Ladakh or the ‘Land of High Passes’ is a barren yet beautiful region located in the north Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Sharing its east border with Tibet, Ladakh has Lahaul and Spiti to its south and the Kashmir valley to the west. Strategically placed on ancient trade routes, Ladakh lies between the Kunlun Mountains in the north and the Himalayas in the south. The region originally comprised the Baltistan valley, the Indus Valley, Zanskar, Lahaul, Spiti, Aksai Chin and Ngari.
While a majority of Ladakhis are Tibetan Buddhists the main inhabitants of the region are of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent. Shia Muslims are the other inhabitants of the area
Ladakh ’s snowcapped peaks, the clear blue skies and the vistas of barren mountains broken only by blue meandering rivers has attracted many an intrepid traveler. Tourism is the main source of livelihood for Ladakhis. Indian Army maintains a strong presence in Ladakh due to its strategic location.
The scenic beauty, the rugged terrain, the majestic mountains and the challenge of roughing it out, has made Ladakh a favorite with mountaineering enthusiasts. The remote location and high altitude of Ladakh make is unsuitable for those looking for a quick holiday. You will need time to get acclimatized to Ladakh’s weather conditions. However, its natural and rustic splendour has been preserved due to the lack of modernity.
Best Season to Visit
June-September is the perfect time to explore Ladakh. The regions summer season is a supreme paradise, which offers clear, spectacular views and warm and sunny weather. Basically, the average temperature varies during the day from 2030C. Monsoon season of the region experiences constant rainfall but due to the land slides, the area is closed that is why summer is considered as the best time to visit the place.
Srinagar to Leh (first approach)
Reach Ladakh from Kashmir Valley through Kargil, which is around 434 kms. This route remains open from early June to November. Zoji-La pass of the Himalayan ranges that is a gateway to Ladakh is approximately 11,500 feet (3,505 m high) above the sea level. J & K State Road Transport Corporation, J&K SRTC, runs regular deluxe and ordinary bus services between Srinagar and Leh. There's a night stay in Kargil. You can also hire cars, jeeps or taxis in Srinagar. If traveling in groups, you can rent deluxe buses for Leh, Kargil or Padum (Zanskar) from J & K SRTC at Srinagar.
Manali to Leh (second approach)
Manali-Leh road of 473 kms, since 1989 has been another route to Ladakh. This route is open from mid-June to early October. The road passes through the desert plateau of Rupsho and is around 3,660m to 4,570m high. There are a number of high passes falling on the route, Taglang-La being second highest motorable road in the world, 17,469 feet (5,235m) above the sea level. Himachal Pradesh Tourism (HRTC) and J & K SRTC run daily deluxe and ordinary buses between Manali and Leh; that takes around hours (or two days) with night halt in camps at Sarchu or Pang. You can also hire a Gypsy or jeep taxis.
Leh Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport is the main airport of the area. The flights are directly connected from Delhi, Srinagar and Jammu; by the flights run by Air India, Go Air and Jet Airways. The schedules are set already though, but these are subject to change according to the weather. It is advised that you keep your plans flexible.
The best and pocket-friendly way of traveling within the region is by public buses, which have a fixed route and schedule. They are comfortable and convenient. You can also hire a taxi by fixing a tariff. For visiting areas such as Nubra, Dah-Hanu, Tsomoriri, Tsokar and Pangong Lakes, it is necessary that you take the services of a registered travel agency that will make transport arrangements for you. You can get detailed information about intra-region transportation from the tourist office or travel guides.
Distances by Road
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.
Places to visit
Zanskar and Ladakh Mountain Ranges
- Pangong Tso Lake: The unending lake from 3 Idiots
- Tso Moriri Lake
- Khardungla Pass: Highest civilian motor road in the world
- Nubra Valley: A desert among the snowy hills
- Magnetic Hill: Defy gravity – feel superhuman
- Spituk Gompa: Monastery at the hilltop
- Namgyal Monastery: The place for the inner peace
- Likir Monastery: Intricate carvings on colorful wood
- Shanti Stupa: Introspection time
- Zanskar river: The Chadar Trek
- Leh Palace: Royalty in Ruins
Activities in Ladakh:
Trekking: Ladakh tourism is known to be the favorite trekking destinations for the travelers who love adventure as it has some of the most beautiful, scenic and challenging treks in whole northern India. Trekking in Ladakh is an unforgettable experience.
Mountain Biking: Cycling is another adventure sports activity in Ladakh. Most of the visitors love to explore Buddhist Gompas of the enthralling local villages, with the Himalayas creating attractive backdrop.
Dos and Donts
Photograhing of People: Take permission before you click a photograph of any one. Don't take photo if they ask for money.
Water purification: Take water purification piles with you. And you can use boiled fresh water during the trek. Dzomsa Laundry sells high pressure boiled water for Rs.7 per liter. Bring you own water container.
Plastic Bags: Do not use plastic bag since plastic is officially banned in Ladakh. Always separate and properly dispose off litter burns burnable, bury biodegradable materials while trekking.
National Parks: Don't disturb wild life during the trek; be aware of the highly sensitive ecology and the economy of the geographical and cultural landscape.