Fantastic Things to Do in Ladakh - Ladakh Itinerary
When it comes to travelling, India never fails to impress its visitors. Leh Ladakh is one such destination which can excite the traveller in you! Leh Ladakh is located in the Union Territory of Ladakh in north India. It is nestled between the Great Himalayas and Karakoram mountains, the tallest mountains in the world. Leh Ladakh undoubtedly tops the list of every Indian individual to wander around with friends (second only to the beaches of Goa), and it deserves the spot because it is simply unforgettable. I would like to introduce you to some fantastic things to do in Ladakh!
This blog will be posted with a Ladakh itinerary towards the end so you can plan your trip without the assistance of a travel agent.
Fantastic Things to Do In Ladakh
You can’t ignore any of the Ladakh attractions which we have mentioned below. These places are unrealistically beautiful and I can bet that your Ladakh trip would be one of the best trips ever!
1. Visit the famous Pangong Lake
Pangong Tso roughly translates to ‘high grassland lake.’ The highest saltwater lake in the world is indeed a sight to behold. At a distance of 185 kilometres from Leh, this lake is so clear that the pebbles at the bottom are visible. What’s more incredible is that the lake seems to change colour every half an hour or so, appearing to be bright blue, teal, green, or even shades of red at times. Camping at the bank of the lake for a night is an excellent experience, although chilly. A bonfire will make it perfect. For all the Bollywood lovers out there, Pangong Lake is also the place where the last scene of the popular Bollywood movie 3 Idiots was shot; thus, you can spot cute yellow scooters placed near the lake for your little photoshoot!
Fun Tip: Try to stop your vehicle on your way from Leh to Pangong at a meadow to spot Himalayan marmots. You can find hundreds of those beaver-like animals running in and out of burrows.
2. Understanding the mechanics of Alchi Dam, the highest dam on the planet
The Alchi Dam was built in 2006, and believe it or not, the most amazing thing about Alchi Dam is not the fact that it is the highest located dam in the world but that with a permit given by India’s Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) after checking your IDs at the entrance, you can explore the inside of that dam, accompanied by a guide who explains about this marvelous creation, and it’s functioning.
This is extremely rare, considering that you are not allowed within a 1-kilometre radius of the dams in other Indian cities like Mumbai, or any major city that I know of. If you go in the afternoon, you may be lucky enough to see a full circle rainbow (aka Glory) too, which is formed by the dam’s water sprinkling over the whole area as droplets, allowing sunlight to pass through it, when the water is released. There is a popular monastery by the same name of Alchi, however, that’s for you to explore on your Ladakh Tour!
3. Enjoy the snow at Khardung La Pass
One of the most memorable things to do in Ladakh is to visit the World’s Second-Highest Motorable Road at 5602 meters (18380 feet) above sea level (an addition to the long list of highest things ☺.) This road lies on the Silk Route, the trade route from the Indian subcontinent to the Middle East via which shawls, saffron, opium, tobacco, and silk were transported. It is now used to carry supplies to the Siachen Glaciers. During World War II, there was an attempt to transfer war material to China through this route.
The drive through the snow-capped mountains is life-altering. When you reach up there, you can have a snowball fight, and if lady Fortune is in your favour, experience snowfall. Don’t forget to buy a delicious plate of momos from the Army’s canteen present at the top.
Note: Khardung La Pass remains closed from mid-September till mid-May, so plan your trip accordingly!
4. Explore the Hemis Monastery
Ladakh or in fact, the Himalayan mountains are popular for their incredible monasteries. Out of the several monasteries that Ladakh has to offer, Hemis is the most impressive. Built before the 11th century, this monastery, due to its hidden location behind the mountains, is the only one that has never been plundered, making it the wealthiest monastery in India. The near life-sized murals of fierce deities on walls, elegant composite pillars, metal sculptures, and protruding balconies are admirable. A room whose walls depict the life of Buddha painted in chronological order shouldn’t be missed.
