrains, narrow passages, enticing views of the nearby peaks and steep climbs.

 Ascending the strenuous terrains, it takes around a few hours to reach the main valley and upon reaching the flat land, one should spend enough time exploring and witnessing the wonders of the nature.

Best season:
 Mid July to Mid August

Duration:
 6 Days

Altitude:
 3,600 m
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Rishikesh

Visit the adventure capital of India, the marvelous and thrilling city of Rishikesh on your next vacation with your friends and family!  The 'Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas', Rishikesh is located at the base of the Himalayas and is blessed with the gorgeous, thundering river of Ganga, the popular trek friendly rugged terrains, challenging peaks, strenuous rapids and dense forests! If you are an ardent traveler, then Rishikesh makes for one of the most ideal weekend getaways near Delhi.

Being one of the holiest cities in India, Rishikesh is quite famous for its scenic landscape and serves as a gateway to other important religious centers such as Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. The adventurer paradise is a happening hub of many ancient temples and attractions such as Gita Bhawan, Laxman Jhula, Bharat Mandir, Neelkanth Mahadev, Swarga Ashram, Triveni Ghat amongst others! Grab your cameras and adventure gear and head to Rishikesh for an adventure packed holiday!

Distance from Delhi: 228km

Best time to visit: Throughout the year

Attractions: Triveni Ghat, Ram and Lakshman Jhula, Neelkanth Mahadev Temple and Vashista Cave

Activities: River Rafting, Bungee Jumping, Camping, Rappelling, Rock Climbing and Trekking 

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Nainital

If lush green plains and misty clouds allure you to nestle in a hammock and read a good book, far away from the city life then you need to head to Nainital, a stellar getaway place near Delhi for trekkers and nature lovers alike! Situated in the Kumaon foothills of the Himalayan ranges, Nainital is also known as the 'Lake District' of India.

 It has also been termed as a pious place for Hindus and is one of the most popular hill stations near Delhi due to its fascinating hills, picturesque plains, enjoyable climate and stunning lakes.  Adventurers engage in trekking activities and hike to the top of the beautiful hills just to witness the beautiful view and the wispy sky.

Distance from Delhi: 278km

Best time to visit: March to June and October to February.

Attractions: Nainital Lake, Governor's House, Eco Cave Gardens, Naini Peak and Snow View Point

Activities: Lake Visits, Village and Wildlife tours, Cable Car Rides, Rock Climbing and Trekking

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Chopta-Tungnath Trek

Chopta Tungnath trek is a relatively unexplored trekking destination, which is known for its mesmerizing scenic beauty. The trek towards Tungnath, the 3 from Tungnath takes you to Chandrashila, which is situated at an altitude of 4,000 meters above sea level.

Chopta is blessed with rich flora and fauna as it is located in the midst of dense forests, with a beautiful floor of rhododendrons, interspersed by deodar and pine trees. During the first one and half kilometers, you will pass through a sea of brightly coloured rhododendrons and silver oak forests. Following this the vista opens to green alpine meadows which take you to the Tungnath temple.

According to folklore, the arms of Lord Shiva are believed to have emerged here. On trekking a kilometer further ahead, you will reach the Chandrashila peak from where you get spectacular views of the snow capped peaks of the Himalayas glistening in the sun rays. The grassy meadows of the region make it an ideal spot for camping too.

Chopta is well-connected by roadways connecting Guptakashi and Gopeshwar. The weather is lovely and the views are simply breathtaking.

Best season: May to June and August to September

Duration: 3 Days

Altitude: 3680 m

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Mussoorie

Known as the ‘Queen of the Hill Stations’, Mussoorie is situated in the foothills of the Himalayas and was discovered by Captain Young in the 18th century. It serves as a perfect getaway to escape from the heat of Delhi summers and is located at an altitude of 2000m above sea level. Mussoorie has its emerald hills enveloped in thick, rich greenery and attracts tourists from all over the country!  You can explore the quaint marketplaces in Mussoorie and sightsee some of the popular landmarks in the area such as Landour Bazaar, Lal Tibba, Chaar Dukkan, Gun Hill, the Mussoorie Library and the Savoy Hotel.

Mussoorie is undoubtedly one of the best hill stations in the country. Home to some of the most stunning waterfalls in Uttarakhand, Mussoorie offers the most enchanting panoramic view of the Shivalik Ranges and the Doon Valley.

