Ladakh Tourism | Leh and Ladakh Tourism
"Ladakh, the Persian transliteration of the Tibetan La-dvags, is warranted by the pronunciation of the word in several Tibetan districts."
Historically, the region included the Baltistan (Baltiyul) valleys, the Indus Valley, the remote Zanskar, Lahaul and Spiti to the south, Aksai Chin and Ngari, including the Rudok region and Guge, in the east, and the Nubra valleys to the north.
Contemporary Ladakh borders Tibet to the east, the Lahaul and Spiti to the south, the Vale of Kashmir, Jammu and Baltiyul regions to the west, and the trans–Kunlun territory of Xinjiang to the far north. Ladakh is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and culture. It is sometimes called "Little Tibet" as it has been strongly influenced by Tibetan culture.
In the past Ladakh gained importance from its strategic location at the crossroads of important trade routes, but since the Chinese authorities closed the borders with Tibet and Central Asia in the 1960s, international trade has dwindled except for tourism. Since 1974, the Government of India has successfully encouraged tourism in Ladakh. Since Ladakh is a part of the Kashmir dispute, the Indian military maintains a strong presence in the region.
The largest town in Ladakh is Leh. It is one of the few remaining abodes of Buddhism in South Asia, including the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bhutan and Sri Lanka; a majority of Ladakhis are Tibetan Buddhists and the rest are mostly Shia Muslims. Some Ladakhi activists have in recent times called for Ladakh to be constituted as a union territory because of its religious and cultural differences with predominantly Muslim Kashmir.
Fact of Leh Ladakh:
Religion:Buddhism, Islam. Hindu
Locational Status:Cold Desert
Tourist Attractions :Buddhist Monasteries, the Leh Palace.
Best Buys :Tibetan handicraft items.
Best Hangouts :The Monasteries
Best Activity :Trekking, Mountaineering, Camping, Water Rafting.
Nearby Tourist Destinations :Jammu, Leh, Kargil, Gulmarg, Sonamarg, and Pahalgam.
When to Visit :June To End October
How to reach at Leh Ladakh:
By Air:By Air Airline service operates regular scheduled flights to Leh from Delhi, Jammu and Srinagar. From Jammu there are two flights in week and from Srinagar one in a week.
Srinagar to Leh:
The 434-km Srinagar-Leh road. Srinagar-Leh road is the main route with an over night halt at Kargil. The road is open between mid May and November. Ordinary and deluxe buses of the J&K state road transport corporation regularly ply on this route. Taxis, cars and jeeps are also available at Srinagar for the journey. Groups can charter deluxe and A-class buses for Leh, Kargil or Padum (Zanskar) from the J and K SRTC at Srinagar.
Manali to Leh:
The 473-km Manali-Leh. The Manali-Leh Highway - This is a spectacular journey with an overnight halt at tented camps at Sarchu or Pang. This journey can be undertaken by the deluxe and ordinary bus services operated by the Himachal Pradesh tourism, HP SRTC and the J&K SRTC or by jeep from either Manali or Leh.Kargil - On the main highway between Srinagar and Leh.
- Srinagar-Leh 434 Km
- Manali-Leh 473 Km
- Srinagar-Kargil 204 Km
- Delhi-Leh 1047 Kms
- Leh-Kargil 234 Km
- Kargil-Padum (Zanskar) 240 Km
- Leh-Deskit (Nubra Valley) 118 Kms.
Passes between Manali-Leh:
Manali is the starting point of this dramatic journey and Rohtang Pass(13,000 ft/3,978 m), 51 kms away is the first important milestone on the Manali - Leh road as it is the gateway to the Lahaul and Spiti valleys.
115 kms from Manali, Keylong is located along the Manali–Leh road, about 7 km north east of intersection of the Chandra Valley, the Bhaga Valley, and the Chenab Valley; on the banks of Bhaga River. Sights near Keylong include the Kardang, Shasur, and Tayul monasteries. This important road, which was once part of the ancient trade route between India and Central Asia.
Bara Lachha Pass:
On the long Manali -Leh road and providing a route across the Baralacha range is the famous Baralacha Pass. The Baralacha Pass is a unique pass situated at a spectacular 16,400 ft above sea level. The pass itself is 8-km long, and is literally the pass "where many roads meet".
Here, routes from Zanskar, Ladakh and Lahaul meet, which have for centuries been used by ancient travelers and crossed in all directions. The two great rivers of Lahaul, the Chandra and the Bhaga, also arise from the huge snowfields on opposite sides of the pass.
A camping ground in Zanskar, little before Sarchu, Phalang-danda (a giant rock) marks the boundary between Lahaul and Zanskar. Sarchu has wide open places and treks to Phirtse la starts from here. Just 54 kms, ahead of' Sarchu the road crosses Tsarap Chu over a bridge. Then it climbs up to Lachalang la Pass( 16,600 ft/5,059m) Nearly 87 kms from Lachalang la pass is the Tanglang la pass-the highest point on this road. This pass is difficult to negotiate. By crossing this pass one enters the Central Ladakh.
It lies to the north of the main Himalaya. It acts as a backbone of Ladakh south of the Indus River, extending from the ridges beyond Lamayuru in the west across the Zanskar region; there it is divided from the main Himalaya by the Stod and Tsarap valleys, the Zanskar valley. On the east of the Zanskar region the range continues through Lahaul and Spiti. While on the North it continues across the Kinnaur before extending towards west across Uttaranchal. Some of the main passes are the Fatu-La, on the Leh-Srinagar road, while the main trekking passes into the Zanskar valley are Singge La, the Cha Cha La and the Rubrang La are.
