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Ladakh casts a magic spell on those who visit it. The stark beauty hits you with force and its astounding landscape are at times too much to soak in. The barren beauty, jagged surfaces, deep gorges while the clear rivers, turquoise lakes and clustered green settlements make you wish that there was a video rolling somewhere inside your head. At places such as Ladakh, even the camera seems not equipped enough to capture everything. Yes, that is Ladakh for you, the largest district of the Jammu and Kashmir state and a destination that seems to be one of God’s favorite creations.
The region lies surrounded and comprising of the Karakoram ranges, the Himalayas, Kunlun Mountains, Zangskar and the Ladakh Ranges. With so many mountains in and around Ladakh it is not only blessed with the high altitude wonders but also the accompanying mountain and river valleys that are equally mesmerizing such as, the Suru, Nubra, Leh, Shayok, Zangskar and Sankoo valley.
How to reach
Ladakh can be reached through air and road, however, it is one of those rare regions, where reaching the destination is as satisfying as the taking the road which leads to it. Road – One of the highest motor able roads, the connectivity to Leh from Manali, Delhi and Srinagar is top notch. If you are the adventure loving type, reaching Leh via road is not a bad idea at all. One crosses the various ranges of the Himalayas, such as, the Siwaliks, Lesser Himalayas and Greater Himalayas to finally land in the lap of Leh, after crossing some of the highest passes (Rohtang, Tanglang la) only to climb back down again to reach the valley. From Kashmir one reaches Ladakh via Kargil crossing the Zoji La pass. Air – Leh has a functioning airport, if you rather just fly directly. Rail – Jammu Tawai is the nearest railway station.
What to see
Thoroughly spoilt for choices, the tourism in Ladakh includes adventure, monasteries, culture, festivals, lakes, birding, wildlife attractions and more.
1. Leh – The capital of the region, Leh is a beautiful green spot layered on the slopes and cradledcomfortably in the valley of the mighty mountains. Agricultural fields, storied wooded houses, the famous Leh bazaar, monasteries and the very sweet people make Leh an easy choice for almost all travellers. It somehow breaks the monotony from the uninhabited barrenness and touches the human and cultural aspect, which is an integral part of travel.
2. Nubra Valley –Dotted with sand dunes and orchids, the Nubra Valley with its two humped camels is a delightful stop over.
3. Pangong Tso – The blue waters will dazzle you and want you to camp at its banks right away. The lake crosses over to the international side of China and is salty in nature, a fact that makes geologist squeal in delight. According to geological history, the entire region was the sea area and with the rise of Himalayas and the adjoining fold mountain ranges, the sea water was pocketed in few places, giving rise to lake bodies.
4. Tso Moriri Lake – Scenery that can put post cards to shame, the Tso Moriri boasts of absolutely spell bounding imagery. It is home to 34 bird species and mammals found here include the Tibetan Wild Ass and lynx.
5. Tso Kar- Meaning the ‘salt lake’, the captivating surroundings are doubling charming because of the wildlife it nurtures, such as the Tibetan wolf, red fox, brahminy duck, little owl, pied avocet,sandpipers, bar headed goose and more.
6. Khardungla Pass – With numerous flags fluttering at one of the highest passes (5600m), Khardungla is a destination of sorts in itself. Take a moment to step out of your vehicle, and breathe in the enthralling views on all sides. Reaching such heights take a physical toll on the mind and body and one has to be careful of dizziness and breathlessness.
7. Baralacha Pass – En route the Manali –Leh road this is one of the milestones you reach to witness some of the stunning views that you just cannot get used to.
8. Zoji La Pass – The magnificent gorges are a delight to watch here.
9. Lamayaru – Home to the Lamayaru monastery, fathom the deep holes that look like moon craters or star gaze at night, Lamayaru is a star attraction on its own.
10. Suru Valley – Ideal for adventure sports, it is a great place to trek to the Drang Drung glacier.
11. Zanskar river – The river has something to offer both in summers and winters. During winters the frozen river is used as a trekking spot, whereas during summers it is considered as one of the finest rafting destinations of India. There are a number of monasteries found in the region, such as the Shanti Stupa, Likir Monastery(amazing intricate wall and roof carvings on wood), Hemis monastery (annual festival of masked parade takes place in July), Namgyal monastery, Spituk Goma (situated at the top of a hill) and more. The culture of the region is unique, the people are very welcoming and helpful, its cuisine is different and shopping gifts in the markets or souvenirs are all a part of the holistic experience of Ladakh. Not to forget for gazers, the nights are a theatre of startling sparkling stars that twinkle up the clear dark skies and looking up photographing these will surely give you goose bumps.
We conduct Ladakh birding tours and you may choose to club the landscape tour along with it.
Day 1 – Arrive at Leh by noon and check into the hotel. Post lunch we proceed to discover the nuances of the valley, visit the shopping sites and monasteries before retiring for the night.
Day 2 – We head off to Nubra valley for an exciting day. Post lunch we make our way to the attractions found around the valley area before heading back to Leh for the night.
Day 3 – Pangong Tso awaits us today. Be enthralled by the sheer magnificence of the lake and mountains. Post lunch we head towards Lamayaru and get lucky with the stars at night.
Day 4 – We continue our quest for more beauty by visiting some of the other attractions, such as the Tso Kar and Tso Moririr Lakes. Return for the night to Leh.
Day 5 – For the final day in Leh today, we depart after a light breakfast and climb our way down passing through Khardungla and Rohtang till the next destination, from where you can carry on with your onward journey.