As the eponymous ‘Little Tibet’, Ladakh has long been a popular tourist destination, for many reasons including its limited accessibility and the periodically resurgent territory dispute between India and China.
Although it is becoming increasingly popular now, Ladakh remains an undiscovered, yet intriguing destination for the intrepid traveller. Mountains studded with jagged peaks, spellbinding views, sinuous roads, promising extreme adrenaline rushes, tortuous passes, hypnotic high-altitude valleys, shimmering lakes, and ancient Buddhist monasteries – that’s what Ladakh is all about.
Adventurers, nature lovers, knowledge seekers, and those who simply want to get away will love this land. Read this article to know about some of the most suitable places for first-timers during a Ladakh trip.
Also called Pangong Tso, Pangong Lake is an endorheic lake located in the Himalayas. It is 134 km long and stretches from India to China. Located at an elevation of 4350 meters, Pangong Lake is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country.
People come from all over the country and around the world to enjoy the beauty and allure of this lake. Under the Ramsar Convention, the Pangong Lake has been identified as a wetland of international significance, and if everything works out according to plan, it will become the first trans-boundary wetland in South Asia. Its ability to change colors is one of the reasons why this lake is so popular.
The scenic splendor of Tso Moriri or Lake Moriri can be found on the Changthang plateau in south-east Ladakh. In its northwest corner lies Ladakh, in its east Tibet, and in its west Zanskar. Ladakh’s Tsomoriri Lake is one of the most popular high-altitude lakes, along with Pangong Tso.
A brackish water lake, it is the highest in India at 15,075 feet. Tso Moriri Wetland Conservation Reserve is named officially after this lake, which is accessible only during the summer months due to the region’s heavy snow cover.
Changthang plateau contains snow-capped mountains that feed the lake. This area is inhabited primarily by Changpas, nomadic migratory shepherds who breed yaks, sheep, goats and Tibetan horses.
Anti-gravity phenomena have drawn many tourists to Magnetic Hill. On the Leh-Srinagar national highway, Magnetic Hill is about 27 km from Leh. There have been instances where vehicles have moved up the hill defying gravity.
It is even apparent when the engine is turned off. Locals believe that the anti-gravity phenomenon is caused by the hill’s magnetic properties. Vehicles have been observed traveling at speeds of 20 km per hour. In addition to cars on the road, magnetic effects have been observed on planes and helicopters. A pilot must increase his altitude when passing over a hill due to the magnetic effect.
With an elevation of 18,379 feet, Khardung La is the highest motorable road in the world and connects India’s northernmost state Jammu and Kashmir with its Shyok and Nubra valleys. This high mountain pass is located near Leh in the Karakoram Range. The pass (in Tibetan, La means pass) is about 40 km away from Leh.
Khardung La is a popular tourist attraction because of the breath-taking views of the valley and the winding roads up the mountain. The clear air, the scenic vistas, and the feeling of being on top of the world have drawn millions of tourists to this mountain pass.
The Inner Line Permit (ILP) is required for tourists to cross the pass, which can be obtained from the District Commissioner’s office in Leh. Make six copies of your permit since each checkpoint requires a copy before letting you go to the other side.
Located in Jammu and Kashmir’s Ladakh region, Zanskar is accessible only between the months of April and August and is one of the least explored places in the country. This holiday destination is perfect for those who want to enjoy scenic views of the snow-capped Himalayan range and sparkling blue rivers.
Zanskar is located in the Himalayas and is a popular location for adventure sports enthusiasts. There are many popular trekking trails in Zanskar, including Lamayuru-Darcha and Lamayuru-Padum.
From Zanskar, treks to Markha Valley and Khangri begin. A unique trek that is offered here is that on frozen water. Shopping in Zanskar is somewhat limited, but the most famous tourist buys include Pashmina and Kashmiri, handicrafts and silk carpets.