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Things to do in Leh

Tourist Attractions in Leh

Attractions

Overview

The largest town of Ladakh is Leh followed by Kargil each of which is said to be the headquarters of their districts. The Leh district contains the Indus, Shyok and the Nubra river valleys while the Kargil district contains the Suru, Dras and Zaskar river valleys. Leh is the joint capital and largest town of the union territory of Ladakh in India. Leh, located in the Leh district, was also the historical capital of the Kingdom of Ladakh, the seat of which was in the Leh Palace, the former residence of the royal family of Ladakh, built in the same style and about the same time as the Potala Palace in Tibet. Leh is connected via National Highway 1 to Srinagar in the southwest and to Manali in the south via the Leh-Manali Highway.
The scenic beauty, the rugged terrain, the majestic mountains and the challenge of roughing it out is said to have made Ladakh a favorite with mountaineering enthusiasts. The remote location and high altitude of Ladakh is also said to make it unsuitable for those looking for a quick holiday. It is said that one will need time to get acclimatized to Ladakh’s weather conditions. However, its natural and rustic splendor is said to have been preserved due to the lack of modernity.

Ladakh is known to offer accommodation from family-run establishments to guest houses to even budget hotels and rooms in monasteries that are said to be suitable to every budget. However, Leh is also known to offer more options for accommodation ranging from guest houses in Changsha to budget hotels near the Central Library and luxury hotels on the old Sheynam Road.

Place to Visit

Places to Visit:

Set amidst the epic Himalayas, Ladakh is a rustic and heavenly beautiful travel destination. The rugged valleys and mountains, winding roads coupled with the vibrant cultural life maintain the exuberance and charm of this region.

  • The iconic Magnetic Hill, the turquoise coloured Pangong Lake, the confluence of two mystical rivers, ancient and awe inspiring monasteries and the highest passes are a few of the marvelous attractions of Leh and Ladakh in general.
  • The wide array of trekking routes will satiate your soul and enrich the senses. The moon like Desert Mountains continue to be an exceptional destination for adventure seekers and admirers of Buddhism and phenomenal mountain vistas.
  • The royal palace, known as Leh Palace, was built by King Sengge Namgyal(1612–1642), presumably between the period when the Portuguese Jesuit priest, Francisco de Azevedo, visited Leh in 1631, and made no mention of it, and Sengge Namgyal’s death in 1642.
  • The Leh Palace is nine storeys high; the upper floors accommodated the royal family, and the stables and storerooms are located on the lower floors. The palace was abandoned when Kashmiriforces besieged it in the mid-19th century. The royal family moved their premises south to their current home in Stok Palace on the southern bank of the Indus River.
  • Some of the Buddhist temples to visit are Namgyal Tsemo Gompa- above the Palace, built 1430, is only open from 7AM-9AM during the morning puja. Soma Gompa – just around the corner from Main Bazar, it’s a large modern gompa. It’s also the location of the Ladakhi Buddhist Association, a conservitive political orginisation, with ties to Hindutva groups. Karma Dupgyud Choeling – monastery in the Karma Kagyu tradition
  • Shanti Stupa: built by a Japanese Buddhist group. This modern stupa is somewhat kitschy, but still worth a visit. Pangong Tso A beautiful high altitude lake at 4350 meters with deep blue waters, surrounded by tall mountain peaks. This lake lies on the Indo – China boundary, with only one fourth of the lake being in India. The road to this lake passes through Chang-la pass , claimed to be at 5425 meters. It’s a five hour drive (149 Kms) from Leh to this place.
  • There is also a small camp on the way where a Yak Safari can be done. The passage is also very tough to cross by car. So a four-wheel drive car is recommended. Experienced bikers should not have any problem. Day return trips from Leh avoid the AMS issue , but you won’t be able to see much during the your 60 minutes stay there .Overnight trips directly from Leh is outside safety guidelines . The safe and comfortable option is to plan this trip at the end of your stay in Leh , and with a overnight stop at Tangtse (altitude 3950).
  • Nubra Valleyfrom Leh, you can hire a car and drive over, Kardung-La, to the Nubra Valley. You will need an “Inner-Line Permit”, easily arranged from any of the travel agents in Leh. However, it is better to get it from the office by yourself. Travel agents generally gets you permit for the specific places only and can be heavy on your pocket. So, better take the charge by yourself and do it. The Nubra Valley is at the base of the Karakorum Range.
  • Within the valley are the Hundar Sand Dunes, well worth seeing. Monasteries in Ladakh: Most travellers use Leh as a base to visit the numerous local gompas, ie. Buddhist monasteries, such as Shey, Thiksey, Phyang, Likir, Stok and many others.
  • War Museum(War Museum, Leh). Fascinating place run by the Indian Army showcasing the history, glory and the tools of the trade related to army operations defending India in some of the most hostile terrain in the world. It also has a fascinating display on the Siachen battlefield – the highest and more arduous battlefield in the world.
  • Donkey Sanctuarywhich is a Home for helpless donkeys. The sanctuary is situated just off the road leading to Khardungla Pass. The public is encouraged to visit the sanctuary and friendly signs will direct you to the sanctuary from the center of Leh. It is no more than a pleasant 5 to 10 minute stroll from the main road to the Sanctuary and the artistic surprise awaiting you is well worth the effort. It is open to the public throughout the day and donations and juicy carrots are most welcome and used exclusively for improving the lives and welfare of these wonderful animals.
  • Magnetic HillMilions of people every year visit Magnetic hill because it has properties which can pull cars uphills. In reality, it’s an optical illusion where cars seems to move uphill, when they’re in fact moving downhill.
  • Tso Moriri Lake. From Leh it took 6-7 hours to reach Tso Mori Lake. It is beautiful lake located in secluded Rupshu valley.

