The Little Tibet of India- Leh Ladakh

Leh, in Jammu and Kashmir’s Ladakh region, is famed for its breath-taking scenery, Buddhist temples, and unspoiled environment. Leh is often referred as Little Tibet or the Land of Lamas because of the powerful impact of Tibetan Buddhism. The region’s overall attractiveness is enhanced by barren mountains with hand painted Gompas (or monasteries), swirling prayer flags, steep hills, little communities, and the Indus River.

Khardung La (5359 m), Marsimik La (5582 m), and Chang La (5360 m) are among the highest motorable passes in the world, as are alpine lakes such Pangong Tso (4350 m) and Tso Moriri (4522 m). Ladakh is separated into 2 regions: Leh and Kargil. Often Leh and Ladakh are used interchangebly as Leh is the most famous place for tourism.

Leh, Ladakh’s capital, was once an important crossroads on the ancient Silk Road. It is also the country’s second most populous district, with 45,110 square kilometres. Several well-known old Buddhist monasteries may be found there. It’s one of Ladakh’s most popular tourist spots, with much to see and do.

 

How to Reach?

 

By Air

Leh has its own airport, with direct flights to and from Delhi, Mumbai, and Srinagar. Flights to Leh may be taken from any part of the nation through Delhi and Srinagar. Local taxis may be hired to take you wherever in Leh from the airport.

 

By Train

The railway station closest to Leh are Pathankot, Chandigarh, and Kalka. These stations are served by important trains from major Indian cities. It is possible to take a train to any of these stations and then rent a taxi to Leh.

 

By Road

The Manali-Leh highway has long been considered the second-best route to Ladakh. Between Manali and Leh, Himachal Pradesh Tourism, HRTC, and J&K SRTC provide daily luxury and regular buses. Government buses, both luxury and ordinary, travel regularly and often between Kargil and Leh and Srinagar. For the Leh-Srinagar and Leh-Manali routes, cars and jeeps are also available.

 

Places to Visit

 

  • Shanti Stupa

Shanti Stupa is a Buddhist monastery located on a mountaintop in Chanspa, Leh district, Ladakh, in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. Shanti Stupa is a white-domed Buddhist stupa. At its base, the Shanti Stupa houses the Buddha’s relics, which were buried by the 14th Dalai Lama personally. The Shanti stupa offers a stunning and panoramic perspective of the surrounding area. Apart from its religious importance, this has been a key reason for Shanti Stupa’s popularity as a tourist destination.

Japanese Buddhist Bhikshu established this attraction in Leh as part of the Peace Pagoda Mission in 1991. The ideal time of day to see the Shanti Stupa is either sunrise or sunset, when the views from this Leh attraction are breath-taking. It was constructed to encourage world peace and prosperity, as well as to celebrate Buddhism’s 2500-year history.

 

 

  • Leh Palace

Leh Palace, also known as Lhachen Palkhar, is located on the summit of the abandoned Tsemo Hill. It was built in the 17th century as the royal family of Leh’s residence. During its peak, the building had nine stories and was among the highest structures in the city. It is now one of Leh’s most prominent tourist attractions. The sights of Stok Kangri, the Ladakh mountain ranges, and the town from the summit are truly spectacular. The palace, which is somewhat deteriorated, is being administered by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

A triumph tower, constructed in remembrance of Ladakhi troops, stands at the palace’s apex. The majestic Leh Palace is a religious and cultural centre for Buddhists. The palace also includes a monastery with a statue of Lord Buddha.

 

  • Namgyal Tsemo

This beautiful monastery is located behind the Leh Palace and gives a wonderful outlook of the entire area. The site is a must-see for tourists, endowing a three-story substantial and realistic gold efficacy of the Maitreya or indeed the Great Buddha.

This monastery was constructed in the early 15th century, around the year 1430. It got its name from King Tashi Namgyal, who built it to protect the valley and the Namgyal dynasty from bad spirits by appeasing the guardian deity. Despite the fact that the gompa is currently in ruins, its deep red colour makes it appear magnificent. The three-story high gold-carved sculpture of Maitreya Buddha is the focal point of this monastery.

Because Namgyal Tsemo Monastery is perched atop a hillside, it provides spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and the low-lying town. This is why it is an ideal location for taking stunning photographs.

 

  • Gurudwara Pathar Sahib

Gurudwara Pathar Sahib is located 25 miles from Leh in Jammu and Kashmir’s Ladakh area, where Guru Nanak, the Sikh religion’s founder and first guru, is said to have defeated a demon. Despite the fact that the region is largely Buddhist, Buddhists respect and venerate Gurudwara Pathar Sahib. Guru Nanak is revered by Tibetan Buddhists as Guru Gompka Maharaj and Nanak Lama.

