It is a land of contrasts. The harsh brown mountains and the sky a hue of blue you will never see anywhere else. The cold, unforgiving winters and the warmth of the Ladakhis as they say “Jullay”.
And we can go on. But you need to go there to really see what we mean. The best part is, you can plan a trip to Ladakh whether you’re taking a long break and want to bike there or you have just a few days and are flying to Leh, Here are the top five reasons why you should visit Ladakh at least once in your life.
To truly connect by disconnecting
We spend so much time glued to technology and gadgets that we forget to really connect with people, or even ourselves. Ladakh’s natural beauty – its lakes, national parks, monasteries, and valleys have a surreal quality about them. They make you want to just sit back, and tune into nature. Discover yourself, or have conversations with your partner, friends or kids while you take long walks in Leh, or sip some hot yak-butter tea.
To indulge your click-hungry instincts
In this age of selfies and Instagram, treat that photographer in you to some breathtakingly beautiful shots. It’s unbelievable how many different colours you will see in one shot that has just mountains, the sky and the road. Browns, oranges, blues, greys, white and tons more. If you’re biking to Khardung La or further, make sure your companion records the trip either through still images or a video. Capture the icy blue Pangong Lake at various times in the day.
Yummy in Your Tummy
The food in Ladakh is simple, yet delicious. The local cafes serve momos that are cooked with just a subtle hint of spices, and you can find great comfort in a bowl of thukkpa (soup and noodles). If you get lucky enough to experience a local family’s hospitality, share a cup of yak-butter tea with them. Some of life’s simple pleasures come from great tea and conversation.
Ladakh is a trekker’s paradise. And even if you’re not a regular trekker, there are some easy routes that you can do, because this is a great way to experience Ladakh. The Markha Valley trek is a well-known one, and a portion of the Hemis National Park falls on this route. So you may just spot some marmots and other interesting fauna and flora. There are tons of excellent options for trekking through the lovely Zanskar Valley (remember to try the white-water rafting too when you’re there) and the Nubra valley. Talking of treks, may we recommend our other article on the Top 5 Mountain Expeditions in Nepal?
A cultural extravaganza
Yes, Ladakh is known for its treks. But no, that’s not all there is to it. Ladakh’s traditions are influenced by the Tibetan culture, and you will find a lot of similarity in the two. Visit the gorgeous monasteries – Hemis, Thiksey, Spituk and so many more. If you can, then plan your trip to coincide with one of the colourful festivals of the region, like the Hemis Festival or Dosmochey. The architecture in Ladakh has a strong Buddhist overtone to it, and is quite indescribably beautiful.
Getting to Ladakh – Flights are operated to Leh from various major cities in India. Direct flights are available from Delhi, Jammu and Srinagar. Peak season is from May to September when the weather is pleasant.
Flight tickets and accommodation are in high demand during this time, so it is best to book well in advance to get cheap airfares, and the best hotel deals.
Buses are operated to Leh from Manali and Srinagar.
Road trip enthusiasts swear by the bike ride from Delhi – Manali – Leh, or Delhi – Srinagar – Leh, and it also gives you some time to acclimatise yourself to the sharp increase in altitude. Adventure junkies can also check out our “Best adventure sports to try out this summer “ article for ideas for your next trip.
One of the most important things to keep in mind while visiting Ladakh is the acclimatisation owing to decreased levels of oxygen at high altitudes. After travelling to an altitude of higher than 3000 meters (approximately 10,000 ft.) you need to take some time to get used to the altitude. Most people experience symptoms like dizziness, nausea and acute mountain sickness (AMS) at altitudes higher than this. Don’t travel to places of higher altitudes as soon as you arrive in Leh. Keep yourself well hydrated, and avoid strenuous activity for a couple of days