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Ladakh Travel Guide

34° 05′ 57″ N, 77° 36′ 31″ E

Ladakh

Ladakh is a region of the north Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir. Despite being politically part of India, Ladakh could not be any more different from the rest of the country. Geographically, it sits in the rain shadow of the Himalaya, closer to the dramatic Tibetan plateau than it is to the plains of India, at a mighty 3000m above sea level.

Ladakh is a high altitude desert, a barren and windswept land dotted with traditional villages and dramatic monasteries that separates the Great Himalayan range from the mighty Karakoram range to the North. The largest town of Leh, sits at an altitude of 3500m overlooking the Indus River and is surrounded by peaks well over 6000m high. The region is known for it's breath taking landscapes, high mountain passes and infinite dark skies. It sees significantly less tourism than the rest of India, partly because it is not well known as a destination but also because its remote and high reputation makes it feel too inaccessible for many people. It is a well kept secret amongst those seeking remote adventure.

The staggering beauty of the region along with the friendly and welcoming nature of the local people, makes Ladakh one of the most incredible destinations you will ever visit and one of the few places where you can still see and learn about authentic Tibetan culture, language and religion. Culturally, this region is know as "Little Tibet"; its people are Buddhists of Tibetan origin and the Ladakhi Language is a dialect of Tibetan. Just to the North of Leh, sits the Nubra valley, warmer and with more flora than the otherwise barren Ladakh landscapes, this valley was traditionally part of the 'Silk Road' allowing trading links with the Xinjiang Province of China. After the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1949, many Tibetans relocated to Ladakh to escape repression and have built their homes in the villages set amongst this magnificent landscape. 


03:37 GMT +5.5

local time

Leh

capital city

59,146

area in km²

Ladakhi

main language(s)

Our local team

In northern India, bordered by the Himalayas in the south and the Karakoram Mountains in the north, we find Ladakh. The Buddhist culture here is remarkably preserved thanks to its isolation. Large numbers of Buddhist monasteries are still very alive and active; some, like those in Alchi, date back to the 11th century. Our trips explore the monasteries of the Indus valley, the remote villages, mineral landscapes and local people.

Highlights in Ladakh

Prayer flags in Leh, Ladakh

Leh

Nowhere else in the world would it be described as bustling, however in this remote wilderness, Leh's enchanting stupas and white-washed houses set amongst narrow streets provide an urban patchwork of humanity amidst an otherwise majestic, natural landscape. The colourful alley ways leading to a vibrant bazaar are the perfect place to start your exploration of Ladakh. Chat with the friendly locals, pickup a few words of the language whilst acclimatising to the altitude, particularly if you have arrived by air. If you up to exploring, venture into the alleyways behind the beautiful Jama Masjid and tunnel your way under a maroon door marked 'Chamba Gonba' before winding up a rocky path to the Old Town Cafe and Leh Palace. Here you will find incredible views over the town and the Indus Valley.

Tikse Monastery Ladakh

Thiksey Monastery

Thiksey is the most visited of the many beautiful monasteries in Ladakh due to its proximity to Leh. It is situated 19 kilometres from the city and at an altitude of 3,600m it overlooks the Indus valley and has beautiful views over the Stok mountain range. A bustling mecca for visitors, it is clear to see why as this incredible monastery is the perfect place to explore and experience some of the local culture. Famous for its resemblance to the Potala Palace in Lhasa, the monastery is a twelve-story building stepped into the hillside on which it sits. It holds many pieces of Buddhist art such as thangkas, and stupas; the most famous being a 15 meter tall statue of Maitreya Buddha.

Stok Kangri seen from Leh

Stok Kangri

At 6,121m, Stok Kangri towers over the town of Leh. Part of the Stok Range, this beautiful snow capped peak is surrounded by rainbow valleys and steeped in tradition with prayer flags flying from all the local tea houses. Rated as one of the easiest 6000m peaks in the world to climb, the summit was popular with trekkers but is currently closed due to the impacts of tourism on the mountain.

Khardung La

Sitting at an elevation of 5359 metres, the Khardung La is the second highest navigable road in the world and the gateway to the beautiful Nubra Valley below. Once part of the silk route, the pass is steeped in historical culture and each summer many people will drive to the top of the pass with mountain bikes and enjoy the long the descent on two wheels back to Leh. The highest road in the world is also found in Ladakh, the Umling La reaches nearly 5800m.

Ganda La Pass Ladakh

Nimmoo

At the village of Nimmoo, on the Srinagar to Leh highway, the Zanskar river emerges from the mountains and joins the mighty Indus river on its 3180km journey to the Arabian Sea. A truly beautiful sight and well worth a stop if you are passing by.

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