This beautiful cold desert has plethora of attractive destinations and attractions to offer. The major attractions on Srinagar leh highway are Drass valley, Chiktan Palace, kargil, Baltic, Indo Aryan villages, Lama Yuru and Alchi Monastary, The moon land, Nimgyal pass, Pathar Sahib Gurdwara, Magnetic Hills, Zangskar and Indus river confluence to name a few.
In and around Leh you can explore Shey Palace, old town of Leh, Leh Palace, Shanti Stupa, Sankar Gompa, Jama Masjid, Hemis Gompa, Thikse Gompa.
Overnight trips from Leh are to Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso, Indus Valley and Tso Moriri.
The most attractive places are listed below.
Leh is best witnessed with Old city heritage walk starting from Lala’s café. The walk loops round past the Guru Lankhang, Lamo art centre, Chandazik Gompa, Soma Gompa, Leh Palace then enjoy a cup of tea at Old town café. After a cup of refreshing tea explore local attractions Shanti Stupa, local Leh market full of artifacts and local handicrafts.
Leh Palace an architectural icon bears similarity to Potala Palace in Lhasa of Tibet. The Nine storied massive structure took shape in 17th century under Namgyal Dynasty. The top rampart of Palace shows panoramic view of Leh.
Thiksey Gompa is one of the largest monastery of Ladakh. The Tibetan style monastery is perched on the rocky hill and vast expanse of barren land around makes its presence larger than life. The cascading architecture makes it look quite majestic. The statue of Buddha with peaceful expression dominates the main prayer hall. The protector deities temple, Gonkhang and an old library housing scriptures is on the roof top of this Gompa.
Spituk Gompa was founded in late 14th century. The multi story mud brick structure is located on a steep hillock towards Spituk village. The exterior stairway leads to the Gonkhang, holding monasteries guardian deities and spectacular view of the place and surroundings. The chinese style Skudung Lhakhang arrests attention with up turned corners to its gilt roof. The canteen at the Gompa serves tea and snacks. The monastery is around 5km from central Leh.
Nubra Valley is located on the other side of Khargun La pass, the world’s highest motorable pass at 5600 m. There is permanent glacial ice on the north face of the pass. The fluttering prayer flags add delightful colour to this barren landscape. The shrine of deity is above the road, a flight of steps lead to it. Its advised not to attempt the climb unless well acclimatized.
The pass has a basic canteen and a medical hut. In case feeling giddy or short of breath you can use the emergency oxygen.
As you cross over the high mountain pass you reach the expansive Nubra valley. Directly above Old Diskit a 2 km serpentine road leads to the monastery complex perched on a hillock. The deities faces are covered and are opened during Dushera festival only. The Gonkhang (guardian deity temple) has a six arm statue clutching a withered forearm and human skull. You have access to the iconic Chamba statue placed on the interior of the hill is visible from a distance, formally inaugurated by the Dalai Lama in July, 2010. The restaurant at monastery serves nice meals. From the upper steps of the monastery you can over look the white sand beaches of Indus river tributary, Shyok river at Hunder valley. The several km of sand dunes have double hump Camels grazing in the seabuck thorn forest. The visitors are not allowed into the Balti area beyond Hundar village owing to its proximity with border area.
The area has a unique village with uniquely gorgeous people. The small village of Baigdandu, inhabitants are with startling blue eyes, auburn hair and rosy cheeks unlike the typical Mongolian features of Ladakhis. As per the local folklore these people are of Greeks tribe that came in search of Jesus Christ’s tomb and eventually settled here. This Greek tribe rears the goats yielding wool for famous Pashmina shawls.
The virgin location here is village of Turtuk. This peaceful village with tribal community is simply serene and peaceful. Here travelers can enjoy Ladakhi meal at ladakhi home stay and camps. The local Balti tribe speaks a language that’s only spoken and not written. The quaint green village is full of fertile cultivating land, peach orchards and beautiful flowers.
The beautiful Nubra valley leads towards Siachen glacier zone, prohibited for visitors due to close proximity to Line of control.
Pangong Tso, the crystal blue water lake located at an altitude of 4400 m, extending from India to China. The eastern end of the lake falls in Tibet, 20km from actual line of control. The lake is an important breeding ground for a variety of birds. The lake freezes completely in winter.
Pangong Tso can be reached crossing Chang La, a high mountain pass at 5400m. The road is winding and rough, the shrine at the second highest motorable pass in the world is surrounded by colourful prayer flags and Army canteen provides tea and snacks at this mountain pass. As one crosses small villages the road is ruptured by a crazy gushing stream, refered as Pagal Naala. As soon as you cross over the water the road opens up to the spectacular azure blue lake surrounded by mountains.
The shack on the banks of lake serves hot Maggi noodles, soup and egg omelette. One can spend hours gazing at the clear water changing colours with sky.
Tso Moriri Wetland Conservation Reserve
The mountain lake is part of Changthang plateau, within the greater Rupshu valley and is fed by springs and snow melt from the mountains surrounding the lake. The streams system entering the lake include extensive marshes. The lake is accessible during summer season only through Karzok located on the north west shore.
The mountains around the lake rise over 6000m and the lake is at 4500m. The nomadic migratory shepherds, Changpas rear yak, sheep, goat and horses of Tibetan origin. Changpa herders use the land of this valley as grazing ground and for cultivation.
On the banks of lake is 400 years old Korzok Monastery.
Top Treks of Ladakh
Ladakh offers different kind of treks for every adventure enthusiast. The snow clad peaks, barren terrains and clear lakes has great appeal to the thrill seeking travelers. The limitless possibilities for trekking, mountaineering and river rafting in Ladakh offer vistas to unexplored paths. The best time to trek is between June and September. The most popular treks are Spituk to Markha valley, Lama Yuru to Chilling village and Likir to Temisgam.
Easy Treks of Ladakh
Sham Trek (6N/7D)
Spituk to Markha Valley Trek (5N/6D)
Indus Valley Trek (12N/13D)
Moderate Treks of Ladakh
Manali Ladakh Trek (22N/23D)
Markha Valley Trek (10N/11D)
Spiti to Ladakh Trek (23N/24D)
Sangla to Leh Trek (12N/13D)
Nubra Valley Trek (9N/10D)
Tso Moriri Trek (22N/23D)
Trekking in Zangskar (17N/18D)
Lama Yuru Alchi trek (8N/9D)
Lama Yuru Martselang Trek (18N/19D)
Lama Yuru Chillingvia Dung Dung La (11N/12D)
Ladakh Monastery Trek (16N/17D)
Wild Ladakh Trek (22N/23D)
Alpine or tough Treks OF ladakh
Hemis Rupsu Darcha Trek (20N/21D)
Stok Kangri Trek (17N/18D)
Zangskar Trek (17N/18D)
Darcha Lama Yuru Trek (17N/18D)
Frozen River Trek (22N/23D)
Southern Zangskar Trek (25N/26N)
Ladakh Zangskar Trek (17N/18D)
Lama Yuru Padam Trek (18N/19D)
Stok Kangri Markha Valley (21N/22D)
Trans Zangskar Expedition (26N/27D)
Rupshu Trek (22N/23D)