Cradled between the mighty mountains of Himalaya and Karakoram, Ladakh is a tourist location like no other. It is blessed with a fabulous landscape filled with green vegetation and snow-clad mountains. The plethora of attractions and adventure activities in the region make the visit to the place exciting. Though the weather is predominantly cold, the summer season presents a pleasant climate that favors tourism activities. Apart from the picturesque landscape, Ladakh has many monuments like stone carvings, ancient Buddhist monasteries, Leh palace and so on that proclaims the history of the place.
If you are looking for a tourist destination which gives you everything, Ladakh is the best place for you. You can enjoy the cool climate and unwind here. The scenic beauty of the landscape will vaporize all your stress and fill you with awe. The thrill of exploring the places in Ladakh and the varied adventure activities will restore the youthful vigor that is lost in the monotonous life. The historical and ancient monuments make you proud of the rich past and the pluralistic culture of the land. Hence you can confidently choose Ladakh as your next tourism destination.
Located in the Western Himalayan ranges, Ladakh was inhabited since prehistoric times. The study of rock carvings here proves that it was around the Neolithic period that humans arrived here. By the 1st century, the region became part of the Kushan Empire. Buddhism prevailed during this time. Between the 14th and 16th centuries, Islam started gaining prominence in the valley. Several mosques were built during this time. Hence Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam are the major religions in Ladakh. Since gaining independence, the Ladakh border is a place in dispute between India and Pakistan. The valley saw much bloodshed including the Kargil war of 1999.
Leh and Ladakh act as sister tourist destinations. If you embark on a tour of the region it is better to visit both the destinations. There are many exciting locations like the Nubra Valley, Magnetic hill, Pangong Tso, and so on. The high pass of Khardung La is one of a kind. Adventure lovers can involve in trekking, mountaineering, boat riding, and so on. Many places require tourists to get a pass as they are under high security. It is better to get a good idea about these places before starting the journey or you may end up losing your valuable time going back and forth.
Top attractions in Ladakh
Kargil is infamous for the frequent breaches in the Line of Control and as the battleground for the war between India and Pakistan in 1999. But the region is also a hot tourist destination in Ladakh due to its rich history and an exceptionally beautiful landscape. The Nun Kun peak, which is a popular skiing and mountaineering destination, is located here. Tourists also love to take a long trek through the ranges. Zanskar an arid mountainous region, which is a popular tourist location in Ladakh, is also located in the Kargil district. Suru River flowing through the land attracts travelers with its potential for river rafting. Another alluring factor of Kargil is its Apricot farms. It is one of the largest producers of apricot in India. If you can find the time, you may also try out the local delicacies. Thus Kargil is a place you can enjoy some unique experiences on your Ladakh tour.
Magnetic hill is an amazing location that will baffle you with its gravity-defying property. Once you reach the place you can park your car in neutral and wait for the magic. Against all expectations, the car will start climbing the hill! There were many myths associated with the beguiling phenomenon until it was proven that it is an optical illusion. The peculiar layout of the landscape and the surrounding mountains create the illusion that we are moving uphill. But in reality, we are moving in the downward gradient. This rare illusion makes Magnetic hill one of the most visited tourist destinations in Ladakh.
A quaint village in the Leh- Kargil route, Lamayuru is one of the most favorite locations for tourists visiting Ladakh. It is best known for its monastery, which is a peculiarly large construction. Nevertheless, the surreal landscape of Lamayuru also makes it special. There is a dried-up lake with unique protrusions, unlike anything that you have seen before. Also, the green beautiful valley with arid mountain ranges in the backdrop gives it an otherworldly appearance. Hence the place is often referred to as the Moonland of Ladakh. Tourists who come to visit the monastery are often enthralled by the unsung beauty of the land. Many take a halt at the place to enjoy the scenic beauty and melt away in its serene atmosphere.
Hemis National Park
Hemis National Park is a high altitude park located at a height between 3300 and 6000 meters. Founded in 1981, the protected area is famous for its high density of snow leopards. The park holds the title of the largest of its kind in South Asia with an area of 4,400 square kilometers coming under it. You cannot avoid the National park on your Ladakh tour because it provides you the rare opportunity to see endangered species. Apart from almost 200 snow leopards, you can see Great Tibetan Sheep, Blue Sheep, Tibetan Wolf, Eurasian Brown Bear and so on. There are some rare varieties of birds in the region like the Golden Eagle, Lammergeier Vulture, Himalayan Griffon Vulture, Black-winged snow finch, Himalayan snowcock, Robin Accentor and so on.
