The ultimate guide for Ladakh
If you love travelling then Ladakh has to be on your travel list. Ladakh was once a part of Jammu & Kashmir, now it is a Union Territory. This awe-striking place lies at the borders of India and China. Most people probably have this place on their list but the travel plans haven’t been confirmed and executed yet, right? I’m sure after reading this write-up; you’ll confirm your plans ASAP!
Let me give you a small but precise description of Ladakh. Its snow-covered mountains shout out peace, the sky displays joy, and the nights are cold but the stars in the sky bring light and warmth, the rivers and lakes define purity, and the roads are a home calling to life and adventure.
Reasons you should visit Ladakh:
1. The beauty of the Himalayan range is incomparable. The view of the mountains in any direction that you turn to is mesmerising. The flight landing in Leh is well known because of how it lands amidst the mountains. These mighty mountains draw your attention and make you want to visit this place.
2. This makes for a perfect destination for road trips, bike rides and solo trips. These things are what all travellers crave for. A ride/ drive in the perfect scenic route with the breeze against your body, setting you spirits free.
3. The Cold Desert experience is something you will never get elsewhere. The thin and dry air makes you feel the sun intensely but the high altitude makes the place very cold. During the day, temperatures a close to zero degrees and at nights it falls below -20 to -30°C. This is the only place where you can get sunburns and frostbites at the same time. Quite an ironic experience, right?
4. The Tibetan culture prevails around Ladakh. The food, festivities are all derived from the Tibetan tradition. Their cultural and religious rituals are very interesting to watch and are colourful. The Monasteries are so beautifully built and preserve Tibetan and Buddhist ethics.
5. The Lakes are enchanting. The water is very clear. The lakes are a place of relaxation and rejuvenation. Being there would be a treat to the eyes and to your mind.
6. Although this may sound clichéd, Ladakh has romance in the air. You will fall in love with nature there.
What to pack?
It is essential not to miss out on the following necessities:
1. Inner thermals and wind/waterproof jacket
2. Socks, caps, gloves and mufflers
4. Goggles and sunscreen lotion( SPF 30 and above)
5. Essential medication- those who have altitude sickness can carry antiemetics and analgesics.
6. Vaseline, moisturiser, oil for the skin is very prone to dryness
7. Camera to capture this memorable trip
How you can reach Ladakh:
Flight: The nearest airport is at Leh. You could fly to Leh from Delhi, Srinagar or Chandigarh or any of the major cities in India. Once you reach Leh, you can go to Ladakh by cab or bike as per your preference. Ladakh is just 25km away from Leh.
Road: You can either go to Ladakh from Srinagar which would be around 434km or from Manali which is about a 494 km distance. You can choose to ride on a bike or go on a jeep. The bike rent is approximately Rs.1700 per day. Jeeps would cost around Rs.30,000 from Manali. You could use the JKSRTC or HRTC buses too, but you’ve got to be prepared for a bumpy ride.
Train: Trains would drop you off at Srinagar and then you will have to take the road journey.
Things to do at Ladakh:
The very thought of lakes at such high altitude is exciting. The lakes in Ladakh are awe-inspiring and a place where you would definitely be drifted to thoughtlessness and peace.
1. Pangong Tso: The Pangong Tso lake is popularly known as the Ladakh lake. It is the world’s highest salt lake. The lake completely freezes during winters. The landscape of this lake is astounding. The colour of the lake changes from shades of blue to green depending upon the timing of the day. This, with the reflection of the sky and Snow Mountains in the water, is a mind-boggling view. This lake is truly breathtaking.
P.S. The increase in tourism has made some parts of the lake unpleasant by throwing trash in certain places. My request to you would be to travel in such a way that nature can breathe without human hindrance.
2. Moriri Lake: Moriri Lake is also known as the mountain lake. The traveller who wants to capture the beauty of the untouched part of Ladakh would definitely visit this lake.
3. Kar lake: Kar lake is the third mountain lake in Ladakh. This lake is also called the white lake due to the salt deposits on the shore. This lake is dear to the birdwatchers as several species of birds come here to lay eggs.
Ladakh so popularly known for the Tibetan and Buddhist practices hold monasteries that are captivating.
The monasteries that you could visit for the beautiful view are:
Alchi Monastery (has the largest Gompa)
The Monasteries that you could visit for peace, meditation and spiritual purposes are:
The Chadar trek is a delightful route for the trekkers. The route of the trek is over the Zanskar river which is frozen during winter. February is the month preferred for this as the snow is most stable then. The trek takes 9 days to complete. Sounds extremely adventurous, right? This trek is recommended only for those who are physically fit and not for children and most adults.
Paragliding, Treks and water rafting are conducted at the Zanskar Valley. This Valley is bound by the Snow peaked mountains and has the river flowing through. This place is well known for these adventure sports activities conducted. These activities bring in more excitement to the trip.
Hemis National Park:
National parks are known for their wide range of flora and fauna. The wildlife lovers would definitely choose to be here. You could spot the snow leopard inside this park. This national park has the highest number of snow leopards than anywhere else in the world, thus emphasising on reasons to visit here.
Bactrian Camel watching:
The Bactrian camels are special camels that are double-humped. People go there for the safari of this camel but I am against animal cruelty so I will advise you to just go and see them, take photos of them and please don't ride. You can find them at the Hunder desert in the Nubra valley.
Things to eat at Ladakh:
The lifestyle and food habits of the people in Ladakh are derived from Tibet. Their momos(stuffed dumplings), noodles and soup are most famous. You get both vegetarian and non-vegetarian based on your preference.
1. Gur gur cha - Hot butter tea
2. Chutagi- dumpling soup
3. Thukpa - noodle soup
4. Yak Cheese momos and sandwiches
1. goStops Leh – hostel- Rs. 1349 for 2 days
2. Odbar – Homestay- Rs. 720 for 2 days
3. The Empyrean House- Homestay – Rs. 1105 for 2 days
4. Glacier View Guest House – Rs. 1800 for 2 days
5. Hunder Sarai resort- Rs.2835 for 2 days
If you plan your trip to Ladakh for 3-4 days on a bike from Shrinagar or Manali, with the highest rated accommodation that I’ve mentioned above your trip expense would come up to 17,000 – 20,000. I have included Rs.2000 for food and 5000 for miscellaneous activities in that budget. Flight expenses have not been included.
Best time to visit:
May to September is the best time to visit Ladakh because the rest of the year the roads are blocked with snow and are inaccessible.
It is common for people to get “Altitude Sickness”. Everyone’s body responds and adapts differently to the changing atmosphere. On worst-case scenarios, it requires oxygen supply and you need to go to a hospital. I would like to share a few tips to prevent this.
1. Climb or drive uphill slowly with frequent stoppings
2. If you are prone to this kind of sickness, it is better to sleep at lower altitudes for the night. It might aggravate while you’re asleep.
3. Eat lots of Carbs, stay hydrated and avoid alcohol or smoking.
Ladakh is a place that will be a part of you even after you leave. The thoughts and memories linger on. The atmosphere in Ladakh feels so fresh and pure that if you go anywhere else after being here, the surrounding feels a bit contaminated. This place has a completely different lifestyle and it’s addictive. You would want to be here longer and might want frequent visits to this charming place by the Himalayan range.