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  • Referred to as ‘Mini Tibet’, this is a land overflowing with Buddhist culture, traditions and intricately built monasteries in Ladakh. Dating back to the bygone era of even the 11th or 8th century, the monasteries still stand strong housing the monastic communities with different sects of Buddhism each imparting and spreading their way of life and belief to the world.

    Perched atop a hill or overhanging a cliff or even embedded in a natural cave, these distinct monasteries in Ladakh are all beautiful in their own stature. Housing beautiful paintings, ancient thangkas, silver and gold gilded statues of the omnipresent Lord Buddha, these monasteries draw visitors from far and wide to come and understand the beauty of the Buddhist culture. This is what makes it one of the best places to visit in Ladakh. 

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    Festivals in Ladakh are celebrated annually in each monastery, adhering to the dates in the Tibetan Calendar. The monks celebrate each festival with great pomp and zest performing the sacred Cham or masked dance and rituals to commemorate the celebrations. Locals, as well as tourists, take part in these celebrations with great pride and enthusiasm, dancing and feasting with the monks on this auspicious day.

    While some monasteries have opened to accepting the liberal way of life of common man and allowed them to pass through their doors to understand and learn a new culture, there are other monasteries still so strict in the curriculum and way of living that involves utmost sacrifice, complete meditation and a life away from the temptations and snares of the real world.

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    Nevertheless, all the monasteries are beautiful and distinct in their own way of promoting the positivity and rich culture of Buddhism to the world. So while on your tour in Ladakh, make sure that visiting monasteries forms an important part of your itinerary, and you’ll come back with an enriching and unique experience to carry with you, all your life.

    Here are some of the best monasteries in Ladakh:

  • 01Hemis Monastery

    The Hemis Monastery located around 45 km south of Leh is one of the largest and most famous monasteries belonging to the Drukpa or Dragon order. The monastery houses an amazing collection of the age-old relics such as the idol of Lord Buddha made up of copper gilt, gold and silver stupas, and revered thangkas, making it one of the richest monasteries in Ladakh. 

    The monastery founded by the first incarnation Stagsang Raspa Nawang Gyatso in 1630, and when it was named Changchub Samling, the small Buddhist community here was born. This monastery has amazing collections of the age-old relics such as the idol of Lord Buddha made of copper gilt, gold and silver stupas. Being such a majestic monastery, it attracts visitors from various corners of the world, especially during its annual festival known as the Hemis Festival. This festival is a much-revered celebration to mark the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava.  

    This place is a must visit while you are on your Leh Ladakh bike expedition.

    Held on the 9th and 10th day of the 5th month of the Tibetan calendar, you must watch the festival celebrations as monks put up dance performances wearing colorful dresses and distinctly the enchanting sacred mask dance. It is held on the 9th and 10th day of the 5th month of the Tibetan calendar

    Location: The Hemis Monastery is located 45 km towards the south-east of the main city of Leh.

  • 02Thiksey Monastery

    The Thiksey Gompa is one of the most beautiful monasteries in Ladakh and belongs to the Gelukpa order of Buddhism. The Gompa was first built at Stakmo by Sherab Zangpo. Later the nephew of Sherab Zangpo, Paldan Sherab, founded the Thiksey Gompa on a hilltop to the north of the Indus River in the year 1430 A.D. 

    There are many holy shrines inside the monastery of which the famous one is the Lakhang Nyerma, dedicated to the Goddess Dorje Chenmo. When the shrine was constructed, it was one of the biggest of its time, but now only its ruins can be seen on the premises of the monastery.

    The monastery is now referred to as ‘Mini Potala’ of India as it resembles Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. There are 10 temples in this 12 storied monastery with the main prayer hall housing a 40-foot statue of Maitreya Buddha (future Buddha) seated on a lotus, it covers almost two floors of the monastery. Many precious and rare statues, mini stupas and swords are on display inside the monastery.

    The Thiksey Gustor Festival is held here during the 10th month of the Tibetan calendar during the months of October - November when the sacred mask or Cham dances are performed by resident monks and nuns as a part of a ritual. Around 80 Monks resides here at present, spreading the aura of peace and deep Buddhism beliefs to the locals there.

