Explore the bounties of Leh Ladakh Tourism
Tourism Places in Leh Ladakh
Adventure, Action, Beauty and Thrill – Step into a Whole New World of Leh Ladakh
Leh Ladakh tourism occupies a unique position in the world of tourism. Leh Ladakh is a spectacular tourist destination. It is not just the immaculate beauty of the frozen desert of Leh Ladakh, it is also the feel of adventure that attracts tourists and adventurers incessantly to this northern part of India. The remote mountain beauty of Leh Ladakh with Tibet lying in the east, the beautiful Lahaul and Spiti regions to the south is matchless. Leh Ladakh tourism has its own undeniable charm in its high-altitude cold desert beauty of Askai Chin (India-China border) extending to the Kun Lun Ranges, Nubra Valley, the Khardong La, the stunning valleys of Jammu, Kashmir and Baltiyul, the borders of Tibet and the Karakoram Pass.
Leh Ladakh is connected to Delhi by air through regular flights and national highways. Leh Ladakh is well connected from Manali and Srinagar via the highways Srinagar-Leh Highway and Leh-Manali Highway, respectively. But both highways close in the winter season because of heavy snow fall. En route the highways, you get to cross some very picturesque high elevation passes.
Reaching Ladakh by road
Journey to Ladakh by road makes for one of the most thrilling road adventures in India. Be it a bus trip or the more adventurous trip in self-driven car or the most adventurous bike trip. You get to cross some of the highest altitude motorable terrains through some of the highest passes of the world enjoying the semi-arid landscapes spread indefinitely on both sides. The barren beauty of this part of the Himalayan region is incredible. The scenic panoramas, the stupendous Zaskar range, the colourful and quaint Tibetan monasteries, flags and giant prayer bells altogether present an out-of-the-world charm for the tourists touring Leh Ladakh from far and near. It is nature lovers’ paradise, a photographer’s dream destination, an adventurer’s ultimate thrill.
A jeep safari via Manali Leh Highway, crossing the passes such as Rohtang, Keylong, Baralacha, Namkeela and Tanglangla (world’s second highest pass), is very enjoyable. Then there can be a planned jeep safari from Srinagar to Leh, which is a good 475 kilometres long and unfolds the colours of mountain beauty in all its Himalayan glory.
The Major Tourist Attractions of Leh Ladakh
Ladakh offers other attractions for the adventure and thrill seeking hearts. Trekking across the isolated mountain regions that is sparsely populated has its own undeniable fascination. Similarly, Zanskar and Indus Rivers offer a heart-stopping river rafting adventure across rough mountainous water courses. For the mountain climbers, Stok Kangri and Kangyartse Peaks offer challenging climbs up the steep and unfriendly rock faces. Bike safari can be made through an undulating valley road or can be via adventurous roads clinging the ravines and cliffs. The Chader trek along the frozen rivers of Indus and Zanskar offers an exhilarating and unforgettable experience.
The beautiful and unique Nubra valley of Ladakh is reached after crossing the world’s highest motorable pass known as Khardungla pass. The picturesque Pangong Tso Lake of Ladakh, the striking Tso Moriri Lake in the south west of Ladakh and the more easily reachable Tso Kar Lake situated near Manali-Leh highway are important destinations of Leh Ladakh trip.
Drass a quaint village beside the Drass River falling in the way to Kargil exhibits some Buddhist bas reliefs dating back from the seventh century: Avalokiteshvera, depiction of Bodhisattva depicting compassion; a lotus; Maitreya Buddha; and an equestrian figure. The rocky path through this village reaches an altitude 5000 to 5500 metres.
The strategically located infamous Kargil with a population of approx. 3000 is also worth visiting. It is a town located at the confluence of the Drass and Saru Rivers at a mere 20 kilometres distance away from Indus River. It is the second largest town of Ladakh. The local inhabitants following orthodox Islamic practice, speaking the Purik dialect that bears close resemblance with Skardu dialect spoken across the order in Pakistan along with the sudden bursts of artificially irrigated landscape will strike the hikers and travellers dropping by in this part. Kargil bustles with activity during the momentous archery contest held every year in the month of May. The Turkish style buildings, the two imambaras, Trespone and Sankhoo, the Arabic and Persian speaking Moslem ascetics altogether present an unforgettable experience for a traveller.
Mount Kala Pahad (4575 metres high), the Namika-La and Fatu-La Pass, the exotic villages of Garkon, Dards, Dardchik and Dha Hanoo presenting the light-skinned inhabitants speaking a language resembling Russian are the highlights of Kargil region. Shergol on the banks of Wakkha River holds a small Gompa hugging the eastern slopes, Mulbekh with its palace of Rajah Chalon and a double monastery, Serdung and Gandentse Gompas, are worth a visit. Experience the old-world and unique ways of the local inhabitants by pausing in a village like Gel situated up above the Wakkha River. Bagso Fort and the Bagso Gompa with the Golden Chamba statue and figure of the white clothed Chamonada make for unique visits.
