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  • Ladakh is a land blessed by nature and the lakes in Ladakh are simply a case in point. There is something very awe-inspiring in the sight of the graceful blue waters reflecting the intensity of the clear skies set against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains and sweeping plains. 

    This is exactly the picture that bursts upon you the first time you set your eyes on a lake in Ladakh, and no matter how many times you see in again, it never ceases to amaze you with its subtle simplicity and unobtrusive beauty. If you are on your tour to Leh, you simply cannot miss visiting the lakes in Ladakh. They are an integral part of the landscape and play a very central role in blessing the land with variety and add to its vibrancy.

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    There are dozens of lakes in Ladakh, many of which do not even have documented names. Of these lakes, the Pangong lake and Moriri lake are perhaps the best known and attract hordes of tourists every summer season. And while paying a visit to these popular lakes is an absolute must in Ladakh, you should not confine your lake visits only to the popular lakes. 

    There are many other marvellous lakes all around the place and visiting them gives you a chance to enjoy the majestic scenery without the hassle of crowds. The adventure that these lakes in Ladakh present make every moment spent around them a memorable experience and the photography opportunities you get to satisfy the soul. 

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    While these lakes can be visited individually and one day at a time, there is also the option of visiting them by planning a Ladakh lake trek. This kind of trek will involve trekking from one lake to the next over a period of a week to 10 days. This kind of trek in Ladakh not only gives you the chance to enjoy multiple lakes but also introduces you to the other beautiful attractions of Ladakh.  

    No matter how you choose to enjoy the lakes in Ladakh, it will be an experience worth remembering.

    Here are some of the most beautiful lakes in Ladakh:

  • 01Pangong Tso

    Pangong Tso is one of the most famous lakes in Ladakh. 150 kilometres long, extending into both India and China, and rich in natural beauty, this lake must be seen to be believed. Set against a backdrop of intense blue skies, golden plains and snow-capped peaks, Pangong Tso seems purely magical. The lake has several unique characteristics which separate it from other lakes in Ladakh. For one, Pangong Tso Lake never freezes. 

    Though it is perched upon a high altitude of 4,350 metres, the lake remains in a liquid state even in the depths of winter. This is because of the saline content of the lake- a unique outlaw in a region rich in glaciers. But nature’s magic does not stop here. There are various camps around Pangong lake which attract a lot of tourists.

     Pangong Tso is also famous for the ever-changing colours of its water which makes it a picturesque delight. There are many camping facilities around the Pangong Tso, so make sure you spend some time admiring it in all its moods when you are in Ladakh.

    Distance from Leh: 250 kilometres approx.

    How to Reach: There are several jeep safaris that take you to the Pangong Lake and you can also rent a bike or car for yourself in Leh.

  • 02Tso Moriri

    Tso Moriri, which translates to “Mountain Lake’, is a glacial lake situated high in the Ladakhi mountains of the Changthang Plateau. Tso Moriri is one of the most beautiful sites in Ladakh and should not be missed when you are in the region. It is situated at an altitude of 4,522 metres and is vast in its dimensions. 

    Tso Moriri is fed by mountain streams and snow melt-off from the mountains which makes the lake one of the many freshwater lakes in the Ladakh region. Its surroundings are verdant in the summer and an atmosphere of freshness and positivity fills the air around the lake and birdcalls thrill with their music. 

    Its high-altitude means that the lake is only accessible during the summer months, and you will find several tourists enjoying its beauty during that time.

    Distance from Leh: 240 kilometres approx.

    How to Reach: There are several jeep safaris that take you to Tso Moriri and you can also rent a bike or car in Leh.


  • 03Tso Kar

    Located on the Rupshu Plateau in Southern Ladakh, Tso Kar is a breathtaking lake renowned for its size and depth. It is a unique lake, but unfortunately, is not well-featured on the Ladakh itineraries. There is a beauty about the lake which comes from its very difference- 

    Tso Kar is a heavily saline lake with weeds, nettles and other lake plants growing within and a tendency to form salt crusts on the outside. Though it is not as large as the Pangong Tso or Tso Moriri, Tso Kar’s strength lies in its serenity. 

    Since not many people visit the lake, those who do actually end up enjoying a greater level natural beauty in a blessed solitude which the popularity of the two other lakes denies their visitors. Visiting Tso Kar is a wonderful experience while on your Leh Ladakh road trip, and if you really want to know all about the various lake landscapes of Ladakh, a trip to Tso Kar is a must-do.

    Distance from Leh: 160 kilometres approx.

    How to Reach: You can rent a car or bike in Leh and drive over to this lake.


