When we think of Leh Ladakh our mind immediately goes to Pangong Lake, as it should because Pangong is breath-taking. But if you’re looking to explore beyond the known, then how about Markha Valley? The valley is explored through a trek in which you not only make way by gazing at the peaks but also meander through villages and monasteries. And who knows, maybe your trip to this slice of the Buddhist kingdom could be another “All is well” moment. Or actually, way way better than just well.
How to reach: Fly down to Leh and then transfer by road or fly down to Srinagar, transfer by road to Leh, make an overnight halt and then transfer by road. You can commence your trek from either the village of Chilling or Spituk. The Spituk route is more challenging.
Altitude: 10,490 ft
Difficulty level: Medium-Difficult
Best time to visit: June to September
Duration: 4 – 9 days
The Land of High Passes, i.e., Ladakh drapes a shawl of Himalayan ranges on its shoulders in the north and south. Markha can be visited by making your way through the Hemis National Park. Spread over an expanse of 4,400 sq. km. this is one of the largest national parks and even speculated to be the largest in South Asia. This national park is renowned for being home to the Asiatic ibex, red fox, Tibetan wolf, Eurasian brown bear and the coveted, snow leopard.
While relatively popular amongst the Ladakhi treks, you can still go for considerable amounts of time without seeing many people. Moreover, the charm of this trek is not just in the high-altitude snow-capped peaks that it lets you gasp at, but also in the fact that it takes you through villages. And when I say it takes you through villages, I mean you get to actually see tiny Buddhist and Tibetan settlements, mud brick houses, and the traditional gompas. They had been living far away, undiscovered by the modern world until the 19th century when onlookers came knocking. So, today the trek has you passing by with the prayer flags waving at you through the winds, a dash of vibrancy between the rugged terrain.
At first the rocky Himalayas stare at you as you enter their home. Over time you will come to pass by the Ganda La Pass, and eventually be joined by the Markha River which will be a companion to you for a considerable part of this trek.
You will not only catch glimpses of the Zanskar and Stok ranges, but also make friends. I mean the marmots, eagles, pikas and Himalayan hares! Beyond the mountains and the river, these locals will also come to make you feel at home. ? And let us obviously not forget the Tibetan shepherds. ?
As you push yourself to greater heights you will be rewarded by the stunning sight of Kongmaru La where the panoramic views will simply leave you mesmerized. Your face will break out into a smile and your eyes won’t be able to stop staring at what you’re seeing. Prepare for a visual treat.
There could be many reasons that you take a trek. Maybe its for a little peace and quiet with the hills. Maybe its for the mountain peaks that you cannot get enough of. Maybe it’s to witness the Buddhist influence. Maybe it’s for the chance of seeing high altitude wildlife. Maybe it’s for pulling down your tent’s zipper for a jaw-dropping view right outside. Maybe it’s for dipping your feet in chilly water and shrieking with the thrill of it all. And Markha, well, Marka lets you experience it all.
Click here to read about Sham Valley Trek in Ladakh!