    Location: The Thiksey Monastery is located 17 kilometres south of Leh and is one of the best places to visit during your Leh expedition.
  • 03Diskit Monastery

    Amidst the stark and barren Nubra valley stands the beautiful and milky white Diskit monastery. The oldest and largest monastery in Nubra, Diskit monastery is located at an altitude of 3142 meters. It was founded in the 14th century by Changzem Sherab Zangpo, a disciple of Tsongkhapa, founder of the Gelugpa sect of Buddhism, also known as the yellow hat sect. 

    Within the Tibetan style Gompa, there are beautiful frescos and gompas. An iconic feature of the monastery is the statue of Cho Rinpoche (Crowned Buddha), which is a part of the prayer hall. Visit the monastery in the month of February when it hosts the famous Dosmoche festivals which see a large number of tourists witnessing these celebrations while on their Manali Leh Srinagar biking trip.

    Here you can marvel at the rich collections of Lord Buddha idols, the superb interiors and architecture designs coupled with the religious atmosphere which is just a spellbinding experience. Trek to the monastery for a breathtaking view of Ladakh and make the effort to be present there in the morning when you can witness the prestigious Morning Prayer ceremony which is definitely an enriching experience.

    Location: The Diskit Monastery lies 15 km north-west off the Khalsar-Panamik route, at the edge of the desert in Shyok valley.
  • 04Alchi Monastery

    Renowned as the oldest Buddhist learning centre, the Alchi Gompa is one of the magnificently built monasteries in Ladakh. Located 70 kilometres west of Leh on the banks of the Indus River, it is also the largest and most famous of the gompas built by Tibetan translator Rinchen Zangpo in the middle of the 12th century. With the lack of a monarchy, he appointed four families to look after the monastery till the 15th century when it was taken over by the Lekir Monastery.

    Different from other monasteries, this one is built on flat ground instead of on a hilltop. It has three main structures. The Du-Khang is the assembly hall and the largest part; the Sum-tsek is a three-storied structure with a four-armed statue of the Bodhisattva occupying two storeys with figures of Maitreya Buddha, Avalokiteshvara and Manjushri on the ground floor; the third structure is Jampe Lhakhang, a temple of Manjushri. This temple also has sculpture and painting of Rinchen Tsangpo.

    Adorned with bright colours and intricately made statues of Lord Buddha, it takes approximately two hours to completely admire the beauty of these monasteries in Ladakh. An interesting and fun fact is that parts of Bollywood hit like Dil Se and Tashan were shot here at Alchi.

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

    Location: Located 70 kilometres west of Leh on the banks of the Indus River.

  • 05Lamayuru Monastery

    Renowned as Tharpa Ling which means the ‘place of freedom’; Lamayuru monastery is one of the oldest and largest monasteries in Ladakh and said to have been built around the same time as Alchi Monastery. It is located approximately 127 km from Leh on a steep mountain between Bodh Kharbu and Kha-La-Che. The monastery belongs to Red-Hat Sect of Buddhism. At its peak, the monastery housed 400 monks but nowadays there are only 50 inmates. About 150 monks reside in Lamayuru village.

    This monastery was founded by Mahasiddha Acharya Naropa the 11th century who came to the place for meditation.There are many legends associated with the construction of the monastery, one such predicted that the lake would be dried and a monastery would be constructed at its place. When the lake dried, Naropa found a dead lion there and chose to construct the first temple of Singhe Ghang (Lion Mound). The founder then constructed five buildings but only one exists today.

    The monastery is famous for its rich wall paintings, a collection of thangkas, murals, scriptures and statues of different forms of Buddha and other deities. Every year on the 17th and the 18th day of the 5th month of the Tibetan lunar calendar, a holy masked dance is performed by the monks of the monastery.

    Location: Lamayuru is about 125 km from Leh town and can be visited on the way to Leh from Srinagar.

  • 06Phugtal Monastery

    A trip to the Phugtal Monastery is a surreal experience, portraying an image as if stuck in the mountains in the form of a honeycomb. Situated at the mouth of a cave, atop a cliff, it is close to a major tributary of the river Lungnak and was founded by Gangsem Sherap Sampo during the early 12th century. From here, the view is magnificent as it makes a picture perfect setting of the mountains, lush greens and the pristine Lungnak River. 

