Adventures In Ladakh: The Land Of Rambling Valleys & Adventure Trails
Ladakh is every road tripper’s paradise. With picturesque vistas greeting you at every turn, a holiday in this stunning mountain desert has a lifetime of memories to offer.
If you plan to check this destination off your bucket list, then read on to know about the places and experiences you must absolutely not miss. Happy Travelling with TUTC!
Located in the lap of the Himalayas, Ladakh is aptly titled “the land of high passes”. The most popular destination in this region is Leh, the second-largest district in the country after Kutch in Gujarat. Famous for its breathtaking landscapes and vibrant culture, Leh was the summer seat of the British Raj during their rule. Several key routes radiate out of Leh, connecting it with scenic valleys such as the Zanskar, Spiti, Aksai Chin, Nubra and Khardung La. Most of these are located on the routes of three mighty rivers: Zanskar, Indus and Shayok.
Must See & Do In Ladakh
#1 Adventure Trails
Hundreds of trekking and biking trails crisscross the landscape, leading travellers to quaint hamlets and undiscovered cultures. One of the famous treks in the region is the Chadar, which is on every adventurer’s must-do list. Each year, when the Zanskar river freezes and turns into a blanket of ice (hence, the name, Chadar), trekkers spend close to a week walking on the frozen waters and enjoying the beauty of this mysterious land, which has no entry and exit points during the summer. The two rivers, which flow in a raging frenzy through the land, make the gorge impassable. The other route, through the high passes, also remains closed for eight months. So come winter, trekkers make a beeline for this white corridor and less-travelled routes that only open up for a short span of time.
Other adventure trails in Ladakh include the Markha Valley trek, a bike ride to Khardung La, the highest motorable road in the world, or cycling from Manali to Leh. For river rafting enthusiasts, tackling the rapids of the ancient River Indus, can be quite a delight. Or you can bike down to Nubra and enjoy a safari on the double-humped Bactrian camels, found only in this region.
#2 Enjoy A Picnic By The Lake
If you’ve watched the movie 3 Idiots, you would be familiar with the pristine blue waters of the Pangong Lake where the final scenes were shot. With fluffy, cottony clouds reflected in its still waters, this 134-km-long lake offers a perfect family holiday. However, more than half of this stunning water body is in Chinese territory. The other lake you can visit is the mystical freshwater Tso Moriri. The neighbouring conservation reserve is home to 34 species of birds and countless mammals such as the Tibetan gazelle and the lynx.
#3 Explore Fascinating Valleys
Ladakh is home to beautiful rambling valleys, with Nubra being the most popular. With exquisite flora dotting its landscape, it is also known fondly as the valley of flowers. Located about 150 kilometres from Leh, Nubra can be reached via Khardung La. March is a perfect time to visit, when the locals celebrate the Navroz festival in the small village of Turtuk, the last Indian outpost located at an altitude of 3,048 metres. The week-long festivities include traditional dance and music performances and a polo match played on one of the highest grounds in the world. The isolated valley of Zanskar is yet another valley that tourists make a beeline for, whenever its snowy vistas open up to the public.
#4 Hop Across Monasteries
Ladakh is home to some of the oldest prayer houses in India, the most prominent being the Lamayuru Monastery. Located 127 kms from Leh, it is the oldest such monastery in the region and features vibrant paintings, murals and scriptures. The Alchi Monastery is, perhaps, the only one in Ladakh to be located on flat ground and boasts of some of the most well-preserved artifacts. And if it is a crash course on traditional Tibetan architecture that you seek, then visit the Hemis Monastery, the largest and richest such structure in Ladakh. Here you will find an extensive antique collection and assortment of precious artifacts in gold, silver and copper. Once there, you can also visit the Hemis National Park, which is the second-largest contiguous protected area after the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve and is home to a number of endangered species, such as the elusive snow leopard.
Location Of Ladakh:
Ladakh, the land of high passes, is situated at an altitude of approximately 3,505 meters (above sea level) and extends from the Kunlun mountain range in the north to the great Himalayas in the south. Inhabited by people of Tibetan and Indo-Aryan descent, it’s one of the most sparsely populated regions in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.
How To Get There:
By Road: The closest tourist town to Leh is Manali, located at a distance of 473 kms. The road connecting the two is operational between mid-July and the beginning of October. Both Himachal Pradesh Tourism as well as Jammu & Kashmir Tourism boards ply buses between the two destinations regularly during these months. This journey takes at least 19 hours.
By Air: Direct flights connect Leh with Delhi, Srinagar Chandigarh and Jammu. This is the quickest and easiest way to reach Ladakh. However, you need to spend at least a day acclimatising if you are flying into the region.
By Rail: Jammu Tawi is located 700 kms from Ladakh and is the closest railway station and is well connected to Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai.
Best Time To Visit Ladakh:
Visit Ladakh between June and October to maximise your holiday experience.
Good To Know:
An impressive trait about the Ladakhi society is that women here, compared to other rural parts of India, enjoy high societal status and relative liberation.
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