Ladakh is one of the three regions of Jammu & Kashmir, the others being the Jammu region and Kashmir region. Once capital of Ladakh region, now Leh is the 2nd largest district in India with an area of 45,110 km2. At a soaring height of 11,562 feet, Ladakh is the bridge between the sky and the earth. Here, forces of nature conspired to render a landscape of magical dream and moonscape. The lunar landscape of Ladakh is defined by barren cliff, stark valleys, high altitude lakes and craggy plateaus. Ladakh, popularly known as 'Land of endless discover', offers immense opportunities to enjoy adventure activities in its acute form. Its rich Tibetan Buddhism culture and array of monasteries attract tourists from across the globe. Blessed with extraordinary beauty of nature, Leh Ladakh is a hidden treasure of nature.
The best season to visit Leh Ladakh is in summer season June to October. In this season, temperature ranges during day time is about 20-30 degree Celsius with warm and sunny weather.
PLACES TO VISIT
Nubra Valley, popularly known as Ldumra (valley of flowers), is situated 150 km north of Leh at an elevation of 10,000 feet above the sea level. The road to Nubra runs across the world's highest motorable road, Khardung La (17,582 ft). The main attractions of Nubra Valley are Bactrian camel around sand dunes, Deksit and Samstanling monasteries. Tourists require an inner line permit to enter Nubra Valley (easily obtained in DC's office in Leh) which allows traveling as far as Hundar and Panamik for a week. The best time to visit Nubra Valley is between June and August.
Tsomoriri is a beautiful high altitude lake with an altitude of 15075 feet, located in Changthang (northern plain) area. It is the largest of the high altitude lake in Trans Himalaya, entirely within India. The lake is surrounded by the elevated valley of Rupshu with mountain hill rising to 20000 feet offers breathtaking views. It is located near Korzok village and monastery. Despite poor vegetation, this brackish watered lake supports a considerable strength of rare and endangered species of fauna and avi-fauna.
If you ever want to experience a car to drive up a steep mountain without igniting any fuel then you must visit Magnetic Hill that lies at 30 km distance from Leh on Leh-Kargil road. Located at an altitude of 14000 feet, the hill is popularly known for its magical magnetic properties and surrounding beauties. The local administration has put up a sign board top help tourists to recognize the hill. Here, vehicle move upward at a speed of 20km / hour even when the engine of the vehicle is in off mode.
THINGS TO DO
FESTIVALS IN LEH LADAKH
Perhaps the best way to feel and understand the Ladakhi culture is to visit Ladakh during festive season. Festivals in Ladakh forms an integral part of Ladakhi lifestyle. During the time of festivals, the entire region comes alive, when people flock from different parts to meet at one place to celebrate the festivals with full of joy and enthusiasm. The festivals of Ladakh are marked by dancing, mask dancing, singing of folksongs, feasting, etc. All these festivals are vibrant, colorful and culturally rich as like the people of the region. There are a number of festivals that take place in Ladakh region.
Hemis Festival:One of the most important festivals of the region, Hemis festival is a two day festival held annually in the month of June/July at wealthiest monastery of the region, Hemis. It is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Guru Padmasambhava, who is believed to have saved local people from the rage of demons.
The Ladakh festival is held in September 1-15 in every year in Ladakh and its adjoining areas. This 15 days festival is celebrated with performing folk song, dance along with sport activities like native, polo, archery etc.
The Domoche festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm in mid of February or initial week of March in every year. Dosmoche is one of two New Year festivals celebrated in the region, the other being Losar. The festival is held at Leh Palace, Likir and Deskit monastery in Ladakh.
Losar festival is a New Year celebration that marks the beginning of Ladakhi or Tibetan New year. Celebrated across the Ladakh region for 2 weeks from later week of December to 1st week of January.
Sindhu Darshan Festival:
As the name suggest, Sindhu Darshan festival is a celebration of Sindhu River (Indus River). It is held every year in the month of June for the three days on the bank of the river.
About 160 km from Leh, Pangong Lake or Pangong Tso is a high altitude lake situated at a height of 14270 feet. This popular blue blackish lake is 5 km wide and over 144 km long. It shares international boundary line (Line of Actual Control) with China and perhaps this is the first trans-boundary wetland in South Asia. The beautiful and rare sights of Pangong Lake are truly amazing with deep blue water against the surrounding brown mountain. It supports life of a variety of birds including migratory birds. During winter months, the lake freezes completely. Tourists must carry inner line permit to visit the lake.
