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  • Monasteries are considered to be one of the most holy and sacred places in the country. Every year, millions of people from all corners of the world swarm to these monasteries in search of eternal peace.

    Buddhist monasteries are the most revered of them all.  These monasteries located in the northern or eastern part of India are extremely popular; some of them also depict the life and teachings of Buddha.

    Here’s a list of some of the best monasteries in India:

  • 01Winter Treks | Himalayas | Nov-Feb

  • 02Hemis Monastery, Ladakh

    Hemis Monastery, Ladakh

    The Hemis Monastery is located in Hemis, Ladakh. It lies at a distance of 44 km away from the beautiful valley of Leh. The history of the Hemis Monastery lies back in the 11th century. The king of Ladakh, Sengge Namgyal reconstructed this monastery in 1672.

    Hemis monastery is the largest and is also considered to be the wealthiest monastery in the Ladakh region. It shares its root with one of the ancient pupils of Buddhism, Naropa who is believed to achieve enlightenment in Hemis.

    The best time to visit this monastery is June-July. During this period, the visitors can also witness the famous Hemis Festival that is organised as a dedication to Lord Padmasambhava. During this time, the entire Buddhist population of this region dresses up in ethnic clothes and takes part in the festival. The villagers step ahead to welcome each and every visitor to their village. On this holy occasion, Hemis witnesses thousands of tourists. The ‘Mask Dance’ is the main attraction of this festival.

  • 03Thiksey Monastery, Ladakh

    Thiksey Monastery, Ladakh
    Image Credit : Snotch-flickr

    The Thiksey Monastery is located 20 km away from Leh at a height of 11,800 ft. The architectural layout of this Buddhist monastery is truly praiseworthy and makes this monastery one of the magnificent monasteries in India.

    The importance of every building in the monastery can be gauged by their location; the ascending buildings are of more importance than the descending ones. The 12 storey complex of the Thiksey Monastery covers an entire side of a hill and the white colour of the monastery makes it look like a small whitewashed town consisting of many numbers of small buildings.

    This monastery was constructed under the guidance of Pladen Sangpo in the mid 15th century. There are some mysterious tales that depict the establishment of the monastery in this region. However, according to the most believed tale, while performing some sacred rituals, two crows appeared mysteriously and carried the main ceremonial plates with them.

    On searching for the ceremonial plates, the disciple of Pladen Sangpo found them in Thiksey; the plates were kept on a stone and were arranged in a perfect order. The Buddhist monk, Paladin took this as a holy indication and decided to build the monastery in the Thiksey region.

    The entire monastery is very well constructed and the art of modern construction is clearly visible from it. Divided into various parts, the monastery has a lively collection of many Buddhist statues, scripts, stupas and paintings of the Buddhist culture. Amongst all the collections in the Thiksey Monastery, the 49 ft statue of Maitreya Buddha is the centre of attraction. This statue is the largest statue in the entire Ladakh valley and covers two entire storeys of the monastery.

  • 04Namdroling Nyingmapa Monastery, Coorg, Karnataka

    Namdroling Nyingmapa Monastery, Coorg, Karnataka

    Located in the Bylakuppe, a remote place in the Mysore district of Karnataka, this monastery was established by Pema Norbu Rinpoche. The Namdroling Nyingmapa Monastery is an ideal place for learning Buddhism and His Holiness Rinpoche himself, teaches the disciples. The fifth Karma Kuchen Rinpoche, the third Choktrul Rinpoche and the third Rago Choktrul Rinpoche were also trained in this monastery.

    Major number of disciples in this monastery belongs to the Palyul tradition of the lamas. However, students from traditions like Sakyong (Mipham Rinpoche), Minling Dungse, and Minling Khenchen Rinpoche also studied in this monastery. Apart from the religious and spiritual teachings, this monastery also offers the students to learn courses like philosophy, logic and debate in the Ngagyur Nyingma University which is built within the monastery.

    After coming to India, His Holiness Pema Norbu Rinpoche established this monastery with a very little amount in his hand. Later, His Holiness Dalai Lama blessed this monastery and today, this monastery is home to more than 5000 lamas from across the world. His Holiness Pema Norbu Rinpoche takes care of the monastery, all by himself. Even the expenses for the entire monastery are also managed by His Holiness.

    On the eve of every Tibetan New Year, the monastery draws thousands of visitors and lamas from different parts of the world. The New Year celebration runs for around a couple of weeks. During this period,formal processions, lama dance and several traditional events are hosted. February-March is the ideal time to feel the blissful beauty of the Namdroling Monastery.

  • 05Tabo Monastery, Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh

    Tabo Monastery, Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh
    Image Credit : Nivedita Ravishankar - Flickr

    Situated in the enchanting Spiti Valley, the Tabo Monastery lies to the left bank of the Spiti River and above the Tabo village. The Tabo Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in India; Rinchen Sangpo laid the foundation of this monastery in India in 996 AD.