60 kms ahead of Tanglang La pass is Upshi--A junction on the Indus. The road bifurcates from here towards Rupshu and for Demchok, and little ahead at Kiari for Chang la.
- Rizong Monastery
- Likir Monastery
- Lamayuru Monastery
- Shey Monastery
- Stakana Monastery
- Cave Monastery
- Thiksey Monastery
- Spituk Monastery
- Stongdey Monastery
Climate of Ladakh:
One of the driest regions in northern India, the capital Leh experiences only 110 mm of rainfall a year. Because of its location to the north east of the main Himalayan range, it is sheltered from the Indian monsoon Padum is subject to occasional heavy storms in July and August and heavy snowfall in winter. Leh on the lee side of the Himalayan and Zanskar range is devoid of snowfall in winter.
History of Ladakh:
Hemis Monastery in the 1870s
In the 8th century, Ladakh was involved in the clash between Tibetan expansion pressing from the East and Chinese influence exerted from Central Asia through the passes. Suzerainty over Ladakh frequently changed hands between China and Tibet. In 842 Nyima-Gon, a Tibetan royal representative annexed Ladakh for himself after the break-up of the Tibetan empire, and founded a separate Ladakhi dynasty. During this period Ladakh acquired a predominantly Tibetan population. The dynasty spearheaded the second spreading of Buddhism, importing religious ideas from north-west India, particularly from Kashmir. The first spreading of Buddhism was the one in Tibet proper.
Faced with the Islamic conquest of South Asia in the 13th century, Ladakh chose to seek and accept guidance in religious matters from Tibet. For nearly two centuries till about 1600, Ladakh was subject to raids and invasions from neighbouring Muslim states, which led to the partial conversion of Ladakhis to Islam.
In the late 17th century, Ladakh sided with Bhutan in its dispute with Tibet which, among other reasons, resulted in its invasion by the Tibetan Central Government. This event is known as the Tibet-Ladakh-Mughal war of 1679-1684. Kashmir helped restore Ladakhi rule on the condition that a mosque be built in Leh and that the Ladakhi king convert to Islam. The Treaty of Tismogang in 1684 settled the dispute between Tibet and Ladakh, but severely restricted Ladakh's independence. In 1834, the Dogras under Zorawar Singh, a general of Ranjit Singh invaded and annexed Ladakh. A Ladakhi rebellion in 1842 was crushed and Ladakh was incorporated into the Dogra state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Namgyal family was given the jagir of Stok, which it nominally retains to this day. European influence began in Ladakh in the 1850s and increased. Geologists, sportsmen and tourists began exploring Ladakh. In 1885, Leh became the headquarters of a mission of the Moravian Church.
At the time of the partition of India in 1947, the Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh was undecided whether to accede to the Indian Union or Pakistan. Eventually, the ruler signed the Instrument of Accession to India. Pakistani raiders had reached Ladakh and military operations were initiated to evict them. The wartime conversion of the pony trail from Sonamarg to Zoji La by army engineers permitted tanks to move up and successfully capture the pass. The advance continued. Dras, Kargil and Leh were liberated and Ladakh cleared of the infiltrators.
In 1949, China closed the border between Nubra and Xinjiang, blocking old trade routes. In 1955 China began to build roads connecting Xinjiang and Tibet through this area. It also built the Karakoram highway jointly with Pakistan. India built the Srinagar-Leh Highway during this period, cutting the journey time between Srinagar and Leh from 16 days to two. The entire state of Jammu and Kashmir continues to be the subject of a territorial dispute between India on the one hand and Pakistan and China on the other. Kargil was an area of conflict in the wars of 1947, 1965 and 1971 and the focal point of a potential nuclear conflict during the Kargil War in 1999.
The Kargil War of 1999, codenamed "Operation Vijay" by the Indian Army, saw infiltration by Pakistani troops into parts of Western Ladakh, namely Kargil, Dras, Mushkoh, Batalik and Chorbatla, overlooking key locations on the Srinagar-Leh highway. Extensive operations were launched in high altitudes by the Indian Army with considerable artillery and air force support. Pakistani troops were evicted from the Indian side of the Line of Control which the Indian Government ordered was to be respected and which was not crossed by Indian troops. The Indian Government was criticized by the Indian public because India respected geographical co-ordinates more than India's opponents, (Pakistan and China).
The Ladakh region was bifurcated into the Kargil and Leh districts in 1979. In 1989, there were violent riots between Buddhists and Muslims. Following demands for autonomy from the Kashmiri dominated state government, the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council was created in the 1990s. Leh and Kargil Districts now each have their own locally elected Hill Councils with some control over local policy and development funds.
Travel Tips to Leh Ladakh:
Before you pack your bags to travel to Leh Ladakh India, here are a few travel tips that help you on your tour to Leh and Ladakh.
You need to be physically fit to undertake a tour to Leh Ladakh. It is advisable to take at least 12-24 hours of rest after reaching Leh to fully acclimatize to the high altitude. If you feel shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, or fatigue, immediately take some rest. Always carry drinking water, chocolates or energy bars while traveling.
Medicines, moisturizers and sun-screen lotion are a must when traveling to Leh Ladakh.
Most STD booths close by 10 pm, so it is better to get in touch with your near and dear ones by evening.