Hemis National Park (hemis-national-park). This famous national park of Ladakh houses the highest number of protected snow leopards in the world, among other wildlife. It is one of the most famous national parks in Ladakh and the perfect place to experience the fauna of Ladakh in its natural habitat.

When to Reach

When to Reach

The best time to visit Leh Ladakh are in the months of June, July and August as the weather is pleasant. Hemis festival is celebrated during June/July to celebrate the birth of guru Padmasambhava. Losar festival is celebrated in 11th month of Tibetan calender. Ladakh Festival is a colourful festival held in the month of September.

Why Should Go?

Why should I go?

The magic of Leh will beckon you year after year and leave you still wanting more. The moon-like landscapes, Desert Mountains with splashes of green and snow peaks, monasteries and stupas make you feel far removed from this world. The drive on the mountain roads, along the mighty Indus and the Zanskar, with grazing Yaks, Martens, wild horses and sheep, apple and apricot trees is really like a dream come alive.

Camps and hikers’ huts are also said to be a common feature in the Nubra, Changthang and the Drokpa areas during the summer months. Tourist camps are also known to spring up every season in the Korzok village.

Ladakh is said to offer a wide variety of cuisines from various parts of the world some of which include Tibetan, Korean, Chinese, Indian and Continental. These can be found in the form of street side stalls and garden restaurants to cafes and restaurants all over the region. While in Ladakh, it is said that one must not forget to try the local specialties like the momos made especially in this region, the Marchwangan korma and the local tea which is made from the yak’s butter.

From high-altitude treks to river rafting in the Indus and Zanskar River, Leh has developed as a highly preferred destination for adventure sports. Leh is also a major trading center and offers a great shopping experience with impressive Tibetan handicrafts, jewelry, woolen clothes and exquisite carpets. Leh comprises New Town and Old Town. The Old Town has been included in World Monuments Fund’s list of 100 most endangered sites.

Getting Around

Getting Around:

There are two roads in to Leh, one from Manali in Himachal Pradesh in the south, and one from Srinagar in the west. Both routes are equally spectacular in different ways, and both are time consuming with winding, narrow roads, and numerous military checkpoints.

The main advantage of taking the road from Srinagar, covering a distance of 434 km (270 mi), is that it runs at a lower altitude, and thereby reduces the risk and severity of altitude sickness. It is also open longer – normally from the beginning of June to October – and follows the traditional trade route between Ladakh and Kashmir, which passes through many picturesque villages and farmlands.It takes two long days, with an overnight stop in Kargil. Tickets cost Rupees 370/470 on ordinary/deluxe buses.

The route from Manali to Leh, covering a distance of 473 km (294 mi), is one more commonly taken by tourists. It takes two days, normally with an overnight stop either in Keylong (alt. 3096) or in tent accommodation in Sarchu (4253) or Pang (4500). Making the first stop in Keylong drastically reduces the risk of altitude sickness (AMS). It traverses one of the highest road passes in the world and is surrounded by wild rugged mountains. The scenery is fantastic, though it is definitely not for the faint hearted. This historical trade route was linked to Yarkhand and was severed by the India-China war in 1962, and later was transformed in to military supply road. Reliable access is limited from mid-June to end-September, as it is blocked by snow for rest of the year.

Leh is small enough to walk most places, most notable exception being the airport, for which it’s advisable to take a taxi for around 100 to 150 Rupees.

Weather

Weather:

The climate of Leh is known to be cold and dry. The average annual precipitation is roughly around 3 inches which is 80 millimeters along with fine, dry, flaked snow that is frequent in the territory and sometimes falls heavily. Summers in this region are said to be short, though they are long enough to grow crops. The summer weather is known to be dry and pleasant and the temperatures range from 3 to 35 degree Celsius which is 37 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit in summer and minimums range from -20 to -35 degree Celsius which is -4 to -31 degrees Fahrenheit in the winters.

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