    This is the remotest monasteries in Ladakh and is a popular destination for tourists visiting Ladakh in winters. This Buddhist monastery is not only built on a cliff but it also has a natural cave. It is believed that around 2,550 years ago important sages, scholars, and translators visited this place. The Phugtal monastery was and it still is a preferred place by the scholars and teachers to meditate. This monastery which has a library as well as prayer rooms houses around 70 monks. 

    This one of the most isolated monasteries of the region is made up of wood and mud. Trekking being the only means of reaching this monastery, it creates a calming and tranquil experience to reach to the top and absorb in the aura of this divine place.

    Location: Phugtal monastery is located in Lungnak Valley, south of Zanskar and is accessible only by foot. You can choose to get dropped from Padum to the charming little village of Ichar, from where you have to trek up to the monastery.

  • 07Spituk Monastery

    Overlooking the gorgeous Indus River, this monastery in Ladakh was built and founded in the 11th century by Od-de, the older brother of Lha Lama Changchub. Initially, the gompa used to run on the principals of the Kadampa school (Red Hat sect) but it later came into the fold of Gelugpa order (Yellow Hat sect). 

    Today, it is home to 100 monks as well as a giant statue of goddess Kali, which is shown to the public during the yearly Spituk festival. The most iconic feature of the monastery is the icons of Buddha and 5 thangkas sharing space with sculptures and mini chortens. You definitely cannot afford to miss, its unique collection of ancient masks, antique arms and fine thangkas here.

    A little higher up the hill is the temple of Goddess Vajrabhairva. The statue of the goddess is kept covered and is unveiled only once during the Spituk Festival. The monastery plays host to the annual Spituk or Gustor Festival held in the 11th month of the Tibetan calendar, where the monks perform masked dances representing well over evil and stories depicting the life of Buddha.

    Many travellers who are on their Manali to Leh jeep safari expedition, often come here to witness this historical beauty.

    Location: This monastery in Ladakh is located 8 km away from the main city of Leh.
  • 08Likir Monastery

    Also known as Klu-Kkhyil gompa, the Likir Monastery was ordered to built by the 5th king of Ladakh Lhachen Gyalpo and was thus founded by Lama Duwang Chosje in 1065. The monastery is of the Gelugpa sect or Yellow Hat Sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Even today, Buddhist teachings and the three basic Pratimoksha disciplines are preached on the site. Likir means the Naga encircled. 

    The monastery got its name as it is believed two serpent spirits, Nanda and Taksako guard it. The monastery also plays host to the annual festival held in the 12th month of the Tibetan Calendar from the 27th to the 29th of the month and this festival is celebrated with great pomp. The locals put up religious dance performances along with the monks who perform sacred rituals on these auspicious days. This place welcomes many travellers during their Manali to Leh trip and never ceases to amaze them with its beauty.

    Location: Likir Gompa is located around 62 km to the West of the main city of Leh.

  • 09Shey Monastery

    Shey being originally the capital of Ladakh was built in 1655 by Deldon Namgyal, the king of Ladakh. Located in the premises of the Shey Palace, it is believed to be the summer retreat of the royal family of Ladakh. Situated 16 km from the city of Leh, it is en route Thiksey and Hemis Monastery in Ladakh. 

    Currently, the palace now a monastery houses the largest Buddha statue made of gilded copper known as Shakyamuni Buddha, covering three floors of the building. In front of the statue is a large wax bowl with a flame that is continuously lit for a year after which it is replaced. The objective of burning the flame is to highlight the importance of integrity and spirituality to the tourists visiting the monastery

    With beautiful murals and paintings adorning the walls, it’s lower chapel has a library which is believed to have the largest collection of thangkas in Ladakh. As you walk up to the monastery, you’ll also come across five Buddhas carved out of rock along the roadside. Close to the monastery is also the Druk Padma Karpo Institute, now renamed Rancho School after its feature in the Hindi movie 3 Idiots.

    There are two festivals held at this monastery in Ladakh every year; Shey Stubla on the 30th day of the 1st months and Shey Ru-lo on the 10th day of the 7th month.

