Visiting Leh Ladakh can be a great experience as these places have a lot of natural beauty. There are a number of attractions in Leh Ladakh that are filled with extreme pristine beauty, the list is inclusive of well- known ancient monasteries, other religious sites, palaces of the royalty, various gompas, mountain peaks, wildlife safaris, adventure activity spots and much more. Ladakh with a unique characteristic that is a blend of Indian, Tibetan as well as Buddhism linings make it a place which is worth paying a visit to.
This beautiful hilly region, every year, is visited by a large number of local as well as foreign tourists. It is both a popular summer as well as a winter holiday destination. Its untouched beauty, snow-clad mountain peaks, lush greenery and secluded spots attract a lot of honeymooners too. That is not all. With the range of adventure activities that it has to offer such as trekking, mountain biking, rafting, mountaineering and so on, it is well-known amidst adventure enthusiasts too.
Leh Palace was built during the 17th century by the ruler King Sengge Namgyal. Its construction is on the same lines as the construction of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. This palace had to be deserted by the royal family in the middle of the 19th century, because of the taking over of Ladakh by Dogra forces. After this the royal family is living in-exile in the popular Stok Palace. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is restoring some of the ruined portions of this nine-storey palace. While the store rooms were on the lower floors, the royalty resided on the upper floors. The roof of this palace offers an excellent view of the valley.
The Shanti Stupa is white-colored domed-shaped structure, located in Chandspa which looks extremely beautiful during night when it is illuminated. This peace pillar was built a ‘peace sect’ of Japanese Buddhist organization to celebrate the completion of 2500 years of Buddhism and for the promotion of world peace. It was inaugurated by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama in 1985. This pillar is known for its gilt panels depicting the life stories of Lord Buddha. It is just 5 kms away from the main city of Leh and is surrounded the traditionally built houses of the locals and snow-covered mountains. Take the steep slights to reach the Stupa that offers beautiful sunrise and sunset views.
Hemis Monastery, 40 kms towards the south-east of the main city of Leh is the largest as well as the most well-known monastery (Gompa) in Ladakh. This monastery was built by under the reigns of the King Singge Namgyal, in 1672 AD. This monastery plays host to an annual festival that is held in the month of which is also a major tourist attraction. This colorful day-long festival is called Hemis Tsechu which is also a state holiday. During the course of the festival, the local resident Lamas perform a holy masked dance to glorify the victory of good over bad. Today it is taken care off by the Drukpa sect of Buddhism. The monastery has beautiful paintings and a statue of Lord Buddha, which are the highlights too.
Located on the main highway between Bodhkhabru and Kha-la-che, at an altitude of 3.510 meters, Lamayuru Monastery is amongst the oldest monasteries in Ladakh. It is said to have been built around the same time as Alchi monastery. It was founded by Mahasiddhacharya Naropa in the 11th century and belongs to Red-Hat Sect of Buddhism. There are several legends associated with this Gompa. One such legend is that Lamayuru was a lake that drew back up to the mountains after blessings from a lama, in order to evacuate space for this monastery. It features a rich collection of wall paintings and Thangkas.
Close to the oldest monastery of Nubra valley in Ladakh, Diskit monastery, lies the impressive statue of Jampa Buddha. Along the other attractions of Nubra, this mighty Buddha statue surmounted on top of a monastery, is one of the prime and is deeply appreciated for its architecture. Facing the Shyok river, the statue sits tall with a height of 32 meters and was constructed with the help of the natives of the valley.
Gold to be used in the construction of the statue was donated by the heads of other major monasteries around. The idea behind the construction of Maitreya Buddha is to promote peace and protection in the region.
Do you remember the last scene of 3 idiots? Want to know about the location where Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor were snogging in the last scene? For those who are besotted by the background that acted as a catalyst for Kareena Kapoor’s love confession, the place is located in Ladakh. Situated at a height of 4,250 meters, far away in barren land in Ladakh, Pangong Tso is one of the largest brackish lakes in Asia. The crystal clear blue lake sprawls over an area of 100 kilometers across the borders of two countries in India and China. It is one of the charismatic lakes situated on the Changtang plateau in eastern Ladakh region.
Pangong Lake is also known by the name of Hollow Lake and appears as a clear symbol of nature craftsmanship. The brackish water plays with sunlight to produce different effects of light. One-third part of the lake lies in India while the remaining two-third lies in Tibet, a region controlled by China. A large chunk of streams that fill the lake are located on the Tibetan part. The lake is located just 5 hours drive from Leh in the Ladakh region of Jammu & Kashmir.
The first glimpse of the tranquil, azure blue waters and shaky lakeshore remains etched in the memory of tourists. This area falls under army control and requires pass from deputy commissioner of Leh. During the winter season, the lake and its surroundings are engulfed by freezing temperature. The surface of the lake becomes so solid that one can’t walk over it. On the surface of frozen lake a gala festival of ice skating is organized. It calls on large number of skiers and ice skaters from several parts of the world. During this festival, tourists also get to see the local culture of the native people.
The route passes through beautiful Ladakh countryside, over Chang La, the third highest motorable mountain pass in the world. Traces of snow along the road welcome us. One can cross the valley on sinking road. The mountains in the backdrop appeared to be painted in the colors of green, brown and violet. There is a mountaineering school, which imparts training in various degrees of rock climbing.
Inner Line Permit
No inner line permit required for Indian nationalities/ tourist to visit Pangong lake. People of foreign nationality must have group permits (for a minimum of 3 people) accompanied by an accredited guide. The permit is issued by a tourist office in Leh for a small fee.
Where to Stay
For those who are looking forward to stay close to the lake, tents are the only option. There is a limited choice to stay around and near Pangong Tso. Located in close proximity to Pangong Tso, Lukung offers camping facilities in Eco huts. Basic accommodation is available in Spangmik, the only hotel offering luxury tents as well as rooms. The local households also offer accommodation but most of them have shared toilets or toilets outside the house.
Where to Eat
Just like accommodation, the options for eatery are also limited. It is always best to carry your own food stock. Although there are some eateries but the fare they offer is quite inexpensive. However, locals do provide home cooked food which is generally of good quality.