Be prepared for power-cuts in the region. Dim light due to power shortages is a common phenomenon. A torch is an essential item on your trip to Ladakh
The region offers wonderful scenic views, so carry as many film rolls as you can. Some monasteries however may not allow photography within their premises.
Since Ladakh is on India's sensitive north western border, the movement of foreign tourists is restricted in some areas of Ladakh. Foreign tourists may not travel beyond one mile north of the Zoji-la-Dras-Bodhkarbu- Khalatse road, except to visit the monasteries of Tia-Tingmosgang, Rizong, Likir and Phyang. Shey, Thikse, Chemrey and Tak-thok monasteries lying north of the Leh-Upshi road can also be visited. The Leh-Manali road is also only open upto one mile east of its general alignment. Foreign tourists can visit some newly opened areas in north eastern and northern regions of Ladakh, but only with permission of the Deputy Commissioner Leh.
Place to visit in Leh and Ladakh:
Few of the palace wall painting are worth looking at since they have been scratched and smeared over the years. The small Khar Gonpa within the palace is also of little interest. In fact the main reason to make the short, steep climb up to the place is for the superb view from the roof, over which the coloured prayer flags wave in the wind, the lines of which begin on the blue-white-red-green-yellow Tarchok mast. In good weather the Zanskar range, snow covered until early summer, appears close enough to touch although it rises from the other side of the Indus.
You will enjoy the panoramic view of the chain of mountains and the peaceful little village of Changspa with typical Ladakhi houses built along a gushing stream, and the towering Namgyal Tsemo in the distance.
The Shanti Stupa Society was established to build the Vishwa Shanti Stupa (World Peace Pagoda) in the Indraprastha Park in the heart of the City of Delhi. The purpose of the Shanti Stupa is to provide a “peace haven” for all and to develop programs that promote peace-building efforts all over the world with an emphasis on ahimsa, or nonviolence.
Hall of Fame:
Hall of Fame near Leh is worth a visit for every citizen. It is a glorious museum constructed by Indian army. You can see the memorabilia, eminent defence personalities with biographies, images and weapons used during Kargil war and belongings of enemy soldiers found at war site. Another section of this building is entirely dedicated to Siachen and its heroes.
On display are attires, multi layered shoes to keep their feet from frost bites, their daily instruments, their day to day food mainly frozen and packed, which is heated by lighting small balls of Hexamycin tablets, as fire is difficult to ignite at a temperature dipping -30 deg to -50 deg centigrade. It is mentioned on a board that 97% of the casualties in Siachen are due to cold and terrain.
Stok Palace Museum:
Around 14 Kms from Leh, across the Choglamsar bridge. The Stok Palace was built by King Tsespal Tondup Namgyal in 1825. The present Royal family resides at Stok Palace.The Stok Palace Museum has vast collection of thankas, traditional clothing and ornaments from Royal family. The Gurphug monastery is 1 Km from the Palace and this is the branch of Spituk monastery. The festival called "Guru Tsechu" take place on the 9th and 10th days of the first month of Tibetan Lunar Calendar.
Shey, 15 Km south of Leh, was constructed by the first king of Ladakh, Lhachen Palgyigon and of successive kings. Around 12 Ft. Shakyamuni Buddha's statue made by copper guilt is the largest in the region, built by Deldan Namgyal in 1633 is a funerary memorial to his father, king Singee Namgyal. There is another statue of the Buddha three stories in height at dresthang down the castle. Stone carving and many chortens are scattered around the Dresthang Gompa. On the 30th day of the 1st Tibetan month celebrates shey rul-lo and on the 10th day of the 7th Tibetan month the festival of Shey Surb-lo is held.
Defying the Law of gravity. This place is close to the Gurdwara Shri Patthar Sahib. It has been noticed that when a vehicle is parked on neutral gear on this metallic road the vehicle slides up.
Gurdwara Patthar Sahib:
The Shrine known as Gurdwara Patthar sahib is situated about 25 kms. Short of Leh town on the Leh-Srinagar road. Built in the everlasting memory of Shri Guru Nanak Dev, the great prophet who sanctified the place by his sacred visit during the year 1517 while on his second missionary tour. The Guru reached here via Nepal, Sikkim, Tibet, Yarkand and Leh after having spiritual discourses with the Sidhas at Mount Sumer (Central Himalayas).
Main Attraction at Nubra Valley:
The main attraction in this area is Bactarian Camels (Shaggy double hump Camel) around sand dunes, Deskit & Samstanling monasteries and Khardung la Pass.
Kargil is the second largest urban centre of Ladakh, situated at the height of 2704 meters and is the middle point on the Srinagar and Leh Highway. Around 204 kms from Srinagar and 234 kms from Leh, Kargil once served as an important trade and transit centre in the Pan-Asian trade network. With a population of 140,000 Kargil is the only Muslim majority district in Ladakh. Of total population, 85% are Muslim, of which 73% follow Shia Islam. Most of the district's Muslims are found in Kargil town, Drass,Wakha and the lower Suru valley. The remainder 14% are followers of Tibetan Buddhism and Bön, mostly found in Zanskar with small populations in the upper Suru valley (Rangdum) and around Shergol and Mulbekh. Torurists travelling between Zangskar, Leh and Srinagar have to make a night halt here, before starting for the second day of their journey.
How to reach at Zanskar:
The route from Kargil to Padum via Penzi La is the only motorable road to reach Zangskar valley, which remains open from June to September.
