19 Top Places to Visit in Leh, Ladakh

Living the fast life can be lifeless. Following the same routine day in and day out can be annoying, tiring, mundane, and exhausting. Add a little 'life' to your life! Visit Ladakh and reconnect with yourself! Ladakh is the hottest tourist destination and one of the important union territories of India. Its center point is Leh, which is the major district in terms of administration and facilities.

Formerly it was the part of Jammu & Kashmir now it is the independent territory declared by the government recently. This is also known as God's own land. Ladakh is like heaven above your head and under your feet. The beauty of the place is unfathomable that offers visitors to visit amazing places and have the adventure to make the trip memorable.

There are various adventurous and recreational activities that can be done in Ladakh like mountain biking, river rafting, camel safari, Jeep Safari, and sightseeing. The place is beautiful for nature lovers and adventurous for adventure seekers, so get ready to explore the wonderful place and experience its magic.

There are several monasteries and hot tourist destinations in the region. Other important places of the Ladakh region in Kargil and Drass were the most famous higher altitude battle fought between India and Pakistan. Ladakh is also important in terms of the defense mechanism of India because it share its borders with China and Pakistan.

During the trip, you will see the military medical camps and other facilities for the locals of that area. The route to the world-famous high altitude warfare range - Siachen goes through it. Apsarasas II, with a height of 7,239 meters, is the highest virgin peak in India and is the fifth tallest virgin peak in the world.

Religious influence on the area is of Tibetan Buddhism. The Buddhist monuments and monasteries decorated by the Tibetan arts and even their architectures are also similar to Tibetan architecture. This place is a dream for any motorcycle heads especially royal enfield fans. Climbing thousands of feet through one of world’s most challenging road leads you to a heaven on earth.

The beauty of this place can only be felt being there and one should definitely visit here once in the lifetime. Have you ever felt that after spending a good time in the mountains, when you are at peace with yourself, you find it difficult to adjust in the city life? The beauty of the mountains is that they give you inner peace and happiness. You are not compelled to join the rat race or lose yourself in the chaotic city life.

I feel envious of people who live in the beautiful mountains surrounded by the pure air and away from the life full of show off and competition. Ladakh for me is one such place where I found inner peace. When you just climb the mountains and sit for hours and do nothing, is when you know that you are truly happy and nothing matters more than the peace of mind.

Ladakh is the best destination for the person who wants to feel their inner peace. There you can also find the answers to your queries regarding Buddhism and teachings of Buddha.

Every year, the bikers flock from across the globe to experience the most dangerous and high altitude Himalayan Bike expeditions, starting from Delhi and Chandigarh to Ladakh. The Expeditions has many routes the most popular route is from Kullu Manali to Leh or Srinagar to Leh and some people do longer bike expeditions like from Delhi to Srinagar and from here to Leh, again continue the journey via Manali to Delhi or vice versa.

First week of July, this region of Himachal pradesh gets ready to greet the bikers with their smile and ready to give a warm welcome in their hotels, resorts, campsites and give you the taste of their local cuisine and culture. Also, the month of July - September also rainy season, so you enjoy the most beautiful climate and your driving will be very adventurous.

The attractions of Ladakh are Monasteries, there are a number of monasteries in Ladakh like Namgyal monastery, Alchi monastery, Lamayuru Monastery, Shey monasteries, and other sightseeing places include Zanskar valley, Pangong Lake, Leh Palace, Chadar Trek, Tso Moriri, and Hemis National Park.

Who don't like to see snow caped mountains and endless mountain ranges? There are very peaceful and remote villages like Stok Village (Visit Vipasyana Centre if your are visiting this village. It’s in a very very peaceful environment), Tarchit Village etc. Ladakh is famous for its high altitude mountain passes (Khardungla, Changla, Tanglangla etc.) and also high altitude lakes. Treks in ladakh region are difficult compared to other areas of Himalaya.

