Travel far enough, you meet yourself..
Travel is life changing affair..True !!! Our trip to Leh-Ladakh changed our perspective towards travel forever. It was in month of July 2012 ,we headed towards Himalayas and rediscovered the true beauty of nature in its diverse form.
We spent 9 days in Ladakh exploring Buddhist culture & heritage, experiencing varied landscapes, passing by high altitudes & eating thupkas and momos.
Here are things to do in Leh-Ladakh:
- Experience Peace & Serenity with Scenic view at Shanti Stupa– White domed stupa situated on top of the hill offers breathtaking panoramic view of city. Built in 1991, Shanti stupa symbolizes peace and harmony & is one of the major attraction in Leh.
- Discover 39ft Shakyamuni Buddha in Shey Monastery-Once the capital of Ladakh, Shey now holds ruined palace and a monastery known as Shey Monastery, originally built in 1655. Make a visit to experience “Shey” era & 39ft Shakyamuni Buddha gold-plated copper statue placed in monastery.
- Visit Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in Ladakh- Thiksey Monastery is associated with Gelug and one of the prime monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism in Ladakh. Located at 11800 ft, this monastery has 12 storeys which includes assembly hall, temples, nunnery, Maitreya Buddha statue & is home for more than a hundred monks.
- Must see the wealthiest monastery- Hemis Monastery situated 45 km away from the main city has been in existence before 11th century and was re-established by King Singay Namgyal in 17th century, it holds copper statues of Buddha, Stupas of gold and silver as well as holy thangkas. One should not miss the extravagant Hemis festival in month of July, which we did sadly.
- Spend time in Lamayuru Monastery-Located on Srinagar-Leh highway, with stunning landscape this should be on your list for sure. With its existence dating back in 11th century this cave monastery(one of a kind), leads the way to 50 monasteries in the lower Ladakh.
- Visit Alchi for exquisite artwork – Known as Alchi Choskhor, the monastic complex has detailed wood carvings and artistic wall paintings. An ideal place for art lovers, but no photography is allowed inside the monastery. As it is dark inside one should carry flashlight with him/her.
- Confluence of Indus & Zanskar river- It sounded surreal to us before witnessing the two colored confluence of Indus and Zanskar river. The picturesque sangam is one of the best experience of our trip, still fresh in our memories.
- Experience Moonland landscape in Lamayuru- When we reached Moonland ,it took us a while to come around the fact that this place actually exist !!!! Located on NH1-D, jaw dropping landscape gives an impression of some other planet as it resembles moon like surface due to it’s peculiar terrain.
- Strange but worth a try-We did tried this, putting our car in neutral, it feels car is pulled uphill by Magnetic Hill, which is believed to defy gravity. Scientific or not, reality or illusion…it’s an interesting place you come across with.
- Stop by Gurudwara Pathar Sahib– 25 miles away from Leh, this Gurudwara stands at the spot where Guru Nanak tamed a mighty demon, who tried to crush him by rolling a boulder(big rock) downhill, while he was meditating. It is believed that the rock softened without hurting Guru Nanak. Sacred rock can be seen inside the Gurudwara with the impression of Guru Nanak’s back..
- Drive through highest motorable road Khardung La– We started feeling amazed by snow covered mountains all around us in the month of July while heading towards Khardung La. The road conditions are not the best but Army and Border Road Organisation try to keep the pass accessible. It was a pride moment for us to be at Khardung La as it’s a once in a lifetime experience. Don’t forget to have black tea & Maggi at Rinchen Cafeteria.
- Make a stop at Chang La Pass– Literal meaning ‘A pass in the south’, known for it’s great height lies on the way to Pangong Lake. Special pass is required to get through, as China is in close proximity. Enjoy a cup of tea in mighty Chang La in bone chilling wind.
- Contemplate the clear blue water lake Pangong Tso –Located in vicinity where it is least expected, Pangong Tso is 134 kms long with 1/3rd part in India & 2/3rd in China, spreading across 3 countries India, China and Tibet. After a good 5 hrs drive and moving through rough roads and barren lands, we got a glimpse of lake getting through the last mountain. This blue water lake is serene & heavenly. Couple of hours spend there, we were hypnotized by the mere fact of its existence.
- Camel Safari in Nubra Valley- We have never heard of sand dunes in Ladakh before our visit, and Camel Safari just bewildered us (specially me). A short ride on double humped Bactrian Camel should be a definite on your itinerary.
- Kali Mata temple– Goddess Kali temple located on hilltop near the airport, gives another aspect of the cultural diversity. It is advisable to admire the view & spend some time in tranquility.
- Enjoy coffee next to Druk School from “3 idiots”– With 3 idiots, Druk White Lotus School gained popularity (school shown in last part of movie), now a tourist spot with a cafe named Rancho’s Coffee Shop. Have a coffee and take a walk around the school.
- Book a cottage– Planning your visit to Leh-Ladakh? Apart from visiting major tourist attractions, book a cottage in Nubra Valley or Ulleytokpo on the bank of Indus to inhabit with nature .
- Meet locals and make friends– People of Ladakh are very generous and friendly. What we learnt from our trip. “Life is about meeting new people & the things you create with them”. Leh-Ladakh will leave you mesmerized in many ways for sure, but one thing we still cherish about, our little poser friends from Ulleytokpo, Thiksey and Pangong. The moment they saw camera with us, they started posing. Finally we became friends by exchanging the only word they knew..JULEY !
- Take time-off with nature– Travelling and exploring the unparalleled beauty of Ladakh might be tiring. Try to take some time-off to re-energize. While staying in Ulleytokpo we spent our day on the bank of Indus river, watching mountains and rejuvenating ourselves for the remaining trip.
- Capture Moments– Last but must.. Take pictures, Make memories and be a storyteller !!!