Known as “The Land of High Passes,” is a breathtaking terrain, with a one of a kind combination of Indian and Tibetan cultures. This makes Ladakh a unique and intriguing destination for travelers seeking natural beauty and cultural richness.
- 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.
- Rancho School: A Buddhist cultural school located in Shey village rose to prominence after the climax scenes of 3 Idiots Bollywood movie were shot in the school.
- Hundar: Hundar is a village in the Leh district of Ladakh, India, famous for sand dunes and Bactrian camels. It is located in the Nubra tehsil, on the banks of the Shyok River. The Hunder Monastery is located here.
|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||Around Leh- Shey, Hemis, Thiksey, Rancho School||4-5 hrs|
|Day 3||Tour of Shaam valley - Hall of Fame, Magnetic Hill, Pathar Sahib, Sangam, Alchi monastery||4-5 hrs|
|Day 4||Leh to Nubra Valley, via Khardungla Pass. Visit Deskit monastery, Hundar sand dunes||4-5 hrs|
|Day 5||Nubra to Pangong Tso, via Shyok village. Spend the evening by the lake||6-7 hrs|
|Day 6||Pangong to Leh via Changla Pass||5-6 hrs|
|Day 7||Airport drop||1-2 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.
Begin your with a leisure breakfast before the 15-kilometre drive to Ladakh’s summer capital, Shey. 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 however, still maintained with the same vigour as it was before the Dogras invaded in 1842. With the second largest statute of Buddha in the Ladakh region, the monastery’s main attraction is this 12-metre tall statue of Shakyamuni Buddha that occupies three floors. A mere kilometre northeast is the now-famous Druk White Lotus School also known as the Rancho School. Renowned across India thanks to the Bollywood blockbuster 'Three Idiots'.
Drive on to Thiksey monastery, about 4 kilometres away. One of Leh’s largest monasteries, there is a separate residential building for nuns as well. With fascinating wall paintings throughout the 12-storey complex, stupas, thangka paintings, statues and numerous artefacts make for a very interesting visit. The scenic last leg of the day takes you through the valley’s rugged terrain of over 25 kms from Thiksey to Hemis. With stunning views of the mountains beyond with the contrast of green and purple against clear blue skies make for most of the scenery on the drive from Thiksey to Hemis.
Perched on a hill, nestled between mountains, Hemis is better known as India's Shangri-La. The Cham mask dance is performed is in June-July for 2 days at this monastery.
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.
Our next stop, 15 kilometres away, is the Spituk Monastery. This lovely 11th century monastery overlooks Leh’s airstrip on one side and the gorgeous Indus river on the other. Home to about 100 monks, the monastery halls are adorned by ancient masks, beautiful thangka paintings, miniature chortens and idols. A little higher up is the Mahakal Temple with its veiled Vajrabhairava deity; witness the unveiling of the deity if you do visit in January for the festival.
We end this today with visit to the Hall of Fame. Constructed in memory of Indian soldiers who have lost their lives in the India-Pakistan wars, the memorial showcases information on the wars fought, the soldiers and their sacrifices, and displays the artillery used in the Kargil war.
After breakfast we begin the scenic drive to Nubra valley and the sand dunes of Hunger via Khardung La. One of the world's highest motorable passes, Khardung-La is one of Ladakh's most popular destinations. A couple of lovely photographs later on K-top, we start out descent to Nubra Valley.
The drive will get relatively more comfortable after North Pullu with better roads as the valley opens up. Make your way towards the spectacular Diskit Monastery while crossing through the quaint Khardung village.
Check-in to your camp in Hundar village and relax for a bit. We will have to make our last visit of the day about 7 kilometres to the sand dunes of Hundar. Get to see and ride the fascinating two-humped Bactrian camels in the sand dunes. The impressive views of the grey dunes, the glacial river and the rugged snow-capped mountain peaks set Hunder in a league of its own here. Hundar, apart from housing the mandatory monastery is a charming little village with several shrines higher up. Spend the night here admiring the starts in a cloudless sky.
After an easy morning, we head to Pangong Tso. You can chose to spend some more time at the sand dunes before getting on the road. The road to Pangong goes along the River Shyok, and connects to the Pangong basin via Shyok village.
A quick stop at Agham village to see the prehistoric petroglyphs.
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. 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 week