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The picturesque land of Ladakh is easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in the world. It’s also one of the best road trips, especially popular among bikers. With its cold weather and nature hotspots, there are a lot of things about Ladakh that make it a great place for travel and adventure.
Standing at an altitude of over 3,000 meters above sea level, Ladakh is the highest plateau region of India. Because of its cold climate and rocky landscape, Ladakh is often called a “cold desert” and there are many beautiful places in Ladakh that are a must-visit for travelers.
Ladakh history is a rich and complex subject. There have been people living in Ladakh since the Stone Age and the region has been part of many empires, ending with the British during colonial times after which it became a part of Independent India. Buddhism was first brought to the region from neighboring Kashmir in the 2nd century AD and it is still a major religion in Ladakh. Thanks to the region’s rich history, there are a number of historical places in Ladakh that are of great importance.
Best Time to Visit Ladakh
Ladakh weather is cool and pleasant almost all through the year. Even in summers, the temperature remains between 20-25 degrees Celsius. Winter days are cool and nights can be freezing with temperatures touching -15 degrees. It is in the summers that Ladakh temperature becomes ideal for adventures, especially in the capital town of Leh. That’s why April to September is the best season to visit Ladakh while June is considered the best month to visit Leh, in particular.
How to Reach Ladakh
There are no direct routes by which Ladakh can be reached by train. The nearest railhead is Jammu Tawi, located about 700 km away. There are a host of trains connecting the station to major Indian cities like Delhi, Jaipur, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, etc. From Jammu Tawi, you will need to hire a taxi to reach Ladakh.
There are two options for road travel to Ladakh.
You can take a bus– There are direct bus services to the region from Delhi, Manali, and Srinagar. Many state and private buses operate between these routes.
You can take a car – You can reach Srinagar and rent a cab to reach Ladakh. It’s 434 km along the Srinagar-Leh Highway, and it takes about 10 hours on average.
For a faster, better, and enjoyable travel experience, we recommend a road trip from Srinagar to Ladakh by car.
There are a number of direct flights to Ladakh. The region is served by Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport in Leh. There are flights to Ladakh from Kolkata, Mumbai, and Delhi. From Leh, rent a car or an airport taxi to go anywhere in the region.
Places to Visit in Ladakh
With peaceful monasteries, sparkling lakes, beautiful valleys, and ample natural beauty, sightseeing is an amazing experience. Here are the most famous places in Ladakh to explore –
- Pangong Lake – Ladakh’s Pangong Lake is a landlocked water body located on the Sino-Indian Actual Line of Control, because of which travelers need a permit to visit this location. This lake in Leh, that extends all the way to Tibet is famous for changing color from blue to green during the course of the year. Other famous lakes of the region include Moriri Lake and Tso Kar Lake.
- Nubra Valley – Nicknamed the “Orchard of Ladakh”, Nubra Valley is among the most popular tourist attractions in Ladakh, famous for lakes, monasteries, and rides on two-humped Bactrian camels. The area is under military control so you will need a permit to travel here but it is definitely worth it.
- Magnetic Hill – The Magnetic Hill is a mysterious and popular curiosity of the region, where parked cars seem to move as if on their own. There are many superstitions surrounding this hill but it is believed to be an optical illusion or caused by a strong magnetic force.
- Hemis National Park – This famous national park of Ladakh houses the highest number of protected snow leopards in the world, among other wildlife. It is one of the most famous national parks in Ladakh and the perfect place to experience the fauna of Ladakh in its natural habitat.
- Nimu – This famous point is the site of the confluence (also called Sangam) of the Indus River and the Zanskar River, with the two rivers merging into one as a spectacular sight.
- The Leh Palace – A historic location that was once the palace of Ladakh’s royal family. The palace, located in Leh, was built in the same style as the Potala Palace of Tibet and affords breathtaking views of the town.
