Journeying to the Roof of the world is indeed a unique experience loaded with excitement, joy and of course unexpected challenges as well. While some of us love surprises and the thrill of visiting new places, it does makes sense to know what’s special about a holiday destination before booking a travel package.
Remember to chart out your itinerary based on the duration of your visit and travel interests. Right from the mode of travel to the sights and activities you wish to cover during the trip, there are so many things to decide ahead of the journey.
You may choose to reach Ladakh via road from Delhi or Manali traveling through a picturesque route by opting for a Delhi Leh jeep tour or Manali Leh jeep safari. A self-drive too is equally enjoyable but may prove a tad tiring and challenging if you aren’t used to long distance drives across high altitude terrain.
The Manali Leh jeep safari is an exciting tour option that allows you to soak in the beauty of the scenic landscape along the entire route as you drive through Keylong and Sarchu to reach Leh after negotiating the spectacular high-altitude passes Rohtang, Baralacha, Lachung La and Tanglang La. You also get to enjoy impressive visuals of the rivers Chandra, Bhaga and the Indus on your way.
Alternatively, you could fly to Leh, treating yourself with impressive visuals of the tall peaks such as Nanga Parbat, K2, and others as well as the massif of Nun Kun on a clear day!
Here are the highlights of this popular holiday destination that you must cover on your trip.
There are several Stupas and Buddhist temples in and around Leh that draw a large number of travelers. Visits to the Leh Palace, the confluence of the Rivers Indus and Zanskar, Sangkar Gompa, Shanti, Gomang and Tisseru Stupas, the Hall of Fame Army Museum as well as Gurudwara Pathar Sahib Figure as a part of most tour packages.
Time permitting you can visit several other impressive Buddhist shrines here. Magnetic Hill is also a key attraction in Leh!
The drive from Leh to the immensely scenic Nubra Valley takes you through the Khardungla Pass, reportedly the highest motorable pass open to civilians. The valley fed by rivers Shyok and Nubra is a unique high altitude desert landscape that is said to resemble the surface of the moon. The highlights of a trip to Nubra Valley include visits to:
- the Diskit Monastery and majestic gold statue of Maitreya Buddha (32 meters tall),
- the Samstaling Monastery home to several resident monks,
- the sand dunes at Hunder and Bactrian Camel Rides in the cold desert
- Panamik and Turtok
- Sumur’s Yarab Tso Lake
Pangong Tso Lake
Located close to India’s international borders with China, Tibet, and Pakistan, this stunning expanse of water reflecting the blue sky is a pleasure to view especially in the backdrop of barren hills. These waters are known to change colors at different times of the day.
Stay there long enough to catch this spectacle or better still camp overnight for spectacular visuals of the star-studded sky on the “Roof of the World”. If you’re adventurous, take a dip in the freezing waters. Remember to watch out for the rare mountain squirrels en-route to Pangong Tso.
Tso Moriri Lake
Tso Moriri, the largest of high-altitude lakes is located in Ladakh. Sacred to the locals, the lake is a popular trekking destination.
Nestled by towering mountains and tucked away within the Changtang Wildlife Sanctuary this remote and pristine lake does not attract travelers like the Pangong Tso. Ideal for outdoor camping and watching wildlife, the lake area is also a wetland reserve home to many native birds as well.
The monastery at Hemis is a historic monument with religious and architectural significance.
It houses impressive statues of Lord Buddha and Guru Rimpoche as well as a museum that traces the history and evolution Buddhist culture in the region requiring visitors to spend at least a couple of hours the explore the premises. The Hemis Wildlife Sanctuary in the vicinity is a great place to spot the native flora and wildlife.
Perched on top of a hill, this monastery in Thiksey village at an altitude of over 3500 meters, offers panoramic views of the surroundings.
An impressive 2-storey high Maitreya Buddha statue, an assembly with displaying several icons and paintings apart from murals adorning the walls, the serene prayer hall with manuscripts, the Tara and Lamokhang temples, schools for aspiring Lamas and Nuns are all present within the premises of this historical structure.
Shey Monastery and Palace
Shey, the erstwhile capital of Ladakh is steeped in historical significance. The palace here served as a summer residence of the then rulers of the kingdom. Shey town is located on the Leh-Manali highway en-route to Hemis and Thiksey just 15 km from Leh.
Built during the 1600s, this multi-tiered structure atop a hill houses a 3-storey tall copper gilded statue of Shakyamuni Buddha, apart from several interesting frescos and murals. Prayer Chortens, the Victory Stupa, and images of meditating Buddhas carved on the rock are few other special features at this monastery.
These are but a few highlights of the Leh Ladakh region. There are so many other monasteries, palaces and interesting sights such as the Stok Palace and Museum, Spituk, Lamayaru, Alchi and Likir monasteries to be explored, making a must for tourists to return to this paradise to fully appreciate its culture and beauty.