Distance from Delhi: 270km

Best time to visit: March to June and September to November

Attractions: Gun Hill, Waterfalls, Lakes, Benog Wildlife sanctuary, Tibetan Buddhist temple,  Sir George Everest's House and Nag Devta Temple

Activities: Trekking, Nature Walks, Bird Watching, Boating, Ropeway Rides and Temple Visits

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Nag Tibba

One of the most well-known treks near Delhi, the Nag Tibba peak stands in the Tehri Garhwal region of Uttarakhand. This trek over the weekend is witnessing growing footfalls, and offers splendid views of the Bandarpoonch, Swargarohini, Gangotri and Kedarnath mountain peaks en route.

What makes this an ideal first trek are the relatively easy routes etched along the mountain. Thick Deodar forests blanket the hill, and the best seasons to visit are between February and June, and September to December. The Nag Tibba trek route is circular in nature, and the differing starting and ending points ensure that there is no overlap at any point. The lush meadows hide patches behind them that act as serene camping sites.

Distance from Delhi: 347.4 Kilometers approximately

Nearest Railhead:
Dehradun Railway Station

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Har Ki Doon

A pristine hanging valley in the Garhwal range, Har Ki Doon is one of the simplest trekking places near Delhi—making it an ideal foray into Himalayan trekking for amateurs. Fulfilling scenes of nature’s majesty carry you through rampant alpine vegetation, glaciers and breath-taking views. For the hill folk, time has remained elusive and one gets to notice their lives from close quarters. The best season to visit is during the months from April to November, and is one of the closest places for trekking in Delhi.

Distance from Delhi: 299 Kilometres approximately

Nearest Railhead: Dehradun Railway Station

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Kedarkantha Trek

Close to another marvel of nature, Har Ki Doon, lies the Kedarkantha trek passing through windy trails of the Garhwal Himalayas. A classic winter trek unravelling untouched mountain-villages on its path, it’s the perfect trek to prepare for the other more arduous Himalayan treks. 

Abound with flora and fauna, the Kedarkantha treks passes around the rim of Govind National Park and is open throughout the year. This place for trekking near Delhi is flanked by the Swargarohini peak and a hanging valley, complete with views that’ll blow your mind away.

Distance from Delhi: 428.2 Kilometres approximately

Nearest Railhead: Dehradun Railway Station

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Pangong Lake

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

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

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Nubra Valley

Something divine makes Nubra Valley close to heart and it is not an exaggeration but a fact that experienced and shared by the countless tourists visited the paradisiacal location in Jammu and Kashmir. Without touching the spectacular roads of Nubra Valley, a Ladakh tour will not be complete. The tri-armed valley has Diskit Village as its capital. Ldumra, a magnificent name is the original name of the valley as the local scholars insist. Ldumra means Valley of Flowers. The large valley is formed after the merging of Shyok River with Nubra or Siachen River causing the separation of the Ladakh and the Karakoram Ranges. The valley is located 10000 feet that is 3048 meters above mean sea level and those who cross the Khardung La Pass can easily come to Nubra Valley from Leh.

Except 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.

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Khardung La

Controversies regarding the proclamation that Khardung La is the highest motorable pass in the world is not yet diminished but Ladakh travelers still believe that it is the highest and most adventurous pass in the world. Despite the controversies, Khardung La keeps on attracting hundreds of adventure seekers every year, be it bikers, trekkers or visitors. Nestled amidst the most reverberating surrounding, the ‘Pass of Lower Castle’ is located at an altitude of 17582 feet. Near to the pass, the collection of awesome valleys will lure you and along with the natural extravaganzas, the Tibetan prayer flags are an additional charm.

The pass was constructed in the year of 1976 and later in 1988, it was opened to public and from then on, the pass was inviting uncountable bikers, trekkers and tourists. It is maintained by the Border roads Organization as the pass is highly significant and important to India because it was once used to carry supplies to the Siachen Glacier. Recently, Khardung La became the hot potato of the town with a happy news that a ten member team of visually impaired people is going to conquer the pass through cycling in 2017.

Height: Khardung La is located at an altitude of 5359 meters. But there is an incorrect proclamation on the signboards appear here saying that the height of the pass is 18379 feet.

Location: The highest motorable pass in Ladakh is lying about 39 kms away from Leh. By road, one can reach the pass. The first 24 kms of the road are paved and from there to the North Pullu check post, the 15 kms of the road are filled with loose rock, dirt and occasional rivulets formed after the melting of snow.

Best time to visit: The season between May to October is the best time to visit Khardung La.

