Leh Ladakh – Land of high passes

Ladakh (“land of high passes”) is one such place which is on every traveler’s bucket list of places to visit at least once in a lifetime. With superabundance of attractions to visit and fabulous landscapes, amazing people and culture, Ladakh is truly a heaven on Earth. Bounded by two of the world’s mightiest mountain ranges, the Great Himalaya and the Karakoram, it lies athwart two other, the Ladakh range and the Zanskar range. It is said that only in Ladakh can a man sitting in the sun with his feet in the shade suffer from sunstroke and frostbite at the same time.

For those of us living in the constant confusion about the difference between these twin locations, Leh-Ladakh, Ladakh is the name of the region in Jammu and Kashmir state and Leh is the name of a district in Ladakh region.

Dotted with stupas and monasteries, Leh is dominated by a dagger of steep rocky ridge topped by an imposing Tibetan-style palace and fort. Here, gushing streams and narrow footpaths link traditionally styled Ladakhi homes and hotels that feature flat roofs, sturdy walls and ornate wooden window frames.

What to expect in Leh Ladakh?

(Things to carry, best time to visit and other useful information)

  • It generally takes at least 24 to 36 hrs time to acclimatise, specially if one is flying to Leh directly from plains area. At an altitude of 11,562 ft, expect less oxygen in the atmosphere which may result in dizziness, headaches and breathlessness. So spent first day indoors and avoid any exhaustive physical activity.
  • May end to September is good time to visit Leh. Snow starts to melt by mid of June so there might be some landslides and broken roads at this time. Weather is very dry and mostly cold here with harsh sunlight during the day and strong cold winds in the evening. Pangong lake and Khardungla pass (located at around 150 kms from Leh) observes lower temperatures even during summers.
  • Carry few medicines for headache, nausea, cold etc. Do carry some ghee or mustard oil for dry nose. Nose bleeding can occur due to harsh weather here.
  • Be prepared to face harsh sun rays. A good SPF sunscreen, UV protected sunglasses and a cap/hat are a great relief when roaming around during the day in Leh.
  • Body gets dehydrated easily so drink enough fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Always dress up in layers. One can experience extreme summers and winters kinda weather all during the same day.
  • Not much public transport is available in Leh. However one can rent bikes or hire taxis. Leh has a very small airport with just the basic amenities but it is located quite close to the city.
  • Only Airtel postpaid and BSNL network connection is available in Leh.


Recommended Itinerary for 5D 6N trip to Leh –

Day 1 (Arrival in Leh)

  • Take a morning flight and reach Leh by 10 am
  • Checkin to hotel
  • Spend the afternoon taking rest at hotel and give time to your body to acclimatise.
  • If one feels fine then proceed to sightseeing at Shanti Stupa in the evening located at around 6 kms from Leh main city area.
  • Hang out in the main Leh market after that. Take dinner and return to hotel.
  • Don’t engage in much physical activity as breathlessness and headache can be an issue on first day due to high altitude.

Day 2 (Sightseeing near Leh)

  • Start the day after comfortable breakfast by visiting to Hall of Fame located at a quick 25 mins drive from Leh. There is an entry ticket to the war museum of Rs. 100 per adult.
  • Then visit Sangam – confluence of Zanskar and Indus River. One can indulge in river rafting here.
  • On the way back from Sangam, make a quick stop at Magnetic Hill and enjoy the gravity defying illusion.
  • Then there is Gurudwara Patthar Sahib, where one must stop to get some blessings and mouth watering prasad.
  • Return to hotel by 4 pm and freshen up for the evening.
  • Visit Moti Market located near the main Leh market and enjoy a quick coffee followed by dinner in the market.

Day 3 (Leh to Nubra Valley Via Khardungla Pass: 140 km/ 5 -6 hours)

  • After breakfast, proceed to Nubra Valley via Khardungla Pass, the World’s Highest Motorable road (5602 Mts).
  • On the way to Nubra, make a stop at Diskit Monastery located at a hilltop.
  • Arrive at Nubra Valley and proceed for check-in at the Swiss camps.
  • In the evening go out for sightseeing of Hunder sand dunes, where one can go for ride on double humped camels.

Day 4 (Nubra – Pangong via Shayok Valley: 165 km 6-7 Hrs)

  • Leave early in the morning to the most scenic place in Ladakh region – Pangong lake.
  • On the way make a stop at Shayok valley. One can opt for AV ride at the sand dunes in the valley.
  • By early evening reach Pangong lake, the world’s highest saltwater lake and make a stop at the famous shooting point where the iconic movie 3 Idiots climax scene was shot.
  • After witnessing the changing colors of the Pangong Tso lake in sunlight, proceed to checkin in the camps by the river side. It may get really chilly here late evening with strong winds gushing through.
  • Spend the night under the stars with no mobile signals, limited electricity source, enjoying nature’s true wilderness.

Day 5 (Leh Calling: 150 Km 5-6 Hrs)

  • In the morning, drive back to Leh via Chang La Pass, the second highest motorable road that lies at the height of 5486 meters. Play in the snow covered mountain peaks.

  • Approaching Leh, optionally visit Druk White Lotus school only if you are a hard core Bollywood 3 Idiots movie fan. Nothing much to see here.
  • Then visit Hemis and Thiksey monastry which are beautifully located and represents Tibetan culture of Ladakh.
  • Spend the night at hotel in Leh.

Day 6 (Departure from Leh)

  • Since most of the flights depart in the morning from Leh, prepare to checkout from hotel for Leh airport.

I will share my detailed itinerary of the trip I took to Leh Ladakh in the first week of this June along with few more pictures that I clicked in my next post. Post in the comments below and share if you like the post.