The nearest airport to Zanskar is at Leh. Although it is equally convenient to get here from Srinagar as well.
Easiest way to come to Zanskar is by road from Kargil. The distance is around 235 km and state transport has its buses running between Zanskar and Leh. You can also hire luxury coaches and taxis from Kargil.
Transportation inside the city generally comprise of taxis and jeeps. Most of the locales prefer walking.
Places to see in Zanskar:
Zanskar is an ideal destination for adventure travelers. Rafting, mountaineering and trekking are some of the adventure sports that you can enjoy on your tour to Zanskar. Remala and Karsha Gompa near Padum offer excellent opportunity for river rafting on Zanskar River. You can also take various trekking trails in Zanskar.
Zangla Lying deep in the northern arm of Zanskar at the end of the 35 km long road from Padum, Zangla was being ruled by a titular king. The old castle now in ruins except for a small chappel, occupies a hill, overlooking the desertic valley below. Nearby is the old nunnery worth a visit for the austere life style of the small monastic community of nuns. An old monastery situated in the nearby village of Tsa-zar has exquisite frescos.
Zongkhul The other spectacular cave monastery of Zanskar are in Zongkhul. The two caves here are the present monasteries, are said to have been used by the famous yogi for the solitary meditation. A footprint on the stone near the ingress of the lower cave is reserved as that of the yogi. The frescos on the cave walls are very old and reflect a high degree of artistic achievement. These are believed to be the original murals executed by Zhadpa Dorje. The celebrated scholar-painter of the same monastery who was active about 300 years ago.
Stongdey The monastery of Stongdey lies 18 km to the north of Padum, on the road leading to Zangla.
Penzella Pass Penzella Pass that divides the Zanskar valley with the Suru Valley. Besides being the excellent camping site the Penzella Pass is a vintage point offering excellent views of the majestic mountains and the captivating countryside.
Karsha Karsha is a human settlement with basic facilities. The Gelugpa monastery at Karsha is a must visit to know the importance of the religion in the lives of the inhabitants of Zanskar. The mural art displayed at Labrang is other must check out in Zanskar.
Padum is around 464 Kms. from Leh and 234 Kms. away from Kargil. Once the Capital of the Zangskar valley, today it is the administrative headquarter of the region and probably the most populous settlement of Zanskar. Padam valley in Ladakh is one of the few ones that have a dominant population of Muslims. Constituting nearly half the township's population, their origin dates back to the mid 17th century. Padum is considered as the most populous settlement of Zanskar with a population of nearly 1500. Stakrimo Gompa is on a hill side and the 10th century monument carved on a huge rock near the river bank, provides epigraphic evidence that the region was influnced by Budddhism since ancient period.
Lakes in Leh and Ladakh:
Best Time to visit: June to October
Ladakh is home to some very beautiful lakes. As peak winter temperatures hover near – 35 degrees for days at a time, everything in Ladakh freezes. The Indus and Zanskar become broad highways of ice, and the great lakes, Pangong and Tso Morari, freeze to a depth of several meters.
Pangong Tso can be reached in a five-hour drive from Leh, This route takes the visitor past picturesque villages of Shey and Thikse, and turns off the Indus valley by the side-valley of Chemrey and Sakti. The Ladakh range is crossed by the third-highest pass in the world, the Changla pass. The lakeside is open during the tourist season, from May to September. Tourist require a special permit to visit the lake. Permit (easily obtained in Leh town) to pass.
At Darbuk village near Tangste Valley stood a chain of war memorials with Regimental Insignias in commemoration of the soldiers who lost their lives during the Indo-Chinese war of 1962. Villagers can be seen here along with their large herds of Pashmina sheep and long tailed yaks.
Tsomoriri Lake :
Tsomiri is the largest of the High Altitude Lakes to be situated entirely within India. The remote high plateau of Changthang (meaning ‘northland’) stretches from western Tibet into eastern Ladakh. It is situated at a height of 4595 m above sea level. And the maximum length of the lake is 19 km and the maximum length of the lake is 40 m. .You can visit Korzok monastery at Tsomoriri which lies on the western bank of the lake.
This region, known as the land of the nomads, will give you an experience to last a lifetime. See the nomads’ traditional lifestyle and share a cup of butter tea in one of their black yak-hair tents along the incredible oval-shaped bank of Tsomoriri. The lake changes its turquoise blue color with the light and is surrounded by a picturesque landscape.
Korzok, situated at 15,000 feet (4,572 m) with its dozen or so houses and its gompa appearing like a mirage among the barren hills, is the only permanent settlement in Rupshu; otherwise the region is inhabited only by nomadic Chang-pa herd’s people. The Rupshu Chang-pa live in tents all the year round, moving in accordance with an old-established annual routine between the pastures the exist wherever an occasional stream carrying snowmelt from the heights makes possible the growth of grass, scanty indeed, but reportedly highly nutritious. The few barley-fields at Korzok must be among the highest cultivation in the world, but there is no guarantee that the crop will ripen every year.
The Area is rich in wildlife including the "Kyang" (wild ass), red fox and the rare, highly endangered, snow leopard. Black necked cranes and geese flock to the lakeside for breeding during the summer months. It also houses 350 years old Karzok monastery which has about 33 resident monks.
Tso Kar - White Lake:
Past the Thanglang La (Pass) and a soak in the hot springs of Chhumathang, you arrive at the salty Tso Kar or the ‘White Lake’. Tso Kar is at a distance of 155km from Leh and approx 45 kms northwest of the Tsomoriri Lake. You can camp at the nearby Thukje village and also visit the monastery of Thukje. You can see the hot springs at Puga.
