Leh Ladakh – Heaven on Earth
Ladakh is a place like no other. The beauty of the place can’t be expressed in words. Visiting Leh Ladakh can be a great experience as these places have a bounty of natural beauty.There is a bundle of attractions in Leh Ladakh, that are filled with extreme pristine beauty. Ladakh with a unique characteristic that is a blend of Indian, Tibetan as well as Buddhism linings make it a place which is worth paying a visit to.
1. Zanskar Valley
Without a doubt, Zanskar valley is one of the best places to visit in Leh Ladakh. It is amongst the most desolate places in the Himalayan range. The steep terrains covered with snow reflect the heavenly skies. The tributaries of the Zanskar River are famous for seasonal white river rafting.
Best Time to Visit: Zanskar is best visited between June to September when the road is clear of the snow. It’s closed for a significant time due to extreme snowfall and winter.
2. Pangong Tso lake
A trip to Leh Ladakh is incomplete without a visit to Kargil. This is the second largest town in Ladakh, situated on the banks of Indus River. It is a transit hub with roads leading to Leh, Padum (Zanskar) and Srinagar. Also, it is a haven for adventure enthusiasts as they can enjoy sports such as trekking and mountaineering.
Best Time to visit: The summer season between May to July is the best time to visit Kargil as the temperature is cool with frigid nights.
4. Khardung-la pass- Highest Motorable Road In The World
Khardungla Pass is a gateway which leads to Nubra and Shyok valleys. While this might not be a typical tourist attraction Leh Ladakh, it is definitely amongst the must visit places to visit in and around Leh Ladakh for adventure junkies. Managed by the Border Roads Organization, Kardung-la Pass is the gateway to the north and one of the most difficult yet thrilling passes to ride on.
Best time to visit: The best time to visit Khardung-La pass is during the summer season, between May to September.
5. Nubra Valley
Nubra valley, a tri-armed valley towards the northeast of Ladakh. The sand dunes of the Nubra Valley offer the tourists Arabian Nights like experience. Nubra valley is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Leh Ladakh for its two-humped camels.
Best time to visit: As per the climatic conditions, the best time to visit Nubra valley is during the autumn season which is between the month of July to September.
6. Magnetic Hill – Defy Gravity
One of the best places to visit in Leh Ladakh is the Magnetic Hill. The science behind the phenomenon is unknown but it has been observed that if you leave your vehicle at the base of the hill with the brakes unlocked, it will start moving uphill slowly on its own. Magic? Definitely not. It’s simply the superpowers you get when you reach this place.
7. Spituk Gompa- Monastery At The Hill Top
Ladakh is known as the land of the monks and monasteries. Spituk is one of the many tourist places to visit in Leh Ladakh. This is famous for its beautifully carved location at the top of a hill. The winds at the night, however, may chill you to the bones.
8. Hemis National Park
Hemis National Park has the distinction of being the largest national park in South Asia. The park is protected home for endangered mammals like leopards, Asiatic ibex, Tibetan wolf, the Eurasian brown bear and the red fox. For nature lovers and bird watchers, this has to be on your list of places to see in Ladakh. Pollution free environment and noise free surroundings make bird watching a joyful experience.
Best time to visit: Between May to September
9. Shanti Stupa – Meditation Time
What better place to invoke some thoughts from within than this? Located on a hill in Chanspa, Leh, the Shanti Stupa is one of the most magnificent and peaceful Buddhist monuments you could possibly see in the extreme north of India. Take the steep slights to reach the Stupa that offers beautiful sunrise and sunset views. Also, the panoramic views of the landscape around it make the Shanti Stupa one of the best tourist places in Ladakh.
10. Rizong Monastery
Located on the way to Lamayuru, the Rizong Monastery overlooks the Indus Valley and is perched on a cliff to the west of Alchi, 73 km. from Leh. One of the most significant monasteries of Ladakh, it holds a special place in the hearts of Tibetan Buddhists because of its association with Guru Padmasambhava, who is believed to have meditated in the caves in the surrounding region. The shrines in the monastery complex house statues of Lord Buddha, Sakyamuni Buddha, stupas, wall paintings and other Buddhist relics that are worth taking a look during your visit to the monastery. One of the only monasteries in Ladakh where Cham dances are not performed, this monastery is governed by strict rules and restrictions for lamas. Located amidst serene and tranquil settings, no wonder, it is called as the ‘paradise for meditation’.
