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Nestled amidst the rugged valley, daunting Himalayas Hills is Ladakh a sparsely populated traveling destination of North India. Shrouded with an aura of mysticism this Ex Buddhist Kingdom has become a dream destination for many travelers. It is endowed with surreal beauty, and dotted with ancient monasteries which still hold the remnant of that glorious era. Ladakh is a hilly region destination which is blessed with unique flora and fauna. Showcasing a fine blend of Indian and Tibetan lineage Ladakh is a place which is worth visiting. Popular for being summer and winter holiday destination in India, Ladakh with its surreal beauty, rustic style and unhindered view of mountainous Himalayan valley attracts honeymooner from far and wide. There are many places to visit in Ladakh. The old monasteries and beautiful mountain pass are the famous tourist attraction of Ladakh. Offering a vast range of adventure activities like trekking, mountain biking, river rafting and mountaineering, Ladakh has emerged as an adventurer’s hub of India.
Overlooking the largest town of Ladakh is the Leh Palace. Built in 17th century under the commandment of King Sengge Namgyal, Leh Palace is a former Royal Palace of Leh Kingdom. Leh Palace also known as “Lhachen Palkhar” with its nine storey structure is one of the tallest building to be built in that era. This historic palace is one of the famous tourist attractions of Ladakh. It is known for offering a commanding view of Leh with the backdrop of Ladakh mountain ranges and Stok Kangri. Leh Palace is said to be the smaller version of Potala Palace in Lhasa. Although most of the structure has been destroyed but still Leh Palace has the charisma and regal essence which makes it one of the must visit places in Ladakh.
Pangong Lake also known as Pangong Tso is a scenic endorheic lake located at a distance of 160 km from Leh of Ladakh. At an altitude of 4350mt, this aquamarine colored lake with the backdrop of rolling mountain range has captivated the mind of many travelers. Pangong Lake is one of the prime tourist attractions of Ladakh. The name of this serene lake is derived from a Tibetan word “Banggong Co” which means a narrow and enchanted lake. The beauty of Pangong Lake cannot be described in words but can only be experienced. Being close to indo-tibet border, boating is not allowed in Pangong Lake but tourist can camp along the shoreline of this pictorial lake. During summer season migratory birds like Bar-headed goose and Brahmini duck can be spotted flocking around the lake. The best time to visit Pangong Lake is from May to September since winters are harsh in this region.
Magnetic Hill also known as Gravity Hill is a small stretch of road located on the Srinagar-Leh highway. Magnetic Hill of Ladakh is known of its mysterious phenomenon where vehicle are pulled up towards its steep slope with the ignition of the vehicle off. Located at a distance of 30km from Leh, a bright yellow board marks the starting of this mysterious hill. Some say the phenomenon occurs due to strong gravitational pull hence the name Gravity Hill but according to geologist the mystery behind this phenomenon is simple optical illusion which is created by the specific layout of hills that obstruct the horizon. Here short stretch of the road that appears to be uphill as a matter of fact is downhill and this is the reason why cars slowly gain momentum. Magnetic Hill is a must visit destination in Ladakh to experience the optical illusion created by nature itself.
Tso Moriri located at a distance of 250km from Leh Ladakh is a natural lake sprawled beneath the foothills of snow clad mountains. Enclosed by purple mountains, Tso Moriri of Ladakh is situated at an altitude of 4500mt. Unlike Pangong Lake, Tso Moriri is a fresh water lake fed by melting snow. The journey toward Tso Moriri is filled with pictorial view of changing landscape which range from rugged barren land to the lush rolling fields of barley. The surreal beauty and high altitude of Tso Moriri has left travelers simply awe-stricken and breathless. The view of snow capped mountains looming over the emerald blue color Tso Moriri has made it a must visit destination of Ladakh.
Alchi Monastery also known as Alchi Gumba is a Buddhist Monastery in Alchi Village of Leh Ladakh. It is a Buddhist monastery located at a distance of 70 km from Leh. Built in mid 12th century, Alchi Monastery unlike other monasteries of Ladakh is not situated on a hill top. Flanked along the river bank of Indus Alchi Monastery is famous for being the oldest Buddhist learning centre in Ladakh. The main assembly hall of this Buddhist complex is adorned with paintings which show the influence of Buddhist and Hindu kings of that era. The grandiose complex is preserved under the Archeological Survey of India. Alchi Monastery with its Kashmiri architecturing style has become a must visit destination of Ladakh. The serene hamlet of Alchi is one of the places where tourist can experience river rafting in Ladakh.
Kargil, flanked along the banks of Indus River is the second largest town of Ladakh. The distance between Kargil and Leh of Ladakh is 234km. At an altitude of 2676mt Kargil has emerged as the adventure hub of Ladakh. Tourist can enjoy adventure activities like trekking and mountaineering in Kargil. This scenic town of Ladakh occupies a significant place in the Indian war history attracting travelers from far and wide. One of the major tourist attractions of Kargil is Sani Monastery. Built in 1st century under the patronage of king Kanishka of the Kushan dynasty, Sani Monastery of Kargil is one of the oldest religious centres in Ladakh. Kargil with its historical influence and rugged beauty has attracted adventurer and tourist from far and wide.
Located in the Eastern Ladakh is Hemis National Park, the largest national park in South Asia. Home of more than 200 leopards, Hemis National Park of Ladakh was founded in 1981. It is the only habitat of Shapu or the Ladakhi Urial in India. Hemis National Park with its unique bio diversity has become a must visit destination for nature lovers and wilderness explorer visiting Ladakh. This ecologically thriving land is known for housing 73 species of birds which includes golden eagle, Lammergeier vulture and the Himalayan griffon vulture. Within the park visitors can find a 4centuries old Hemis Monastery which is famous for being the oldest monastery in Ladakh. Camping and trekking within the premises of Hemis National Park are some of the famous adventure activity. The sound of gurgling river stream and chirping of birds are the only noise which can be heard in the Hemis National Park.
Hemis National Park Entry fee: Rs 20 for Indians| Rs 200 for Foreign Nationals.
How to Reach Ladakh: During the month of May to October visitors can easily book a flight ticket for Ladakh. The closest airport from Ladakh is the Leh Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport. The airport in Leh connects Ladakh with major cities of India like Delhi, Jammu and Srinagar. The distance between Srinagar to Ladakh is 419km. If visitors are travelling through rail route the nearest railway station from Ladakh is located in Srinagar. Visitors can also opt for taking a state bus towards Ladakh since it is well connected to Srinagar and Jammu by road.
Best time to visit Ladakh: Untainted by the modernized society the best time to visit Ladakh to relish upon its surreal beauty is from May to October when the climate of Ladakh is soothing. During winter season traveling towards Ladakh is not recommended since the roads are covered beneath the thick blanket of snow.