Zanskar Valley – Amble Among The Giants:
Without a doubt, Zanskar valley is one of the best places to visit in Leh Ladakh. It is amongst the most desolate places in the Himalayan range. The steep terrains covered with snow reflect the heavenly skies. The tributaries of the Zanskar River are famous for seasonal white river rafting. The Zanskar, Ladakh places of interest are surely among those must visit places in Leh Ladakh that you just cannot afford to miss while you’re in Ladakh!
Best Time to Visit: Zanskar is best visited between June to September when the road is clear of the snow and the leh temperature is at moderate. It’s closed for a significant time due to extreme snowfall and winter.
Pangong Tso lake:
Remember the breathtakingly beautiful lake from 3 Idiots where Kareena Kapoor confessed her love? It’s Pangong Tso, a lake amongst the popular tourist attractions in Leh Ladakh is situated on the Changtang plateau in eastern Ladakh region. The lake offers an awesome site for camping and is the current hotspot for all people traveling to Ladakh. To avoid the crowd, you can visit this place during the off-season!
Best Time to Visit: June to September is the best time to travel to Pangong Tso
A trip to Leh Ladakh is incomplete without a visit to Kargil. This is the second largest town in Ladakh, situated on the banks of Indus River. It is a transit hub with roads leading to Leh, Padum (Zanskar) and Srinagar. Also, it is a haven for adventure enthusiasts as they can enjoy sports such as trekking and mountaineering. Make sure you pack sufficiently to enjoy these activities at one of the most famous places in Leh Ladakh!
Best Time to visit: The summer season between May to July is the best time to visit Kargil as the temperature is cool with frigid nights.
Khardungla Pass is a gateway which leads to Nubra and Shyok valleys. While this might not be a typical tourist attraction Leh Ladakh, it is definitely amongst the must-visit places to visit in and around Leh Ladakh for adventure junkies. Managed by the Border Roads Organization, Kardung-la Pass is the gateway to the north and one of the most difficult yet thrilling passes to ride on.
Best time to visit: The best time to visit Khardung-La pass is during the summer season, between May to September.
Featured as one of top 5 places in Ladakh, Nubra valley, a tri-armed valley towards the northeast. The sand dunes of the Nubra Valley offer the tourists Arabian Nights like experience. Nubra valley is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Leh Ladakh for its two-humped camels. So, be sure to check out this one while you’re out and about in the scenic land of Leh!
Best time to visit: As per the climatic conditions, the best time to visit Nubra valley is during the autumn season which is between the month of July to September.
One of the best places to visit in Leh Ladakh is Magnetic Hill. The science behind the phenomenon is unknown but it has been observed that if you leave your vehicle at the base of the hill with the brakes unlocked, it will start moving uphill slowly on its own. Magic? Definitely not. It’s simply the superpowers you get when you reach this place. This makes it really important to be included in your list of places in Leh Ladakh!
Ladakh is known as the land of the monks and monasteries. Spituk is one of the many tourist places to visit in Ladakh. This is famous for its beautifully carved location at the top of a hill. The winds at the night, however, may chill you to the bones. Make sure you pack a few extra warm clothes to be comfortably cozy to visit one of the most serene places to go in Leh Ladakh.
Hemis National Park :
Hemis National Park has the distinction of being the largest national park in South Asia. The park is protected home for endangered mammals like leopards, Asiatic ibex, Tibetan wolf, the Eurasian brown bear, and the red fox. For nature lovers and bird watchers, this has to be on your list of places to see in Ladakh. Pollution free environment and noise free surroundings make bird watching a joyful experience. Your Leh sightseeing experience stays incomplete without this one in the itinerary.
Best time to visit: Between May to September
What better place to invoke some thoughts from within than this? Located on a hill in Chanspa, Leh, the Shanti Stupa is one of the most magnificent and peaceful Buddhist monuments you could possibly see in the extreme north of India. Take the steep slights to reach the Stupa that offers beautiful sunrise and sunset views. Also, the panoramic views of the landscape around it make the Shanti Stupa one of the best tourist places in Ladakh.
One of the most famous Buddhist monasteries in India, Hemis Monastery is known for its annual mask festival. This is a two-day spiritual celebration taking place on Tse Chu, the tenth month in Tibetan calendar. The festival is celebrated in the memory of Guru Padmasambhava, who is believed to be the Gautam Buddha’s reincarnation.
Best time to visit: This is one of the best places to visit in Ladakh in June
How about walking on a frozen lake? Chadar Trek is one of the beautiful places to visit in Ladakh such unbelievable and exciting experience. ‘Chadar’ refers to a blanket, because in winter the popular Zanskar River in Leh Ladakh freezes to a blanket of ice. Come to witness the transformation of colors of this frozen river while you trek on it. The mild blue color changes to light yellow when the sun shines directly on it for a few hours in the day. It looks milky white on a moonlit night. The Chadar Trek journey is said to be one of the most adventurous and toughest trek journeys.
Best Time To Visit: January and February
Festivals are a time of merry-making. Possibly, there is no better time to visit any destination than at the time of its festive season. Similar is the case with Ladakh region. The barren yet intriguing land of Ladakh comes to life during festivals when locals from all the parts of Ladakh come to one place and take part in the celebrations.
