Snowcapped mountains, streams breaking across mountain vistas, and a barren yet stunning environment – Leh is heaven for lovers of solitude, nature, photography and adventure. For travel buffs who want an experience like none other, Leh is a once in a lifetime destination.
Culture and adventure
Those keen on exploring new culture would love Ladakh, known as Little Tibet, home to Buddhist monasteries which are centuries old. Leh is also the spiritual home of the Dalai Lama. Adventure lovers should also explore rafting the Zanskar and Indus rivers, one of Asia’s most popular rafting retreats. Expeditions can last as long as 14 days, with stops for camping and trekking.
Getting there – when and how
July-September is the best time to visit, but a month ahead won’t hurt. While the most adventurous journey to drive to Leh via bike or SUV, the fastest route is via flight. By road, your route is either the Srinagar-Leh highway, or can choose Manali-Leh highway. You can’t begin your ascent on the first day – you’ll need at least 24 hours to acclimatise yourself. Yet, you can still make the most of Day 1 via taxi.
Getting around Leh
You can rent a bike to zip around, and your Day 1 itinerary can include Leh Palace and Shanti Stupa. Get back home early – it’s really cold! For dinner, tuck into some nice local fare, or assorted cuisine selection at any local restaurant. Experienced travelers to Leh often recommend a 2 tablet dose of Diamox, to help you acclimatize to high altitude, lest you have a headaches.
Day 2 and beyond
Day 2 sites can include Thikshey monastery and Shey palace – en route you’ll spot the school shown in Aamir Khan starrer “3 idiots”. You can also see the point of Sangam, where Indus and Xansar rivers meet – two rivers of different colors coming together. There’s a local Gurudwara here managed by the Indian army where you can stop for lunch. The next stop on your day trip is Magnetic Hill, famous for moving cars to a certain distance on their own volition. The Indian army Hall of Fame nearby is a memorial to the brave men who fought in the Kargil War, a must see.
Getting on the 3rd highest motorable road in the world (17,582 feet) is indeed a rush, and it’s a “top of the world” feeling like no other. The road takes you to Nubra Valley, a high altitude cold desert with camels and sand.
The beautiful Pangong Tso spans both India and China, and the route takes you through craggy mountains, desert scenery, rivers, a pristine blue sky and a panorama you may never forget. The road to Pangong is beautiful, and you’ll be overwhelmed with its beauty upon first glimpse. The pristine blue lake is a mirror the overhead clouds, and it’s a plain sheet of ice in the winter. The only food you might get near the Lake towards winter season is Maggi. Or, you can stop over at the local Indian Army run restaurant for a hearty desi meal. You can easily book accommodation, but a lot of hotels charge per person, not per room. The more adventurous can rent tent and tracking equipment, after depositing ID proof.