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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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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.

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What You Should Know More About Jammu and Kashmir

  • Travel Advice

    • Kashmir is one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world and hence, there are equal number of scammers who will try to sell you tour schemes, hotel rooms, jewelry at higher prices. So, beware of it and opt for a fair price sale.

    • Jammu and Kashmir has a plethora of adventure activities and hence, it is important to take care of all the safety precautions while trekking, mountaineering, mountain biking, skiing and other activities.

    • The weather in Kashmir is very unpredictable and hence, you should carry ample amount of rain gear.

    • Do not try to offend the locals in any way.

    • Take care of your cash and expensive belongings.

    • Obtain all the permits required for visiting various sight-seeing destinations.

    • Keep all emergency numbers like police, army and ambulance handy.

    • Do not go off your route while trekking or biking on the mountains.

  • Drinking Laws

    The legal age to consume alcohol in the state of Jammu and Kashmir is 21 ears for all sorts of alcoholic drinks.


  • Our Recommendations: What you can’t afford to miss?

    Srinagar

    Srinagar is the capital city of Jammu and Kashmir and is one of the most beautiful places to visit. Special attractions which you can enjoy here are boating, house boat stay in Dal Lake, water skiing and unwinding yourself amid serene nature. Being surrounded by snow-clad mountains and having yourself being pampered by nature is an experience worth experiencing in Srinagar.


    Gulmarg

    Also known as the ‘Meadow of Flowers’, Gulmarg is indeed a treat to your eyes because you will see colorful and vibrantly blooming flowers against the backdrop of snow-clad sparkling mountains. You can also enjoy adventure activities like mountain biking, trekking and Skiing if you visit in winters. Also, do not forget to take the Gondola ride for a panoramic view of the town.


    Leh

    Leh is one of the most scenic places in Kashmir and ideally, you should visit this place in summers. Many mountain biking enthusiasts have Leh as their ultimate route and this place also hosts many other adventure activities. The place is clad with beauty and if you are a worshipper and admirer of the miracles of nature, this place will never disappoint you.

    Sonmarg

    Sonmarg, literally meaning ‘A path of Gold’ is given the name because of the long stream of blooming yellow and golden flowers which spread over long stretches. It also has some unexplored trekking routes and the mesmerizing feel and vibe which Sonmarg provides make is a must visit sight-seeing place for all the tourists who visit Kashmir.


    Hemis

    Hemis is one of the unexplored destinations of Jammu and Kashmir and famous for the snow leopard camps conducted to Hemis National Park. It is a must visit place for any wildlife enthusiast for seeing this rare leopard species ruling in its wild habitat.


    Pulwama

    This city has different colors of nature. From a calm weather, pleasant looking and smelling saffron fields and humble locals, this place perfectly mirrors the local rural culture of Jammu and Kashmir. You can enjoy trekking here in summer and snowboarding in winters as well.


    Kargil

    This name is mainly associated with the India-Pakistan war and the Line of Control but it has a lot more to it. You will get some of the most picturesque views in Kargil and the atmosphere in this city is a mixture of oozing nostalgic emotions and blessings of nature.


  • What you will like there?

    Heavenly natural beauty

    This Paradise on Earth, without and doubt, is one of the most scenic places on earth. The majestic snow clad mountains, pine trees, navy blue lakes ornamented with cute looking house-boats, and the perfectly cold weather will give you a feeling of being in a magical land and you will never want to get out of it.

    Tourist activities

    Tourists will have a plethora of options for their recreation and entertainment amid this natural wonderland. Adventure activities, entertainment, boating houseboat stay, sight-seeing, bon-fire, camping, shopping, local cuisine and a lot more, there is no limit to the things you can do in Jammu and Kashmir.

    Adventure

    Kashmir is nothing less than a pilgrimage site for those who worship adventure. From skiing, mountaineering, hiking, trekking, Valley crossing, boating to mountain biking, there is no end to the kind of adventure you can have in this mystic state.

    Snow-Clad Mountains

    Yes! The mountains of Kashmir, which are snow-clad for most of the time in the year, are in themselves an aspect of Kashmir which tourists will never forget, no matter how many other mountains they see. They are like a crown to the country of India and stand royally, showing their complete charm all the time.

  • Recommended reads for destination

    Website :

    J & K Travel Website


    Forum :

    TripAdvisor Travel Forum


    Books :