In fact, the festival season in Ladakh is the best way to view, enjoy and experience the culture of Ladakh. Festivals in Ladakh are organized on various occasions such as birth, marriage, commemoration of head Lamas who found the monasteries, harvesting, flowering and Losar or New Year.
The winter season plays host to more Ladakhi festivals in comparison to the summer season. Masked dance, folk songs by the monks in vibrant silk garments and feasting are some of the highlights of all the festivals. The venues of the festivals are the monasteries of the Ladakh and their courtyards become the open spaces where dance-dramas are organized. Spirituality and enjoyment are set afloat in the atmosphere.
One of the most popular monastic festivals of Ladakh, Hemis festival is organized in the month of June for the commemoration of the birth of Guru Padmasambhava, the founder of Tantric Buddhism in Tibet. The monks get dressed in vibrant brocade robes and wear colorful facial masks for performing a sacred dance drama of his life and its mission.
This 3-day festival is organized, from 9th to 11th June, particularly the monkey year festival that arrives in a cycle of 12 years. At the time of the festival, the 4-storeyed thangka of Guru Padma Sambhava is slung in the courtyard along with other precious thangkas are out on display.
Celebrated in Liker (lower Ladakh), Leh (Leh Palace) and Nubra Valley’s Deskit monastery, Dosmochey festival comes in the month of May. Out of all the places where the festival is organized, the one at Leh is the most popular. The courtyard of the palace becomes the venue of this festival for two days. The Chams is performed by monks of different monasteries, each year, turn by turn.
The festival is organized in the starting and in the ending of the Tibetan New Year. Monks of the Takthok monastery make the offering using thread crosses that fix all the hungry ghosts and evil in order to make them protector against natural disaster in the coming year. On the 2nd day, a procession is organized during which these offering are taken out and burnt while the locals whistle to ward away evil spirits.
Stok Guru Tsechu Festival:
Organized in the month of February, just a week before Matho Nagrang, Stok Guru Tsechu festival is a 2-day celebration where the months of Spituk and Stok monasteries take part in the festivities, performing mask dances. At the time of the festival 2 oracles visit the monasteires. These oracles are actually common men from the same village who are arranged by the monks for receiving the spirits of the deities.
Phyang Tsedup Festival: Phyang Tsedup festival is organized in the month of July / August. In the same manner as the other monasteries, the monks perform mask dances, wearing colorful brocade silk robes and masks depicting gods and goddesses. During the festival, a large thangka of Skyoba Giksten Gonbo is placed in the courtyard.
Losar (New Year) Celebration:
The Losar celebrations are followed by Galdan Namchot, which is the birth anniversary of Tsogkha pa who was the initiator of Gelukpa School of order. During the second festivities, the mountains, monasteries and the houses of the locals are illuminated. Offerings are also prepared in the gompas and houses.
The Losar festival that comes 2 months before the Tibetan New Year, is celebrated in the 11th month of the Tibetan calendar. Though earlier the dates of both the festivals were same but in the first half of the 17th century, King Jamyang Namgyal was planning an expedition against the Baltistan forces in the winter season, he thus decided that the festival would be celebrated 2 months in advance. This later on became a tradition.
Lonar celebration is a month long celebration when gods, ancestors as well as animals are fed without any break. Pictures of Alpine of Ibex are made on the walls in the form of a fortunate representation. The walls of the kitchen are also dotted so that it can bring in prosperity in the New Year. Locals organize procession of fire, the Metho during which slogans are chanted to chase away evil spirits and hungry ghost. To mark good luck, they bring back rocks of ice and keep them in their store. In some of the villages, old men and women figures are made from this snow, which can last at least for one week. People of all age groups take part in Losar celebrations with full zeal. During the celebrations, if any family member would be missing, cups with their named are kept aside which are then filled by tea.
Held from 1st to 15th September in the town of Leh and its various villges, Ladkh festival is a large scale celebration where the locals showcase their zeal and enthusiasm. The inaugural ceremony of the festivals starts with a procession that sees participation from a number of cultural troupes from various parts from Ladakh. The procession begins from Leh, passes through the market with singing and dancing on traditional tunes. The performers adorn themselves in traditional Ladakhi attire and display some wonderful performances. The procession ends at the Polo ground. During all the 15 days of the festival, programs from different villages of Ladakh continue. Mask dances, Polo and Archery along with traditional dances from monitories are some of the highlights. Musical concert and dance programs take place all around Leh.
Sindhu Darshan (Visit Indus) Festival:
Sindhu Darshan is 3-day festival, that starts on 1st June and end on the third day of the month. Shay Manla, around 8 km from the Leh town, placed on the banks of River Indus becomes the venue. A mark of the communal harmony, unity and national integration, the celebrations of this festival started in the month of October in 1997. Along with being a celebration of Ladakh’s domestic tourism, it also pays respect to Indian soldiers who laid their lives fighting with the human enemies as well as natural disasters. During the celebration, Indian artists of different castes, regions and religions perform their traditional dances.
Tak -Tok Festival:
Celebrated in a cave gompa of Tak Tok in the summer months, Tak-Tok festivals is one of the most important festivals of Ladakh., A prime tourist attraction of Ladakh, this festival is also a huge hit amid the locals who visit the venue with full enthusiasm in huge numbers.