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  • There can be no dearth of mountain passes in a land whose very name implies “the land of passes” and the number of mountain passes in Ladakh are a part of the fame of the region. Tourists come to Ladakh to visit its passes just as much as to visit its lakes and glaciers. The high altitudes of all these passes convert them from mere roadways to veritable adventure destinations. 

    Standing atop the Khardung La pass or driving up the steep Marsmik La pass are not experiences that are easily forgotten; they imprint themselves on your memories and warm your heart with their magnificence long after you have left them far behind. The mountain passes Ladakh are not just passes, they are part of the cultural and historical character of the region. 

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    These are the passes which the ancient traders traversed to reach the far-flung regions in the east and the west. These are the passes where soldiers fought with the warring Pakistan army, putting their lives on the line for their country. Ladakh’s passes are part of its cultural inheritance, and should not be missed when in the region.

    There are dozens of passes in Ladakh but only a few of them are open to motorists. No matter if you are traveling to Leh from Manali or Srinagar, you will come across several passes en route. While most passes are just stretches of roads, some passes have tea stalls and interesting monuments close by which you can pay a visit to. 

    In a cut above the rest, the Rohtang La pass also has many adventure activities that tourists can enjoy on their visit. Once in Ladakh, there are several other passes to visit including the famous Khardung la pass and the highest motorable Marsmik La pass. Many mountain passes in Ladakh have local legends associated with them so you could try hiring a local guide or simply conversing with the locals about the pass before you head over to it. 

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    This will allow you to enjoy the pass more comprehensively. Visits to mountain passes in Ladakh are an adventure that you should not miss out on, so read on to find out more about some of the best passes to visit when in Ladakh.

    Here are some of the highest mountain passes of Ladakh:

  • 01Rohtang Pass

    One of the most famous mountains passes in India, the Rohtang Pass is a popular tourist attraction in Himachal Pradesh. Situated close to Manali, this pass offers tourists a chance to enjoy a high altitude combined with a majestic view and thrilling adventure activities. 

    Rohtang Pass acts as a natural divide between Kullu- Manali and Lahaul- Spiti, so if you are planning on visiting Lahaul, Spiti and Ladakh via the Manali route, you will definitely cross this pass. 

    Rohtang Pass is covered in snow all year long, so if you wish to enjoy some snow-based activities in the summer months, this is the place to head to. Open only between April and November, Rohtang Pass is a place of adventure. Getting here involves a beautiful and often courageous ride through narrow roads, with majestic mountains accompanying you all the time. 

    Once you are here, you can enjoy a whole host of activities like skiing, skating, paragliding, riding a snow scooter among others. Spending a day enjoying Rohtang Pass is a great way to enjoy a Himalayan vacation.

    Altitude: 3978 meters (13,050 feet)

     It doesn’t matter if you are an adventure junky or someone who travels with their whole pack for the experience, Leh tour package has something for everyone.



  • 02Bara-Lacha La Pass

    Bara-Lacha La is a famous mountain pass in Ladakh. Situated in the Zanskar Range of the Himalayas, this pass connects Lahual to Ladakh and can be understood as the gateway to Ladakh. This beautiful destination has always been a place of historical significance, acting as it did as an important trade route in the past.

     A panoramic view of Himalayan mountains can be enjoyed from the pass and the peace and stillness that is to be experienced here exceed all expectations. Unlike the Rohtang pass, this pass does not have any touristic activities to offer, which leads to lesser touristic crowds here.

    This allows those who stop here to enjoy the majesty of the Himalayas in their entirety, without being distracted by major crowds. Stopping at the Bara-lacha La on your way to Ladakh is a wonderful experience that should not be missed. 

    If you are looking to enjoy some adventure in Ladakh, you could engage in the trek from Bar-lacha La to Chandra Taal. Over the 7 to 8 days of this trek, you will be able to experience the Bar-lacha Pass and its environs in the most memorable way possible.  

    Altitude: 4,890 metres (16,040 feet)


  • 03 Lungalacha La Pass

    Situated some distance away from Bar-lacha Pass is the Lungalacha Pass. A high altitude pass which is nevertheless easy to trek, this pass separates the Tsarap Chu Chu valley from the Tozay valley and makes for a unique viewing point in Ladakh. 

    The pass falls on the Manali-Leh Highway, so if you are travelling to Ladakh via Manali, you will certainly stop at this pass. The views visible from the Lungalacha pass are breathtakingly powerful and spending an hour or two here will make you admire the marvels of nature with a whole new respect. 