The attractions of the other world charm of Leh Ladakh are to be witnessed across a series of quaint monasteries spread all across the Leh Ladakh region to greet the tourists. The serenity and the peace they exude calms a tired soul. Some of the important and unique monasteries and palaces of Leh Ladakh without which the trip to Leh Ladakh would be incomplete can be listed as Alchi monastery, Thak-Thak Gompa, Likir Monastery, Sankar Gompa, Bagso Gompa, Lamayuru Monastery, Shey Palace and Monastery, Tikse Monastery, Hemis Monastery, Chimre Gompa, Diskit Monastery in Nubra valley, Samastaling Monastery also in the Nubra valley, Taktok Gompa, Leh Palace and Stok Palace.
Some Exclusive Aspects of the Major Leh Ladakh Landmarks
- The well-known lake regions of Leh Ladakh are a must for the diehard Leh Ladakh fans. There is the Bollywood flick “Three Idiot” famous ” Pangong Tso Lake, the Tso Moriri Lake with amazing emerald blue waters, and the isolated divine beauty of the unending and the vast Tso Kar Lake are sheer works of wonder. The splendour of the stunning landscapes, the beauty that fills the souls especially at sunrise and sunset need to be seen to be believed.
- Da Hanu village makes for an interesting detour for a rich cultural experience for the fewer and quieter tourists exploring Leh Ladakh travelling from Leh to Srinagar. The fertile valley of the Indus River has its largest settlement in the lazy and idyllic village of Skurbuchan. Da Hanu is situated approximately 500 metres below Skurbuchan and leads through narrow trails, deep gorges, fields covered with beautiful white flowers in the autumn months of September, old monasteries clinging to rocky hill slopes and village houses with drying apricots on rooftops. Da Hanu is considered a village with inhabitants of pure Aryan origin tribe. It is a village with walnut and apricots trees, huge granite boulders, grape plantations and cherry blossoms.
- Tikse Gompa is situated in the south of Leh about 17 kilometres away. There are about 80 residential monks. Tikse Gompa is beautifully located on a hilltop 2 kilometres above the Indus River. It belongs to the Gelugpa order and houses an interesting collection of Tibetan books. The wall is filled with holes to accommodate the books. The artwork and the wall paintings of this Gompa exhibit some very terrifying deities. The early morning ceremonial ritual starts at 6.30 in the morning with the sound of long horns blown from the roof. The ceremony is an interesting watch.
- A little farther away from the Tikse Monastery there is the Drugpa Monastery founded in 1644 by the Stag-sang-ras-pa. It is approachable by road. The Du-khang chapel has the image of the founder Stag-sang-ras-pa along with other lamas. The highlights of this Gompa are the exquisite silver chorten, wall paintings depicting Kalachakra and Ashobya Mandalas, the set of scriptures in 29 volumes that has the title page with silver letters and text of pure solid gold.
- Lamayuru is a small village that presents a staggering hillside with the houses cheekily perched and the monastery at the hilltop as the crowning glory. The Gompa is attended by 20 to 30 monks belonging to the Kagyupa order of Buddhism. The unique dried up lake and the quaint mountain side coupled with the breath-taking beauty of the mountains overlooking the village are worth stopping by and having a look around. The Gompa has been destroyed and rebuilt a number of times and showcases a variety of images, frescos, thangkas and carpets. The Wanla River can be seen flowing deep through the valley and the formation of stalagmites are a treat to the eyes.
- Changspa is a small village situated in the north of Leh and has guesthouses and is known for the Shanti Stupa. The stupa was built in 1985 by the Japanese Buddhist order and was inaugurated by Dalai Lama. The old Buddhist carvings in Changspa date back to as early as eighth or ninth century.
- The beauty of the Sankar Gompa lies in the beautiful image of Avalokiteshvara that has a 1000 hands and heads and also in its brightly painted walls.
- Hemis Gompa, which is an astonishing 400 years old, is around 45 kilometres from Leh and calls for a half a day tour from Leh. The bumpy bus ride takes the travellers past the Shey Gompa and Tikse Palace to the Western side of the Indus River. The Hemis Gompa is way away from the main road (six kilometres) and calls for a steep trek to the narrow valley and the deep gorge clinging to the rock faces or a taxi ride to the Gompa entrance. It is one of the most famous Gompas of the Ladakh region with beautiful copper images of sitting Buddha, wall paintings, image of the evil demon Mirza and a moderate library. A festival known in the name of the Gompa, the Hemis festival, the Cham or Setchu festival celebrated in the months of June or July calls for a lot of cultural extravaganza. Mystery plays are performed in the honour of Padmasambhaba, the Buddhist ascetic and prophet of the eight century. Colourful mask dances and dances and drama performed by the monks in the huge central courtyard attract a huge number of spectators. The largest Tibetan thanka, which is 12 metres wide and about the height equivalent to 4 storeys, is unfurled every twelve years during this festival.