    Most of the parts of the monastery are filled with paintings including walls and ceilings. A number of caves encircle the monastery and thus it is also known as the ‘Ajanta of the Himalayas’. These caves are used by the lamas for meditation as they provide extreme solitude.

    The stupas in this monastery belong to the 13th-15th century and are still in good condition. Due to ageing, some of the paintings and the wooden work in some parts of the monastery are fading. But the endless effort of the Archaeological Survey of India has been successful in preserving the affected portions of the monastery.

    The monastery has a total of 9 temples and one of these 9 temples holds the holy ‘Wheel of Law’. These temples are named differently and according to their usage. In the year 2000, His Holiness Dalai Lama inaugurated the ‘Kalachakra’ in the presence of several thousand monks from every corner of the world. The humming of daily prayers can be heard daily at sharp 6 am.

    The Tabo Monastery is also considered as an ideal centre for learning Buddhism. Apart from the religious teachings, the Sekrong School within this monastery offers subjects like Sanskrit, Arts, Social Science, Maths, Social Studies, Hindi, English, Information Technology and General Knowledge.

    Unlike most of the monasteries in India, the Tabo Monastery is not located in the hilly regions, but in the bottom of the Spiti Valley at a height of 3,050 m above the sea level. A large number of tourists visit this holy place every year.

    May-October is considered to be the ideal time to visit this monastery as the Rohtang pass remains closed after the heavy snowfall in October. Visiting the monastery during September-October, one can become a part of the famous ‘Chakhar’ festival which is held every three years.

  • 06Phuktal Monastery, Zanskar, Ladakh

    Phuktal Monastery, Zanskar, Ladakh
    Image Credit : Bob Witlox

    While trekking in the Zanskar region of Jammu and Kashmir, the trekkers might get amazed by the sight of a cluster of small huts, made up of muds and wood built in the shape a honey-comb. Well, this astonishing cluster of huts is the Phuktal Monastery.

    The entire monastery is built on the mouth of a cave and hence the name Phuktal was given to this monastery; in native language, ‘Phuktal’ means ‘through caves’. A suspension bridge to reach the monastery makes the sight more wonderful and a proper destination for the trek lovers. A river flows below this suspension bridge, all through the year. But during the monsoons, the mouth of the cave serves as an outlet for water; this makes the monastery more picturesque.

    Gangsem Sherap Sampo founded this monastery during the earlier part of the 12th century. But the monastery remained undiscovered to the outer world till 1826-27. Equipped with a library and several prayer rooms, Phuktal Monastery is presently the abode of around 70 monks. Buddhist art and culture reflects vividly from the wall and ceiling paintings of the monastery. The frescos are still vibrant and seem to be alive.

  • 07Ghoom Monastery, Darjeeling, West Bengal

    Ghoom Monastery, Darjeeling, West Bengal
    Image Credit : Lionel Viroulaud

    The Ghum or Ghoom Monastery is located at a mere distance of 6km from the main centre of Darjeeling town. The monastery can be easily reached from the Ghoom Railway Station and it serves as one of the main tourist attraction points in Darjeeling.

    Built in 1850 by Lama Sharap Gyatso, this is the oldest monasteries in this region and is located at an altitude of 7,470 feet above the sea level. The library of this monastery contains some of the most ancient Buddhist scriptures and books. This is one of the few Buddhist monasteries that serves as a main learning centre for scriptures.

    A 15 feet high statue of Lord Buddha is the main attraction of this monastery. This statue is decorated with pure gold and precious stones. Right in front to this statue, two huge oil lamps are kept which keeps burning all through the year.

    The Ghum Monastery belongs to the Yellow Hat sect of the Buddhists and is maintained and taken care of by almost 60 monks, living in this monastery. The influence of the Tibetan culture can be seen in this monastery. According to the natives of Darjeeling, Ghum Monastery faced a huge financial crisis in the recent past and henceforth the monks has started charging for photography and video recordings inside the monastery.

  • 08Enchey Monastery, Gangtok, Sikkim

    Enchey Monastery, Gangtok, Sikkim
    Image Credit : Sterling holidays

    The North-Eastern part of India is the home to some of the ancient and significant Buddhist monasteries. The Enchey Monastery is one such structure. Situated in the Kanchenjunga mountain range in one of the hilly folds of Gangtok;  the Enchey Monastery is surrounded with dense forest; mostly pine trees.

    A Buddhist tantric master, Lama Druptob Karpo; a master in the art of flying is believed to be the founder of this monastery. During one of the journeys to the Maenam Hill, Karpo took rest in this place for few days and built a small shelter for resting. Years after the visit of Lama Druptob Karpo, construction of the Enchey Monastery started in the very same spot as a remembrance of the master of flying. The construction completed in 1901.