Things to Do in Ladakh
Ladakh is the ideal place for all your mountain adventures. You can also visit the many famous monasteries in Ladakh, which are some of the most beautiful and peaceful spots in the region.
- For trekking in Ladakh, the most famous option is the Chadar Trek over the Zanskar River. This popular river in Ladakh is frozen during the winters, making it a wondrous route for trekking.
- Enjoy the thrill of river rafting in the Indus River, an adventurous activity that offers wonderful vistas and the heart-thumping adrenaline of being at the mercy of the river rapids.
- Go on a camel safari in Nubra Valley, where you can ride the unique two-humped Bactrian camels.
- Travel the world’s highest roads and highways on motorbikes or cycles for a unique riding experience that is just unmatched. Khardung La, the highest motorable road in the world, is a popular route for riders.
- Celebrate the Sindhu Darshan festival, an annual event that celebrates the River Sindhu and promotes cultural harmony in India. The popular movie ‘Dil Se’ was filmed at the first Sindhu Darshan festival.
[Also Read: Tulip Festival of Srinagar]
Monasteries of Ladakh
- Hemis Gompa – One of the most important monasteries of Ladakh, the Himalayan Buddhist monastery of Hemis Gompa has existed since before the 11th century. It is also famous for the Hemis Festival dedicated to Lord Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche).
- Chemrey Monastery – Parts of this 400-year-old monastery is still unexplored but it is famous for its collection of ancient texts and a massive statue of Lord Padmasambhava.
- The Shanti Stupa – An important Buddhist religious site of Ladakh, this Buddha temple houses relics of the Buddha, blessed by the 14th Dalai Lama.
- Phugtal Monastery – An ancient Buddhist monastery that’s over 2500 years old, the Phugtal Monastery is one of the most isolated in the region and you can only reach it on foot.
- Thiksey Monastery – Built in the Tibetan Buddhist style, this monastery is famous for its 15-meter-high statue of Maitreya Buddha.
Places to Eat in Ladakh
Here are some of the best places to eat Ladakh –
- Chopsticks Noodle Bar, Fort Road – Indian, Chinese & Tibetan staples with vegetarian and vegan options.
- Gesmo Restaurant – family restaurant serving Italian, Indian, and Tibetan food.
- The Tibetan Kitchen, near Hotel Villa – family-friendly restaurant serving classic Tibetan food as well as Indian staples.
- Bon Appetit – local café serving vegetarian and non-vegetarian food and beer with good ambiance.
- Lala’s Café – Famous local cafe and art gallery.
Popular Nearby Places Around Ladakh
To make the most of your trip, drive outside the region and visit these interesting places near Ladakh.
- Sonamarg, 338 km – A hill station in Jammu and Kashmir, Sonamarg is a popular spot for fishing and hiking. It was historically used as a base camp for traveling to Ladakh.
- Rohtang La, 428 km – Connecting Kullu Valley with the Lahaul and Spiti Valleys of Himachal Pradesh, Rohtang La is part of the Leh-Manali highway. This famous mountain pass is known for its natural beauty and frequent snowstorms.
- Manali, 473 km – This famous hill station is a popular tourist destination in India. It is a great spot for adventure sports and to enjoy the natural beauty.
- Kasol, 509 km – Located in the Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh, Kasol is popularly called the Amsterdam of India. You can trek from Kasol to popular destinations like Malana and Kheerganga.
- Parvati Valley, 531 km – See the confluence of the Parvati River and River Beas at this picturesque locale. Parvati Valley is also a great place for trekking.
Ladakh Hotels & Resorts
To make your vacation truly comfortable and memorable, you need to find the best place to stay, so here are some of the best places to stay in Ladakh –
- Nubra Ecolodge
- Sarai Resort
- Ladakh Villa
- The Bodhi Tree – Luxury Hotel in Leh
- The Silk Route
- The Grand Dragon
- 4 View – Guest House & Hostel
- Hotel Jan Palace Leh
- Hotel The Kaal, Leh
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