Of the many diversified states, Jammu and Kashmir is perhaps the only state that provides a picturesque expanse of snow in our country along with greener meadows. In it lies the small town of Leh, which happens to be the crowned-prince of the Ladakh region, that can be reminiscing of an indigenous Santa around this time of the year. Sandwiched between the Zanskar and the Karakoram Ranges, traveling through its passes helps in seeping in the cold and the beauty of the Leh Ladakh in packets of wonder.
Right from the fresh green pastures of Leh to the magically azure waters of Pangong Tso, Ladakh will ensure that you are in a state of trance all throughout. If all that outstretched layers of snow and those timelessly dripping pointed icicles neatly contouring the hairpin bends and convoluted curves wasn’t a reason enough to visit Ladakh, here are 13 other reasons for you before you buy Leh Ladakh package in 2019.
1 – Tibetan New Year – Losar
Losar is the Tibetan word for ‘New Year’. It is an important festival for Tibetan Buddhists all over the world. It is a three-day festival and is celebrated on the first day of the Lunisolar Tibetan Calendar which corresponds to a date in the months of either February or March in the Gregorian Calendar. During this time, the houses in the many small towns and villages of Leh Ladakh are elegantly decorated with fragrant flowers along with auspicious signs painted in flour while the aroma of incense sticks gets infused in the chilled air and is carried far and beyond. A traditional drink called Chang, which is a type of beer made out of barley is served warm. During this time, a stage play takes place portraying the victory of the good over the evil followed by a Deer dance One has to visit Ladakh in the month of February in order to witness this vibrant festival.
2 – Sand Dunes of Nubra Valley
Nubra Valley with its never-ending expanse of sand dunes and oases lies about 150 km from the town of Leh. “We have got sand dunes in Jaisalmer. What’s such a big deal about the sand dunes in Nubra?”, one might argue. The deal is such that Nubra is a high altitude desert with a rolling expanse of sand-blasted anthill slopes and stretches of barren landscapes.
This cold dessert was formed due to the drying up of the Shyok River. Several small brooks emerge out from the hills and flow through the villages of Nubra. On the banks of one such brook, resides a small group of Bactrian Camels or double-humped Camels that are the natives of Steppes of Central Asia, in contrast to the single-humped Camels found in Rajasthan. This becomes the center of attraction to many tourists all over the world. The main town of Nubra Valley is Hunder. It is the best example of people adapting themselves to their environment rather than shaping it according to their needs.
The best time to visit Nubra Valley is from May to September.
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3 – Star-Gazing by the Lake Pangong Tso
About 150 km away from the town of Leh and 200 km away from Hunder lies the bewitching lake of Pangong Tso. Pangong can be reached either through The Chang La Pass or The Khardungla Pass. This lake stretches far and beyond the Indo-China border and is considered to be one of the most beautiful lakes in Asia. Its inexplicably azure waters change color seven times a day and seem to cast a spell on the onlookers every time they do. There are several camping grounds across the lake with decent amenities. This place is more famous for Camping under the stars and star-gazing at night.
As you lay beneath the blanket of stars looking for the Big-Dipper, the chilly breeze will ruffle your hair while your wanderlust catches you off-guard. The best time to visit Pangong Tso and bask in its beauty is from June to August.
4 – Motorbiking at Khardungla Pass
Situated at a height of 18,380fts, Khardungla is considered as the world’s highest motorable road. This pass is the gateway to Nubra Valley from Leh. This place gives you a panoramic view of the mountain ranges that remain covered with snow all throughout the year with feeble rays of the Sun penetrating through the gap between two mountains making it look like a “Stairway To Heaven”.
The roads go on and on with dense carpets of ice gracefully decorated on either side. A journey along this route is akin to one’s path to Nirvana. This place is every biker’s paradise, men, and women alike. Surrounded by picturesque scenic quotients with majestic mountains overlooking deep valleys beneath, Khardungla will leave you with an experience which is inexplicable surreal.