Religious and Historical Places in Leh and Ladakh:
Buddhism is the religion of the majority of Leh District’s population. The most attractive features of the Landscape of Leh are the Buddhists Gompas ( Monastries). The Gompas are situated on the highest points of the mountain spurs or sprawl over cliffsides, located in vicinity of villages and provide focus for the faith of Buddhists. TheseMany Gompas celebrate their annual festivals in winter marked by gay mask dances. Gompas have a wreath of artifacts. There are also some religious places of Muslims which constitute slightly more than 15% of the district’s population.
The famous religious places include:
Monasteries in Leh and Ladakh:
Situated 40 Kms from Leh, Hemis is the wealthiest, best known and biggest Gompa of Ladakh. The annual festival of the gompa is held in the summer in the honour of Guru Padma Sambhav’s birth anniversary. It also has the largest thanka (scroll painting n silk or brocade) in Ladakh which is unfurled once in 12 years. The next unfurling will take place in 2004. Hemis was built in 1630 A.D. during the reign of Sengge Namgyal and flourished under the Namgyal dynasty.
The Gompa is situated on the banks of the Indus, 70 kms from Leh and dates a thousand years back. One of its wall features thousands of miniature sized pictures of the Buddha. The focal attraction of the gompa are three large sized images. The gompa is no longer an active religious centre and is looked after by monks from the Likir Monastery.
The gompa stands prominently on the top of the hillock, 8 km from Leh, and commands a panoramic view of the Indus valley for miles. Many icons of Buddha and five thankas are found in the 15th century monastery. There is also a collection of ancient masks, antique arms, and an awe inspiring of Mahakaal.
The monastery is situated 17 kms from Leh, on the Leh- Kargil road. It was built by Tashi Namgyal in the later half of the 16th century A.D. and looks like a palace from a distance. The gompa belongs to the Red Cap sect of the Buddhists. Hundreds of icons of Buddha are kept on wooden shelves.
15 kms upstream from Leh, the palace was once residence of the royal family. The palace is believed to have been the seat of power of the pre-Tibetian kings. A 7.5 metre high copper statue of Buddha, plated with Gold, and the largest of its kind, is installed in the palace.
The Thikse monastery is spectacularly situated 19 kms from Leh. It is one of the largest and architecturally most impressive gompas. The gompa has images stupas and wall paintings of Buddha which are exquisite.
Other monasteries f equal importance include Chemrey 45 Kms from Leh, Stakna, Matho, Sankar, Stok and above all Lamayuru, the oldest religious centre of Ladakh.
Jama Masjid, Leh:
In Shey village, 15 km upstream from Leh, there is a small mosque of great historicalvalue. The mosque was built by one of the greatest preachers of Islam in Kashmir, Mir Syad Ali Hamdani, popularly known as Shah-e-Hamdan. He had arrived in Ladakh about seven centuries ago.
Trekking in Leh and Ladakh:
The treks from Spituk to the Markha valley and Lamayuru gompa to Chiling village alongside the Zanskar River are the most popular treks in the region. Another trek route is from Likir to Temisgam.
Best Time to Trek:
Treks are open from the June end upto mid October. The passes for trekking are as high as 5,000 m in altitude. Many trekking agencies in Leh offer trek packages with a guide, packhorses, food and supplies.
Treks in Ladakh:
A. Easy Treks in Ladakh
- Sham Trek (07 Days)
- Spituk Trekking (06 Days)
- Indus Valley Trek (13 Days)
- Sham & Indus Valley Trek (14 Days)
B. Moderate Treks in Ladakh
- Manali Ladakh Trekking (23 Days)
- Markha Valley Trek (11 Days)
- Spiti To Ladakh (24 Days )
- Sangla to Leh Trek (13 Days)
- The Nubra Valley Trek (10 Days )
- Tsomoiri Lake Trek (23 Days)
- Trekking in Zanskar (darcha-Padum) (18 Days)
- Lamayuru Alchi Trek (09 Days)
- Lamayuru Martselang Trekking (19 Days)
- Lamayuru Chilling via Dung-Dung La (12 Days)
- Ladakh Monastery Trek (17 Days)
- Wild Ladakh Trekking (23 Days)
C. Alpine or Tough Treks in Ladakh
- Hemis Rupsu Darcha Trekking (21 Days)
- Stok Kangri Trekking (18 Days)
- Remote Zanskar Trekking (18 Days)
- Darcha Lamayuru Trek (18 Days)
- Frozen River Trek (23 Days)
- Journey To Southern Zanskar (26 Days)
- Ladakh Zanskar Trek (18 Days)
- Lamayuru Padum Trek (19 Days)
- Stok Kangri Climb-Markha Trekking (22 Days)
- Trans-Zanskar Expeditionl (27 Days)
- The Rupshu Trek (23 Days)
Trekking Permit :
In Ladakh, special permits are only required for restricted areas like the Nubra Valley and for summiting certain peaks. Travel agents will arrange these permits.
The easiest way to go on a trek is through a travel agency, which will take care of all the arrangements. Making your own arrangements is not recommended. For trekking in Ladakh, it is not enough to be physically fit, intending trekkers must also be prepared to face the rigours of back country travel. There is considerable fluctuation in the day & night temperatures even during the heights of summer.
Equipments for trekking:
The following list of clothes and small personal articles you will need during the trek.
