• Ashutosh Saxena

top 12 places in ladakh

Updated: Oct 7


Here is a complete guide for you to make your travel plan to a completely whole new level by adding these sites in your plan which you should visit if you are about to travel Leh-Ladakh.

Well, it isn't wrong to say that Ladhak on its own is a beauty that will attract you on it’s every point and even thrills you unimaginably, the routes and the roads of nature are more than enough on its own but still to make it count I personally prefer these 12 most important places that you should visit in Ladakh.


1. KHARDUNG-LA

Famously known as the gateway to the Nubra and Shyok Valley in the Ladakh region. It is the highest motor-able pass in the world. It is filled with tourist’s crossing over from Leh and stopping long enough to witness the beauty that lies there and click some photographs. Adventure bikers from all parts of our country and across the world visit this mountain pass on their motorcycles for an adventure thrilled experience. Khardung La Pass is positioned on the Ladakh range, which is 40 km from Leh, at an altitude of 18,379 ft (5602 m).

2. PANGONG LAKE



Pangong Lake also is known as Pangong Tso is a beautiful shining lake situated in the Himalayas and is 134 km long, extending from India to China. Pangong Lake is situated at a height of 4350 m and is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the country. The beauty and allure of this lake have attracted people from all over the country and beyond. The one factor that makes this Lake so popular is the fact that it keeps changing colors. Situated in the Himalayan range it is approximately 140 km from Leh in Jammu and Kashmir. The name of the lake Pangong was got from a Tibetan word Banggong Co which means a narrow and enchanted lake.

The lake is said to be in the process of being identified as a wetland with international significance under the Ramsar Convention and if everything goes as expected then the Pangong Lake will be the first in South Asia to be a trans-boundary wetland and that too under this convention.

3. NUBRA VALLEY



The Nubra Valley, once on the trading route that connected eastern Tibet with Turkistan via the famous Karakoram Pass, is the most recently opened area of Ladakh. Nubra invites you to a trip back in time into a nearly forgotten 'Shangri La'. With breathtaking views and delightfully hospitable inhabitants, it is quite an experience.

Diskit is the administrative center of the Nubra Valley. It is nestled on the edge of a desert on the Shyok-side valley, eight hours away, on the other side of the Khardong La (La means Pass). To reach this place one should carry along plenty of water, because the increase in height by over 2000 meters, can give anybody severe headache and nausea. Surrounded by the majestic Himalayas, the distinct smell of smoky kitchens, goats, chang (local brew) and butter tea, and the fatal edge of the 100-meter sheer cliffs always closer than one really appreciates.

Surrounded by the rising mountains of the Himalayas and superb views down the Leh valley, the thrill is replaced by a feeling of utmost beauty. Snow lingers all year round on the mountains with prayer-flag topped peaks. A literally breathtaking experience indeed.

4. ZANSKAR VALLEY



Also known locally by the name of Zahar, Zanskar is a small district in Kargil, located in the eastern section of Ladakh. For the ardent traveler, Zanskar Valley is one of the most enchanting places to visit in the Himalayan region. This valley is a semi-desert, with a known affinity for Buddhist beliefs.

Zanskar Valley is eternally famous for its high snow-capped mountains and surrounding landscape, featuring geographical attributes that are unique to this region. Reaching this place will introduce you to sparkling clean river waters and a pleasant climate that makes it worth exploring. Located 105 km from Leh, Zanskar Valley has earned fame among adventure enthusiasts. With a host of activities that can be tried out at the valley, it has become one of the most popular holiday hotspots for those traveling to the Himalayas.


5. CHADAR TREK



The Chadar Trek or the Zanskar Gorge is a winter trail in the Zanskar, in the Indian administered union territory of Ladakh. Traditionally the only means of travel in the area during the harsh winter months, the trail has become popular with international adventure tourists

Chadar originally a Hindi word means sheet (the thick sheet of ice that covers the ever-feral Zanskar River). It is this Chadar trek that gives you a feeling that is closed to trek on a glacier. The feeling there is indescribable and amazing in its own ways. The best time to do the Chadar trek is January to February when the temperature during the winters drops sometimes to -30 to -35 degrees

Chadar trek starts from Chilling however with time the organizers tend to drive ahead to about 1 km away from the first camp at Tilad Sumdo (10,390 ft ). Over the next days, the trek moves to higher camps till Nerak (11,150 ft). This is the frozen waterfall and the return point of the trek. There are other variations of the trek which go till Lingshed while a bigger version will take you to Padum over almost 14 days.

6. KARGIL



Kargil is a town in Kargil district and the joint capital of the Indian administered Union territory of Ladakh. Kargil is the second largest town in Ladakh after Leh. It is located 204 km to the east of Srinagar and 234 km west of Leh to the east. Kargil is the center of the Suru River valley, historically known as Purig.

In Kargil you’ll find Lamayuru, mulbekh monestry and Drass war memorial and most famous suru basin in which the glacier Panzella melts and trickles down, making it the most fertile region in the otherwise dry Ladakh. The valley is adorned with splendid greenery and fields of wheat, barley, radish, and grapes, mainly used for liquor production.


7. HEMIS NATIONAL PARK



Hemis National Park is a high altitude national park in the eastern Ladakh Union Territory of the Republic of India.

Globally famous for its snow leopards, it is believed to have the highest density of them in any protected area in the world. It is the only national park in India that is north of the Himalayas, the largest notified protected area in India (largest National park), and is the second-largest contiguous protected area, after the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve and surrounding protected areas. The park is home to a number of species of endangered mammals, including the snow leopard. Hemis National Park is India's protected area inside the Palearctic ecozone, outside the Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary northeast of Hemis, and the proposed Tso Lhamo Cold Desert Conservation Area in North Sikkim.