The best time to visit this place is from May to July if you want to see the snow-capped peaks and May to September if you a want to see it anyway with or without the snow. Since it is at a very high altitude, it is advisable to carry an oxygen cylinder otherwise tourists could be prone to altitude sickness.
5 – Flying Over the Clouds at Chang-La Pass
The gateway connecting the town of Leh with that of Pangong and Tsantse, Chang-La Pass is situated at a height of 17,590ft with its roads wider and smoother than that of the Khardungla. The roads arSee cut through the mountains with white carpets of snow spread elegantly along the road. Its beauty ricochets off every mountain peak to narrow ravines and deep valleys.
It has a small cafe that serves your need if you are looking for a quick bite or a hot cup of coffee. This place has an ambiance such that you find yourself almost on the verge of meditative bliss. As you sneak a peek into the deep chasms overlooking the lush green flora and fauna decked up with layers of snow, with a warm cup of coffee in your hand, you will realize this is what fantasies are made of. The best time to visit this place is from mid of May to September.
6 – Wildlife & Nature Photography at the Lake Tso Moriri
Away from the crowd of the world, away from the common din, safely cocooned in the Changtang Plateau of Ladakh lies the breathtakingly beautiful lake of Tso Moriri. Situated at about 250 km away from the town of Leh this beautiful blue expanse of water leaves you gobsmacked by its beauty.
This is the largest high altitude lake in India of about 19 km long and 7 km wide. Camping near this lake is strictly prohibited. There is only one place of accommodation available around the lake through the basic facilities like network receptivity, toilets, medical aids, etc., are hard to find. Since it is situated at a height of 14, 800ft above sea level, altitude sickness is a possibility if one’s body has not been acclimatized to the high altitude. The land surrounding this lake is rich in Flora and fauna and shelters 34 different species of birds including the Black-necked Cranes. It is also a home to myriads of mammals such as Tibetan gazelle, Lynx, Snow leopard, Tibetan Wolf etc.
As you sit beside the lake and look at its still waters sitting serenely and gleaming resplendently in all its glory, you can feel all the peace and positivity descending on you.
Accessibility to this lake is mostly limited to the summer season, however, if one gets too lucky they might get a chance to visit this little piece of paradise until the month of August.
7 – Celebrate Guru Purab in Pathar Sahib
Pathar Sahib is located on the Leh-Kargil highway at a distance of 20-22 km from Leh. It is maintained and looked after by The Indian Army. The legend has it that Guru Nanak Devji while sitting here in a state of meditation, was attacked by a demon with a huge rock. But as soon as the rock touched Nanakji it miraculously turned into soft wax, thereby, leaving him unharmed.For so long the demon had terrorized the local people, so Nanakji defeated the demon and sent him on a path to salvation. The huge stone has been preserved ever since for the devotees to see.
On the occasion of Guru Purab, the Sikh Community residing in and around Leh celebrate the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji with great religious fervor and gaiety. The Indian army is seen volunteering and render their services at the Gurdwara during this time of the year.
The best time to visit Gurdwara Pathar Sahib is from June to October though it is open to the devotees all throughout the year. I would suggest visiting this Gurdwara during Guru Nanak Jayanti.
8 – River Rafting And Trekking In Zanskar
River Rafting is usually done near Sangam Point which is a good 20kms ride from Leh and is the confluence of River Indus and River Zanskar. What is fascinating about the alliance of these two rivers is one can easily distinguish between the crystal clear waters of The Indus from the brownish-green waters of The Zanskar because the rivers despite meeting at Sangam Point refuse to mingle. Together they pass through Ladakh and flow into Pakistan as The Mighty Indus.
With a plethora of River Rafting as well as Trekking opportunities along with fascinating sceneries, this place is the dream destination for every adventure enthusiast. The standard charges of rafting from They to Nimo is 1500 per person, however, the prices are subject to change with respect to seasons and rafting points. For experienced rafters, there are several long routes such as Kharu to Spituk or Saspol to Khaltsey which is more challenging and thrilling than the usual rafting routes.
There are several vendors that organize numerous Treks and Expeditions. The trekking may be easy, medium and hard as per the route, passes, and altitude selected by an individual.