11. Phuktal Monastery
One of the remotest monasteries in Ladakh, the Phuktal Monastery is located in the secluded Zanskar Range. Only accessible on foot, winding your ways through a series of steep cliffs, enigmatic rock formations, rickety bridges, lush villages, ancient Stupas and breath-taking valleys lead you to a monastery that lies hidden inside a cave on a Cliffside resembling a honeycomb; the journey to the Phuktal Monastery is as impressive as the monastery itself. During winters, trek to the monastery has its own magical charm making you traverse through the frozen Zanskar River – one of the most incredible and exceptional experiences you can have in your lifetime.
According to the religious beliefs the monastery was once a home to many great saints and sages including the 16 Arhats or direct descendants of Lord Buddha and Guru Padmasambhava. Made up of wood and mud, the monastery walls are decorated with ancient frescoes and wall paintings that are a visual treat to eyes. Perched precariously in the mountain crevices, braving the atrocities of weather for thousands of years, the monastery still stands tall as a testimony to time. For brave-hearts and adventure buffs, a visit to Ladakh is incomplete without a visit to this ancient monastery.
12. Suru Valley
Snuggled in the North-Eastern foothills of Himalayas, Suru Valley extends from the town of Kargil up to Panikhar towards South and Pensi-La in the East. One of the most beautiful valleys in the Ladakh region, it offers panoramic vistas of snow-capped peaks, undulated alpine slopes, shimmering glaciers and vast stretches of lush vegetation of wheat, barley and millet. Entire valley covers a veil of apricots, apples and mulberry during the autumn season. Owing to the valley’s tranquil and picturesque settings, it is thronged by countless tourists who come here to spend a peaceful vacation amidst serene natural beauty. With a stark contrast to the topography of most of Ladakh which is arid and barren, Suru Valley blooms with greenery and is one of the most agriculturally productive lands of Ladakh, therefore, is also referred to as the granary of this region.
Kargil, Sankoo, Panikhar and Parkachik are the main towns of the valley and offer a dramatic change of vistas when one moves from Kargil towards Parkachik. Breath-taking views of the grass with orange hues snuggled between the striking contrasts of arid mountains and some glorious views of the ‘Nun-Kun peaks’, make you speechless as you enter Parkachik. From Parkachik, one can make his way towards Pensi-La, the gateway to Zanskar Valley, which also offers some magnificent views of the ‘Drang Drung Glacier’. Midway, you can stop at the Rangdum village and visit the famous ‘Rangdum Monastery’. The ‘Karste Khar Village’ of the valley needs a special mention for its 7 metre tall rock statue of Buddha dating back to 7th century.
Enroute to Tsomoriri lays a small village of Chumathang that is basically a high altitude pasture land inhabited by the shepherds of the Langtang Valley. Barley and wild flowers can be seen growing on these pasture lands. The major attraction of the village is its natural hot water springs. Located on the banks of the Indus River, these hot springs are a blessing in the freezing cold weather of Chumathang. Villagers can be seen here boiling potatoes, eggs and rice in these hot waters. One of the famous stopovers on the way to Tsomoriri, Chumathang is also relatively situated at a lower altitude than Korzok village and therefore, is much warmer and provides nice lodging facility to people who are not able to find an accommodation in Korzok.
14. Diskit Village
The pretty village of Diskit is the main administrative hub of the Nubra Valley and provides ample accommodation options to the tourists visiting the valley. Located on the banks of the Shyok River, the village is dotted with apricot plantations and is famed for its scenic splendours and ancient monasteries. The ‘Diskit Monastery’ in the village dates back to the 14th century and is the oldest and the largest monastery of the Nubra Valley. Sitting atop a small hillock over the confluence of the Nubra and Shyok rivers, the monastery also provides 360 degree panoramic views of the valley and the surrounding snow-capped Himalayan Mountains. The overwhelming statue of ‘Maitreya Buddha’, sitting tall at a height of 32 metres, is the major draw for tourists to this serene place. Besides the statue, the monastery complex with the main prayer hall housing the statue of Buddha and walls adorned with frescoes and Thangkas paintings is worth taking a visit. Peaceful aura of the prayer hall echoing with the chants of the monks gives a complete solace to the exhausted hearts and souls of the visitors.
Korners of India