The Ladakh Festival takes place from 17 to 27 September every year. It is a spectacle of a show and a must visit! This cold Indian desert is safe on the list of many travelers and truly lives up to its expectations. With its numerous mountain passes, sparkling lakes with crystal clear water surrounded by mighty snow-capped mountains, it is simply magical. This place is a must to visit in summers and post-monsoons as the roads are clear for travel unlike winters.

Trip to Leh and Ladakh

Here are top places to visit in Ladakh:

1. Khardung La Pass

Claimed as the highest motorable road in the world, this pass is a gateway to the Nubra and Shyok Valley. This pass is most famous among bike trips to Ladakh. The adventurous road is full of thrills and surprises. This height of the pass is 17,580 feet above from sea level. The most picturesque journey can be experienced on this road.

2. Shanti Stupa

Located on a hilltop in Chanspa, the Buddhist white-domed Shanti Stupa is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Leh. Besides its religious significance, the Shanti Stupa is mostly popular because of the scenic view that it provides of the city and the village of Changspa against the backdrop of the surrounding mountains. The best time to visit the Stupa is during Sunrise and Sunset.

3. Thiksey Monastery

Thiksey gompa is considered to be the largest gompa in central Ladakh. It is 19 kilometres away from the city. The entrancing fact about Thiksey is that it holds the most massive statue of the Maitreya Buddha in Ladakh within its buildings. The walls of the monastery are painted in yellow, red, white and black that makes it look similar to that of Lamayuru, a monastery on the way from Kargil to Leh.

You must visit this Monastery if you are in Leh. This is one of the most beautiful places with the feel of serenity in Ladakh. This is situated at an altitude of 11,800 ft. There are the things which make it special. Those are like it is a 12 story building that looks like Potala Palace in Tibet and has large collections of books, journals, scriptures related to Buddhism.

4. Leh Palace

The beautiful example of the architecture set by old Ladakhi kings. This palace also has a resemblance to Tibetan architecture. The Leh Palace also looks like a miniature sculpture of Potala Palace in Lhasa. Never miss the place as it is worth visiting.

5. Zanskar Valley

This valley is known for its surroundings and the white water river - Zanskar River. The activities you can do here are trekking, water rafting and many more. According to the weather and months looks of valley change. In the middle of winter, the Zanskar River offers an accessible path that allows this isolation to end for a while.

Because of the cold, the waters are frozen building an avenue of ice in the center of the mountains. The tumultuous Zanskar then becomes chadar, the ice river.

6. Nubra Valley

Looking over the beautiful Warila Pass, nestled in the midst of Nubra Valley, is a cradle of heaven, a little slice of paradise waiting to be experienced. Stay in a small, yet loving, stone and wood home that is surrounded by orchards of elm, apricot and apple. Find yourself surrounded by lush greenery, bright blue snow-capped mountains, and dollops of ice and snow.

Picture snow-topped landscapes and gorgeous monasteries, set in a culture that embodies ecological sustainability. For an unforgettable experience against the striking backdrop of the jagged Himalayas, head to the Nubra valley. Sip chai, have an open-air picnic, and even enjoy a polo match! Visit Dikshit monastery that overlooks the entire Nubra valley.

For the most scenic ride of your life, drive to Nubra Valley known as the valley of flowers and the warmest region in Ladakh via Khardung la pass. It is an isolated place but the most famous tourist destination in Ladakh. The convergence of the Shyok and Siachen river makes it special. It is part of the ancient trade route between India and China. The activities you can do here are photography and camping. Enjoy camel safari in the evening.

Take a stroll around the place to see the lifestyle of people living in the northernmost region of India as you visit villages and monasteries in Diskit and Hunder. The road after Diskit reminds the lost times on the Silk Road, when you see Bactrian camel in the dunes. Turtuk village is only ten kilometers from the border with Pakistan.

Known as the ancient Baltistan, the place was under Pakistani control until 1971 along with Dhothang, Tyakshi and Chalunka.