    The terrain of the pass makes it easy for hikers and trekkers to explore the elevation often causes problems. But trekking around Lungalacha La pass is overall a rewarding experience that even relative beginners can enjoy. 

    The Lungalacha pass is located close to both Sarchu and Pangong lake, so tourists can combine visits to all three places in one trip and enjoy the best sights of Ladakh comprehensively.

    Altitude: 5,059 metres (16,600 feet)
  • 04Taglang La Pass

    Taglang La enjoys the fame of being the second highest mountain passes in Ladakh and is a must-visit tourist stop during Leh Ladakh road trip. With its staggering height, sweeping plains, and awe-inspiring views, Taglang La makes for a marvellous all-encompassing destination in Ladakh. 

    The pass is situated at a close distance to Leh with Sarchu and Upshi being neighbouring settlements. A visit to Taglang La can easily be combined with visits to these places. 

    If you are travelling to Ladakh via Manali, you will come across this pass, so make sure to stop here awhile. Taglang la is unique because of the cultivation all around it. It is a favourite pasture ground for the Changpa herdsman, so you can expect to see a fair share of goats and sheep grazing around the pass in the day. 

    The entire ambience of the pass is very appealing and visiting it is a good way to enjoy some time during your Ladakh trip.

    Altitude: 5,328 metres (17,480 feet)


  • 05Zoji La Pass

    Zoji La is a high altitude pass in Kashmir that leads up to Ladakh via Srinagar. The pass connects Kashmir and Ladakh and is, therefore, an important stopover destination if you are heading to Ladakh. The pass is beautiful in its majesty- the cool winds that are always blowing here add to the zest of the mighty mountain view that confronts the eye when you step out onto the pass. 

    There is always a hint of army presence when you are on this pass because of its history as a strategic location. 

    The pass was captured by Pakistan during the 1947 war and since then has been a sensitive zone in Indian militaristic defence. The pass is a wonderful place to stop at for an hour or two when on the way to Ladakh. Its close proximity to Sonamarg adds to the popularity of the pass, and you can easily combine a visit to both places in one trip if you feel so inclined.   

    Altitude: 3,528 metres (11,575 feet)

  • 06 Pensi La Pass

    Also known as the “Gateway to Zanskar”, Pensi La is one of the important mountain passes in Ladakh.  This mountain pass connects the Suru valley to the Zanskar valley and also acts as a watershed destination for the Suru River. This pass is essentially the beginning of Ladakh on the Srinagar route, and you can perceptibly see the landscape change hereon. 

    The Pensi La pass features glorious views owing to its high altitude and spending some time here taking in all the natural beauty ensconced by silence is a wonderful experience. The pass is situated close to Kargil and you can combine visits to the two together. 

    A lovely glacial lake and the Drang Drung Glacier also lie at close range to the Pensi La. If you wish to explore the region in greater depth, you can also visit the Rangdum Monastery which lies approximately 25 kilometers away from this pass.

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    Altitude: 4,400 metres (14,436 feet)

  • 07Namika La Pass

    One of the most prominent mountain passes in Ladakh, Namika La is a thing of joy. Also known as the “Pillar of the Sky Pass”, it offers breathtaking views of the neighbouring peaks. The pass falls en route to the Mulbek valley and is a popular tourist stopping point on the way to Ladakh. There is a lot of scope for sightseeing in and around the pass.

    There are the ancient rock carvings of Maitreya Buddha to be seen as well as a Buddhist Gompa. The pass connects Leh and Kargil and is one of the highest passes in the region. Stopping at this pass is a great way to signal your entrance into Leh Ladakh.

    Altitude: 3,700 metres (12,139 feet)


  • 08Fotu La Pass

    The highest pass on the Srinagar- Leh highway, the Fotu la is a magnificent place to visit during your trip bike to Ladakh and should be on the travel itineraries of all tourists. It is a beautiful pass and offers fantastic views of the mountainous neighborhood. Driving on the Fotu la pass is an experience of a lifetime- the wide open roads with little to no traffic and the mountains looking on making the drive an adventure in itself. 

    Wild and chilly winds blow here all through the summer months and make the place a memorable one. Ladakh is a beautiful region and Fotu La embodies this beauty in a very majestic fashion. The tryst with nature that Fotu la brings you during your Manali Leh Srinagar bike expedition, will stay in your heart for a long time.