    The regional meaning of Enchey is ‘solitary temple’; the cliff where the monastery is situated is very peaceful and stays calm all through the day. Moreover, monks can be seen meditating in and around the monastery in their traditional attires.

    The scenic view of the location and the colourful architecture of the monastery is the home to 90 monks. Every year, during the 18th, 19th and the 20th day of the Tibetan Calendar, the monks in this monastery organises the ‘Chaam’ festival. This festival is very close to the inhabitants of Gangtok and also attracts thousands of tourists and monks from other Buddhist  monasteries around the world. The ‘Singhe Chaam’ is celebrated once in every three years and is the main attraction of the Chaam festival. The Chaam festival signifies the love between the Bhutias and the Lepchas.

    While visiting this monastery, care should be taken to avoid the rainy days within this part of Sikkim. The duration of June-October consists of the beginning of the main winter period in this entire region and is the best time to visit the monastery.

  • 09Mindrolling Monastery, Dehradun

    Mindrolling Monastery, Dehradun
    Image Credit : khandrorinpoche.org

    The foothills of the Himalayas in Dehradun are the home to the Mindrolling Monastery. It is one of the major Buddhist  monasteries of the Nyingma School in Tibet and was founded in 1676. Rigzin Terdak Lingpa; whose ancestors are also known as ‘Nyo Lineage’, is the founder of the Mindrolling Monastery. The name ‘Mindrolling’ means ‘Place of Perfect Emancipation’. This monastery is also considered as one of the largest Buddhist Viharas in India.

    The Mindrolling Monastery is an ideal centre for learning Buddhist scriptures as well as other academic courses. Traditional Tibetan medicine and Tibetan lunar calendar are also being taught under the guidance of the Ngagyur Nyingma College of the monastery. From the last three centuries, these monasteries in India has taught many numbers of monks and yogis.

    The landscapes around the monastery are very enchanting and have been attracting visitors from centuries. The colourful gardens of the monastery serve as the best way to relax the mind and the body; escaping mental digressions is guaranteed.

    In the year 2002, the monastery opened its door to the ‘Great Stupa’, which is 185 feet tall and the width measures up to 100 square feet. It is the largest stupa in the world. The shrines of this monastery depict the art and culture of the Buddhist culture in a closely understandable way. Blessing ceremonies and other ritual function can be seen all throughout the year in this monastery.

  • 10Tawang Monastery, Bomdila, Arunachal Pradesh

    Tawang Monastery, Bomdila, Arunachal Pradesh
    Image Credit : Giridhar Appaji Nag Y-flickr

    Arunachal Pradesh, the North Eastern state of India which is considered to be one of the best places for trekking, is the home to the magnificent Tawang Monastery. The monastery is located at a height of 3,5000 m above the sea level. The snow covered mountains of the Himalayan range welcomes every visitor to this monastery, all throughout the year.

    Tawang Monastery is also known as the ‘Chosen Horse Monastery’. The peaceful and serene surroundings of this monastery make it an ideal place to seek solace of mind. The monastery is also the birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama. The fifth Dalai Lama wished for a monastery in this region and thus the monastery was established. Mera Lama Lodre Gyatso founded this monastery.

    The infrastructure of this monastery is very rich and is very well decorated with stunning statues depicting Buddhist teachings and meanings of life. A 3-storey building comprises the main building of the monastery. This building is further divided into shrine rooms for the monks to meditate, worship and perform other religious activities.

    Within the compound of the monastery, sixty-five residential buildings provide shelter to the monks and lamas. These buildings also include the ‘Parkhang Hall’ which is the library of the Tawang Monastery. The library has a large collection of ancient books on Buddhism and some of these scriptures are very old and rare.

    Besides being one of the major Buddhist monasteries in the country, Tawang Monastery is also one of the finest craft centre in the entire Arunachal Pradesh. The craft centre within this monastery produces some of the finest quality woollen carpets in the world.

    Cultural festivals are an integral part of the Tawang Monastery. Among all the festivals celebrated in this monastery, ‘Losar’ is the main festival. This festival is celebrated to mark the Tibetan New Year and it runs for 15 continuous days. The victory of good over the bad is depicted in this festival.

    June-October  is the best time to visit this monastery.

  • 11Tsuglagkhang Complex, Dharamshala

    Tsuglagkhang Complex, Dharamshala
    Image Credit : Liz Highleyman

    Alongside the tall gazing trees in the forest of Dharamshala, the prayer flags of the Tsuglagkhang Complex can also be seen; this view is simply mesmerizing!

    The Tsuglagkhang complex is the official residence of the spiritual leader, Dalai Lama. The complex is located near Mcleod Ganj and is surrounded with beautiful forests of pine trees. The Dhauladhar Mountain ranges mainly comprises these forests.

    The monastery is an ideal place for some peaceful time and in the presence of Dalai Lama, the holiness of the monastery knows no bounds. The simple life of Dalai Lama can be closely observed in this monastery.

