Location : Jammu & Kashmir.
Best time to Visit : July to September.
Languages : Ladakhi & Urdu.
If you have heard of yak, you surely have heard of Ladakh, located in the northern Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. The cold deserts of Ladakh have been attracting travellers for years; it's due to the Buddhist culture that breathes here and due to the options of thrilling adventure in this trans-Himalayan region. Summers can be harsh and winters are freezing, so you need to be prepared in advance to ward off any hassles caused due to weather conditions. Leh, the capital city of Ladakh, is the centre-point that offers you an opportunity to see and the explore the many Buddhist gompas that dot the landscape of the city, from one corner to the other. The nature beauty of the place will take your breath away while the people will warm your heart, at every corner. Jeep safari in Ladakh is one of the nicest options to penetrate the rugged desert of Ladakh and feel that adrenaline rush.
Climate & Best time to Visit LadakhLadakh is known as the cold desert for the climate in this part of the world can be extremely harsh with temperatures dropping several degrees below zero, especially during winters. While at one end you will have to wear loads of warm clothes to protect yourself from getting frost bite, another danger is sunburn as the sun rays can be exceedingly rough at such a high altitude. Summers, therefore, lasting from July to September is the best time to visit Leh-Ladakh.
Major Tourist Attractions in Leh-LadakhIf you are in Ladakh, you are also on your Buddhist pilgrimage. The city of Leh in Ladakh remains surrounded by a number of Buddhist gompas or monasteries. Apart from that, you will be visiting the Leh Palace, one of the biggest attractions in Ladakh.
Leh PalaceThe most talked about attraction, besides the natural wonders, is the beautiful Leh Palace. Rising on a hill overlooking Leh city, this 17th century architectural marvel, though mostly in a decayed state, beautifully showcases the architectural expertise of those times. The top of the palace affords a breathtaking view of the surroundings.
Buddhist MonasteriesA number of Buddhist monasteries are dotted all over Leh city, some of them dating back centuries. The most important monasteries or Gompas include the Namgyal Tsempo Gompa, Sankar Gompa, Shanti Gompa, Alchi Gompa, Hemis Gompa, Matho Gompa and Shey Gompa.
Hemis National ParkWildlife enthusiasts have a treat in store for them at the Hemis National Park, situated just 40 Km from Leh on the banks of river Indus. The park spreads over a huge area and is home to some of the most exotic species of plants and animals such as the rare snow leopard, Tibetan antelope. ibex, serow etc, besides some variety of birds.
Nubra ValleyAnother exotic locale, Nubra Valley lies just a five hour drive from Leh. The route to Nubra is as thrilling as the place itself with breathtaking environs throughout the route including the Khardung-La pass, the world's highest motorable pass. The place can be accessed by a two wheeler or a jeep, both of which can be conveniently hired from Leh, however, driving in these conditions yourself is not highly advisable, especially when the roads are slippery.
Stok PalaceThe ancient palace is located just 17 km from Leh and was once the home to the Namgyal rulers. The opulent palace has now been converted into a museum that houses a rare collection of old weapons, jewellery etc. Museum timings are May to Oct between 8 AM to 7 PM.
Adventure Sports in LadakhLeh is like a one-stop shop for a complete vacationing experience. Adventure sports options at the city abound with thrilling picks waiting to magnetize you such as extreme river rafting in the Indus and Zanskar rivers, trekking and rock climbing in the Himalayan mountains and para gliding etc.
Popular Shopping Centres in Leh-LadakhThe shopping options at Leh are also as exotic as the environs. The unique items on the shopping list include hand woven woolen garments, Kullu caps, beautiful carpets and Kashmiri shawls. Traditional silver jewellery, Tibetan prayer wheels and Buddhist masks comprise of other must buys. Major shopping hubs in Leh are Tibetan Handicrafts Emporium and Ladakh Art palace situated on the Main Bazaar road and Industries Exposition in Changspa.
Leh Ladakh Travel (Airport/Railway/Road) Information
By Air : A domestic airport is situated at Leh, just 4 km from the main city on Fort Road. Regular flights are available for Leh from major Indian cities including Delhi, Jammu, Srinagar and Chandigarh. Indian Airlines flight from Delhi operates three times a week on Tue, Thu and Sat (Departure : 6:45, Arrival : 8:00). For more information on flights timings and schedules, log on to the official website of Indian Airlines, visit http://indian-airlines.nic.in/
By Rail : Jammu is the nearest railhead from where you can travel to Leh either by air or rail. The city is connected to other major Indian cities through regular trains, more information on which can be obtained from the official website of Indian railways, visit http://www.indianrail.gov.in/
By Road : There are two routes to approach Leh, one via Srinagar and the other through Himachal Pradesh. Both the routes offer fantastic natural views and have their own unique attractions. It is best, however, to check on weather conditions before leaving, as heavy snowfall during the winters often closes down the access paths.