    Altitude: 4,108 metres (13,478 feet)
  • 09 Chang La Pass

    Chang La is one of the high mountain passes in Ladakh that fall on the way to Pangong lake. Renowned for being the third highest motorable mountain pass in the world, Chang la is a beautiful pass with beautiful views and driving across it is an experience that you will cherish all life long. 

    The roadways are wide and often deserted, cool mountain breezes blow regularly, and its extreme steepness only adds to its adventurous ambiance. It is necessary to traverse this pass if you wish to visit the Pangong Tso lake as well as the Changthang plateau. 

    Crossing the pass is a memorable experience not only because of the natural landscape but also because of the yak rides and the army tea stalls in the region. You can stop at the Chang Pass for a couple of hours and enjoy all of the different sights and sounds that it has to offer before driving onwards towards the Pangong lake. Also, you should not miss the chance of camping at Pangong Lake, as it will be one of the most memorable experiences of your Ladakh tour.  

    Altitude: 5,360 metres (17,590 feet)
  • 10Marsimik La Pass

    A must visit mountain pass in Ladakh, Marsimik La is famous for being the world’s highest motorable pass. You simply cannot miss the opportunity to drive through it when in Ladakh because this experience will be one of the defining moments of your trip to the region. There are a lot of things to do in and around the Marsimik la pass. Apart from visiting the beautiful glacial Pangong lake, you can also pay a very appealing visit to the hot springs near the pass. 

    There is also the opportunity to visit the six-lane highway built by China which extends right up to the India-China border in Ladakh. The high altitude of the pass makes the views from here very special and driving here is a truly memorable experience. However, the condition of the roads of Marsimik la is sketchy at best and this makes driving here a very tricky task. It is best to hire an experienced local driver who knows how to tackle these roads when you decide to pay a visit to the Marsiik La.

    Don't forget to check the Delhi to Leh guide before you start your trip to Leh Ladakh.

    Altitude: 5,582 metres (18,314 feet)


  • 11Khardung La Pass

    Undoubtedly, one of the best-known mountains passes in Ladakh, Khardung La is one of the best places to visit in Leh. The magnificent pass is one of the highest passes in the world and offers a glorious range of experiences to its visitors. The ride up to Khardung La itself is made up of exotic sights and sounds and is very memorable. 

    If you intend to visit the Shyok and Nubra valleys, you must cross this pass to reach there. Another one of the most prominent and grandiose sites that you will come across when on the way to Khardung la is the Siachen Glacier. 

    There are many trekking trails in Ladakh that also cross this pass. Bone-chilling winds are a constant feature of Khardung La and the mighty mountains all around add to the vibrancy of the experience. Drinking a cup of tea as you gaze upon the view is a simple experience but nonetheless a uniquely beautiful one. A trip to Khardung la is a once in a lifetime trip that you should not miss.

    Altitude: 5,359 metres (17,582 feet)
  • 12Saser La Pass

    A formidable mountain pass in Ladakh, Saser La is a place that must be experienced to be believed. It is an impressive pass and a dangerous one, and crossing it is a thrilling experience that stays on in the memory for long. The pass connects Ladakh to the Yarkand County in China and provides visitors with a breathtaking experience. 

    The roads along the pass are very rough and ready and driving across them is not an easy task. The steepness of the pass and the low-oxygen supplies there only add to the challenge. But for those who are able to overcome these obstacles and manage a ride through the pass, the experience is rewarding.

    Manali to Leh jeep safari is an experience you should not miss on your next Leh Ladakh trip.

    Altitude: 5,411 metres (17,753 feet)



Attractions

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Pangong Lake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Nubra Valley

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

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

Height: 3048 meters above the sea level

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

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

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

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Khardung La

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

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

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

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

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

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Tso Moriri Lake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Shanti Stupa

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

History

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

Structure of the stupa

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

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

Timings: 05:00 am to 09:00 pm

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


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Magnetic Hill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lamayuru Monastery

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

History

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

The structure of the monastery

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

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

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

Entry fee: INR 30 per person

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

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Alchi Monastery

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

History

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

Structure of the monastery

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

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

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

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

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

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Royal Leh Palace

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

History

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

Structure of the palace

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

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

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

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

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Zanskar valley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hemis National Park

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

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

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

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

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


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Spituk Monastery

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

History     

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

Structure of the monastery

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

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

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

Entry fee: INR 20 per person

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


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Visit to the Hall of Fame

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Rohtang Pass

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lachulung La

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

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

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

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

Height:
5059 meters

Best time to visit:
May to October

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

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Tanglang La

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

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

Height: 5328 meters of 1248 feet

Best time to visit: May to October

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

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