Destinations of India
Things To Do
Ladakh - The Cradle of Buddhism, the land of jagged peaks and barren landscape is alluring and awe-inspiring. Hidden behind this harsh and forbidding façade is an ancient civilization and captivating people of Ladakh. Beyond the old frontiers lies the land of wilderness with its unaltered character and overwhelming natural beauty beckoning the more intense and adventurous of travelers. This awesome wildness and magic belongs to that great land of towering mountains and Buddhist simplicity-Ladakh. The major tourist places in Ladakh India are Leh, Kargil, Nubra Valley, Pangong, Lamayuru Monastery, Tso Moriri Lake.
Leh - The Capital City
Location: The capital of the Ladakh district, Leh is towards the eastern parts of Jammu and Kashmir. It is perched at a height of 3,505 m above sea level. The region is watered by the Zanskar River, which flows into the Indus River just below. The Stok mountain range lies just south of Leh, while towards the north one can find the snow-capped Ladakh range.
Tourist Destinations: A miniature version of the Potala in Lhasa, the Leh Palace is one of the major attractions here. Above the palace, at the top of the Namgyal hill, is the Victory Tower, built to commemorate Ladakh's victory over the Balti Kashmir armies in the early 16th century. The Namgyal Tsemo Gompa, built in 1430, contains a three-story high Buddha image and ancient manuscripts and frescoes. The fort above this gompa is ruined, but the view of Leh from here are breathtakingly beautiful. The Shanti Stupa was built by a Japanese order and was opened by the Dalai Lama in 1985.
Kargil - The Apricot City
Location: The city trade and transit center of the Pan-Asian trade network is situated at an altitude as high as 2,704 m. The wonderful valley with its amazing apricots is a dream destination. Kargil is the second largest urban center of Ladakh and also the gateway for caravans of silk, brocade, carpets, felts, tea, poppy, ivory et al to China, Tibet, Yarkand and Kashmir in the past.
Tourist Destinations: Kargil offers excellent opportunities for adventure tourism and trekking tours. You may take up trekking, mountaineering, camping, river rafting et al. The local market of Kargil offers a variety of products though the best souvenirs turn out to be dry apricots. At a distance of 45 kms is Mulbek. The banks of the Wakha River are worth visiting for its Buddhist monuments. On the highway Mulbek, Chamba, an ancient 9 m high rock sculpture of the future Buddha Maitreya is a major tourist attraction. Then comes the Wakha Rgyal in the Wakha Valley ahead of Mulbek. The cave monastery at the village of Shergol in the Wakha River valley happens to be a major tourist attraction. A little higher in the Zanskar range is the meditation retreat of Urgyan Dzong. There are two imambaras in Kargil namely, Trespone and Sankhoo which are major tourist attractions.
Nubra Valley - Pass Through Karakoram
Location: Once being a part of the trading route that connected eastern Tibet with Turkistan via the famous Karakoram Pass, The Nubra Valley is the most recently opened area of Ladakh. Nubra valley invites you to a trip back in time into a nearly forgotten 'Shangri La'.
Tourist Destinations: Diskit is the administrative center of the Nubra Valley. Diskit seems like a ghost town, an oasis of tranquility. An enjoyable day's walk brings one to Somoor, half way to Panamik. Army trucks are the only means of transportation in the valley. Tiger is only another three kms towards Panamik. It makes an easy afternoon stroll, inhaling the beauty and the calmness of the impressive, stimulating countryside. The 250 years old Ensa Gompa, nestled on top of a rock overlooking snow-peaked mountains across the valley is much further away than it looks. It takes at least a six-hour walk involving crossing of the river at Hargam. The hot springs on the outskirts of Panamik invite one for a literally sizzling bathing experience, which is probably the first contact with hot water since one leaves Leh.
Pangong - Blue Black Lake
Location: Situated at an altitude of 4,350 meters above sea level, Pangong Lake lies in the northeast of Leh. This famous blue blackish Pangong lake is 5-6 km wide and about 144 km long with half of it running to the other side of the Indo-China border.
Tourist Destinations: The 160-km trip to Pangong Lake from Leh is a unique experience of its own kind. The first halt on the way is Thiksey village famous for its huge monasteries covering an entire mountain ridge. Beyond this remote village, there is nothing except the extreme mountain ranges. The second halt is the Changla Pass (17,350 ft.), which could test ones lungs, for the lack of oxygen. At Darbuk village, near Tangste Valley, stands a chain of war memorials with regimental insignias in commemoration of the soldiers who lost their lives during the Indo-China war of 1962. Villagers can be seen here along with their large herds of Pashmina sheep and long-tailed yaks.
Lamayuru Monastery - Buddhist Meditation CentreLocation: Lamayuru Monastery is situated along the Leh Srinagar road in between Bodhkharbu and Kha-la-che on a steepy rock mountain. Even before the advent of Buddhism, it was a well established (Bon) shrine. The monastery has now attained popular attention due to Ladakh.
Tourist Destinations: It has old and new Lha-khangs and Buddhist meditation centre. In the eleventh century A.D., Naropa meditated here in a cave, whose identity is preserved in New Dukhang of the monastery. Rinchen-bzang-po established five Lha-Khangs and many chortens, some of which still exist in ruined conditions. Amongst other images, standing out is a statue of Avalokitesvara with eleven heads, one thousand hands, and an eye in the palm of each hand, principal hands in Varuda mudra. The monastery is also known by other names like Yung Drung, Yong-Drung-Thar-pa-lingo.
Tso Moriri Lake - The Lap of Mt. Mentok
Location: Tso Moriri lake is situated amidst the elevated district of Rupso. Its name is characteristic of its situation. Nestled in the midst of 20,000 feet high peaks which completely shut the lake, Tso Moriri Lake is a must visit place in India.
Tourist Destinations: The clear blue lake is one of the most breathtaking fresh water lakes in Ladakh. The locals consider the lake the sacred one. Beautiful peaks like Mt. Mentok and Mt. Kharlung on the right side and Mt. Kurchu and Mt. Lungser on the left side surround the Lake. The Lake is a breeding ground for numerous bird species like Bar Headed Goose (found in abundance here); Great Crested Grebe and the Brahmini duck.
How To Reach Ladakh
The nearest airport is Leh. There are flights from Delhi, Chandigarh and Srinagar to Leh. It is a two-day journey from Srinagar to Leh (434 kilometers) with an overnight halt at Kargil. The road is open from June to October. There is also a road from Manali to Leh via Keylong open from June-October. There is an extensive bus network to reach places around Leh. Jeep can also be hired on a per day basis for the same.
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