- Kit-bag with padlock or a big backpack. It will contain the 12 kg personal belongings
- Good sleeping bag.
- Walking stick optional.
- A frontal lamp or an electric torch.
- A foam mattress.
- Hiking shoes.
- Fleece jacket
- Waterproof jacket.
- Good trousers
- Waterproof trousers.
- Gloves and cap
- Sun cream
- A water bottle
Trekking is a completely different world of activities when compared with our normal life. Uncertainties have to be faced with courage and determination. To face all these unlike problems, some important tips for a traveler on these adventurous yet demanding terrains are being described below:
- A complete medical check-up prior to start trekking
- Toning up of the body and acclimatization should be strictly observed.
- Patients of asthma and diabetes should restrict their climb up to 3000 meters above sea level.
- In case of any severe sickness, provide first aid and then make arrangements to bring the patient to lower area and to hospital.
- Protect the body from changing weathers.
- Use well broken comfortable walking shoes.
- Collect maximum information about the trek.
- Keep all the equipment and food stuff in order.
- Camp site should be preferably near the source of drinking water.
- Do not camp under trees.
- Pitch the tent on an inclined surface and dig a small trench around.
- Set off for trek early in the morning, fording a stream will be easier at that time.
- After finishing cooking or after packing up the kitchen, extinguish fire completely, especially while camping in forests.
- Clean the camp site before setting off and dispose off wastes and litter to protect the natural beauty of the area.
- Check the first aid kit before starting off.
- Keep a handsome amount of medicines to be distributed in local people. Appoint a tour leader of group.
A Respect local traditions, customs, values and sentiments to help them protect local culture and maintain local pride.
- Respect privacy when taking photographs
- Respect holy places
- Refrain from giving money to children as it encourages begging
- Respect for the local etiquette earns you respect
- Let the Himalayas change you - Do not change them
- Protect the natural environment
- Leave the campsite cleaner than you found it
- Limit deforestation - make no open fires
- Burn dry paper and packets in a safe place
- Keep local water clean and avoid using pollutants
- Plants should be left to flourish in their natural environment
- Have a break and give the World one.
Clothes And Equipments:
The summer visitors to Leh will need basically warm- weather clothes, with a sweeter for evenings and mornings when it may be chilly. Temperatures begin to fall around the 2nd half of August, and though cottons continue to be worm during the day until mid September, a heavy sweeter or an anorak or coat will be needed in the mornings and evenings. Form mid September it starts getting distinctly cold and woollens are needed even during the day, though in the sun it is still hot. Winter visitors- which means November to April- will need to equip themselves with heavy woollens, anoraks or tweed coats, gloves, balaclave helmets or equivalent and warm boots.
Reasonably good trekking equipment can be hired from Private Tour Operators specialised in mountain treks. All trekkers should remember that nights in the mountains would be chilly at any time of the year and make sure that they should be fully equipped for the treks. They must carry enough food for the whole trek, basic supplies- fruit & vegetables or the occasional villages enroute will be able to provide local food if you run out of food stock. It is advisable to keep a good torch handy during treks and visit to the monasteries because shrines are often found ill- lit.
Jeep Safari available
- Nalagarh to Nubra valley
- High valleys of Ladakh
- Lamayuru to Padum
- Lamayuru to Darcha Trek
- Lamayuru to Hemis
- Hemis to Zangla by Junglam
- Hemis to Tsomoriri
- Hemis to Takh
- Henaskut to Wanla
- Sham Trek (Liker to Khaltse)
- Tsomoriri to Kibber
- Chader Trek
- Rumtse to Tsomoriri
- Saboo to Khaltsar
- Spituk to Stok
Cycling in Ladakh:
Manali to Khardongla Pass
- You must be a very good biker, the high passes are not technical unpretending.
- The road is to 80% paved and the distances are not too long.
- A support car carries your luggage, so you can enjoy the great Himalayan range at the best views.
- The best time is 10. June-30 September.
River Rafting in Leh and Ladakh:
The Indus River, locally known as the Singhe Khababs (out of Lion's mouth), flows across the north west to the south east, passing through Ladakh and flows into Pakistan where it joined Shayok and Suru to become major historical Indus River.
The Indus, originates near the Kailash Mountain and the Mansarovar Lake in Western Tibet. Water levels remain high during the month June to late August, which is the best season for fascinating rafting expeditions. The travel agent offers white water River rafting on Indus for one to five days. The rafting on Indus provides spectacular view of the landscapes Ladakh and Zanskar ranges which housed Buddhist monasteries on high cliff. The white water Indus has rapids generally of I and II grades and at some places, has grade III to even V rapids.
Popular Rafting Points:
The popular rafting points are from Phey to Nimo, Upshi to Kharu , Upshi to Nimo. The other points run from Phey to Saspol or Phey to the Indus - Zanskar confluence at Nimo and from Nimo to the historical monastic enclave of Alchi, about 75 Kms west of Leh.
Experienced rafters may also want to try the more challenging route between Alchi and Khaltsey, which takes in the kilometre long series of rapids at Nurla. Easier runs include the run between Hemis (40km south of Leh) situated along a road crossing the Indus and Choglamsar, which is a three-hour trip that goes through quiet, calm waters, and passes through the riverside villages of Stakna, Shey and Thiksey (25km south-east of Leh), before ending at Choglamsar, just short of Leh city.
