Ladakh does not feel real. With landscapes that are hard to find anywhere, cold deserts and beautiful blue lakes, Ladakh mesmerizes you. A road trip through Ladakh is something everyone wants to do. And why not? Every turn of the road here will present you with a sight that will leave you in awe. Here are our favourite places to visit:
First on the list has to be the mesmerizing Pangong Tso. This blue marvel grabbed everyone’s attention after they saw kareena Kapoor riding a scooter in “Three Idiots”. Before the movie was released, Pangong Lake was relatively unknown. Today everyone wants to see this blue paradise.
Pangong Tso is one of the high altitudes lakes of India at a staggering altitude of 4350 Meters or 14270 Feet. This saline lake is shared between India and China with about 40% of the lake lying in India. The mountains which form the backdrop of the lake are part of Tibet autonomous region.
I am sure you will be the most excited to reach Pangong, but the journey to the lake is also breathtaking. You will see blistering clear streams, meadows, running horses, mountains of all colours enroute. It is an absolutely fantastic panorama.
About 25 km before the lake, you will come across the grasslands which are home to one of the cutest beings on the planet. These furry creatures are the marmots and will make you forget about the Pangong Lake till you are with them.
The moment you see a little blue from somewhere inside the mountains, and you know you have arrived at one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. The next half an hour is an absolute joy as you ride/drive past the lake and see the many wonderful blues it has. The crystal clear waters of the lake shine in many shades of blue depending upon its depth and with the sunlight.
The spots where “Three Idiots” was filmed are now the most famous attractions here. But if you want to leave the crowd then walk ahead till you find a quiet spot. It will be your time with nature with few ducks giving you company.
You should definitely camp near Pangong. The night sky will be full of stars. Just sitting there by yourself can be as individual and overwhelming an experience as one could ever have, a silent lake in the front, and mountains all around.
Hunder Sand Dunes
Ladakh is a cold desert, and when in a desert you should always visit the sand dunes. At an altitude of 4,000 meters, these stunning silver sand dunes of Hunder are located in the Nubra Valley region. This is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the valley. At the entrance, you will feel that you have entered a village fair. There are activities like archery and throwing darts.
But the thing which will catch your eye is the colourful clothing adorned by the Bacterian camels. The Bactrian camels have two humps which enable them to have a high tolerance to the cold, drought and high altitudes. Nubra Valley lies on the famous Silk Route and these camels were once used for transportation across Karakoram Pass. Today, they are used for camel rides around the dunes.
It is a dazzling landscape. In the evenings you will see the sparkling sanddunes with beautiful bacterian camels wandering on them, picturesque bare mountains with snowy peak in the background, and the sky with shades of orange, pink and red while the sun goes down. Just like a scene from a fairytale.
Click here if you want to read about Markha Valley Trek in Ladakh!
Indus Zanskar confluence
Enjoy the amalgamation of two stunning rivers in the middle of the rocky mountains. The confluence of Indus and Zanskar River happens near Nimo village and about 35 kilometers before Leh city. The view from the top is breathtaking as the two rivers meet at a Y-shaped curve in between the tall, sandy mountains.
There is a huge difference in the colours of the two rivers, and you can actually see the exact point where they merge. The interesting thing is that the colours of Indus and Zanskar change with season and therefore a new view is presented every time.
You can also do rafting here. The water is super cold and you will be given body suits so that you don’t freeze in the raft. It is a fun activity especially in a large group. You can race with other rafts, flick water onto each other and even jump into the river (only at points when your instructor allows).
The entire region is filled with beautiful monasteries. The oldest and one of the most beautiful is Lamayuru monastery. Lamayuru is a small village in Ladakh, midway between Kargil and Leh on the Srinagar-Leh highway. Legend says that the Lamayuru valley was under a lake which was filled with snakes. Naropa, an Indian scholar made some offerings to the Nagas here which caused the water of the lake to drain out.
The monastery is located on a steep mountain. The moment you enter the premises, you will feel a great sense of peace and calm. You can find a corner and meditate or a while. You can also ask a monk about the monastery and the different stories it hold.
Lamayuru is also known for its moonlike landscapes. It owes a striking resemblance to the moon’s surface. Here’s your chance to walk on the moon.
While everyone dream about the azure waters of pangong Lake, not many people have heard about Tso Moriri. ‘Tso’ literally translates to Lake in the local language. And Tso Moriri is one of the best kept secret of Ladakh.
Tso Moriri is located in the Changthang Plateau around 220 kilometres from Leh. At a height of 14,800 feet, it is the highest lake in Ladakh. Mighty mountains, snow-capped peaks, lush green fields and the deep blue water stretching to the horizon, Tso Moriri offers it all.
The area around the lake is rich in wildlife. Wild ass, marmots, hare, bharal and cranes can be spotted here. It is the only known breeding ground in India for the Bar-headed geese.
The lack of tourists is a plus point as you get the lake to yourself. Tso Moriri is what Pangong Tso must have been 20 years back. In its isolation, unending vastness and sheer raw beauty, this lake feels magical.
You cannot forget about the colourful town of Leh when visiting Ladakh. Whether you are flying into Leh directly or travelling by road, you should spend some time in the capital of Ladakh. Visit Shanti Stupa which stands peacefully on a hilltop. The white-domed stupa looks magnificent from afar. And once you are here, you can enjoy a panoramic view from the top.
There are many small bakeries and restaurants in Leh that serve amazing Tibetan cuisine. The market is filled with colourful souvenirs, and even if you are in no mood for shopping you should walk around and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere.
Click here to check out some of the best hotels in Leh under Rs 6,000!
Click here to read about the best treks in Ladakh!
Click here to know about how we celebrated a tripper’s birthday in Ladakh!