    The monastery also has a museum, Namgyal Gompa, Kalachakra temple and many more sacred paintings of the Buddhist culture. The entire monastery is open to the visitors; there are no restrictions on visiting any part of the monastery.

    An evening walk with the monks, around the monastery is the best way to have a peaceful time.

  • 12Kye Monastery, Spiti District, Himachal Pradesh

    Kye Monastery, Spiti District, Himachal Pradesh
    Image Credit : wiki

    The Kye Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in the Spiti Valley. In the year 2000, it completed 1,000 years.

    Located at a distance of 12 km to Kaza, this monastery stands 4,116 m above sea level. Since its establishment, it has faced several attacks from the Mongols. And, due to repetitive reconstruction, the monastery looks like a fort today.

    Even after several changes in the structure, the beauty of the monastery is ineffable. It is one of the most important learning centres of the Buddhist monks and the lamas.

    Influence of the Chinese architecture can be clearly seen from the structure of this monastery. The temples of this monastery are built one over the other. The Kye monastery is very rich in terms of collections of Buddhist paintings and Holy Scriptures. A wide range of ancient books can be found in the library of the monastery.

    On the eve of completion of 1,000 years, His Holiness Dalai Lama visited this monastery. Over 15,000 Buddhist monks, lamas and devotees from all over the world visited the monastery to witness this celebration. Among all the celebrations, the ‘Kalchakra’ celebration was the holiest. This festival is celebrated on the completion of every 1,000 years.

  • 13Namgyal Monastery, Dharamshala

    Namgyal Monastery, Dharamshala
    Image Credit : Amit Rawat

    Another beautiful monastery to visit in Himachal Pradesh is the Namgyal Monastery. Since the third Dalai Lama himself founded this monastery, it is considered as one of the holiest monastery in India as well as in the entire world.

    The Namgyal Monastery is also the home to one more monastery within its main campus. Several temples can be seen inside the monastery along with various learning institutions. Special prayers for the betterment of Tibet are carried out in this monastery.

    The passage to the interior parts of this monastery is limited to His Holiness Dalai Lama and his disciples. It offers various religious, tantra and sutra learning centres to more than 150 students.

  • 14Rumtek Monastery, Sikkim

    Rumtek Monastery, Sikkim
    Image Credit : Sek Keung Lo

    Amongst the 200 monasteries in Sikkim, Rumtek monastery is the largest and the most visited monasteries in the entire region. This monastery was founded in Tibet during the 9th century. Later, in the early 1960s, the monastery was re-established in India.

    Due to several controversies, the Rumtek Monastery is one of the most closely guarded monasteries in India. The Rumtek Gompa and the Lingdum Gompa lays closeby to the monastery and are ideal places to visit.

    During May-June, the monastery celebrates the Tibetan New Year. This celebration is followed by special prayers, processions and colourful masked dance. The celebration takes place two days before the Tibetan New Year.

  • 15Diskit Monastery, Leh

    Diskit Monastery, Leh
    Image Credit : Pranav Bhasin

    Founded in the 14th century, the ‘Diskit Gompa’ or the Diskit Monastery is located in Leh. It is the oldest and also the largest monastery within this region. The Diskit Monastery belongs to the ‘Gelugpa’ sect. This sect is also referred as the ‘Yellow Hat’ sect of Buddhism. It was founded by Changzem Tserab Zangpo, who was a disciple of Tsongkhapa.

    The monastery explains the Tashilhunpo Gompa of Tibet through its wall and ceiling paintings. Inside the monastery, a number of shrines can also be found. The steps that approaches towards the main entrance of the monastery are carved out of stones and gives a very spiritual look to the monastery.

    The Diskit monastery is highly influenced by the Mongol mythology which depicts the life of an evil and anti-Buddhist monk. It is also believed that even though the evil monk was killed several times, he revived these attacks. It is said that the head and the hand of the evil monk has been kept inside the main temple of the monastery.

    The monastery is also considered to be an ideal place to view the Naruba Valley. The monastery itself is very magnificent and the large statue of the Jampa Buddha makes the monastery more impressive. The statue measures 32 m and is located on the top of a hill. His Holiness Dalai Lama inaugurated this statue in 2010.

    The ‘Festival of Scapegoat’ is the most popularly celebrated festival in this monastery. This festival is celebrated with the advent of winter during month of February. This festival draws a very large number of crowds to the monastery. Mask dance is also one of the significant parts of this festival.

  • 16Gonjang Monastery, Sikkim

    The Gonjang Monastery is not very old. It was established in 1981 by H.E. Tingkye Gonjang Rimpoche, who was an incarnation of Yolmo Terton Ngak'chang Shakya Zangpo. It is located near the Tashi View Point in Sillim.