    Jammu and Kashmir Travel Guide


Traveller Tales from Jammu and Kashmir

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Umesh Joshi

05 October 2017

First, I would like to say thank you to shyam@thrillophilia.com for their coordination and cooperation.The trip was well planned and executed extremely well by the tour operators, I am very happy with the services provided by thrillophilia during this trek. 1) Our trek leaders Salman and Stenzin are really a wonderful Guys, they were very helpful and supportive all the time during trekking.Other staff members were also supportive and helpful. 2) Food quality and quantity was good. 3) Accommodation was good, camps were in good shape, neat and clean and quite spacious. Let's review the Trek. No doubt Stok trek was awesome as well as difficult. It would not be correct if I will say Stok trek is the most beautiful trek ???? but there is something which makes this trek different from all other treks and which is the main reason to attract tourist from every corner of the word, that is its height. At 20,500 feet Stok Kangri is the highest trekkable summit in India (6,153 m), what google says but when I googled it bit more and try to find if there is any other trek exist in this word which is above Stok, I did not get any information so I assume this is the highest trekkable summit in world ???? Highlights of this Trek 1) Trekking till base camp is not very tiring, which itself a big achievement as you would be able to achieve the height of 16300 feet ???? and the best part what I found in this trek is “you don’t need to walk too many hours to reach base camp” 2-4 hours walk a day is max you will walk. 2) Leh treks are totally different from Himachal and Uttrakhand treks in terms of scenic beauty, it’s a different experience, you would be able to see some splendid views of the Stok mountain ranges. 3) The last day “Summit day” will give you a totally different experience. You start your trek at night time which generally don’t happen in other treks. Moreover, you will get a chance to do snow trekking in summers as well “Only in summit Day”. Here is a great saying "the best view comes after the hardest climb" Very True!!! Preparation: I should say this is not a trek for first time trekkers but still if someone wants to give a try, Start your preparation at least 2 months before this trek as last day “Summit Day” is really a challenging one, compare to other days where you have to just walk 2-4 hours max here on final day you have to walk for a 12 – 14 hours and trekking at night on Snow is bit tricky task and it becomes more challenging when you have to walk by putting Crampons on your shoes. a) Aim for 5 km running in 30 minutes b) Do breathing exercise which helps you a lot during this trek especially. c) Drink as much as water you can.

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Vinay Trivedi

07 March 2017

Such an amazing bike ride, challenging but with thrill till the end. Make sure that you are prepared to prevent the cold, the rough wind, the altitude sickness etc because even the symptoms of sickness will affect your trip. Khardung La Pass is quite a challenging one, also there are different shorter and longer passes throughout the journey. The service was also nice, not many complaints. The guides will know the place better because they are doing it for long. But still keep the track of the route before you start the trip. The guide was nice to us, keeping everything coordinated. The accommodation and food were also flawless to me.

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Sarla Iyer

02 August 2015

We started our tour by sightseeing of Manali. After the sight seeing, we rode our bikes on various high-altitude roads, including the Khardungla pass, the world’s highest motorable road which is more than 5600 m, above the sea level. I was all alone, feeling like the king of the road. We got to stopover at lovely lakes, some antic terrains, and peaceful out backs. We drove through there. It was awesome.

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Yoginder Bhattathiri

18 February 2016

To start with I had the most adventurous ride of a lifetime. Bike trip allows you to experience the best just in front of your eyes and Manali to Leh was one of my dream destination. The word that follows will be a huge WOW. Be it the surroundings or the roads the highway connecting Manali to Leh is brilliant. The roads are quite tedious, but that also means that more the adventure and more the fun. Everything was well organized from our accommodation to food. I went with my 2 friends and once we reached there we were provided with our bikes. Another best thing was that the fuel was included in the package. This is a must trip for the bikers.

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Gautama Achari

27 November 2015

The beauty of the landscapes of this destination is something that blew my mind the second I landed. Coupled with the chill climate this was the perfect trip! The people I met were amazing and the guides were so helpful and informative always keeping us engaged in fun activities. And the best part came when we reached Nubra valley via Khardung La pass and enjoyed a joyful camel ride. And I was awestruck by the beauty of the Pangong Lake as it slowly changed its colours. Amazing trip!! :)

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Dhana Guha

26 September 2015

Great trip! The rooms were good and so was our food. We covered all the places as mentioned in the package. We also visited some of the monasteries which revived us all at once. The sight of Nubra valleys was the best which we drove via Khardungla Pass. My buddies and I enjoyed the camel ride in Nubra valley. Although it was a bit cold but the surroundings around us made us forget everything. I will remember this trip as it was a trip with lots of memories. Thanks!

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Balamani Mishra

30 November 2015

Fantabulous time spent in the lap of the mountains, our entire cycling group had gone together and we enjoyed immensely. The cycling trip was really difficult at some time but the feel of it was really good. so positivity and cycling through high passes and snow clad peaks was really good. even the camping was good. after a long day of cycling they served us really good food everyday . The group leaders were also very helpful and were able to handle the fairly large group with utmost ease.

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Sheetal Sheetal

18 October 2016

The Kashmir Great Lakes trek is just amazingly beautiful, gorgeous beyond words. everyday it used to get better and beautiful. the pristine lakes, the endless meadows, the scenery, the view of twin lakes of gangabal and nandkul from 14000 ft zaj pass is all lifelong experience. this is the kashmir that one cant see on normal tourist itinerary and the hardwork is totally worth it . Our local operator has organized it pretty well, the trek lead and 2 guides were friendly, supportive and professional in their conduct. the food was just too good and never expected to have such yummy food on such remote high altitude trek. we were group of 13 n bonded really well. our batch was during the kashmir lock-down period but i'm glad that we didnt cancel it. the long walks were moderately tough so you definitely need prepare a bit for fitness but its totally manageable. the descent was daunting but thats always the case in my experience. we did face issues with accommodation n return transport on last day due to the curfew situation and operator could have done better job in co-ordinating it rather than just leaving us on our fate. that was the only sore point of the whole experience. I highly recommend this trek to anyone who wish to experience the real beauty of Kashmir and why its called jannat on the earth.

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Jyotis Ganaka

06 March 2017

It was one of the best and the most memorable trip I ever had. I always wanted to visit Ladakh and so this time I booked this package. Like they say the adventure begins it was indeed one hell of an adventure. Everything was very well organized for us. The pickup service was on time and so was the accommodation. Once we reached Leh, we could not stop ourselves staring at the serene roads and enjoy the peaceful environment. We visited some of the places like Hall of Fame and the famous Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, Magnetic Hill. The Deskit Monastery was one of the most beautiful sights at Nubra valley. Overall it was an amazing trip.

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