7. Hunder Desert

You could visit the Hunder sand dunes, they look completely out of place in Ladakh’s frigid, snow covered mountains, yet looked so magical and beautiful. See the double humped bactarian camels native to Nubra valley, glid across gracefully across the dunes.

The Himalayan desert, known as the white desert because of white sand? Here you can enjoy the Bactrian double-humped camel ride. This place is part of the Nubra valley and also of the most famous Silk Trade Route. The vies of this desert gives the feeling of moorland.

8. Magnetic Hill

It is also called anti-gravitational hill. The strange geomagnetic property makes it special. Here you will see that without ignition vehicle starts rolling. It is a different kind of natural wonder which you can experience during your trip. The slopes near the area create an optical illusion of an uphill road which is actually a downhill road.

Objects and cars on the hill road may appear to roll uphill in defiance of gravity when they are, in fact, rolling downhill.

9. Spituk Monastery

The 11th-century old monastery situated at Leh. Statute of Goddess Kali is the main specialty of its. It works as the residence and the spiritual place where 100 monks practice Buddhism.

10. Hemis Monastery

This is the largest monastery in Ladakh, the 300-year-old Hemis monastery is a delight in itself, not only because of its architecture and the annual Hemis festival but also because of its surroundings. The monastery shares its boundary with the Hemis National Park surrounded by yellow mustard fields and a Tibetan restaurant right outside it. Hemis Monastery is a place you should never miss.

Hemis is one of the largest monasteries in the region and dates from the middle of the 17th century. The Hemis Gompa spellbinds the visitors by its ambiance. The marvelous views of surroundings makes it beautiful and worth visiting place during the Leh-Ladakh tour. There is a shop and a museum where you can buy and see the Tibetan handicrafts items.

Hemis National Park is one of the best places to visit in Ladakh it is located at an elevation of 3000 m above sea level. There are snow leopard and other varieties of fauna. The region is surrounded by the Indus river that adds up to the beauty of the place. One can spot a Tibetan wolf and brown bear. The best time to visit Hemis National Park is May to early October, also there is Hemis festival conducted in Hemis monastery.

11. Hall of Fame

It is a tribute to the brave soldiers and officers of the Indian Army who lost their lives to protect the Motherland India. Actually, it is the museum where you will be amazed by seeing the seized weapons, tents, arms of the Pakistani Army which were captured by our army after winning the war. Also, this monument showcases Ladakh’s old history and culture.

12. Pangong Lake

Head to Pangong. This is going to be a long day of driving alongside the Shyok river. The most famous lake where the shooting of movie 3 idiots was done. This lake is 135 KM long and divided between India and China. Crystal clear blue water is the main specialty. There are several campsites in Pangong where you can enjoy the stay. Once you first see Pangong, don’t stop over there.

Chang-pa, a nomadic herd of Tibet and south-east Ladakh, mainly inhabits the region adjoining the lake. The Pangong Chnag-pa cultivates barley and peas in summer while during the winter they take their sheep and goats for distant pastures. The lake is mostly surrounded by snow-peaked mountains.

Earlier, the lake had an outlet into Shyok River, a tributary of the Indus River in the west, but it was blocked by natural dam. Two streams feed the lake from the Indian side and form marshes and wetlands at the edges. Geological evidence suggests that the lake has shrunken in recent times. One can spot ducks and gulls in the area. Various types of migratory birds breed around the Pangong Lake.

Siberian cranes, Ruddy Shelduck, Black-necked Crane, Bar-headed goose and Brahmini ducks are also spotted here. Among the animal life, one can easily find Kiang, Asiatic Wild Ass, Blue Ship and Himalayan marmot here. Among other animals, Tibetan antelope, Tibetan Argil, Wild Yak and Ladakh urial are more elusive.

Ride from Pangong Tso to Marsimik-La has one of the best views of Himalayan region. To reach Marsimik-La, you need to get permission from DC office of Leh. Pangong Tso is a giant lake. Here you can enjoy boating. Not only this, but you can also capture every moment of changing weather and natural views in your camera. It is a good place for photography enthusiasts.