Other monasteries that you might want to visit are Lamayuru Monastery (oldest in Ladakh) and Thiksey Monastery (largest).
5. River Raft at the Confluence of Indus and Zanskar River:
Who could imagine that you could possibly enjoy a watersport at one of the highest points of India? At the confluence, the mixture of the bluish Zanskar with the greenish Indus creates an enchanting landscape. One of the many things to do in Ladakh is to set out on a river rafting adventure in the Confluence from the Alchi Monastery. Rafting route here is one of the roughest in India. The cost is about 1500 INR per person. It would be advisable to take the shorter rafting route as it is safer. Just make sure the weather conditions are decent to avoid mishaps.
Other tourist attractions nearby are the Hall of Fame(museum/ war memorial with weapons, history exhibits and souvenir shop run by the Indian Army), Guru Pathar Sahib Gurudwara (pilgrim spot) and the Magnetic Hill (which creates an optical illusion of objects rolling uphill when they are in fact rolling downhill).
6. Enjoy the company of Ladakh’s unique fauna:
Besides being a kaleidoscope of colorful landscape and captivating monasteries, Ladakh is home to an impressive variety of animals. From spotting Himalayan marmots to being spellbound looking at the wild horses running on grasslands, looking out for animals is one of the interesting things to do in Ladakh, which makes the place all the more picturesque. You can visit the Nubra Valley to hitch a ride on a Bactrian Camel (double-humped camel) and get to pet a yak near Pangong.
Spoiler Alert: I will be discussing how I attempted to plant a mango tree in Ladakh in my next post. Stay Tuned!
Weather in Ladakh
The weather in Ladakh is quite harsh. It has an average annual temperature of 5.2 degrees Celsius, with the hottest month being July and the coldest January, when the temperature is around -9 degrees Celsius and the annual rainfall of 103 mm. October is the driest month with 3 mm of rainfall and August is the wettest with 16 mm. Make sure to pack ample of woolen clothes and other winterwear, since this is going to be chillier than your idle Swiss Holiday!
7-Day Ladakh Itinerary
This is a perfect itinerary to explore everything in the charming terrains of Ladakh. Your itinerary will look something like this:
Day 1: Arrive into ladakh
This will be your first day. Ladakh is notoriously known for lack of Oxygen Supply due to high altitude. Let your lungs adapt to the climate and do not indulge in any strenuous activities. So all I can advise you to do is to rest!
Day 2: Proceed to Nubra Valley via Khardung La Pass
Nubra Valley is one of the most picturesque regions in India. Let Ladakh welcome you with one of its gems. A drive or a camel ride via Khardung La Pass cannot make it better!
Day 3: Spend the evenings at one of the markets
Your Ladakh Trip is incomplete without purchasing any souvenirs. Explore the markets at your own pace. We recommend you to visit the Tibetan Market for some amazing Buddhist themed wares.
Day 4: River Rafting
Spend your fourth-day river rafting on the confluence of Indus and Zanskar Rivers. It is a mesmerising experience. Spend the rest of your day visiting Guru Pathat Sahib Gurudwara, Magnetic Hill and Ladakh Hall of Fame.
Day 5: Pangong Lake
You cannot miss Pangong Lake. You must dedicate one full day for this natural marvel! Have packed lunch, photograph nature, and have a quick bite at the army cafeteria. During winters, you can also try ice hockey and ice skating.
Day 6: Visit some of the best Buddhist monasteries in India
Ladakh is known for some of the best Buddhist Monasteries in India, with breathtaking views and a culture of inner peace. I recommend you to visit, Hemis Monastery, Thiskey Monastery and Shanti Stupa.
Day 7: Alchi Village
Admire the rich and unique Ladakhi culture at Alchi Village. You can buy some more souvenirs. Then, head over to Alchi Dam, about which we have already praised above. End your day at the Alchi Monastery.