    The 14th Dalai Lama laid the foundation stone of this monastery at Gangtok. Started as a small centre for learning Buddhism, presently this monastery has become one of the most important learning centres in the entire region. In this monastery, the Buddhist culture is preserved and presented in a very warm way.

    Education is an important part of this monastery. Alongside the spiritual and religious teachings, the students are also taught English and Tibetan Language. Philosophical lessons on Buddhism are also taught in this monastery.

    Buddha Purnima is very cheerfully celebrated in this monastery. During the occasion of the Buddha Purnima, ‘Saga Dawa’ is celebrated. Droogpak Tse-Shi is also one of the popular celebrations in this monastery. During this period, Gautam Buddha is believed to have turned the wheel of Dharma for the first time. ‘Pang Lhabsol’ and ‘Lhabab Duchen’ are also widely celebrated in this monastery.

    During the month of December-January, thousands of devotees swarms to this monastery and take part in the ‘Nyingma International Peace Aspiration Prayer’.

  • 17Gondola Monastery, Himachal Pradesh

    Gondola Monastery, Himachal Pradesh

    The Gondola Monastery is located in Himachal Pradesh. It lies at a distance of 18 km from Keylong. It is balanced on the top of a hill above the Tupchiling village. The place where the monastery is located is considered as a holy place as the Chandra and Bhaga River meets there.

    The foundation of this monastery lies in the 8th century. Guru Rinpoche or Padmasambhava founded this monastery. Even before this monastery was founded, evidences of the existence of Buddhist culture has been found within this place.

    The wooden statues in the monasteries are the centre of attraction and are very distinct. These idols consists the replicas of Guru Padmasambhava, Brajeshwari Devi and other lamas.

  • 18Palpung Sherabling Monastic Seat, Kangra Valley, Himachal Pradesh

    Palpung Sherabling Monastic Seat, Kangra Valley, Himachal Pradesh
    Image Credit : Ishan Khosla

    The Palpung Sherabling Monastic Seat is spread over a tranquil pine forest of 30 acres. Located in the Kangra Valley of Himachal Pradesh, this is one of the few Buddhist monasteries that has snow covered mountains as the backdrop.

    From Dharamsala to the Palpung Sherabling Monastic Seat, it is a journey of two and half hours. The monastery has 126 quarters for the monks, 3 shrine halls, and 6 shrine rooms. Modern features are also available in the monastery. Though built out of modern materials, yet the monastery reflects the ancient Buddhist culture in a vibrant way. Kenting Tai Situpa designed the main 5-storey building.  Each floor of this building is dedicated for different purpose.

    The second floor of the building is dedicated for reading purposes. The environment inside the library is peaceful and silent. This is an ideal environment for studying. The monastery also offers a retreat centre for 25 monks. This centre was built in 1988 and accommodation for 25 monks can be made at one time.

    The monastery is very rich in arts and crafts. Metal work, wood carving, sculpting, Thangka art, and tailoring are taught to the students of this monastery. Unlike most of the monasteries in India, the Palpung Sherabling Monastic Seat provides a separate guesthouse for the tourist.


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 favorite location for tourists as the banks of the lake give soothing bed to relax and the nearby places are enhanced by the beauty of this particular lake. The quiet lake is 134 km in length and 5 km in width is situated at an altitude of 14270 meters. But the major share of the lake lies in the area of China. Now, its recognition is spread everywhere in the world because it is termed as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

The highly saline water does not accommodate any water species not even micro-organisms. But the banks of the lake give space for several birds and animals very rarely seen in the other parts of India. It is an important breeding ground for many migratory birds as well.

Height: The lake is located at an altitude of 4250 meters above the sea level.

Location: Pangong Tso is easily accessible as it can be reached after a five hour drive from Leh and the travel would be on a rough and dramatic mountain road. You will cross the villages of Shey and Gya during the tour and go through Chang La as well.

Best time to visit: The months from May to September are the ideal time to visit the lake as the other seasons may cause challenges due to the heavy snowfall.

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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 the river beds, every other place in the valley shows scant vegetation and low precipitation levels. Most of the villages in the valley are occupied by Nubra skat speakers and in the villages, one can find lush greenery and farming which happen through the regular irrigation. Diskit is the place where native people are seen in abundance and Diskit Monastery is the entre of attraction as well. The Shyok River flowing on one side of Diskit has a captivating effect on the visitors. Nubra Valley unwinds a lot of surprising sights when you visit it and an unbelievable fact is that the valley was open to the public till Hunder until 2010. Beyond Hunder, it was the greener region in the lower altitude where the Turtuk village exists. Till 2010, the Government did not allow tourists to mesmerize themselves in the magnificent beauty of Turtuk where numerous apricot trees and other vegetation along with the tribal community were preserved as a virgin.

Height: 3048 meters above the sea level

Location: The paradisiacal Nubra Valley is located at a distance of 140 km from Leh and the main road access to the valley is through Khardung La pass where you have to show the photocopies of your travel permit to the soldiers camping.

