Leh the latest popular attraction has much more to explore and found out. Not a single trip but a series of trips can complete the circuit as the rustic silk route has placid lakes, snow covered mountains, camels and rides, gompas and monasteries and lots more...The 17th century Leh palace, the Shanti stupas, the bazaars of the old town, mud houses around, Choglamsar (just 5-6kms away from Leh) was actually a settlement of the Tibetans who fled China and still stays so today. The Sankar gompa (3kms away from Leh) has the Khandshur which has the Buddhist teachings in 108 volumes. The Shey gompa and palace (12 kms away from Leh) has the Sankyamuni Buddha. There are some places nearby Leh which can be visited. Not to miss the Hall of Fame a museum constructed by the Indian Army.
Explore the Gompas of Leh
Leh - Hemis - Thiksey - Matho - Chemerey - Leh
These monasteries can be covered in a day. Hemis is 40 kms away from Leh. It is the richest and the largest monastery in Leh-Ladakh. It celebrates its annual festival in June 21st to 22nd. The 'tangka' is unveiled on these days where the original one is taken out once in 12 years only. It is said that the monastery has a parchment which reveals the short term stay of a lad called Issa. Thiksey is smaller but more impressive as it stands next to the Indus river. Matho is just opposite to Thiksey, it has a museum which has some finest thangkas. Chemerey is 44 kms away enroute to Pangong lake.
Leh - Basgo - Alchi - Leh
This trip can also be done in a day. Basgo is 60 kms away and is in ruins today. You have to climb a flight of stairs to reach the Maitreya Buddha which has a beautiful & charming smile. Murals from the 16th century are something to look out for here. The Alchi monastery dates to the 11th century and was the seat of highest learning once. Take a torch to have a close view of the murals here.
Leh - Gurdwara Pathar Sahib - Nimu village - Basgo - Alchi - Likir - Lamayuru
The Miswak tree here is a sacred tree planted by Guru Nanak Dev ji which became a huge tree in Ladakh area where there was no tree at the time. The village Nimu lies on the junction of the rivers of zanskar and Indus rivers. Basgo is 40 kms away located on a hill top, Alchi has the Choskor monastery and then finally Lamayuru which is the oldest in Leh-Ladakh. There there is a hotel run by the monastery called Niranjana.
Lamayuru - Mulbek - Kargil
2 hrs away is Mulbek. There are 3 gompas here. In Kargil there is the Munshi Bhatt museum which has a good collection of artifacts of the once silk route activity. Take a small walk and soak the beauty of the Suru river.
Kargil - Drass - Soanmarg - Srinagar
Drive to Drass, one of the coldest inhabitated places, visit war museum and take pics of the Tololing peak. Drive through Zojila to Sonamarg and stay back here to visit the Thajiwas glacier.
Pangong lake requires permits. Your tour operator can do this.
Leh - Changla pass - Pangong lake
Pangong lake or Pangong Tso is nearly 238 kms away from Leh and takes near about 6 hours to reach if not for any stoppages due to GREF work of landslides. It is a popular place among the tourists and they make it in one day, but we would advise you to stay over on the banks of the lake where various tour operators set up temporary camps in the Sangmik village. Only 1/3rd of the lake lies in India whereas the rest is a part of China. Its awfully chilly overnight so carry thick woolens along. The night sky is beautiful gazing at with all stars and constellations visible on the bright and clear sky.
Return to Leh
Leh - Tso moriri
Leh to Tso-moriri is 240 kms towards the Leh-Manali road to Upshi and then Chumathang. In Chumathang there are hot water springs, drive to Mahe bridge and take right for the Tsomoriri lake. It is a beautiful lake less explored by tourists. There are many migratory birds herein summer. The village Korzok offers tented accomodation. It is recommended to stay back overnight.
Tso-moriri to Kar
Tso kar is a brackish lake which attracts lots of migratory birds. There are tents set here too.
Day - 5
Tso-kar - Leh
You can take the new road via Dat that connects to the Leh Manali road.
Nubra valley requires permits. Your tour operator can do this.
Day - 1
Leh - Khardungla - Diskit
Leh to Diskit is around 115 kms and takes nearly 5 hours to reach. This route is adventurous as we cross the World's highest motorable road, the Khardungla pass 17,582 ft. Overnight you can stay at Diskit.
You can go all the way to the top of Diskit gompa, an impressive huge statue of Maitreya Buddha. There is a small wetland behind the monastery where many migratory birds can be seen. Panamik is the place of hot water sulphur springs and enroute one can see the Panamik monastery too. Back to Diskit
Day - 3
The sand dunes of hunder valley are worth exploring. The Bactrian ir double humped camels are available for a ride and smaller animals like wild horses, yaks, warmets, hares, foxes etc can be seen. There is also a monastery here. Back to Diskit
Day - 4
This place has recently opened up and has greener pastures as compared to the otherwise barren land. Its a 4 hours drive and prior permissions are necessary.
The chadar trek along the frozen Zanskar river is not very easy but worth exploring
Leh - Lamayuru
Lamayuru - Kargil
Kargil - Padum
One of the most scenic places, but the roads are in a poor shape. Panikhar is entralling and the massifs of Kun and Nun and the cross of the glacier that takes you to the Suru valley. The Rangdum monastery falls on the way as we approach Penzi-la. The Drang Drung glacier is seen well at a point. There is accomodation in Padum.
Padum - Stongde - Karsha - Padum
The trail along thr Zanskar river takes you to Strongde gompa. The view of the sorrounding valley from the top of the gompa is beautiful. The route further to Karsha which is the biggest gompa in Zanskar and is elaborately spread out.
The 10 day trek starts at Spituk and reaches Hemis. River crossings, lofty passes, and the trek of 7 hours walk makes it truly an adventurous trip and the grade moderate. The hike take you through the local flavour of the area and the scnic beauty of the mountains and valleys. Camping in Zingchen, the walk through Hemis National park and the views from atop Kandala, the cable car cross at Chilling and the various coloured mountains are a truly memorable one.
A trek suitable for all levels, it can be a 4 day trek of the gompas. There are two passes to be crossed - Hemis Shukpachen and Maptak la. There are other monasteries on the route Rizong, Tseskarmo and Khasta.
Darcha - Padum
A good level of physical fitness can take this 8 day trek through villages and monasteries. From Darcha in Himachal and ending in Padum in Ladakh's region has the Shinkunla the only pass to be crossed which marks the begining of Trans Himalaya.
Khalsar - Thakthak
The routethrough Nubra valley is a popular route and the 7 day trek offers a lot of scenic view. The trek is relatively easy as the weather is not too harsh here. The trek begins at Khalsar and goes on till Thakthak. Enroute is the Samtanling monastery, the difficult part is crossing the warila which is a 5,000m high pass. Animals like ibex and bharal lynx, snow leopard can be spotted on way if lucky.