Ladakh, a newly created Union and territory in India happens to be one of the most favorite holiday destinations for adventure seekers and nature lovers. The beauty of this freezing cold destination can’t be expressed in words as the landscape here changes drastically. Bedecked with the gorgeous mountains, Ladakh is home to numerous high altitude passes like Chang La, Khardung La, and Marsimik La.
Built by the Buddhist kings of Ladakh, the palace has lost much of its original grandeur, but still offers some magnificent views from the top. Find your way down the winding passages and hidden stairways to emerge at the roof top and enjoy great views of the city.
Namgyal Tsemo Gompa
Built in 1430, this Buddhist temple has a rich collection of Buddhist art, ancient manuscripts, scrolls, wall paintings, and the gilded image of Buddha, almost 3-stories high.
Situated 45kms from Leh, Hemis is the largest monastery in Ladakh. Its walls are adorned with beautiful frescoes and the largest Thangka painting in the world. Built by the Red Hat sect of Buddhists, the monastery houses a statue of the Sakyamuni Buddha made of precious stones. Over a 100 lamas reside here at any given time.
Built by a Japanese Buddhist organization to commemorate 2500 years of Buddhism, the Shanti Stupa is a pristine white structure, and a change from the other Stupas of the region.
The official residence of the royal family, the Stok Palace stands four storeys tall and has 77 rooms. One wing has been made open to the public as a museum and displays collections of Buddhist art, weapons, jewelry, artifacts and thangkas. There are great views from here, overlooking barley terraces on the mountains.
Earlier the summer palace of the Ladakhi kings, the Shey Gompa is situated on a hillock. It houses a 12m tall gold-plated copper statue of Sakyamuni Buddha. Shey is a beautiful green area, dotted with ponds.
It defies all the laws of nature, and is something you have to experience for yourself. As your vehicle rolls up the steep hill, turn off the ignition. No, you won’t roll backwards and crash down the mountainside. Instead, the car will continue to move upwards at a decent speed to 20km/hr, even with the ignition off! The magnetic properties of this hill, located around 30km from Leh, ensure that you’re always moving up.
This monastery is located a little away from the Shey Monastery and has several Buddha statues, a pillar inscribed with Buddhist teachings, a 15m high seated Maitreya Buddha statue and a vast collection of Buddhist art.
Khardung La Pass and Nubra Valley
The Khardung La (Pass), at more than 17,000 feet, is the highest motorable road in the world. The scenery here is worth your time, always crusted in white, and with excellent views of Ladakh and the Karakoram ranges on either side. Beyond the pass is the wide, flat Nubra Valley, criss-crossed by the winding Shyok and Nubra Rivers. Bactrian Camels (double hump camels) are one of the main attractions of the region. The valley is dotted with ancient gompas, ruined palaces and quaint villages, providing many a photo-op. The Diskit Gompa, built in the 17th century, is worth a visit while you’re here.
Take a day trip to the pristine Pangong Tso, a lake situated at a height of approximately 14000 ft. Set amidst the vast Himalayas, the stark brown mountains contrast sharply with the clear blue of the lake, providing a most panoramic setting. The Pangong is considered to be the longest lake in Ladakh and is a saltwater lake formed by the remnants of ice from the ice age. The international border between India and Tibet runs through the lake.
Tso Moriri Lake
This is a saltwater lake located at about 14,000 feet above sea level. Bounded by mountains, this lake has Ladakh to the north, Tibet to the east and Zanskar to the west. Migratory birds, marmots and Tibetan wolves are abundant in this region.
If you’re looking for a real getaway, cut off from all civilization, head to Zanskar for complete isolation. The valley is closed for a major part of the year, from November to May, due to snow. Padum is the headquarters of this region, and is located on the side of a hillock with ruins of the palace and fort. Ancient rock carvings can also be seen on the bank of the river Suru. Karsha is the largest monastery here, housing ancient pieces of Buddhist art. Stongdey Monastery is home to the Gon Khang or the temple of guardian deities. Many challenging treks are possible in this region, and rafting on the Zanskar river is a thrilling experience for the adventure loving.
If you are also looking for a vacation in Ladakh then check out some of the most customized travel packages to Ladakh and select the one that suits your travel desire and falls under your budget.