A land of freezing winds and burning hot sunlight, Ladakh is a cold desert lying in the rain shadow of the Great Himalayas and other smaller ranges. Little rain and snow reaches this dry area, where natural forces have created a fantastic landscape. Surrounded by rugged mountains this land is completely different from the green landscape of many parts of the Himalayas. Bounded by two of the world's mightiest mountain ranges, the Great himalayas and the Karokaram, it is a land which has no match.he main source of water in this land remains the winter snowfall. Ladakh was once covered by an extensive lake system, the vestiges of which still exist on its south -east plateaux of Rupshu and Chushul - in drainage basins with evocative names like Tso-moriri, Tsokar,and grandest of all, Pangong-tso. The temprature rarely exceeds 27 degree celcuis in summer while in winter it may drop to minus 20 degree celcuis.Made up of two administrative districts - Leh and Kargil, Ladakh covers a total area of about 59,000 square kilometers. Leh is the chief town. Allied ethnologically and geographically with the Tibet region of China, the area has a predominantly Lamaist Buddhist population. It was nominally a dependency of Tibet. After 1531 it was invaded periodically by Muslims from Kashmir; it was annexed to Kashmir in the mid-19th cent.
However todays Ladakh which forms a part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in India has some of its areas under the illegal occupation of Pakistan and China.
Julley! This Ladakhi word works like magic in breaking ice with the locals in Leh or, for that matter, anywhere in Ladakh. Couple it with a smile and you could ‘Julley’ your way through Ladakh.So Ladakh has been talked about by many and not one person who’s been there would say that he/she has been disappointed. This is a place that is unique in its beauty and unparalleled in its serenity.
A spectacular thing about visiting Leh Ladakh is that the ride to the other various sites wouldn’t disappoint you in the least. You can expect to be faced with sturdy and striking mountains that compel you to marvel at their beauty. So while you’re on this drive, make sure you’re heading to the Hemis Gompa, Thiksey Monastery and the Stok Palace. While the first is the largest and the wealthiest Buddhist monastery in Ladakh, the latter is the current residence of the ousted royal family. The Magnetic hill, Patharsaab Gurudwara, Nanak Hill and the ‘Sangam’ between the Indus and the Zanskar River are must-sees as well.
This being just in and around Leh, there are three other impressive places that are quite out of this world but at a distance from the main city. The first is the Khardung-la top, also popularly known as K-Top. Standing at a height of 18380 feet, Khardung-la is the world’s highest motorable road. Once there, make sure you buy yourself some souvenirs. The second is the Nubra Valley, a cold desert where you’re sure to spot a lot of double-humped camels. Finally, head to the Pangong-Tso (Pangong Lake), one of the largest brackish lakes in Asia. Situated at a height of 14000 feet, the lake is 130km long, 45 km of which lies in India while the remaining stays in China. Shaded from an ink blue to a turquoise to an aquamarine to a purple to other brilliant colours, you have to see it to believe it. No description or praise of the lake is enough until you see it with your own naked eye. Gorge on some hot Maggi and you’re done! Though that isn’t the only incredible thing about the trip to Pangong. Before Pangong, bask in the glory of reaching Chang-La, the ‘world’s third highest pass’, standing at a height of 17586 feet.
Wildlife enthusiasts can go crazy in Ladakh. The animals to be spotted range from the ibex, marmots and wild ass to double humped camels, yaks and mountain goats (including pashmina).
All in all, travelling to Leh can be a most cherished experience. There is so much to take back and so much to miss when you’re finally home. The amalgamation of culture and nature with civilization is interesting. If possible, one must try to visit in the month of August-September so as to catch the 15-day Ladakh festival. That would surely be the icing on your cake.
How To Reach Leh Ladakh
Flights to Leh are available for booking all year round, even in winters. The Leh Airport is a military airport and security checks are a little more stringent than usual. Please carry a printout of your e-ticket before entering, failing which you might be denied entry. From the airport, you can easily get taxis that will take you to your hotel/resort. Most flights connect from your original destination to Delhi and from Delhi its an hour flight to Leh.Air India operates 3 flight in a week between Leh and Delhi, 2 flights in a week from Jammu and once in a week from Srinagar.Go Air operates daily flight Between Leh - Delhi.
From Jammu and Kashmir or from Manali, if you're planning to approach Leh in a bus, get ready for an adventurous bumpy ride. It’s got what it takes to become the ride of a lifetime and will take at least 4 days (starting at New Delhi).
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.
Overland Approach - The overland approach to Ladakh from Kashmir Valley via Kargil is approx. 434 Km, which remains open for traffic from early June to November. The most dramatic part of this road journey is the ascent up the 11,500 feet 3,505 m high Zoji-La, the pass in the Great Himalayan Wall that serves as the gateway to Ladakh. The J & K State Road Transport Corporation (J&K SRTC) operates regular Deluxe and Ordinary bus services between Srinagar and Leh on this route with an overnight halt at Kargil. 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 (Zangskar) from the J & K SRTC at Srinagar.
Manali to Leh - Since 1989, the 473 km. Manali-Leh road has been serving as the second overland approach to Ladakh. Open for traffic from around mid-June to early October. This high road traverses the upland desert plateau of Rupsho, altitude ranges from 3,660m to 4,570m. A number of high passes fall enroute among which the highest one known as Taklang-La is world's second highest motorable pass at an altitude of 17,469 feet/5,235m. Himachal Pradesh Tourism, HRTC and J & K SRTC operate daily Deluxe and Ordinary bus services between Manali and Leh. The bus journey between Leh and Manali takes about 19 hours or two days with an overnight halt in camps at Serchu or Pang. Maruti Gypsy and jeep taxis are also available, both at Manali and Leh at quite reasonable rates.
Pathankot and Chandigarh are the closest railway stations to Leh, still a three-day bus ride away. This is one route that most travellers to Leh avoid.
Here are the 10 best places to visit in Leh:
1. Pangong Lake
You can easily find some of the best hotels in Leh as per your preferences and budget. Some of the budget hotels include Mandala hotel, Lotus hotel, Hotel chubi, Pangong hotel and Hotel Mahay. These hotels are popular for excellent hospitality, great service and atmosphere. If you are looking for something for comfortable which offers a lot of amenities, Thrillophilia would suggest the hotels mentioned below:
It is one of the best luxury hotels in the region of Leh with ethnic and traditional style of architecture situated in Skara near Leh.
Hotel Grand Dragon
It is an exquisite hotel with excellent services and hospitality situated at the heart of the city.
This hotel is a perfect blend of modern and traditional ladakhi architecture and is situated at the centre of Ladakh.
Located just 15 minutes away from airport, the Osmasila Hotel offers you a breathtaking view of the majestic Himalayas.
What kind of medical support / facilities are available in Leh?
The main centre for health care in Leh is the SNM hospital ,which is well equipped and staffed by specialist to handle all problems.Eleswhere in the region there are sub district hospital at block headquarters and medical dispensaries in major villages ,which are staffed by qualified doctors.In addition ,services of the private clincs and associated facilities to the tourist in the case of emergency. Many chemist shops are open around SNM hospital and a few in the main market. It is recommended that if you are already on a prescribed medicine then you carry needful qyuantity with you.
Mobile Network and Coverage
Prepaid airtel from outside Ladakh Leh, Srinagar does not work. Must purchase localized sim card for service in this area.Only postpaid connections have service in whole of Jammu and Kashmir including Ladakh, even this service is erratic. BSNL has maximum coverage even in Nubra,Airtel has better service in Leh.
So Pack your bags and Get started for an amazing trip to Leh Ladakh.