Finally Leh(d)Road trip Delhi - Kud - Srinagar - Sonamarg - Kargil - Leh - Pangong - Nubra - Sarchu - ManaliTotal No of days - 15Dated - June 2011
Places to see in & around Leh
Leh town has many historic monuments to visit, starting with the 9th storey Leh Palace built by King Singe Namgyal in the 17th century. Above the palace are the ruins of the earliest royal residence and the Tsemo Gompa dating from 15th century. Below in the bazaar the main sites are newly built Jo-Khang and the 17th century Jamia Mosque. Leh Bazaar by itself is a sightseeing attraction. Strolling along its lanes and by lanes, observing the crowd and looking into the curio shops is an engaging experience. There is a bargain shopping for semi precious stones, jewellery, antiques and dazzling arrays of souvenirs. many handicraft showrooms room stock local handmade carpets, woollen shawls, dragon paintings, thangkas, lacquered tea tables etc.
Shanti stupa or the Japanese Stupas made for world peace, was inaugrated Dalai Lama in 1985. The Hall of Fame is a museum constructed by Indian army. The Kargil war memorabilia and the belongings of the enemy soldiers, food and clothing of the Army men in Saichen glacier etc are kept on display.
Forts & Palaces
Outside the town are many monuments connected with the former kingdom's history dot the Indus valley. These include the royal palace Shey (15kms) with its temple housing a 3 storey high Buddha statue. Down river are the remains of the fort and temple of Bazgo (37kms) and across the river from Leh is the Stok Palace (17kms) present residence of the royal family which houses a museum of artifacts associated with the ruling dynasty.
Then and there are Buddhist Monasteries (Gompas), treasure troves of images and artifacts of which about a dozen are situated on or near the Indus. Upstream of Leh are the monasteries of Thicksey (17kms), Stakna (25kms), Hemis (40kms), Chemrey (47kms), Takthok (50kms) and Matho (26kms). Hemis is the largest monastery of Ladakh was established by King Singe Namgyal in the 17th century. Takthok incorporates a cave which is associated with the journey of Padmasambhava to Tibet. Matho monastery is famous for the two oracles which make a public appearance at the annual festival. Down river from Leh are the monasteries of Spituk (7kms), Phyang (17kms), Likir (53kms), Alchi (69kms), Rizong (73kms) & Lamayuru (125kms). Lamayuru is oldest monastic foundation, it was originally believed to be a holy site of the pre-Buddhist Bon religion. Culturally however Alchi is Ladakh's most valuable heritage. Known as Chhos-kor (religious conclave)its five temples have exquisite murals dating from the 11th - 12th centuries.
North of Leh is the Nubra valley (3,200m) on the erstwhile silk route nestling along the foothills of the Great Karakoram range. The road to Nubra runs along Khardung-la (5,578kms), the highest motorable road in the world. Prominent places to visit here includes the capital town of Deskit (118kms) with its hilltop monastery and just across the rolling sand dunes, Hundar (125kms) which has a small population of double-humped Bactrian camels, a legacy from the Central Asian trade caravans. North of Deskit in the valley of the Nubra river is Sumur (115kms) where the hillside monastery of Samstaling is the main attraction. Further up the valley is Panamik (140kms) famous for its hot springs, used as a traditional spa by throngs of local people for curing various ailments further stream is the famous Saichen glacier.
High Altitude Lakes
Pangong lake (150kms/4,267m)
is about 130kms and 5-6 kms wide, straddling across the border between India and China. The ochre hills of the Chang-Chenmo range sorrounding it from the north provide a spectacular backdrop to the blue and green expanse of its brackish waters.
set in the desolate landscape of Rupshu, is famous as the breeding ground of the rare bar-headed geese and home to a number of other rare bird species. The small village of Korzok, with its hilltop monastery is the only habitation in the area, which is otherwise inhabitated by the nomadic Chang-pa tribe.
A group of pretty villages nestling along the steep banks of the Indus, 163 kms west of Leh, is home to an exclusive tribal community called Brokpa, who are believed to be the descendants of a lost Aryan tribe. The Brokpa have preserved their features and fair complexion, besides their colourful dresses and spectacular headgears.
Ladakh offers many challenging options for adventure tourism. Trekking is the most popular activity and is done during June through September. The 10 day Markha valley trek is the most popular, while the 20 day trek from Lamayuru to Darcha is the longest and involves crossing of the Zanskar and the Great Himalayan range. The most challenging trek however is the week long winter walk between Leh and Zanskar on the Chaddar route which is formed by the freezing of the Zanskar river.
River Rafting options are a plenty in Ladakh. The stretch of Indus between Karu and Spituk offers half day scenic floating amidst beautiful landscapes and rural scenery. For white water expeditions, River Zanskar provides the ultimate challenge, comparable to the course of the Colarado through the Grand Canyon.
Mountaineering is yet another activity for which Ladakh is very popular. The most popular side is Panamik, Saser Kangri, Saichen Glacier. In leh area, the nearest site is the Stok Khangri massif (6,150m) which has 5 known peaks. Mountaineering expeditions are required to obtain proper clearence from the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF), New Delhi or a branch office at Leh.