  • 04Nyak Tso

    Nyak Tso is a small and delightful lake situated in the upper reaches of the Himalayas. Unfortunately, Nyak Tso does not fall within the Indian borders but falls in Tibet, 30 kilometres away from Rudog in Ladakh. Visiting Nyak Tso may turn into a complicated matter because of its border division, but if you can visit it, the lake will reward you with a very pleasant picture of natural beauty. 

    Nestled in the midst of stern mountains and sheer cliffs, this lake is almost like an oasis of extraordinary worth. The photographic beauty embodied by it is stunning, to say the least, and the force of nature is easily understandable in its environs. The peace and solitude that hangs over the lake only add to the complex beauty of Nyak Tso. Many travellers on their Leh Ladakh bike expedition often visit this place for a peaceful experience.

    Distance from Leh: 120 kilometres approx.

    How to Reach: You can rent a car or bike in Leh and drive over to this lake.


  • 05Yarab Tso

    One of the many lakes in Ladakh, Yarab Tso is located near the Panamik village of Nubra Valley and is a must-visit spot for anyone touring the valley. Yarab Tso captures all the peace and serene stillness of Nubra Valley and sends out its fragrance into the air all around. 

    Surrounded by steep mountain cliffs and towering mountain peaks, this lake is considered to be among other highest in Ladakh and is full of a magnificence that is hard to rival. 

    Yarab Tso is not just a lake, it has also had important Hindu Leh legends and is thus considered to be a holy lake in the region. If you wish to go offer Bitten track, definitely considered paying a trip to its place during your Manali Leh Srinagar bike trip.

    Distance from Leh: 180 kilometres approx.

    How to Reach: You can rent a car or bike in Leh and drive over to this lake


  • 06Mirpal Tso

    Ladakh is rich in lakes and Mirpal Tso is another spectacular example of the same. While most popular lakes in Ladakh are brimming with tourists, Mirpal Tso is an isolated lake which only has solitude and silence for companions.  The lake is located in Chushul and has both sandy shores and fresh waters to its credit. 

    If you want to head out on an adventurous outing in Ladakh and want to see sights that have only been seen by a few eyes, Mirpal Tso will fulfil your requirements and provide you with an awe-inspiring experience to cherish for long.

    Don't forget to check out the list of hotels in Leh before you start planning your next trip and make your stay wonderful.

    Distance from Leh: 202 kilometres approx.

    How to Reach: You can rent a car or bike in Leh and drive to the lake.


  • 07 Stat Tso and Lang Tso

    Stat Tso and Lang Tso are the twin lakes in Ladakh and make for a particularly enchanting visit. The lakes are situated in the Zanskar region of Ladakh, close to the Pensi la pass and can be visited in tandem with the pass. 

    They are small lakes situated close by each other, and because of their relative lack of popularity, remain one of the lesser explored destinations in Ladakh. Exploring Stat Tso and Lang Tso will give you a chance to create unique memories in Ladakh since this is one destination that not many know of which makes it a must visit a place during their Manali to Leh bike expedition.

    Distance from Leh: 369 kilometres approx.

    How to Reach: You can opt for a shared jeep safari to this lake or drive there in your own (rented) vehicle.

  • 08Kiagar Tso

    If you are travelling to Ladakh via the Manali-Leh highway and take the road leading to Tso Moriri, you will pass by the Kiagar Tso Rupshu Valley. Located at a height of nearly 4000 metres, this lake provides tourists with a well-deserved refreshment in the form of a serene landscape made up of shimmering blue waters surrounded by stalwart mountains all around. 

    The lake is saline in nature and is almost like an oasis in the middle of a desert. The cool mountain winds in combination with the warm sun and sweeping landscape make for a very enticing picture. Wild animals can be seen grazing around the shores of the lake and the entire ambience is very refreshing. A stopover at this lake is a good way to enjoy some time on your Ladakh trip.

    Check out the Srinagar Leh guide and start planning your trip.

    Distance from Leh: 270 kilometres approx.

    How to Reach: If you are travelling to Leh via Manali, just take the road which leads to Tso Moriri. If you are travelling from Leh, you can include visits to Tso Moriri and Tso Kiagar in the same outing.


  • 09Chagar Tso

    Located en route to Pangong Tso, Chagar Tso is one of the many small lakes in Ladakh which add to the beauty of the Ladakhi landscape. This lake is fed by glacial waters and can be seen calmly sparkling in the sunlight all day long. There is hardly any crowding around the lake because of its lack of popularity. 