13. Tso Moriri Lake

Another famous lake in Ladakh, it is a mountain lake and a part of the Ladakh wildlife conservation area where you can witness various wild animals like Tibetan wild donkey. Located at the altitude of 4522 meters, Tso Moriri Lake is the largest high altitude lake. The snow covered mountains and the barren hills in the backdrop of the lake make the entire region very picturesque.

As compared to the Pangong Tso Lake, Tso Moriri Lake attracts much lesser crowd, making it perfect for those like me who love to enjoy the beauty of the lake in some solitude. One can reach Tso Moriri directly from Pangong Tso via Changtang region. Besides having good roads, this route offers one of the most beautiful drives in Ladakh.

14. Stok Palace

The monastery founded by Lama Lhawang Lotus in the 14th century and has the library which contains the 108 volumes of the Buddhist scripture known as Kangyur. It is 15 km away from Leh in the south.

15. Alchi Monastery

This monastery built between the 9th to 10th centuries. The mural paintings inside which showcase the ancient lives of Buddhists and Hindus of the 10th century.

16. Dras

Drass is the second coldest place in the world that has inhabitants. It is located at 3,230 meters above sea level and is0about 60 km from Kargil. It is a small town in the middle of the valley and the path to Ladakh from here is easy as the Zojila pass passes through the place. Tourists enjoy trekking and the Suru Valley is the most famous for that.

You’d better pack your woollens for this one. The tiny village of Dras tucked away in Ladakh is the coldest inhabited place in India and the second coldest in the world. Surrounded by mountains on four sides, this little mountain hamlet looks like a terrarium bowl. With meadows, rivers, and quaint houses, watch this village take on the dazzling colours of summer.

17. Hanle

Spend some time by the pristine Pangong Tso and then head towards Hanle. This is also going to be a long day of driving on non-existent roads for a good 5 hours. Since Hanle is a litte offbeat, you won’t come across many vehicles on this path.

Sometimes you are the only one driving for 3 hours without a single vehicle in sight. You can visit the sky observatory which also happens to be India’s remotest observatory. Hanle has the highest number of clear skies in a year, in India. Hence, the reason for setting up a sky observatory there. You can’t visit the inside of the sky observatory at night. It closes at 5 pm. Though you could always go outside to do some night photography.

17. Ladakhi Market

The market is famous for Handicrafts, artifacts, silver jewelry, Shawls, woolens, Kashmiri carpets. There are all kinds of items from antiques to pocket-friendly. Also, there are some popular shopping streets from where the tourists purchase stuff like Main bazar, Ladakh art palace, Ladag apricot store, and Moti market.

18. Donkey Sanctuary

Donkey Sanctuary is the unique type of sanctuary in the region. In this Sanctuary the donkeys who are homeless are provided home and conditioned. This is a different concept, one should definitely visit this place to know about the place more and to know more about the Ladakhi culture.

19. Kargil

Kargil is a city that can not be easily forgotten. Even today, the mention of Kargil shivers the thorns of all the Indians who lived during the war. This city is a must visit because it occupies a special place in the feelings of every Indian citizen. This is one of Kashmir's tourist sites because of the multitude of emotions it has to offer.

For many, this city revives old memories and makes them proud of their Indian nationality. In Kargil, mountaineering or trekking can be done in the nearby Suru Valley. Other places of interest are Mulbekh Gompa, Shergol, Wakha Rgyal.

Ideal for: culture-vulture, adventure enthusiasts

Things to do: sightseeing, bike tours, visit to the monastery, wildlife observation

What to visit: Ladakh Festival Tour, Walk around Pangong Lake which rightly means long lake, narrow and enchanted in Tibetan, play with snow at Changla Pass and seek blessings in Thiksey Monastery

All these places of Ladakh are worth visiting places that you never want to miss out on. So stay blessed and keep traveling.
Kalyan Panja