There are two main sets of routes along the rivers, graded I to III (for amateurs) and IV to VI, for veterans. The Zanskar and the Indus, both in Ladakh, are graded I - III, while the more southern stretches of the Beas, Chenab, Sutlej and Teesta are graded IV – VI.
Grade I: Small, easy waves; mainly flat water
Grade II: Mainly clear passages; some areas of difficulty
Grade III: Difficult passages; narrow in places and with high waves
Grade IV: Very difficult, narrow and requiring precise manoeuvring
Grade V: Extremely difficult. Very fast-flowing waters which can be manoeuvred only by experts
Grade VI: For all practical purposes, unmanageable- even suicidal
- Good sunscreen
- Dark glasses,
- T-shirts (or other light, quick-dry clothing) and
- Suitable shoes-sneakers or heavy duty rubber sandals may be a good idea.
- Windproof jacket,
- Light sweater,
- And don’t forget the first aid box.
River rafting in some areas may require special permits from the government. Areas close to India’s international borders, such as Nubra, Sikkim, Lahaul and Spiti may be off-limits to foreigners without a valid permit. Make sure you’ve got all the necessary permits which are needed. Permits can usually be obtained fairly easily from District Commissioners. Travel agents or the River will arrange these permits
River rafting routes:
A. Phey - Nimo route: This route consist mostly of Grade II or III easy rapids is that it passes through astoundingly beautiful mountains, many of them with tiny hamlets and imposing old monasteries nestling among the valleys. Starting from Phey Village, about 12 Kms from Leh and ends Indus-Zanskar confluence at Nimo, about 36 kms from Leh
B. Upshi - Kharu route: This route is somewhat long as compare to the Phey-Nimo, but not too difficult. The stretch between Upshi and Kharu consists of I and II rapids, although there are some grade III rapids too. The starting point is at Upshi, about 90 Kms South east of Leh, along the road which leads south to Manali. From Upshi, the river makes its way westwards to Kharu, along the road to Leh.
C. Phey - Saspol: This rafting trip starts from Phey, about 8 kms south of Leh and its end at Saspol, on Leh-Srinagar Highway, near Alchi. This route is short and relaxed enough to enjoy the breathtaking view of landscapes and beauty of tiny hamlets on the both side of Indus.
D. Kharu - Spituk: it starts from Kharo, about 45 Kms South-East of Leh and ends at Spituk, just short of Leh. This route is specially recommended for the beginners and amateurs.
E. Saspol – Khaltsey: If you are experienced rafters, you may try the more challenging route between Saspol and Khaltsey, which has kilometre long series of rapids at Nurla. The rafting will finish at Khaltsey 90 Kilometres from Leh.
Rafting Operators in Leh:
There are several Travel Agents around Leh Market offering white water rafting on the Indus River and Zanskar River. Other Rafting expeditions are organized on demand and the cost depends on number of person and rafting points.
Mountaineering in Leh and Ladakh:
Ladakh is a mountaineer’s delight with numerous mountain ranges all across the region. The most famous and easily accessible is the Stok Kangri at 6140 metres. Other peaks in the area include Golaib Kangri and Matho West. The Kang Yatse peak (6400 metres) stands southeast of Leh and is reached by the famous Markha Trek.
The Nun Kun (7135m and 7085m) massif is one of the greatest Himalayan ranges and is easily accessible from Parkachik on the Kargil-Padum road. It is considered one of the most challenging climbing destinations in the Great Himalayas. The Nun Kun massif is mainly surrounded by many high peaks like White Needle 6600m and Pinnacle at 6930m.
Lungser at 6666m Chamser at 6620m Mentok 6250m and Mentok II at 6210m lie about 240 kilometres from Leh in the Rupshu Valley around the Tso Moriri Lake. Lungser is the highest peak in Ladakh but is relatively easy to climb and extremely popular with cliimbers.
Prominently in the southern sky near Leh stands Stok Kangri (20,076 ft.), which is one of the highest peaks among the Zanskar and Ladakh mountain ranges. The views from the summit are some of the best in this area, with K2 visible on a clear day. Stok Kangri is the perfect objective for fit trekkers without climbing experience that want to summit on their first Himalayan Peak. It is one of the main peaks of the Zansker range, situated in the fascinating region of Ladakh. First opened to visitors in 1974. The expedition travels through remote valleys, scattered high villages and past hilltop monasteries to the base of the mountain. One of the highlights of the trip is visiting Leh, the ancient capital of Ladakh.
- Zanskar Trek
- Ladakh Monasteries Trek
- Manali Ladakh Extended Trek
- Nubra Valley Trek
- Indus Valley Trek
- Markha Valley Trek
- Popular Markha Valley Treke
- Stok Kangri Expedition
- Ladakh Adventure Jeep Safari
- Spiti - Ladakh Trek
- Off the Beaten Trail
- Trek to Hidden Shangrila
- The Mystic Trail
- Along the Himalayan Wilderness
- Manali Ladakh Trek
- The Nubra Valley
- Indus Valley Trek
- Classic Markha Valley
- Ladakh Monastery Trek
- Journey to South Zanskar
- Trans-Zanskar Expedition
- The Passes of Spiti
- Spiti to Ladakh
- Spiti to Pitok to Himis
- The Rupshu: Trek
- The Great Salt Lakes
- Chadar Ice Trek
- Throne of the Gods
- Amarnath Trek
- Padum-phugtal Gompa
- Padam to Dracha Trek
- Panikhar to Heniskot Trek
- Lamayuru Martselang
- Manali - Leh Trek
- Padum to Manali Trek
- Pahalgam to Suru Valley
- Lamayuru - Alchi Trek
- Kala Pattar Trek
- Kinnaur -Spiti-Ladakh
- Tsomoiri-Lake Trek
- Ladakh Panorama
Festival of Leh & Ladakh:
* Buddha Purnima Festival - ( 30 May - 9 June '07)
* Hemis Monastery Festival - (23 June - 3 July '07)
* Takthok Monastery Festival - (22 July - 1 Aug '07)
* Lamayuru Monastery Festival - (25 June - 5 July '07)
* Ladakh Annual Festival - (31 Aug - 10 Sep '07)
* Phyang Monastery Festival - (11 July - 21 July '07)
Ladakh has a distinct alpine, floral and faunal variety. Several flowering plants, a dozen important mammals and over a hundred species of birds are found here in this rugged terrain. Most of the species are classified as endangered or rare.