Tso Kar Lake
Tso Kar Lake is also known as 'White Lake' or 'Salty Lake' as huge dune of salt deposited around the lake. It is a small, landlocked, high altitude lake at a height of 4490 meter above sea level. The salty lake of Kar is about 95 km northwest of the Lake Tsomoriri in Rupshu Valley. Tourists visiting the lake can witness group of nomads living around the valley. A considerable number of livestocks including sheep, horse and yak are also seen grazing around the fairly pastoral valley of the lake.
HOW TO REACH LEH LADAKH
Leh, capital of the Ladakh region is connected by two major routes; one is Leh-Srinagar and the other is Leh- Manali. While, the National Highway 1 D connects Leh with Srinagar at a stretch of 434 km, NH 21 partially connects Leh with Manali (473km). The Srinagar- Leh route remains open for traffic from early July to November while the Manali-Leh remains functional from Mid-July to Mid-October. One can also hire motorbikes from Manali to Leh either for one way or round trip.
SRTC operated bus services are also available to and from Srinagar, Manali and Keylong etc. Bus fare ranges from Rs. 500 to 800.
Jammu is the nearest railhead to Leh at a distance of 739 km. it is the major rail head for the entire state and region, being connected to major cities of almost all parts of the country.
Bus or taxi services are available to reach Ladakh via Srinagar.
Leh airport is situated at a distance of 8 km from city center and receives regular flights operated by Air India, Jet Airways and Kingfisher airlines from Delhi, Jammu and Srinagar.
MONASTERIES IN LADAKH
In Ladakh, monasteries are also one of the major tourist attractions of the valley. Most of the people visit Ladakh either to explore scenic views or monasteries or experience adventure activities in extreme elevation. The entire valley is dotted with numerous numbers of monasteries belong to both Mahayana and Hinayana sects of Buddhism. All these monasteries are sited amidst beautiful sceneries of mountain, rolling valleys and pastures. Ladakh monasteries are storehouse of rich Buddhist culture. They houses thankas, murals, scriptures and sculpture of Buddhism, which depict the ideologies of the religion. There are some remarkable ancient monasteries in Leh Ladakh, which boast of ancient manuscripts and frescoes. Typically, most of the monasteries in Ladakh have been located in peaceful areas, quiet away from bustling activities. Thus, these are the abode of complete peace, tranquility and calmness. These monasteries are the important part of itineraries of the Ladakh tour packages.
:: LIST OF SOME OF THE MONASTERIES IN LADAKH REGION ::
1. Tourists need to be physically fit to experience Leh Ladakh trip.
2. Do not forget to carry camera with you as you will pass through breathtaking scenic views of the Ladakh region. Please note that cameras are not allowed inside the premises of monasteries and temples.
3. Inner Line Permits are essential to undertake a tour to restricted areas like Nubra Valley, Pangong Lake and Tsmoriri Lake. Permits can be obtained from DC's office in Leh. These permits are valid for 1 week.
4. Some of the places in Ladakh experience drastic fluctuations in the daily temperature even during peak summer days. While the days are hot and humid, evening and night can be quiet chilly. So, it is advisable to carry enough woolen clothes along with light summer days dresses.
5. If you are planning to trek, get some protective clothes (rain coats, pullover, and jackets), quality walking shoes, sturdy boots a good sleeping bag and bed rolls.
6. It is always beneficial to keep a first aid kit while travelling. So get some Vitamin C and Aspirin tablets and other basic medication for safety purpose.
7. Ladakh region is prone to sun burn for severe sun and UV radiation, so carry Sunscreen, Sun tan lotion, lip balm, moisturizer, Sun Glasses and Wide brimmed sun hat.
8. In Ladakh region, Internet facilities are available in Leh only.
9. Credit Cards are not accepted by most of the hotels and travel agents.
10. Do not use plastic bag since plastic bags are officially banned in Ladakh.
11. Try to carry purified or boiled fresh water, chocolates or energy bars when you go on treks.