The park is bounded on the north by the banks of the Indus River and includes the catchments of Markha, Sumdah, and Rumbak, and parts of the Zanskar Range.

8. MAGNETIC HILL



Villagers residing in Ladakh believe that there once existed a road that led people to heaven. Those who rightly deserved were pulled to the path directly while those who didn’t deserve could never make it there.

Magnetic hill a part of the Srinagar – Leh highway, where you can observe road ahead going uphill, still if you will turn off the engine and let your vehicle stand in neutral, it will slowly start moving and can go up to a speed of 20 km/h on its own. This spot is also known by the names of ‘Gravity Hill Ladakh’ or ‘Gravity Defying Hill Ladakh’. The magnetic power of this hill is what creates curiosity and is a spot of attraction among tourists.


9. SHANTI STUPA



Shanti Stupa is a Buddhist white-domed stupa (chorten) on a hilltop in Chanspa, Leh district, Ladakh, in north India. It was built in 1991 by Japanese Buddhist Bhikshu, Gyomyo Nakamura, and part of the Peace Pagoda mission. The Shanti Stupa holds the relics of the Buddha at its base, enshrined by the 14th Dalai Lama.

Since its inauguration, Shanti Stupa has become a popular tourist attraction. According to The Hindu, it is the "most famous tourist attraction" around Leh, though its architectural style is different from the Ladakhi style. The Shanti Stupa overlooks the city of Leh, providing panoramic views of the city, the village of Changspa, Namgyal Tsemo in the distance, and the surrounding mountains. Sunrise and sunset are considered to provide the best views from Shanti Stupa. The stupa is illuminated with lights at night. The stupa is open for tourists between 5:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.

Situated at a height of 3,609 meters (11,841 ft), the stupa is located 5 kilometers (3.1 mi) from Leh - the former capital of Ladakh - on a steep hill facing the Leh Palace. The stupa can be reached by a drivable road or on foot using a series of 500 steep steps to the hilltop.

A similar replica of Shanti Stupa is also built-in New Delhi near Kale khan

10. ROYAL LEH PALACE



Located on the top of the deserted Tsemo Hill, Leh Palace is also known as Lhachen Palkhar. The former palace of the royal family of Leh, it was erected in the 17th century. The place was one of the tallest structures with 9 floors during its heydays. Today, it is one of the most popular attractions in Leh. From the top, the views of Stok Kangri, Ladakh mountain ranges, and the town are simply breathtaking. Slightly ruined in condition, the palace is now managed by the Archaeological Survey of India’ (ASI). the grand Leh Palace is an important center of the Buddhist religion as well as culture. The palace also comprises of a monastery that features a statue of Lord Buddha. In the exhibition halls of the palace, have a look at the old paintings and pictures, some great artistic work along Tibetan thangka. Some of the paintings here are as old as 450 years and were created using colors that were made from powdered gems and stones. They look as fresh as new to the onlooker. In the Leh Palace, you can also spot a wonderful collection of royal jewelry, ceremonial dresses, and crowns.


11. TSO MORIRI LAKE



Tso Moriri or Lake Moriri or "Mountain Lake", is a lake in the Changthang Plateau in Ladakh in Northern India. The lake and surrounding area are protected as the Tso Moriri Wetland Conservation Reserve Since it is near to the Line of Actual Control, you need to get an Inner Line Permit to visit Tso Lake, both as an Indian as well as a foreigner. The lake is fed by springs and snow-melt from the adjacent mountains. Most water enters the lake in two major stream systems, one entering the lake from the north, the other from the southwest. Both stream systems include extensive marshes where they enter the lake. It formerly had an outlet to the south, but this has become blocked and the lake has become an endorheic lake. The lake is oligotrophic in nature, and its waters are alkaline.

The beautiful multi-shades of blues offered by this lake along with a picturesque landscape around give this place an extremely romantic and breathtaking feel. However, in reality, the place is harsh and difficult to survive especially in winters since The Lake is at an altitude of 4,522 m (14,836 ft). It is the largest of the high altitude lakes entirely within India and entirely within Ladakh in this Trans-Himalayan biogeographic region. The lake has no outlet at present and the water is brackish though not very perceptible to taste.

There is only a couple of cemented accommodation available around the lake in the form of homestays and the facilities like electricity, medical aid, hot running water, western toilets, etc. are luxury in itself. The lack of oxygen makes survival difficult if your body is not properly acclimatized to its high altitude. Hence, one needs to plan his/her journey extremely carefully to avoid acute mountain sickness.


12. LAMAYURU TOWN


With a peculiar landscape on Leh-Kargil road, Lamayuru is a tiny village that's popularly known as the Moon land of Ladakh. Lamayuru is immensely popular for housing one of the oldest and largest monasteries in Ladakh. However, its claim to fame is accredited to the surreal breathtaking view of moon-like landscapes carved into the mountains. A large lake long ago dried up, and the protrusions looked like the surface of the moon. Tourists from various places visit this relatively serene destination to immerse themselves in this scenic beauty. It has also been said often, that on a full moon night, the area is an extraordinary sight to behold, something one doesn't get to see every day. It is an ideal stopover between the Kargil-Leh routes.

This is the trailer only yet the full picture is still left, there is much more in Leh-Ladakh than one expects "it is harsh, cold, thrilling and even some time's killing" but still it’s the beauty no one wants to miss.

Nature here is on its next level and feels like heaven on earth.

Once said by the Great Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan -"ya firdaus barruhe zamanast, haminasto-haminasto-haminast"

Meaning, (If there is heaven on earth, then it is here)

However, he said this line visiting the Kashmir “but I guess that he never visited Ladakh or that he included the Ladakh also while referring to the Kashmir”.

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