    But this only makes stopping at the lake a far more pleasant experience for those who choose to visit it. You can easily incorporate a visit to Chagar Tso on the trip to Pangong Tso. Spending some time on its banks will relax and refresh your body after the long car ride during your Manali Leh jeep safari and make the remainder of the trip a more enjoyable one.

    Distance from Leh: 200 kilometres approx.

    How to Reach: If you are travelling via a shared jeep, you can ask them to stop here or you can simply rent a vehicle in Leh and drive over to the lake.


  • 10Kyun Tso & Ryul Tso

    Kyun Tso and Ryul Tso are twin lakes located near Hanle and Nyoma in Ladakh. These lakes are marvellous to behold. Nestled in the midst of towering cliffs and peaks at over 5000 metres these lakes provide some of the most pristine experiences in Leh

    Their attitude and location also make them rather difficult to visit and only hard-core adventure enthusiast find it in themselves to surmount the road obstacles necessary to reach these twins. 

    But the exhilaration that you experience once you do reach here is worth every ounce of effort and you will long remember the trip to Kyun Tso and Ryul Tso as one of your best trips in Ladakh.

    Click here to check the Delhi to Leh guide and plan your  trip accordingly 

    Distance from Leh: 255 kilometres approx.

    How to Reach: You can drive over to this lake on your own (rented) vehicle.



Attractions

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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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Lamayuru Monastery

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

History

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

The structure of the monastery

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

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

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

Entry fee: INR 30 per person

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

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Alchi Monastery

After the endless mountain peaks, green valleys, high passes, monasteries in Ladakh are the prime factors behind the huge number of visitors to the paradise every year. Alchi Monastery, a group of Buddhist shrines is now a remarkable landmark and a must visit tourist attraction in Leh. The rugged valleys, uneven mountain terrains etc are creating a flamboyant view from the monastery and make the travelers feel elevated. Alchi is a part of the three villages that together constitute to the Alchi Group of Monuments.

History

Alchi Monastery and its current guardians are grateful the great translator Rinchen Zangpo who was the reason behind the construction of the monastery. He built it in the AD 1000 and there were 32 wood carvers and sculptors from Kashmir to help him. But when the Gelug sect decided to shift the activities to Likir Monastery permanently, it turned to be the administrative shrine of the Alchi Gompa, officially.

Structure of the monastery

Alchi Monastic Complex has three principal shrines named the Dukhang or Assembly Hall, the Sumtseng and the temple of Manjushri. Chortens have a special space inside the complex. The wall paintings seen inside are dating back to the spiritual and artistic nuances found in Buddhism and Hindu Kingdoms. Like we seen in other monasteries, here also, you will find the huge statues of Buddha and several wood carvings and art works appearing in Baroque style.

Location: The monastery is located in Alchi Village in the Leh District, 70 km from Leh.

Timing: May to September on all days: from 10:00 am to 01:00 pm and from 02:00 pm to 06:00 pm.

Entry Fee: For Indians: INR 25, For Foreigners: INR 50

Highlights: The views from the monastery have attracted a lot of film production sets. Good photographic location as well.

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Royal Leh Palace

A nine storey high building displays the influence of Potala Palace in Lhasa is the famed Royal Leh Palace that stands with its head high on a cliff top overlooking the ravishing Leh town. Leh Palace is a must visit during anyone’s tour of Ladakh region as it has been standing there as a symbol of the old glorious days of the royal family lived here. The top floors accommodated the members of the regal community and the low floors were occupied by stables and stores.

History

In the 17th century, King Sengge Namgyal led the construction of Leh Palace and it gained fame in a short span of time. Later, it was termed as an architectural icon and the symbol of pride and glory of Leh. The history says that during the time when Dogra forces took control of Ladakh, Leh Palace was abandoned and the members of the family were asked to move to Stok Palace. The Archeological Survey of India has restored the valuable ruins of the palace and opened to the public as a remarkable tourist attraction.

Structure of the palace

There is a monastery behind the palace which is a part of the palace and there you will find the statue of a seating Buddha in there in the monastery behind the palace. On the walls of the palace, you will see the old pictures and paintings including Tibetan thangka.

Timings: The palace is open to public on all days from 07:00 am to 04:00 pm

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

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

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Zanskar valley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hemis National Park

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

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

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

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

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


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Spituk Monastery

Spituk Monastery in Ladakh has another name that is Pethup Gompa, very famous among the locals. It is located at a distance of 8 km from Leh and there are 100 monks inside the gompa. The major attraction at the monastery is the giant statue of Goddess Kali. The Buddhist monastery is at a site which was blessed earlier by Arhat Nyimagung.

