Leh And Ladakh- Into The Cold Desert Town Of India
In the Kargil district of Leh region is the town of Kargil. This place has a unique seat in the history of warfare. The war of 1999 between India and Pakistan took place here. A lot of films have been shot here due to this region’s historical and political significance.
Khardung La Pass
The Khardung La Pass is also known as the ‘Khardzong La’. It is a paradise for the mountain bikers. Khardung la pass is a must visit on the checklist of biking and adventure enthusiasts. It is a connecting pathway between India and the Siachen glacier. The Khardung la pass is seated at an elevation of 5359 meters. It remains closed from July to August and November to February, due to weather conditions.
Known for its architectural magnificence the Shanti Stupa is an intricate symbol of the Tibetan culture. The Stupa faces the Leh Palace, the Stupa dates back to the year 1991, it was constructed by a Japanese Buddhist, in collaboration with some Buddhists from Ladakh. The Stupa houses relics symbolic of the Buddhist culture.
This is one of the best places to visit, when in Ladakh. Zanskar valley represents mystic beauty, with steep terrain and mountains clad in snow. This valley attracts a lot of tourists throughout the year. It is well known for its panoramic views. Zanskar valley rests between two lakes and a lot of popular places surrounding it. You can easily avail water sports facilities in and around the valley. Zanskar experiences heavy snowfall, therefore it is not snow clad for a major part of the year.
Pangong is a Tibetan word for Highland. This lake is placed at a height of 4350 meters and it freezes entirely during winter months. This lake is famous among tourists as it changes shades throughout the day. The water at Pangong lake does not appear crystal clear bluish the entire day, it changes from light blue, hazel blue to green at the time, and even shades of grey.
It is also known by the name ‘Lhachen Palkhar’. This place has a historical significance. The Leh Palace is a nine-story building, and it overlooks the entire town of Leh. This palace is lighted and decorated on special occasions. Especially during the Galdam Namchot festival, people of Leh gather at the palace and indulge in the festivity. The palace is not as grand as it used to be in the 19th But it is yet a sight to relish. Its upkeep and maintenance have been taken care of by the Archaeological Survey of India. The palace is a symbol of the Namgyal Dynasty’s presence in the region.
Tso Moriri is one of the most beautiful lakes in the region. It is a twin of the Pangong Lake and spreads over 28 km in length. It is commonly known by the name ‘the mountain lake’. Enveloped by mountains all around, Tso Moriri Lake is home to several migrating birds, like the goose, the grebe, and the brown-headed gull. It is not very popular among the tourists yet, hence it is calm and tranquil. An absolute place to seek solace.
The Nubra valley is a sight to behold. The Nubra valley region is under military supervision hence you will have to arrange permits to visits the location. The Khardung la pass lies right after the Nubra valley. There are abundant shops in the Nubra valley from where you can buy Kashmiri handicrafts and other artifacts. Apart from Kashmiri goods, there are several dry fruit markets here.
Namgyal Tsemo monastery or Namgyal Gompa is one of the most popular Buddhist monasteries in Leh. It dates back to the year 1430 and has a grand three-storeyed statue of Maitreya Buddha. Once this monastery was the royal residence. Now it is visited people from all over the world. There is an entry fee and the monastery resided within the premises of the ruins of the Namgyal fort.
This valley lies in the Kargil district, just about 2 km away from the Drass city. It is India’s coldest inhabited place, with a stark temperature of -45 degrees Celsius, in winters. Drass recorded a temperature of -60 degrees in the year 1995. The Drass valley is also known as the ‘gateway to Ladakh’. It is chilled but is absolutely a visual marvel as well.
This is a sweet delicacy made up of milk, sugar, vermicelli, and rice. Not only is it popular in Ladakh, but it has also earned quite a name worldwide. But Phirni can be tasted at its authentic best in Ladakh. It is a milk based sweetmeat and gets its inspiration from the Iranian rice pudding. It is prepared and then served chilled in an earthen pot.
It is a popular beverage in Ladakh. Tea is incomplete if butter is not added to it. Apart from this, the butter tea is prepared in a special wooden vessel. But the butter tea is not on the restaurants’ menu, it is a homemade traditional drink. Salk is added to the butter tea.
Qahwa is as popular in Ladakh as it is in Kashmir. People of Leh Ladakh drink it in small portions throughout the day. It is a preparation of cinnamon, saffron, sweetener, and boiled water. It keeps the body warm and is an essential drink of the hilly region. You can also buy packets of Qahwa powder to take back with you.
This dish is a combination of soup and momos. Since at high altitudes, soup is a prerequisite, people of Ladakh combine it with momos and it tastes really amazing. Vegetables are added to the soup and then momos too.
Paba is a signature delicacy of the area. It is made from barley flour. And is served with buttermilk and vegetables.
Things you must try when in Ladakh
Ladakh is the land of endless adventure. There are abundant activities to keep you busy for an entire month, but you have to select a handful as per the duration of your trip. Here is an assorted list of activities that you just cannot afford to miss while on a trip to this abode.
This is a colorful dance performed by the Llamas. And you just cannot afford to miss seeing this. There are colorful clothes, vibrant masks, and a type of dance drama. This dance is a part of the Hemis and Ladakh festival.
Try yak cheese
Yak cheese is a specialty of hilly and mountainous regions. A few people in Ladakh rear Yak among the cattle and hence yak cheese is an old and traditional delicacy here. It is way more delicious and creamy than the usual cheese. Yak cheese does not look very different from cow milk cheese but it tastes better and has a rich texture. The yak cheese is locally called Chuppri.
Visit monasteries and meet the locals
Morning prayers at the monasteries will give you a soul-soothing experience. You can even stay overnight. It’s rightfully said, ‘you can find nirvana here’. Meeting the locals will let you into the realistic interiors of Ladakh. This way you can experience the culture at its closest best.
Visit Magnetic Hill
This place pulls vehicles uphill, and it is no magic. It is a scientific phenomenon. You can visit the magnetic hill at any time. If you want to defy gravity, you gave your chance here.
Trekking at the Drang Drung glacier region
This glacier lies around the Pensila mountain pass at Kargil and it attracts trekkers. If trekking is your kind of enthusiasm, then this is just the place for you. It is one of the few glaciers of the world, where the trek is possible.
Biking around Umling La Pass
The Umling la pass is the highest motorable road in the world. And if you are visiting Ladakh, you just cannot miss biking here. A lot of bikers visit Ladakh, just to live their dream driving through the Umling la pass.
And how they rear their flock. Cattle in Ladakh comprises of mountain goats, sheep, Yak and it will be an enthralling experience to watch a native shepherd in a sweater, with a stick in his hand, guiding the flock on the routes through the grasslands to the village.
Best time to visit
the most essential part of planning a trip is knowing just the right time to visit your destination. There are two-time spans to visit Ladakh, one is during April- May. During this time you can visit almost all the locations and destinations here. This time span is also known as the tourists’ season. The other duration in September- October. It is perfect for exploring the outdoors, and a lot of adventure sports options are available during this season.