    Click here to check out the trekking trails in Ladakh.

    Location: The Shey Palace has situated 16 km from the City of Leh and is en route the Thiksey and Hemis monastery.

  • 10Phyang Monastery

    Denma Kunga Drakpa, the Dorzin or meditation master laid the foundation stone of this monastery.  Legend has it that Drakpa stayed in a tented camp to contemplate the beauty of this place and while meditating he saw Achi the protectress on a blue horse. He took this as an auspicious sign and constructed this monastery to commemorate this event. The tranquil and serene environment of the place provides its visitors with the much-needed peace of mind, body and soul.

    The name Phyang was derived from Gang Ngonpo that means the blue mountain, which can be seen right behind the monastery and belongs to the Dri-Gung-pa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Home to around 100 monks, the monastery also houses a school to impart training in Buddhism along with modern education.

    With ancient wall paintings, collections of old thangkas and murals of Mahakala, the monastery also has a museum that has 900-year-old collections of idols, scriptures, Chinese, Tibetan and Mongolian firearms and weapons. The Phyang Gompa becomes the venue of Gang-Sngon Tsedup Festival, each year, starting from the 17th day up to the 19th day of the first month of the Tibetan calendar, which attracts a large number of tourists every year. Dance, music and mask dance are the high point of this event. The Cham dance by the lamas is also quite spectacular to watch. This is a must have experience while you are on your Leh Ladakh road trip.

    Location: Nestled on the top of a hill, the Phyang Monastery is situated around 15 kilometres west of Leh.

  • 11Stakna Monastery

    Enshrined by Bhutanese saint and scholar Chose Jamyang in the late 16th century, Stakna means Tiger’s nose which is also the shape of the hill on which the monastery is located.  Belonging to the Drugpa sect of Buddhism, this monastery in Ladakh portrays an image of the religious and cultural heritage of India and Buddhism. There’s a big assembly hall known as Dukhang, which is adorned with beautiful paintings of Sakyamuni, Tsepha Kmad and Amchi. 

    Out of the several idols of the monastery, the most significant one is that of Arya Avalokiteshvara from Assam's Kamrup region. To the extreme right of the courtyard, there’s seven feet tall silver chorten which features the statue of Lord Buddha with some prayer notes. The wall opposite to the entrance of the Assembly Hall is painted with three images, of a Bodhisattva, Padmasambhava and Tshong-san-Gompo. Statues of Sakyamuni (Past Buddha), the Present Buddha and Maitreya (Future Buddha) are also found in the hall. Like other gompas, Stakna also has a throne for the head lama of the monastery.

    Home to about 30 monks currently, it has a number of sister monasteries, 3 of which are in Zanskar-Bardan, Stakrimo and Sani. The best part of this monastery is the striking view of the Indus River Valley from its rooftop.

    Location: The Stakna Monastery is located 45 km from the city of Leh.

  • 12Takthok Monastery

    Takthok Monastery widely referred to as Thak Thak and Thag Thog by the local Buddhist people is the only monastery belonging to the Nyingmapa school of order or Red Hat sect of Buddhism. The monastery came into existence under the rule of ‘Tshewang Namgyal’. It is built around a cave on a mountainside and hence derives its name Takthok which in English means ‘rock roof’. According to the legend, the great Padmasambhava did his meditation in this cave in the early 8th century. This cave is termed as Duphug (Tu-Phuk) Lhakhang and is a famous pilgrimage site for all the Tibetan Buddhists around the world. 

    The monastery has a temple, a Dukhang or assembly hall which has statues of Maitreya, Padmasambhava and Dorje Takposal.

    Buddhists set out here on a pilgrimage to be blessed by ‘dubchu’ or Holy Water and to pay homage to the sacred book of Buddha’s teachings, the ‘Kandshur’, which has 108 volumes, along with other sets of Buddhists teachings to protect the people against evil spirits, curses and epidemics. These texts were written in pure gold and silver letters. Lamas use the text at the time of birth of baby, death of a person or for other rituals,  and they also claim to predict the future of a person by reading the scriptures. 