The Gurudwara was built with the assistance of army officers, villagers, and lamas. The Indian Army looks after the Guru Pathar Sahib. It is customary for automobiles to make a pit stop at the temple to pay homage before continuing on their journey.

 

  • Sankar Gompa

Sankar Gompa, also known as Sankar Monastery, is claimed to be a branch of Spituk Monastery, which shares the same Lama. Sankar Monastery is only approximately 2 kilometres from Leh, thus people may easily visit the Gompa on foot.

Sankar Gompa is regarded as one of India’s most important tourist destinations. If you are a nature lover and a traveller, you must not miss this magnificent location. The Gelukpa sect of Buddhism is represented by the Sankar Monastery. The official residence of this Gompa is the Ladakh Kushok Bakul head sect.

The assembly hall’s entrance is flanked by paintings of the Four Directions’ guardians on each side of the door. A lama holds the ‘Wheel of Life’ on the left wall of the entry Verandah. The Gompa’s walls are adorned with beautiful artwork of many Buddhas.

 

 

  • Pangong Tso Lake

Pangong Lake, at roughly 4,350 metres above sea level, is the world’s highest saltwater lake. Its water, which appears to be coloured blue, contrasts sharply with the barren mountains that surround it. The Pangong Lake is over 160 kilometres long, with one-third in India and the other two-thirds in China. The lake is roughly 5 kilometres wide at its widest point and 134 kilometres long. It’s around 220 kilometres from Leh. One can also do camping on the shores of the lake.

Pangong Tso Lake is one of those locations that you can envision being exquisite, but you don’t realise how magnificent it is until you visit it. This Lake is particularly well-known for its spectacular beauty as well as its strategic location along the Line of Actual Control.

Pangong Lake, one of the most well-known lakes in Leh Ladakh, gets its name from the Tibetan term “Pangong Tso,” which translates to “high grassland lake.” You may spend hours contemplating its beauty and still not be satisfied. Pangong Lake is also recognised for its colour changes, looking blue, green, and red at various times. Brahminy ducks may also be spotted waiting on the lake’s shores, hoping to grab a fish or two. The lake is particularly popular with photographers, selfie seekers, and bikers visiting Ladakh.

 

 

  • Zanskar Valley

Zanskar Valley, nestled at 13,154 feet above sea level, is a semi-arid valley snuggled on the northern edge of the Great Himalayas. The picturesque snow-capped mountains, delightful weather, Zanskar’s dazzling water bodies, and a rich terrain are what lure people to this location.

The valley is located 105 kilometres from Leh and is popular for adventure activities including as hiking, paragliding, and river rafting, among others. Popular hiking alternatives include the Lamayuru to Darcha and Lamayuru to Padum treks. Zongla, Zongkhul, Stongdey, and other centuries-old monasteries. The Chadar Trek, also known as the Frozen River Trek, is only accessible during the winter months in Zanskar.

The green-tinged Indus River begins in the Tibetan Plateau near the Manasarovar Mountain and the shimmering blue Zanskar River originates in the Zanskar valley. Both rivers come together near the gorgeous Nimmu valley, which lies between Leh and Kargil. The rivers may be differentiated by their colours, and the confluence is best seen in the spring and summer months, from March to May.

 

 

  • Nubra Valley

Nubra Valley, located around 150 kilometres from Leh, is renowned as Ladakh’s Orchard and was formerly known as Ldumra, which means “flower valley.” Ladakh is separated from the Karakoram Ranges and the massive Siachen Glacier by this valley. The valley is accessible by the Khardung La, the world’s highest motorable road.

Nubra is located at an average elevation of 10,000 feet above sea level. The temperature in the area is mild, the soil is rich, and the flora is thicker than in other parts of Ladakh. Nubra valley is situated between Tibet and Kashmir, surrounded by snow-capped Himalayan hills. The valley’s vista is beautiful and magnificent. During the winter, the entire valley resembles a Moonland.

 

 

 

  • Diskit Monastary

Diskit Monastery is a popular tourist destination in the Nubra Valley in Ladakh. The Nubra Valley’s Diskit Monastery is located at an elevation of 10,308 feet, 15 kilometres northwest of the Khalsar-Panakil highway, just at the border of the desert. It is at a very spectacular position and has a 106-foot Maitreya Buddha statue that stands right below it. It is located 115 kms away from Leh.

This sacred place is said to have been home to an anti-Buddhist Mongolian monster. Despite being murdered countless times near the monastery, this wicked entity constantly returned alive.