Pangong Tso is a famous lake in Ladakh. Surrounded by hills, the beautiful lake lures tourists to its placid waters. The lake is huge and runs from India to Tibet with a length of 12 kilometers. Located at an altitude of 4350 meters above sea level, the atmosphere is very pleasant and serene. The temperature of the region falls between -5 degrees to 10 degrees Celcius. Hence the lake freezes during winter season making it a rare sight in India. The most interesting feature of the lake is that it changes colors in different seasons. It changes from deep to light blue to azure and even green and grey. This thrilling feature attracts scores of tourists to Pangong Tso every year.
Located in the Lungnak valley in Ladakh, Phugtal Gompa is an ancient Buddhist monastery. The building is constructed like a honeycomb around a natural cave which gives it a rare aura of simplicity and calmness. Believed to be built almost 2,550 years ago it is one of the most ancient monasteries in India. Many eminent Buddhist masters and scholars lived in this cave including the 16 Arhats, the legendary followers of Buddha. Thus the monastery acted as the epicenter of Buddhist religion in Ladakh. The cave walls are carved with the images of these enlightened masters. The place is still very remote from the civilized world and can only be reached on foot. This also makes it a uniquely calm place far away from the pollution and noise of the modern world. You will feel meditative once you reach the place and it is difficult to tear yourself away from the tranquil atmosphere.
Nestled in the Changthang Plateau, Moriri Lake is one of the best places to visit in Ladakh. It is about 26 kilometers in length and 3 to 5 kilometers in width. This huge water body, with its luring blue tinge, lies at an altitude of 4522 meters. The incomparable scenic beauty of the place attracts tourists to it. The placid water sometimes becomes so still that it perfectly reflects the sky above. Because of this optical illusion, tourists from different parts of India are eager to visit Tso Moriri. It is quite exciting to see the moving shadows of clouds falling on the barren hills alongside the lake. You can spend hours in this panoramic location imbibing its beauty and still feel you have not got enough of it.
Located in the eastern part of Ladakh in the Kargil district Zanskar valley is a peculiar location. Surrounded by lofty snow-capped mountains, the semi-desert valley is attractive. Though devoid of vegetation, the area has a scenic beauty. The pleasing atmosphere and serene water bodies accentuate the beauty of the place. Nevertheless, the valley is only open during the summer season as it is covered in a thick coat of snow during other times of the year. But the valley can be reached during this season by undertaking the popular Chadar Trek. Make sure to include the destination in your Ladakh tour.
Best Time To Visit Ladakh
It is ideal to travel to the tourist destination during summer. Hence April to June is considered the best time to visit Ladakh. The weather in Ladakh at this time is very pleasant. As snowfall can be quite heavy during the winter season, most of the tourist destinations will only be open during this time.
From October to May, which is time for winter in Ladakh, usually has frequent road closures due to heavy snow. The road passes are closed altogether in some years and the only mode of transport is through the air. Nevertheless, many adventure enthusiasts visit the region during this time to involve in the famous Chadar Trek.
How To Reach Ladakh
Ladakh is not the easiest of locations to reach. Also, traveling to different attractions in the tourist destination requires a pass from the authorities for security reasons.
- By Air: the easiest way to reach Ladakh is through the air. The Kushok Bakula Rinpoche in Leh is the nearest airport to the region. Though it is a domestic aerodrome, frequent flights are available to major cities in different parts of India like Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi, Srinagar, and Jammu. You can hire a cab from the airport and reach Ladakh within no time.
- By Road: Manali- Leh Highway and Srinagar- Leh highway are the two main roadways to reach Ladakh. These highways are not open all round the year. Usually, travelers are allowed to use them from June to November. There are busses run by Himachal Pradesh Tourism and Jammu and Kashmir State Tourism through these roads. You can avail deluxe as well as ordinary buses. You may also prefer to drive if you like that.
- By Rail: Jammu Tawi located at a distance of 708 kilometers is the nearest railway station to Ladakh. You can board a bus or hire a cab from the railway station. It usually takes 15 hours to reach the tourist destination.