History     

Spituk Monastery was founded by Od-de. He was the elder brother of Lha Lama Changchub Od. When he came to Maryul, he built the monastery and introduced the monastic community. But Lotsewa Rinchen Zangpo on his arrival said that an exemplary religious sect should be there and thus the name of the monastery was changed to Spituk which meant exemplary.

Structure of the monastery

There are three chapels in the gompa with numerous statues of Buddha and several thankas as well. The Dukhang Hall is the highlight and the two rows of seats running to a throne at the end are also something unique found here. Visitors will come across the beautiful sculptors and chortens.

Location: The monastery is perched on a thrilling hill top near Indus and about 8 kms away from Leh on Srinagar road. It is at an elevation of 3307 meters.

Timings: It is open on all days from 08:00 am to 01:00 pm.

Entry fee: INR 20 per person

Highlights: Gustor Festival held from the 27th to 29th day in the eleventh month of the Tibetan Calendar and it is for two days with mask dance and prayers. Usually, the festival falls on winter time which guarantees the presence of natives in large but the number of tourists would be comparatively lesser.


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Visit to the Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame is a proud displayer of Indian Army simultaneously acts as the symbol of those dark days of India’s war against Pakistan. The museum that showcases seized arms and weapons of Pakistan army is located in Ladakh, the paradise of adventure lovers lying in the beautiful Himalayas. Moreover, the museum is considered to be a tribute to the brave soldiers who lost their lives during the war. To make it more appealing, the Indian Army has kept the photos and the things of those soldiers inside the museum. Also, the arranged items related to the history and culture of Ladakh, wildlife and vegetation have importance and amuses the visitors definitely. 

There are things which enhance every Indian’s patriotic feelings as well as they let us appreciate the bravery shown by every Indian soldier during the wars, from the heart. Different quotes, letters written by the soldiers, the tools, aircrafts, weapons, tents and what all the soldiers have used during the period are preserved which give every visitor a minute to think and pay tribute to those brave hearts who lost their lives to help every one of us sleep in peace. Located next to Leh Airfield, the museum is opened on all days. Every day, visitors will be able to watch a detailed documentary on Operation Vijai or Kargil War screened.

Entry fee:  For Indians: INR 10, for Foreigners: INR 50

Timings: 09:00 am to 01:00 pm and 03:00 pm to 07:00 pm

Highlight: Evening parade or march is a major event happening here

Location: 4 kms from the main town, on the way to Magnetic hill via Leh Srinagar Highway.

Tips: Camera and video are allowed inside but at an additional cost.


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Rohtang Pass

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

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

But the exciting beauty of the mountain terrains seen from the top of the pass is indescribable and flamboyant. The Indian Government started building a tunnel which is 8.5 km long to bypass Rohtang pass in order to reduce the travel time and distance to Keylong, Lahaul and Spiti and Leh.

The tunnel promises to reduce the distance by 50 km and the time by five hours between the south and north faces of Rohtang pass. Currently, the time taken to ascend and descend the pass itself is 5-6 hours.

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

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

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

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Lachulung La

Apart from Khardung La or Baralacha La, Ladakh has numerous other passes at great heights which stand as Ladakh’s pride for centuries now. The glitters of other passes may be diminished by Khardung La mainly but all the other passes are equally important. Lachulung La is a single example.

The elevation of this pass is 5059 meters above sea level which is considered to be a dangerously exciting height for any pass after Khardung La. Lachulung La is on the border of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. Also, it separates the valleys of Tsarap Chu and Tozay. If you take Leh-Manali highway, you will be able to cross this pass that has other names such as Lachalung La, Lungalacha La etc. 

A fact that to be remembered before you head to visit this pass is, it is open only for four and a half months during summer. Any traveler should be prepared not to fall sick during the conquering of Lachulung La because its geographic status, the height, the rugged pathways and the remote villages it goes through may cause dramatic influence on your body. Being one of the most adventurous passes in Ladakh, Lachulung is a favorite stop avid adventure lovers.

Also, the surroundings are quite fictional as the towering Himalayan passes and the nature lying in correspondence to them are creating soothing visuals. Trekkers should be very careful while climbing the altitude up as altitude sickness is assured at the top and keep hydrated to maintain your body conditions with respect to the climate. But the descent is smooth and easy so that you will feel overjoyed till the end.

Height:
5059 meters

Best time to visit:
May to October

How to reach:
Take Leh-Manali highway, from Sarchu 54 KM and from Pang, 24 Km

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Tanglang La

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

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

Height: 5328 meters of 1248 feet

Best time to visit: May to October

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

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