Best time to visit: The months from June to September is the perfect period to visit Nubra Valley

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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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Havelock Island

Being one of the topnotch attractions in Andaman is the sublime Havelock Island brimming with silky beaches and exuberant greenery. A lot of tourist locations, resorts, hotels, attractions and much more are creating the perfect background to Havelock Island to host as many tourists as possible. This is the largest of all the islands in Andaman and comprises of a lot of small islands. The administration in Havelock promotes eco-tourism on a large scale.

 The lighthouse established in 2005 at the northern part of the island gives additional recognition for the island. The accommodation options on Havelock will let you be surprised. Ranging from high-end, luxurious resorts to camps with basic amenities, the stay arrangements done by the administrative people here are unbelievable.

Highlights: The long stretches of different types of beaches are the main highlight to be pointed out. Declared the best beaches in the world, almost all of them are blissfully located on Havelock Island, connected to closely to the main boat jetty on the island.  

Elephant Beach, Radhanagar Beach, Vijaynagar Beach, Kalapathar Beach which are known in numbers also are proclaimed to have the highest number of tourists every year. The green fringed shorelines, the clear sea water, the colourful marine animals, the long coral reefs, the wild fauna and flora bring forth the astounding picture of Havelock incomparably beautiful.

Activities: Snorkeling and diving are the favourite activities done on the islands though other major water based activities like boating and kayaking are frequently done.

Distance from Port Blair: Havelock Island is lying 42 kms northeast of the capital city, Port Blair. There are regular boat services by the Directorate of Shipping Services which connect Phoenix Bay jetty in Port Blair to Havelock daily.

 

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Chidiya Tapu

As the name suggests, Chidiya Tapu is the perfect haven for unseen migratory birds and common native birds found in Andaman Islands. Recognized as the most enchanting beach in Andaman and tourists arrive here on a large scale as the beach extends the best ever sights for them including the eye catching sunrise and sunset views. This is a silent yet crowded beach encircled by evergreen forests on one side and the short hills on the other side. 

As it is considered to be the presenter of the most finishing touch of sunset and sunrise views, it is the main hub in Andaman Islands. The beach is filled with 46 varieties of endangered species of birds, and white spotted deer. There are a lot of seasonal orchids and other varieties of plants.

Highlights: The major attractions of Chidiya Tapu are the Chidiya Tapu Biological Park, the Sylvan Sands, the Munda Pahar Beaches etc. You will be able to stay at a forest guesthouse located nearby atop a hillock and from there, the panoramic view of Chidiya Tapu in detail.

Activities: Apart from sunset and sunrise views, people come in plenty toward this beach to identify the rare species appear in multiple colours and size. Even though many of the birds are commonly found on the beach, you would find it as a unique and unnatural scene to find the colourful gathering of them. Boating is an attractive activity done here as well as snorkeling and swimming are also a part of the adventure activities usually experienced by those who visit here.

Distance from Port Blair: It is located about 25 kms from Port Blair.


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Neil Island

A tiny island located to the south of Andaman is Neil Island, brimming with less explore marine diversity, coral reefs, long beaches and bewitching greenery. Being one of the tourist destinations in Andaman, Neil is so happy to become the host with revealing all what it has. A romantically silent island unlike the hustle of Havelock Island, Neil Island is termed as the vegetable bowl of Andaman. A perfect place to simply relax and chill is the beaches here and the deserted shores are favourite to those who love to relax in utmost peace.

In two hours, one can explore the island by walking around. It got the name Neil after the British Brigadier General James Neill who stubbornly dealt with the rebels during the 1857 Mutiny. The rich cultivation of paddy is found in Neil Island that belongs to the Ritchies’ Arhcipelago between Havelock Island and Rose Island.

Highlights: One of the major highlights of Neil Island is Neil Kendra, a beautiful curving bay full of white sand and holding the major jetty of the island made attracting by disarraying numerous colourful wooden fishing boats. Known to be the heart of the island, Neil Kendra has Bharatpur Beach on its left and Laxmanpur Beach on the right. The richest collection of marine lives and coral reefs have given Neil Island the peculiarity of being one of the most thrilling scuba diving sites on the island. In addition to diving, Neil Island is home to those who love snorkeling, swimming, birding, cycling etc.

Activities: Glass bottom ride and snorkelling are the major activities available on Neil Island though there are enough opportunities to do diving and other prime adventure activities.

Distance from Port Blair: The island belongs to the South Andaman district is located about 36 km northeast from Port Blair.

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Radhanagar Beach

Radhanagar Beach in Andaman has ranked 8th among the top ten beautiful beaches in the world based on travelers reviews and rating available on multiple sources and Radhanagar Beach deserves it for many reasons. One of the most ravishing beauty in Andaman with a lot of tourists visiting it every year, Radhanagar Beach is the gem of Havelock Island. 500 meters away from the beach, one can see only the expansive blue water and the lush green tropical forests but when you reach the beach, the sights are apparently awe-inspiring.

