Known as “The Land of High Passes,” Ladakh is a serene high altitude region in the Northern most part of India attracting visitors from all over the world. This is a short trip for those on a short timeline covering all the important places in Ladakh
A land of contrasts – Ladakh offers solitude and adventure, spirituality and ruggedness, making it a must visit destination for those seeking an unforgettable travel experience.
- Leh: The capital of the union territory of Ladakh, is known for its rugged beauty, monasteries, and Tibetan culture. Leh also has the only airport in Ladakh.
- Khardungla: At 5359 m Khardung La is famous as one of the world’s highest motorable passes, Khardungla connects the Indus river valley and the Shyok river valley as well as Nubra and Siachen glacier.
- Magnetic Hill: Popular as a gravity hill, It is actually a downhill road, but creates an optical illusion where vehicles appear to roll uphill, defying gravity, making it a fascinating feat.
- Pangong Lake: Spanning eastern Ladakh and West Tibet and situated at an elevation of 4,225 m (13,862 ft). The lake is a salt water lake but freezes during the winter. Its ever-changing shades of blue and stunning reflections attract visitors from across the world.
- Chang La: Another high mountain pass, at Chang La (5391 m) offers a challenging drive and panoramic views. It is often used to cross over from Pangong to Leh.
- Hemis: Home to the iconic Hemis Monastery, this area is famous for its annual Hemis Festival, which celebrates Tibetan Buddhism with masked dances and rituals.
- Thiksey: A picturesque monastery perched atop a hill, Thiksey offers panoramic views and a glimpse into the spiritual and cultural heritage of Ladakh.
|Day||Day Plan||Travel Time|
|Day 1||Leh arrival. Rest and acclimatize. Evening - tour of Leh Palace, Shanti Stupa and market||1-2 hrs|
|Day 2||Drive to Khardungla top. Visit Magnetic Hill, Gurudwarda, Hall of Fame, Sangam (if possible)||4-5 hrs|
|Day 3||Leh to Pangong Tso via Chang La Pass. Camping at Pangong.||4-5 hrs|
|Day 4||Pangong Tso to Leh. Visit Hemis, Thiksey monastery on the way back||5-6 hrs|
|Day 5||Airport drop||6-7 hrs|
Your trip includes:
Your trip excludes:
Here is the ultimate packing list for your Ladakh trip.
If you are travelling the in winter – please carry
As the majestic barren mountains welcome you and you feel the crisp, clean Himalayan wind on your face you know you have arrived in Ladakh. The first thing you do as you are flying - in, is head to your hotel, have a hearty breakfast, drink ample water and rest. Acclimatisation is key on the 1st day to ensure you have a good trip. After a good long nap, you are ready to explore the market and the very best of Leh town. Have lunch at your hotel or Leh market and head over to Shanti Stupa. A symbol of peace and harmony, Shanti Stupa's white dome stands tall at 3,609 metres above sea level. The stupa offers some jaw dropping panoramic views of Leh town. A lovely green in summer, the leaves of the trees in this trans- Himalayan region turn amber-brown in the autumn and disappear by winter.
Next we head to the 17th century Leh Palace. The Archaeological Survey of India is slowly restoring this 9 Storie palace and it is still a work in progress. Modelled on the Potala Palace in Lhasa Tibet, the Leh Palace offers unobstructed views of the Indus river, the Stok Kangri peak and the mighty Zanskar range beyond it. Stroll through the Leh market area in the evening. You can get everything from Pashmina shawls and winter wear to handcrafted prayer wheels and unique turquoise jewellery. Head back to the hotel to call it an early night.
Get ready for an unforgettable drive to Khardung La after breakfast. One of the world's highest motorable passes, Khardung-La is one of Ladakh's most popular destinations. The gateway to Nubra Valley and Siachen glacier, paved roads from Leh town to South Pullu checkpoint become gravel and dirt for the last 15 kms or so. Staying hydrated goes a long way as you reach dizzying heights from 3500 metres to over 5300 metres in just a couple of hours. Crisp mountain air greets you as you step out on top of the pass. Walk around for enchanting views of the valleys around Ladakh if you're lucky enough to be visiting on a clear day. Your visit to the top won't be longer than 20 minutes, as acute mountain sickness (AMS) could kick in owning to the altitude. Roads here are unpredictable and the weather and other elements can cause unprecedented delays, but you should be back in Leh in time for lunch. After a sumptuous lunch, we head to the confluence of the Indus and Zanskar rivers.
A drive of nearly 48 kilometres from Leh town would take you to the point where the rivers Indus and Zanskar meet. The muddy waters of the Zanskar merge with the turquoise blue water of the Indus to flow westwards. Just before the Sangam, get up close and personal with the super-charged famed magnetic hill. Pay close attention as your car climbs up without any thrust on a seemingly uphill tarmac. After visiting the confluence we head back to Leh with a pit stop at the Gurdwara Patthar Sahib. Legend has it that a demon who terrorised the area, pushed a boulder onto Guru Nanak who had come to help - leaving a hollow impression of a person on the stone and the Guru unscathed. Discovered in the 1970's while building a road, the boulder has now been placed in the gurdwara maintained by the Indian Army.
Stop by Ladakh's summer capital, Shey Palace on your way to Pangong Tso. Located on a hillock, Shey Palace and the Shey Monastery, seem unaffected by time since 1655 from afar. Upon closer look, the effects of time are clearly visible with the palace partly in ruins. The monastery's main attraction is this 12-metre tall statue of Shakyamuni Buddha that occupies three floors. This is the second largest statute of Buddha in the Ladakh region. Next we visit the Thiksey monastery. With fascinating art across the 12 storey complex, stupas, thangka paintings, statues and numerous artefacts make for a very interesting visit.
Moving ahead, we take a break and stop for a hot lunch at Karu before beginning the next leg of the journey to Pangong. Pass through charming hamlets and picturesque open stretches before the steep ascent to Chang La pass. A couple of kilometres down, you find green pastures with yaks and sheep grazing alongside the road besides small streams.
Pangong Tso is best known for being a part of the last scene Bollywood's blockbuster "Three Idiots". This beautiful 604-km2 lake is partly in India and partly in China. The lake at 4305 metres above sea level, is a spectacle to witness as the water changes several shades of blue throughout the day. The crystal clear water will have you mesmerised. Head over to Spangmik village as the sun slowly goes down and the chill sets in. A warm dinner and a cosy bed at your camp awaits you.
As the sun rises, watch the transparent waters turn blue. A hearty breakfast later, begin the long drive back to Leh.
Stop at Hemis Monastery. Perched on a hill, nestled between mountains, Hemis is better known as India's Shangri-La. Founded in 1672, Hemis monastery is said to have existed before the 11th century. Hemis was made famous by claims in the late 19th century by a Russian journalist, Nicolas Notovitch, that the library contained works on Jesus Christ's lost years (this was proven to be false). The Cham mask dance is performed is in June-July for 2 days at this monastery.
We stop for lunch at Karu on our way back to Leh. With stunning views of the mountains beyond with the contrast of green and purple against clear blue skies make for most of the serener on the drive from Hemis to Thiskey.
Head back to your hotel or visit the local markets for some last minute souvenir shopping once you're back in Leh. A hot dinner awaits you at the hotel.
Get ready to leave with a heavy heart as you board your flight back to the plains. Picturesque views and memories of Ladakh will keep fresh in your memory for the next few weeks.