- Stakna Gompa is situated about 25 kilometres from Leh and is an isolated Gompa on a lonely hilltop. Inhabited by 30 residential monks, this Gompa exhibits a beautiful silver chorten, a beautiful image of Avalokiteshvara hailing from Kamrup, Assam, wall paintings and a spectacular view of the valley spread around.
- Thak-Thak or Taktok Gompa is situated in the eastern side of the village of Sakti. This Gompa was founded in the 16th century and the walls are adorned with the paintings of fierce deities.
- Stok Palace is situated 15 kilometres to the south of Leh. This Palace housed the kings of Ladakh in the past and is still inhabited by the Royalty. This palace was built in 1825 and is more than 200 years old. The king of Ladakh still lives here and shifts to Manali in the winters. This Palace was built by Tshespal Namgyal who was the last King of independent Ladakh in the 19th century. The palace has about 80 rooms out of which 5 are open to the public for viewing.
Best season for Leh Ladakh road trips
Road trips along the highways are possible only when the passes such as Rohtang Pass and Baralacha La open. These passes are motorable generally from the second half of the month of May. The best time to travel on Manali-Leh highway is between the months of June and September. June month might still pose small hurdles with road blockages; but come the months of August and September, the road definitely becomes safer and more accessible. June is also the month of Indian monsoon. Thus it might pose the risk of road blockages because of landslides.
Means of travel for Leh Ladakh Road Trips
Self-driven cars and bikes are common on these highways where the adventurers and tourists have the experience of their lifetime. Vehicles can also be rented. Himachal Pradesh registered vehicles are allowed to drop tourists till Leh Ladakh. Thereafter, for the local sightseeing, tourists have to hire Leh Ladakh registered vehicles. Non-HP registered vehicles will have to attend permits for Himachal Pradesh government to cross Manali-Rohtang Pass. Bus services can be availed from Manali to Leh run by the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC). Tickets can be booked online in case you have planned your vacation in advance. Ticket cost varies from Rs. 1500 to 2000. There is also the Keylong-Leh bus service. Keylong can be reached from Manali via shared taxi. Manali to Keylong trip costs Rs. 100 to 125 and Keylong to Leh bus trip costs between 450 and 550. Shared taxi package (generally overnight trips) from Manali to Leh costs Rs. 1200 to 1800 per person.
Where to stay in Leh Ladakh
Leh Ladakh offers a wide variety of staying options. You can find hotels in all categories to suit your budget.
- Luxury Hotels
- Hotel Charu Palace in Leh
- Hotel Grand Dragon in Leh
- The Zen Ladakh
- Hotel Druk in Leh
- Saboo Resorts
- Hotel Gomang in Leh
- Hotel Sangrila in Leh
- Hotel Ladakh Sarai
- Stok Palace in Stok, Leh
- Hotel Singee Palace
- Hotel Royal Palace
Super Deluxe Hotels
- Hotel Eco-Poplar Resort
- Hotel Caravan Centre
- Hotel City Palace
- Hotel Kaal
- Hotel Namgyal Palace
- Hotel Omasila
- Hotel Reenam
- Hotel Shambala
- Nubra Organic Retreat Camp
- Hotel The Palace
- Hotel Dragon in Leh Ladakh
- Hotel Alchi Resort in Leh Ladakh
- Hotel Hill Town in Leh Ladakh
- Hotel Kang La Chen in Leh Ladakh
- Hotel Ladakh Continental in Leh Ladakh
- Hotel Leh Chen in Leh Ladakh
- Hotel Lharimo in Leh Ladakh
- Hotel Lotus in Leh Ladakh
- Hotel Mandala in Leh Ladakh
- Hotel Mantra Cottage in Leh Ladakh
There are a host of budget accommodation in the form of guesthouses and hotels such as the following:
- Atisha Guesthouse
- Hotel Padmaling
- Ashoka Guesthouse
- Julay Guesthouse
- Seven Seas Guesthouse
- Indus Guesthouse
- Hotel Silk Route Cottage
- Greenland Hotel
- Hotel Bimla
Camps in Leh Ladakh
- Hotel Chamba Camp Tikse
- Desert Himalaya Camp in Nubra Valley
- Tso Moriri Camp and Resort