The wild yak is to be found only here. Other animals include the ibex, blue sheep, bharal, docile marmot and mouse hare. Black necked crane, bar-headed geese, ducks and several other water birds breed near the lakes in thousands. The avid bird watcher can spend friutful hours by observing Bactrian magpies, grey tits, chough, raven, sparrow, kite, kestrel, Turkoman rock pigeon, chukor, finches, buntings, larks, desert wheateaters, a many more varieties of birds.
The snow leopard is Ladakh's most rare animal. Another one that is unique is the kyang or the wild horse, while at lower altitudes the musk deer too is a rare sight, precious by virtue of its expensive musk. Visitors are likely to spot many marmots, mouse hares, stone martens, red foxes, wolves, ibex, bharal and shapu during the course of their journey but the habitat of the nyan (big horned sheep), chim (Tibetan antelope famed for its fleece-Shahtoosh), goa (Tibetan gazelle), lynx, pallas cat, kyamg (wild horse) and brong dong (wild yak) are still outside the tourists' domain.
Flora and fauna of Ladakh:
The fauna of Ladakh has much in common with that of Central Asia in general and that of the Tibetan Plateau in particular. Exceptions to this are the birds, many of which migrate from the warmer parts of India to spend the summer in Ladakh. For such an arid area, Ladakh has a great diversity of birds — a total of 225 species have been recorded. Many species of finches, robins, redstarts (like the Black Redstart), and the Hoopoe are common in summer. The Brown-headed Gull is seen in summer on the river Indus and on some lakes of the Changthang. Resident water-birds include the Brahminy duck also known as the Ruddy Sheldrake and the Bar-headed Goose. The Black-necked Crane, a rare species found scattered in the Tibetan plateau, is also found in parts of Ladakh. Other birds include the Raven, Red-billed Chough, Tibetan Snowcock, and Chukar. The Lammergeier and the Golden Eagle are common raptors here.
The Bharal or "blue sheep" is the most abundant mountain ungulate in the Ladakh region. However it is not found in some parts of Zangskar and Sham areas. The Asiatic Ibex is a very elegant mountain goat that is distributed in the western part of Ladakh. It is the second most abundant mountain ungulate in the region with a population of about 6000 individuals. It is adapted to rugged areas where it easily climbs when threatened. The Ladakhi Urial is another unique mountain sheep that inhabits the mountains of Ladakh. The population is declining, however, and presently there are not more 3000 individuals left in Ladakh. The urial is endemic to Ladakh, where it is distributed only along two major river valleys: the Indus and Shayok. The animal is often persecuted by farmers whose crops are allegedly damaged by it. Its population declined precipitously in the last century due to indiscriminate shooting by hunters along the Leh-Srinagar highway. The Tibetan argali or Nyan is the largest wild sheep in the world, standing 3.5 to 4 feet at the shoulder with the horn measuring 90–100 cm. It is distributed on the Tibetan plateau and its marginal mountains encompassing a total area of 2.5 million km2. There is only a small population of about 400 animals in Ladakh. The animal prefers open and rolling terrain as it runs, unlike wild goats that climb into steep cliffs, to escape from predators. The endangered Tibetan Antelope, commonly known as chiru, or Ladakhi tsos, has traditionally been hunted for its wool (shahtoosh) which is a natural fiber of the finest quality and thus valued for its light weight and warmth and as a status symbol. The wool of chiru must be pulled out by hand, a process done after the animal is killed. The fiber is smuggled into Kashmir and woven into exquisite shawls by Kashmiri workers. Ladakh is also home to the Tibetan gazelle, which inhabits the vast rangelands in eastern Ladakh bordering Tibet.
Scant precipitation, hot dry summers and cold winters make Ladakh a high-altitude desert with extremely scarce vegetation over most of its area. Natural vegetation mainly occurs along water courses and on high altitude areas that receive more snow and cooler summer temperatures. Human settlements, however, are richly vegetated due to irrigation.
Natural vegetation commonly seen along water courses includes seabuckthorn (Hippophae spp.), wild roses of pink or yellow varieties, tamarisk (Myricaria spp.), caraway, stinging nettles, mint, Physochlaina praealta, and various grasses.
Natural vegetation in unirrigated desert around Leh includes capers (Capparis spinosa), Nepeta floccosa, globe thistle (Echinops cornigerus), Ephedra gerardiana, rhubarb, Tanacetum spp., several artemisias, Peganum harmala, and several other succulents. Juniper trees grow wild in some locations and are usually considered sacred by Buddhists.