 Radhanagar is commonly called as Beach No.7 and this is one of the closest beach located near to Havelock Island ferry tier. The silky beach is kids friendly as well so that families are found in plenty on the beach to spend their vacation or a short holiday. There are nothing to be worried as the coast guards are roaming around always and the number of people here will be a pleasant sight to see.

Activities: Snorkeling, swimming, scuba diving, boating, parasailing etc are some of the most commonly seen activities on the beach and among them Scuba Diving is the best as it offers the clear interaction with the wide range of marine animals and coral reefs around living in harmony. 

The turquoise water gives a rejuvenating experience while you swim across or do snorkeling and since the number of tourists are relatively higher, the Government opens more opportunities for them to spend an ample time on the beach. As it is a superb place adventure lovers also would covet, the fame it has achieved international importance in no time.

Distance from Port Blair: From Port Blair it will take more than three hours to reach Radhanagar Beach as it is located about 72 kms away from the capital city.

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Baratang Island

One of the aboriginal tribes of Andaman lives in Baratang Island, a highly blessed region with years-old wilderness. Earlier, the tribes did not let outside people to enter their community but presently, Baratang Island is a vibrant tourist destination as people love to spend time amidst the huge forests, limestone caves, mangrove ranges and the mud volcanoes.

Baratang is a part of the Great Andaman Chain with an area of 243 sq.kilometers and that marks it as the main island of the group. Middle Andaman is lying to the north and South Andaman in the south of Baratang Island. And it belongs to Rangat Taluk.

Highlights: The active mud volcanoes are the highlights of Baratang Island along with the abundant mangrove forests and evergreen rainforests and the limestone caves located beyond the forests. So adventure lovers find Baratang as a wise choice to indulge in mind blowing trekking and nature walk. Among the multiple number of mud volcanoes, jalki, as the locals call it, is the famous one.

Activity: Nature walk through the wild forests and the extensive mangrove forests is one of the prime activities done on Baratang Island. Boating, trekking, hiking etc are some of the other, identified activities available on the island.

Distance from Port Blair: The island is located about 150 kms north of Port Blair and one can reach the island by ferry services only.


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Elephant Beach

Settled on the sands of Havelock Island, Elephant Beach is a reveling beauty well presented by the long coral reefs and the shining shoreline. A peaceful beach with pure serenity and silent ambience will offer the visitors a soothing melody and that would be the perfect time to relax, to walk around with your love or just to do sunbathing. Among the different beach on Havelock Island, Elephant Beach has a special significance because of its friendly atmosphere and not so crowded shoreline. In addition to the adventurous activities such as snorkeling and scuba diving, tourists find time to do boating and similar activities on the beach. The clear water, the calm waves, the cool breeze and the magnificent sights on the shore have their own impacts on the number of people visiting the beach, and it increases only year by year.

Highlights: The long array of private boats, fishing boats and buoys extend a riveting beauty to the beach. Moreover, it is a kid friendly beach as well so that families are found here aplenty. The huge shoreline is the key factor behind the countless visitors appear on the beach every day. 

During monsoon also, tourists would love to come to Elephant Beach. People have reported that at times, the wild elephants from the nearby forests come to the beach and stroll along the white sandy bed.

Activities: An ideal place for snorkeling and scuba diving is Elephant Beach though boating and other fun, water based activities are also done by the visitors often. Tourists have experienced the best sea walking as well on Elephant Beach.

Distance from Port Blair: Elephant Beach is located on the famous Havelock Island. It is lying about 69 kms away from the capital city of Andaman, Port Blair. One can reach the beach via boat from Havelock jetty after reaching there from Port Blair by road or by boat.


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Diglipur

A marvelous town in the north part of Andaman Islands is Diglipur, an amicable tiny town with a lot of good people around. For eco- friendly tourists, this town is an inevitable choice. Though the marine life is the prominent feature of this town but the cultivation of orange and rice has enormous importance in the economy of Diglipur.

Highlights: Lamiya Bay Beach is a highlight of the town, it is located a few kilometers away from Kalipur Beach. The beach is lying in the foothills of Saddle peak, the highest one in Andaman. Around 20 kms from Diglipur is the green Shyamnagar covered by thick jungles and why Shyamnagar is a priority for tourists is because of the presence of mud volcanoes here. Kalipur Beach and Ramangar Beach are the other famous beaches at Diglipur and they are famous for turtle nesting. Moreover, visitors are quite eager to visit Alfred Caves as well where a huge collections of limestone structures are found.

Activities: Since there are plenty of beaches, caves, greenery etc, Diglipur offers the visitors a huge number of activities ranging from refreshing trekking through the jungles to the water based activities like island hopping, snorkeling, boating, fishing etc. Near to Diglipur there are famous spots to do multiple activities.