This monastery also contains a school that is administered in partnership with “The Tibet Support Group,” a non-profit organisation. The school has computer labs and teaches science to Tibetan children in English. The celebration “Dosmoche,” which translates to “Scapegoat Festival,” is well-known at Diskit Monastery. During this festival, masked monk performances depicting the huge amount of good over evil are common. This dancing style is thought to ward off evil omen.

 

 

  • Magnetic Hill

A shor stretch of road located 30 kilometres from Leh city on the Leh-Kargil Highway defies gravity. The magnetic hill, which pushes stationary cars upwards, is the reasoning. It is known as the Magnetic Hill in Ladakh, and it is a popular tourist destination in the valley as well as a convenient pit break for fatigued motorcyclists on the highway.  A yellow signboard says “The Phenomenon That Defies Gravity,” which indicates the Magnetic Hill.

There are two possibilities that might explain why this upward movement is occurring. The most prevalent explanation is that the hill has a high magnetic effect, which causes nearby automobiles to be dragged.

Another frequent belief is that it’s all a perspective thing. According to this theory, the hill does not have a magnetic attraction, but rather causes an optical illusion in which the road, which is actually downward, appears to be going uphill. As a result, when you perceive a car driving upslope, it is actually travelling downslope and does not break natural rules.

 

 

  • The White Desert of Hunder

While Leh will fascinate tourists with its numerous gorgeous mountains, stunning valleys, scenic snow-capped peaks, attractive settlements, and much more, Hunder stands out for its distinct desert scenery. This magnificent chilly desert settlement in the Nubra Valley is more than a natural wonder; it will astound you with its amazing natural beauty. It is located 124 km from Leh. Hundar is reputed to be one of the world’s highest deserts, with an average elevation of 10,000 feet.

   

Camels from Bactria are also a popular attraction. Hunder is also notable for the Hundur gompa, a Buddhist monastery next to the Diskit monastery. It is one of Nubra Valley’s oldest monasteries. Though the terrain around Hunder is dry and barren, the settlement itself is a lush green oasis with plenty of cultivable land.

 

  • Shyok River

Shyok or Shayok is a village in Ladakh, India, located on the banks of the Shyok River in the Durbuk tehsil of the Leh district. The Shyok River’s greatest distinguishing trait is that it begins in the high elevations of the Rimo Glacier and travels south-east to join the Pangong range. Following that, it takes a northwestern swing and follows a course that is nearly identical to its former journey.

It is known as the River of Death because it washed away many men and pack animals, earning it the infamous moniker and a lethal reputation. Nowadays, there are several bridges across the river that allow people to securely cross. From the village of Shyok all the way up to Thang at the LOC, one may now travel over 190 kilometres along the length of the river.

 

  • Khardung La Pass

Khardung La is a high altitude mountain pass in Leh that serves as the entrance to the Shyok and Nubra Valleys. Khardung La, at a height of 18,379 feet, is the world’s highest motorable road. It is vital to India’s core interests since it transports resources to the Siachen Glacier. The Border Roads Organisation maintains the Khardung La Pass, a popular tourist destination in Ladakh, and all types of vehicles, from two-wheelers to big Lorries, traverse this road.

   

When planning a trip to Khardung La, keep in mind that the weather is very unpredictable and can change dramatically, leaving you trapped for hours at a stretch. There are no accommodations available in Khardung La unless you bring your own tents to set up along the roadside. One should carry some snacks and meals for the travel, and stay hydrated.

 

 

  • Changla Research Centre

At 17,600 feet above mean sea level, the DRDO opened the world’s highest terrestrial R&D centre at Chang La in Jammu and Kashmir.

The research facility will be located around 80 kilometres east of Leh and will be run by the Defence Institute of High Altitude Research, which is situated in Leh (DIHAR). It’ll be utilised to test and develop cold-weather technology. The Chang La station, where temperatures can drop to minus 40°C, would be utilised for high-altitude biomedical, material, and agro-animal research, as well as greenhouse technology and plant conservation.

 

  • Spituk Monastery

Spituk Monastery or Spituk Gompa, is a Buddhist monastery in Leh, located approximately 8 kilometres away. It is one of India’s most beautiful monasteries, with 100 monks and a massive Kali statue that is displayed every year during the Gustor Festival.

Within the main shrine of the Gompa, an idol of Lord Buddha is erected, as also a miniature image of Amitayus, the god of long life. Several Tibetan festivals are held at this monastery, in which religious performances and distinctive rites are conducted.

 

As a result, we can conclude that Leh is a perfect getaway for many tourists and the most offering place for adventurers. It is a frozen wonderland that must be visited to discover its mysteries and marvel at its breathtaking beauty.

 

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