Located in the State of Jammu and Kashmir Leh is one among the coldest deserts in the world. The place provides once in a lifetime experience with its pristine beauty of snow-capped mountains. Leh is a favorite travel spot for trekking and mountaineering enthusiasts. The place with rugged terrains, majestic mountains, monasteries, lakes, and valleys is surely a dream destination. It is culturally rich and provides an enjoyable experience for shopping enthusiasts too with local artworks, handlooms, souvenir etc.
History and Culture:
The region has a unique history, culture, and heritage. Surrounded by Tibet, China and Pakistan the cultural ethos reflect those of many surrounding regions. Ladakh has been a center for trade and commerce. History tells us that the Portuguese(1631) Francisco de Azevedo and John de Oliveira were the first ones to gain a stronghold in Ladakh. Subsequently, British of the East India Company (1820) William Moorcroft and George Feedback visited Ladakh in search of horses and stayed for 2 years. They were the first ones to write about the religion, history, culture, clothing, and life in general.
How to Reach?:
Can reach by road, air or train. It is well connected to all major cities of India.
By Air: Kushok Baluka Rimpochee Airport, Leh is well connected to Srinagar in J &K and to many other Indian cities.
By Road: Two main highways (Manali- Leh) and ( Srinagar- Leh). The first Manali- Leh highway is open between June- October and the second Srinagar- Leh is open from July- November. These highways cover a distance of 473 km and 434km respectively. By bus, the journey is very tedious with a journey time of 3 – 4 days.
By rail: The closest station is Jammu Tawi which is 708 km away. Travelers can take a taxi/bus – journey time – approximately 15 hours.
Indian nationals do not need any special permits. Travelers should carry a valid photo id-proof like Aadhaar, PAN card, Driving License, Passport. For all foreign nationals, a permit is required. Foreign nationals need to apply for ‘Protected Area Permits’ [PAP]- Application form to be submitted to the Deputy Commissioner of Leh as this place is a highly sensitive and protected. Passports are accepted as proof of identity.
Time to Visit :
Through the year, the region experiences 3 seasons – ie. – Summer (April to July), Monsoon (July to September) and Winter (October to March). Summer and Monsoon are ideal to visit with temperatures ranging between 15*C to 30*C and 3*C and 17*C respectively. Winter besides having an extreme cold also results in a lot of road closures due to heavy snowfall.
Accommodation and Food:
This region has a lot of stay inns and family-run establishments. The two most popular hotels are Charu Palace and Grand Dragon. Most famous deluxe hotels are ‘Spik and Span’, Dreamland, Hotel Asia. Some of the classic homestay places are Gangba Homestay, Ladakh View Homestay etc. All in all, accommodation to suit different budgets is very much available in plenty. However, it is better to reserve before reaching Leh.
Though all types of food are available, must tries of local food include – Yak Cheese, Momos, Thupka (Soup), Butter Tea, Qahwa (a drink containing saffron and cinnamon to keep the body warm), Kulcha. Local population consumes mostly non-vegetarian food.
A lot of buses and private vehicles are available for intracity transportation and other major places. However, due to ever-changing weather conditions, the services may not be regular. No private cars are allowed inside Leh Ladakh, but there is a separate taxi owners association which services all travelers with warmth and hospitality.
Things To Do:
- Jeep safari– Fun filled and thrilled safari to know about the place.
- Cycling– Sure to provide a unique experience to travelers with its expansive unpolluted atmosphere with different terrains.
- Motor Biking – Can hire bikes and go on a long ride for an exotic experience.
- Participate in local Festivities – Prominent local festivals include Hemis, Losar and Ladakh.
- Shopping– Variety of items ranging from jewelry, organic products, semi-precious stones, handicrafts, Pashima shawls, Prayer wheels, and
- Mountaineering and Trekking– Perfect place for adventurists to undertake mountaineering and trekking activities.
- Camel safari– A unique way of traversing the rocky plains of Leh on humped camel backs!.
- Manali– Leh bike trip– Bike riders are sure to love these trips which are mostly organized in the months of June- September – either individual or group.
- Leh – Ladakh tour package– Well organized local sightseeing the tour to visit important places – Sham valley with Alchi on the banks of Indus river, Gurudwara Pathar Sahab, Lamayuru Monastery, Khardung La pass – one of the highest motorable roads in the world, Thiksey Monastery. Travelers can soak in the local culture and tradition.