    The monastery’s new temple is also a major attraction and is known for its murals, paintings and statues of Buddha. Consecrated by 14th Dalai Lama in 1980, the monastery is a major tourist attraction mostly travellers who are on their Manali to Leh Bike trip.

    The Takthok Monastery hosts an annual event every year on the 9th as well as 10th of every sixth month according to Tibetan calendar, along with a sacred dance by the 55 monks residing here, to commemorate this event.

    Location: The Takthok monastery is located at a distance of 46 km from the city of Leh.
  • 13Rizong Monastery

    According to popular belief, Guru Padmasambhava along with other lamas used to meditate in the caves around Rizong in isolation, surviving on one meal a day and avoiding any contact with the outside world. Before building the monastery in 1831, Lama Tsultim Nima started a hermitage at the site to teach monks about Buddhism, who even today abide by very strict rules and regulations like apart from sacrificing all comforts and material possessions, they are even forbidden to light fires in their cells or even handle anything touched by women.

    Known as a ‘Paradise for meditation’, this monastery in Ladakh belongs to the Gelugpa Order or Yellow Hat sect of Buddhism and overlooks the picturesque Indus Valley. Home to about 40 monks today, the Rizong Monastery educates and teaches these monks the great scriptures and the chosen path to God with a very strict and simple way of life. 

    Located 2 km away, a nunnery, known as Chulichan (Chomoling), is under the cover of the monastery, where 20 nuns or the Chomos reside and worship at the temples of the monastery, perform chores like milking, spinning wool and getting oil for the temple lamps.

    Location: The Rizong Monastery is located 73 km from the city of Leh.

  • 14Matho Monastery

    Founded by Lama Dugpa Dorje in the year 1410, Matho is the only monastery that follows the Sakya sect of Buddhism. In order to introduce the Monastic community, the king offered religious estate in neighbouring villages and the Nagrang festival was started, which is held on the 14th and 15th day of the Tibetan calendar. The monastery is home to more than 60 lamas, they are chosen as oracles every three years where they have to undergo rigorous fasting and meditation over the duration of few months to purify themselves.

    Apart from the Nagrang festival, the other festivals also organised have performances of the Cham dance and acts of oracles which are done under the influence of supernatural powers. The oracles run barefoot on the parapets of the monastery roof leaving everyone in awe and fear of them. 

    Constructed around 500 years ago, the monastery has a marvellous collection of ancient Thangas, walls adorned with sacred paintings, statues of Maitreya, Sakyamuni, the blessing Buddha and a thousand-armed statue of Avalokitesvara.

    Location: The Matho Monastery is situated on the banks of the Indus River about 20 km south of Leh.

  • 15Rangdum Monastery

    Perched atop a mountain, the Rangdum Monastery looks like a citadel, overlooking and guarding the serene valley, with rolling hills, mountains and pristine glaciers which only enhances the beauty of this place. Located in Kargil Suru Valley, this monastery was built by Gelek Yashi Takpa about 200 years ago and some even believe it to be from the 8th century. Home to about 40 monks, the monastery has a rich assortment of Tibetan antiques and other precious artefacts and you’ll find the monks in deep meditation in the tranquil ambience of the premises.

    You will also find a prayer hall located in the central part of the monastery, which will give visitors a clear view of the ancient and rustic beauty of this place. And while you’re here, you will get the feeling of remoteness, since this monastery is located far off the mainland. 

    Although the roads to the monastery are bumpy and require a good amount of time to reach, it still receives a lot of visitors every here, due to its surrounding gorgeous vistas and peaceful aura for meditation.

    You must check out the Delhi to Leh guide before starting your next expedition.

    Location: The Rangdum Monastery is located in the Kargil Suru Valley about 130 km from Kargil and 343 km from the city of Leh.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


Hemis Monastery

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


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

Structure of the monastery

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

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

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

Entry fee: INR 100

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


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.


Stok Kongri Trek

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

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

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

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

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

Best Season: June - October

Difficulty Level: Medium

Max. Elevation: 5000 m

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


Stok Kangri Trek

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

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

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

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

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

Best Season: June - October

Difficulty Level: Medium

Max. Elevation: 5000 m

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

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