The best season for River rafting is during the monsoons that are from June to August when the water levels are high whereas the best time for trekking is from May to October.
9 – Take a Stroll Through The Markets of Leh
Canvas Arts, China Shops, Dreamcatchers, Gemstones for your inner peace, Souvenirs, Prayer Flags, make a wish and it will come true here. It also has a Mosque, a Post Office, several food joints and innumerable vendors that sell the finest of Pashmina and Cashmere. You need to take a stroll through the ever-hustling markets of Leh to understand why it beckons me.
10 – Sindhu Darshan
Sindhu River is also commonly referred to as The River Indus. Much like the movie Mohenjo-Daro, Sindhu Puja is actually performed across the region of Ladakh along the banks of the River Indus in the month of June.
It is a three-day festival and is celebrated to commemorate the Indus River as they believe that the river plays a vital role in bringing growth and prosperity as well as maintaining peace and harmony among the various ethnic groups of India. Buddhist prayers offered by the lamas echoes along the banks of the Indus River which is followed by cultural programs.
Sindhu Darshan will be held on June 12th, 2019.
Can’t Miss: Stok Kangri Trek 2019 (9D/8N)
Must See: Budget Ladakh Bike Trip (6D/5N)
11 – Pay Homage to the Martyrs of War in the Hall of Fame
Hall of Fame is a memorial for the unsung heroes of war who lost their lives in the Indo-Pak war. Located near the Leh Airfield, Hall of Fame is a museum built and maintained by the Indian Army to monumentalize the role of Indian Army in Ladakh, starting from helping the commoners during the cloudburst that occurred in 2010 to their pivotal role in the Siachen Glacier and most importantly in the Kargil War. The museum consists of two floors. While the ground floor consists of information and documentaries paying tribute to their chivalry, the first floor consists of the various artifacts used in the war. There is also a souvenir shop attached to the ground floor. Learning about the many selfless contributions and sacrifices made by these Stalwarts fills you with a sense of respect and pride towards them.
Don’t Miss: Manali To Leh Ladakh Bike Trip (10D/9N)
Must Visit: Markha Valley Trek 2019 (9D/8N)
12 – Enjoy the Sunset at Shanti Stupa
It is a white domed Buddhist Stupa whose architecture is an Indo-Japan Venture. But personally, I would like to call it the sunset point as it is situated on the hilltop overlooking the panoramic view of the entire town of Leh sprawled below it and the hills surrounding it.
Suggested : Pin Parvati Trek (10D/9N)
Do Check : Buran Ghati Trek (8D/7N)
13 – Trudge Along the Chadar Trek
Chadar refers to a thick blanket or sheet. It is so named as the River Zanskar freezes in winter and a thick crust of ice is formed on the water surface, thereby, transforming a rapid river into a white blanket of ice. It is a 6-day trek done in inhospitable conditions as the temperature ranges from -10 during the day to -25 at night. Chadar Trek is thrilling in its own way and can give you an experience of a lifetime if done sensibly and with multiple layers of clothes to shield yourself from the harsh winds and frostbite. This trek is usually done in the winter months, mostly December.
Must See : Kasol Kheerganga Trek (5D/4N)
Can’t Miss : Kareri Lake (8D/7N)
14 – Dance Along with the Lamas in the Hemis Festival
Hemis Festival takes place at the Hemis Monastery which is 45kms away from Leh. This 2-day festival is celebrated on the tenth day of the Lunar Calendar of the Tibetan month. According to the Tibetan and Buddhist Legends, the Hemis Festival dates back to the 8th century. This festival celebrates the birth anniversary of Guru Rimpoche, also known as Lord Padmasambhava. A legend has it that Guru Rimpoche abolished all the demons and evil spirits from the Himalayan Region thereby established a middle path combining both, the teachings of Buddhism as well as Tibetan Culture. The main attraction of this festival is the various dance performances by different artists and the plays performed by the Lamas by wearing a mask which is considered to be sacred. It is to be held on 23rd and 24th of June in 2019.