Leh-Ladakh is a land like no other. Bounded by two of the world’s mightiest mountain ranges, the Great Himalaya and the Karakoram, it lies athwart two other, the Ladakh range and the Zanskar range. The beauty of the place cannot be expressed in words. Right from gompas to the sensational momos, the superabundance of attractions to visit makes this city make it heaven on earth. It is said that only in Ladakh can a man sitting in the sun with his feet in the shade suffer from sunstroke and frostbite at the same time. The place holds so many surprises together that one can’t help but be awed. Don’t believe our words? Have a look yourself.
1. Zanskar and Ladakh Mountain Ranges: Stroll among the giants:
The large mountain ranges of Zanskar and Ladakh will be your companions through most of your trip to Ladakh. They may even be intimidating at times. These huge mountains can make anyone feel small. However, the key is to enjoy the beauty that these mountains have to offer. The steep terrains covered with snow reflect the heavenly skies. The loud rivers rush through these mountains making for an absolutely beautiful combination of view and sounds. Every point here is an echo point so if you find yourself in a safe area, you may want to risk a shout to hear the echos ricocheting from the hills.
2. Pangong Tso Lake: The unending lake from 3 Idiots: The enormously huge Pangong Tso lake (Picture Credits: Fulvio Spada)
Remember the breathtakingly beautiful lake from 3 Idiots where Chatur lost it all? It’s the Pangong-Tso Lake that traverses the boundary international boundary to stretch from India to Bhutan. The lake offers awesome site for camping and is the current hotspot for all people traveling to Ladakh. The rules do not allow boating on Pangong-Tso Lake but when the lake freezes in the winters, if you’re feeling too brave, you might want to ice skate at just the bank of the lake.
3. Tso Moriri Lake: Where you can stay forever:
The place is a canvas colored with the blue-white skies, blue-green mountains with white tops, the calm blue water of the lake and lush green pastures. Who needs any place better than this? The Tso Moriri lake is probably not as famous as the Pangong Lake but it is still a must visit place for anyone taking a trip in the Leh-Ladakh region.
4. Khardungla Pass: Highest civilian motor road in the world:
It might not look like much of a road but it’s the best that there is. Managed by the Border Roads Organization, Kardung-la Pass is the gateway to the north and can be considered by many as a tourist spot in itself. However, being at such a height, one has to take extreme care of health while traveling through the pass. On the fun side, the numerous Tibetan flags that are said to ward off bad spirits and keep you safe set up a beautiful contrast with the white snow.
5. Nubra Valley: A desert among the snowy hills:
A desert is probably the last thing one expects while planning a trip to Ladakh but there it is. The sand dunes of the Nubra Valley offer the tourists a very much Arabian Nights like experience. The famous two-humped camelsare also found in the region and are often the highlight of the trip for those interested in animals. The origin of the desert is supposed to be from the Tethis Sea from the depths of which the Himalayas are said to have risen.
6. Magnetic Hill: Defy gravity – feel superhuman:
The science behind the phenomenon is unknown but it has been observed that if you leave your vehicle at the base of the hill with the brakes unlocked, it will start moving uphill slowly on its own. Magic? Definitely not. It’s simply the superpowers you get when you reach this place.
7. Spituk Gompa: Monastery at the hilltop:
Ladakh is known as the land of the monks and monasteries and rightly so. Spituk is one of the many monasteries in the region. This is famous for its beautifully carved location at the top of a hill. With nearby mountains being much taller, the location is not exactly a vantage point but the view from the monastery is still pretty amazing. The winds at the night however may chill you to the bones.
8. Namgyal Monastery:
The place for the inner peace: Namgyal Tsemo Gompa or the Namgyala Monastery is particularly famous for the Buddha statue it hosts. It has previously also been visited by the Dalai Lama himself. Monks and Buddhism enthusiasts flock from all over the country to spend a few days here. Like most monasteries in Ladakh, it allows volunteers to stay and help with the daily chores at the Gompa while enjoying a few peaceful days here.
9. Hemis Monastery: The one with the masks:
Hemis Gompa is the biggest monastery in Ladakh. The annual Hemis festival that takes place in July is visited by people in large numbers. The masked parade is the highlight of the festival and is said to be one of the most sacred rituals here. Every year, on the 10th day of Tibetan Lunar month called as Tse Chu, the Monastery holds this two-day celebration to commemorate the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava who is often said to be a reincarnation of Buddha.
1o. Lamayuru Monastery: The night sky zone:
Ever wondered why the sky looks so beautiful when seen in movies but not from your home? This places shows you how being in the lap of nature and away from all the hustle of the city can let you have one of the best nights of star-gazing in your life. If you want to have the maximum from The Lamayuru monastery, plan your trip to Ladakh in sync with the time of shooting stars in the area.
11. Likir Monastery: Intricate carvings on colorful wood:
The beautiful wood work is probably the best non-Buddhist thing about this Monastery. The museum that caters to the history of the Ladakh region comes a close second. The picturesque surroundings come third and the list is unending.
12. Suru Valley: The trek to the Drang Drung glacier:
Ladakh is an ideal region for all mountainous adventure sports. The trek through Suru Valley to the Drang Drung glacier is one of the best in this aspect offering a mix of all the possible things one may do on the mountains. The trek is among one of the tough ones in the region and is only taken up by the experienced trekkers.