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Tso Moriri Lake

It won’t be exceeding at all how much you describe the beauty of Tso Moriri in Ladakh, a highly protected lake in Changthang Region and a significant portion of Tso Moriri Wetland Conservation Reserve.  It is the largest of all high altitude lakes in India especially in Ladakh and is located at an altitude of 4522 meters above the sea level. The length comes to 26 km north to south and 3 to 5 km is the width and the water is wholly brackish. 

The water to feed the lake comes from the springs and melted snow from the nearby mountains. There are two major stream systems to lead the water to the lake. One in the north part of the lake and the other comes in the southwest part. Huge, extensive marshes are seen at both the entrances of the lake. Rupshu Valley, a breathtaking area is the guardian of Tso Moriri along with an array of the lofty Himalayan Mountains in the surrounding.

The number of people come to witness the beauty of this splendid lake is lesser when compared to that of Pangong Lake. It is because of the secluded location of the lake. Hence, it is a favorite home town for many migratory birds. They come to breed here especially birds like great- crested grebe, the brown-headed gull and the Brahmin duck. The rare Himalayan hares are also abundantly seen near the lake. Thus, the declaration of the lake as a reserved area is a right option to protect these species from extinction. Less human interference would keep their lives strong.

Height: The lake is situated at an altitude of 4522 meters.

Location: You can reach Tso Moriri via road from Leh. It is 150 kms away from Leh Airport. Kalka Railway station is the nearest one to the lake. You will get buses and taxis from the station as well.

Best time to visit: May, June, July and August are the peak season when tourists come to Tso Moriri in large numbers and other months will be filled with snow and have extreme cold conditions.

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Shanti Stupa

The white dome of Shanti Stupa is clearly visible from a far distance when you are on a tour of Leh. Peace Pagoda got its name like that because of many reasons mainly the silence persists in and around the pagoda always. This Buddhist prayer center is the most beloved attraction in Jammu and Kashmir. At a height of 4267 meters, the two storied stupa stands holding its head high and overlooks the bustling Leh town. The uneven mountain terrains in the surrounding gives the pagoda a remarkable shining. It is at a location which is 5 km away from Leh town and one who visits the stupa has to climb five hundred steps. The exotic view of the Himalayan peaks turns the beauty of the stupa also, a peace lover would dedicate his life to have such overjoying moments.

History

The stupa was constructed by both Japanese and Ladakh Buddhists. The construction was started in 1983, many Buddhists and Indian Government officials have supervised the procedures throughout.

Structure of the stupa

Among the two structures of the pagoda, the first level depicts the central relief of Dharmachakra which has deer on each side and the turning wheel of Dharma also has a golden image of Buddha at the center. The second level displays images which show the birth of Budhha and the death as well. In addition, both the level have smaller images of Buddha meditating. The stupa came into existence in order to spread the word of peace and harmony among people and it came into establishment as a commemoration of the valuable 2500 years of Buddhism.

Location: Any one can reach the stupa via road from Leh, only 5 kms from the town, a walk of fifteen minutes would require.

Timings: 05:00 am to 09:00 pm

Highlights: The sunset and sunrise views from the stupa are inevitably beautiful


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Magnetic Hill

Magnetic Hill is still a mystery yet a famed attraction that pulls the adventure lovers on a large scale toward it. A mystifying phenomenon which stunts the science and fiction together and exists as a magic to the normal people visiting here. Magnetic Hill is a trump card of every Ladakh tour because of the awe-struck moments it would promise the travelers. There is a sign board placed which says that the hill defies gravity completely and inviting everyone to experience the magical phenomenon.

 If you keep your vehicle in neutral at a position marked on the road and wait, you will be surprised to see the vehicle starts moving uphill at 10-20 km per hour. And this is the unexplainable feature of Magnetic Hill that confuses the world of science. It is located on Leh-Kargil-Baltic Highway and on the east, the beautiful Sindhu River is flowing calmly. Near the hill there is a Sikh Gurudwara maintained by the Indian Army. Due to the natural attraction as well as the human architectural brilliance, the hill has gained popularity in a short term. 

Not just the vehicles hitting the road but the aircrafts and helicopters crossing the radius which Magnetic Hill comes in would feel the same magnetic effect. If the aircrafts are going on a slow pace, then it starts jerking while they are in the circumference of the hill. So the only solution to escape from the clutches of this phenomenon is that the crafts should move at a greater speed.

Height: Magnetic Hill is located at an elevation of 14000 feet above the sea level.

Location: To reach the hill, you can hit the Leh-Kargil-Baltic National Highway and it is situated at a distance of just 30 kms from Leh town.

Best time to visit: The best time to visit the Magnetic Hill is from June to October.

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