Ladakh, one of the most sparsely populated regions of Kashmir, lies between the Kunlun mountain range to the north and the Great Himalayas to the south. Wide open spaces; no sound but the hum of your ears, the distant gushing of the river, the wind carrying the sound of a chime from a nearby monastery; Ladakh is a place straight out of your dreams.
Tourism in Ladakh started in the 19th century. About 18,000 tourists visit Ladakh every year. Bounded by two mighty mountain ranges, it is an ideal spot to break free from the mundane of life. The well-preserved Tibetan-Buddhist culture makes it even more attractive.
Hemis Monastery: The abode of the Lamas
Across the Indus River lies Ladakh’s largest and richest Gompa, 48 kms away from Leh. This was founded in 1630 by the first incarnation Stagsang Raspa Nawang Gyatso. The Hemis Gompa is a huge and spectacular building where 150 Lamas reside all year round.
Thiksey Monastery: Beauty personified
Belonging to the Gelukpa Order of Buddhism, Thiksey Monastery is one of the most beautiful monasteries in Central Ladakh. This Gompa is a twelve storey building with 10 temples and a nunnery.
Stok Palace Museum: A royal treat
The presidential palace of King Singe Namgyal, Stok palace was constructed in 1825 AD by King Tsespal Tondup Namgyal. Managing a spectacular strike between traditional and contemporary architecture, this palace is also famous for the beautiful gardens and for a mesmerizing view of sun-rise and the sun’s set. At present, the palace is open for tourists and presents a collection of royal attires, crown and other royal materials.
Uleytokpo: Adventure camping
Uleytokpo is famous for its apricot orchards. Camping on the banks of the river Indus in the apricot orchards is a ‘dream come true’ experience. The Ridzong monastery is located in a hidden valley which also contains a nunnery. Likir, a famous Monastery, built during the reign of Lachen Gyalpo was converted to the Gelugpa sect in the 15th century. The head Lama, the younger brother of the Dalai Lama, has his apartments here.
Pangong Lake: Mesmerizing view
A drive to Pangong Lake through Changla pass (5486 meters) is a treat for the eyes, providing a panoramic view of the villages below the pass. This famous blue brackish Lake of Pangong is 5-6 kms wide and over 144 kms long with half of it running the other side of the Indo China Border. One feels completely enwrapped in nature at the Lake and the breath-taking scenery.
Shopping: Souvenirs for your family
Shopping in Leh can be a fascinating experience if you wish to take home souvenirs and curios from this enchanting land. Exquisite items even from across the border like Burma and Afghanistan are a common site in Ladakh. A range of beautiful carpets and rugs with traditional Kashmiri and Persian motifs are a must buy. Jewellery made from rubies of Burma and semi-precious stones, the native Thangka paintings, and the Lapis Lazuli from Afghanistan are a feast for the eyes. Tibetan metal show pieces are also a must see.
Other places worth checking out are the Ladakh Art Palace, Lhasa Embroidery and the Government Emporiums in the main shopping area. Tibetan Refugee Market on Old Leh Road is another ideal place for shopping in Leh.
Dotted with quaint hamlets around the Indus River and fascinating gompas perched on soaring hilltops, Ladakh mesmerizes you with its untouched surreal landscape, Buddhist heritage, scenic hamlets and occasional cultural festivals.
Well, with the Himalayas too its south, has to be a place set in heaven. Explore Majestic Ladakh with SOTC’s Ladakh tour packages.