Distance from Port Blair: Lying 290 kms away from Port Blair, the small town of Diglipur that can be connected by boat from both Port Blair and Mayabunder. The boat services from Port Blair are available twice a week. But one can reach the town by road via ATR from Port Blair.

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Vijaynagar Beach

Known as Beach No.5 is Vijaynagar Beach in the north east part of Havelock Island. Very remote from the crowded locations on Havelock Island, Vijaynagar Beach is close to heart for those who love to spend time in utmost calmness. The regular touch of the sapphire blue water on the pearl like sandy beach makes no noise and it is one of the reasons why tourists chosen it as the perfect space for romantic couples and families. 

The beauty of the beach has been praised so much by those who visited it. It is always better to come here freely, just to roam around, or to float on the shallow water, or to read under the large shade given by the huge trees on the shore or to do sunbathing. The collection of Mahua trees and palms is the significant ornament making the beach a splendid place to sit back and relax as much as time one wants to. This is one of the magnificent attractions in Andaman.

Highlights: A photographer's paradise is Vijaynagar Beach; especially the sunrise views from the beach is incomparably magnificent. When the sun’s fresh rays spread all over the wide sea, the entire atmosphere starts blushing in all possible colours and there is no better sight from the beach would satiate a photographic mind. The native birds appear during the fresh mornings add effective colours to the sunrise pictures.

Activity: The beach is recognized for relaxed swimming and sunbathing. Adventure activities are not yet a fashion on this inevitable part of Havelock Island.

Distance from Port Blair: Vijaynagar Beach is located at a distance of about 38 kms from Port Blair but from Havelock jetty the beach is lying 9 kms away only.

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Chadar Trek

For some years, adventure seekers all around the world have been talking about Chadar Trek in the Zanskar Region. Until this year, hundreds of people have experienced the thrill hidden and the mind blowing sights around Chadar frozen river. In fact, Chadar Trek is the most sought after and one of the breathtaking treks in the Himalayas. The winter trek is so special for those who are ready to have adventure at the maximum level. 

The river trek starts from Chilling where the river begins to freeze and mostly, travelers choose February as the best time to cross the frozen river as the ice sheets will be comparatively stable. The precarious snow-flakes would pose severe threats during the trek but in some other time, the challenges would be kind to the trekker. The surrounding of the river are completely vertical cliffs tall up to 600 meters. The Zanskar River is a tributary of the Indus and is 5 meters long. 

A trekker would have to cover 16 kms per day to complete the Chadar Trek. Usually, people opt for 10-15 days of trek depending on the climatic conditions persisting here. The temperature at Chadar will come to the lowest at -35 degree Celsius during winter and thus Chadar Trek becomes more intimidating. Approximate trekking distance one would have to cover in total is 75 kms.

Maximum altitude: 11123 feet is the height at which Chadar Trek would lead you to.

Location: To take part in Chadar Trek, one should arrive in Leh and from Leh, the journey starts and goes to Chilling, the beginning of the Zanskar River in the frozen state. From Leh it would take about 65-70 kms to reach Tilad via Chilling, the base camp of the trek.

Best time to visit: January end to February is the best time suitable for trekking in the frozen river of Chadar. Quality and safe trekking gears and highly warm clothes are required.

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Markha Valley Trek

Adventure lovers always had an affection to Markha Valley and still it fulfills the dreams of a trekker or adventure seeker with the unrivalled collection of natural spectacle. Long day trekking tours are offered by a lot of tour providers all over India which promise a journey through the most scenic locations and villages. The awesomely exciting feature of this trek is that it will let the trekker cross two high altitude passes in Ladakh; Gandala La at 4980 meters and Kongmaru La at 5276 meters.

 Being one of the diverse treks in Ladakh region, Markha Valley trek offers a lot of adventurous moments throughout. The barren land of Ladakh and the Buddhist temples found throughout the journey make the trek special. The route winds past the Ladakhi villages and it goes to Hemis National Park where the chances to spot some rare wildlife species are comparably high. The nomadic groups of people will be a unique picture to keep in heart. The symbols of Buddhism like ‘chortens’, stupas, multi colored prayer flags and numerous monasteries narrate the story of Buddhist culture embraced Markha centuries ago. Another interesting fact heard about Markha Valley trek is that it is also called ‘tea house trek’ due to the accommodation provided in parachute tents in most of the villages during the tour.

Maximum altitude: 15000 feet is the maximum altitude the trek will cover.

Location: In most of the cases, the trek starts from Leh. The trail usually goes through Chilling, Skyu and then to Markha. From Markha it would take the trekker to reach Hankar and Nimaling and finally return to Leh. The ideal trekking distance is 75 kms and it would be graded as difficult.

Best time to visit: The months of June, July, August, September and October are recommended as the best time to do Markha Valley trek.