Ladakh

Colorful Prayer Flags

Ladakh might be India’s most remote region, but its beauty is incomparable. Due to the geographical proximity to Tibet and the numerous Tibetan cultural festivals held here the region is also referred to as “Little Tibet”. Natural barren mountains dotted with colorful monasteries (Gompas as they are better known), beautiful fluttering prayer flags, clear skies with the clouds touching the mountains, dry plains and tiny settlements ensures that you find peace and feel one with yourself. Adding to its beauty is the Indus River which adorns different shades as seasons change. During summer it turns grayish, owing to its silt deposits, occasionally turning a shade of violet. Autumn turns it the most beautiful – shades of aquamarine waters flowing through orange-flamed poplars and weeping willows.

Leh the capital of the kingdom of Ladakh is one of the coldest deserts in the world (altitude 3500mt or 11,500ft). The area is bounded by two of the world’s largest mountain ranges by height, the Himalayan and the Karakoram Range. Surrounded by alpine desert, dry barren landscape, historic Buddhist monasteries makes Leh an incredible sight to behold. Some of the most popular monasteries/monuments are Shanti Stupa, Hemis Gompa (the wealthiest, oldest and most important monastery in Ladakh), Thiksey Gompa, Stok Palace. Leh serves as an entry point to the Ladakh region and acts as the base camp to explore this region.

Nature and adventure lovers will find excellent hiking and para gliding opportunities around Leh. There are plenty of trekking trails of different day lengths and difficulty to choose from, such as the ones from Likir to Temisgam; from Spituk to Markha Valley. Mountain climbing trips can be booked to peaks of Stok (20,177 feet), Goleb (19,356 feet), Kangyatse (20,997 feet) and Matho West (19,520) in the Zanskar Mountains. White water rafting another popular adventurous activity is also possible in July and August along the Indus River in the Leh area, as well as the Shayok River in the Nubra Valley, and Zanskar River in Zanskar. The cold desert of the Nubra Valley between Diskit and Hundur is another attraction. An earlier silk route, now known for its orchards, scenic vistas, Bactrian camels and monasteries; Nubra Valley is a must visit place. The other jewel in the crown and a must visit is the Tso Pangong lake, that will leave you stunned!! Some of the other important places to be seen in Ladakh are the Monestary at Alichi (founded in 1020 AD is the oldest monastery in Ladakh), magnetic hill, the Aryan valley, where the descendants of Alexander the Great still stay.

Leh can be reached by Air from all major airports. Alternatively, the roads to Leh are open for a few months of the year, when the snow has melted. The Manali Leh highway is open from around June to October each year, and the road from Srinagar to Leh is open from June to November. The road trip takes about 2 days, if you have the time and are in good health, do travel by road as the scenery is amazing and the slow accent also helps acclimatization. The best time to visit Leh is between May and September, when the weather is the warmest. Ladakh doesn’t experience rain like elsewhere in India, so the monsoon season is the perfect time to travel to Leh.

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