That’s how I was greeted when I landed in Leh. Julley is a common word in Ladakh which means Namaste, a greeting in Leh and nearby regions. Ladakh is one of such places that will leave your eye-popping with its alluring beauty and charm. Ladakh is a tourist place visited by thousands of Indians and foreigners each year who get stunned by its beauty.
Even before we landed, a lot of sensation came rushing down my nerves because I was finally going to step down to a place that I had just dreamt of. I now could tick off Ladakh from my bucket list and because I had put in a lot of my hours in researching about this trip, I was far more eager to get down and explore the city of heavens on earth.
The first look from our window just chiseled our excitement even more. We were hanging on that small window to capture all that we could in that minute. Every view just seemed so beautiful and perfectly fine.
Duration: 7 Days
Best Time to Visit: May-September
1. Delhi to Leh- Leh Local Market
2. Leh- Sangham- Magnetic Hill- Alchi- Hall of Fame- Leh
3. Leh- Khardungla pass – Disket Monastery, Nubra Valley – Hunder
4. Hunder – Sumoor-Pangong Tso
5. Pangong Lake- Changla Pass-Thiksey- Shey-Leh
6. Leh-Pathar Sahib- Lamayuru – Kargil
7. Kargil- Srinagar
8. Srinagar- Delhi
How to get there?
You have two options to choose from that would excite you to all new different level.
Via Air: Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport, Leh has direct flights from Delhi, Mumbai, Srinagar etc. on daily basis. The tickets to Leh will cost you a lot but book yourself a ticket right on time to save some money.
Via Road: If only you are passionate about bike rides. Manali to Leh road trip must be in your bucket list. Leh is around 472km from Manali, the road trip will mesmerize the riders with spellbound views. You can also rent a cab from Manali or book a bus.
Things you should have when traveling to Ladakh
Ladakh is at an altitude that may cause health issues if not taken care of, henceforth remember to carry the following when traveling to the region.
- Diamox – Helps to overcome altitude sickness
- Warm Jacket – You will need it as soon as you land in Leh and weather in Leh-Ladakh changes in seconds
- Water – Ladakh has low oxygen, therefore, keep yourself hydrated for your body to function normally
- Carry some handy snacks or munchies to beat the fatigue
- Most important don’t forget your gadgets and extra batteries, to capture all that’s beautiful
Our first day in Leh was all about relaxing and getting used to the altitude and weather of Leh. We checked into our pre-booked homestay, Raku Guesthouse. When we met Mrs. Lynne Welch, Ladakh Travel Co. Owner, from whom we booked our Ladakh package. She advised us to stay indoors and rest and not give any physical excretion to the body because the oxygen level is low in Leh.it takes around 12- 15 hours for the body to get used to the sudden change of altitude and oxygen levels. But being over enthusiast we planned to walk down the local market which was 20 mins walk from our guesthouse.
As we have everything pre-booked from Ladakh Travel Co., we were carefree about taking Inner Line Permit for Pangong Tso, Khardungla, Nubra Valley, Kargil. In case you have to sort out the permits you can ask the hotels/guesthouse to arrange these permits for you, they will charge you nominal cost or you can walk down to DC office in Leh and get it done. But I suggest you pre-book all your travel convenience to avoid any hustle.
We had a long day and were going to have a long one the next day as well. Raku family served us amazing homemade food and we then returned to our rooms as we had to get good night sleep to be fresh for coming days.
Our day started off with a good Ladakhi breakfast and then we walked down the local market to get our bike for the day. Yes, you got it right. Our 2nd day was a Bike Day. Lynne, got us covered for bikes as well in our package. She customized the package as per our requirement and ease.
We hopped on to our Bullet (500cc), got our directions sorted, and took off into the mountains. Our first stop was Magnetic hill where it’s said that one can experience reverse gravity in action as the vehicle appears to move without power. We had high expectations from this spot but the reality is the vehicles tend to move forwards not because of gravity but the slope.
Continuing with our ride, our next spot was the Sangham, which is the meeting point of the intersection of Zangskar and Indus river. You will see the river in 2 colors. And then we drove through the “pretty-as-a-postcard” Basgo Village, waving at the locals walking by. Then next was Alchi Monastery, (that took longer than usual to reach because we lost our way) which is famous for Kashmiri influenced architecture.
By now we had covered a lot of spots and clicked like thousands of pictures. Half a day was well spent exploring places without any technology (No Network, No Internet only social communication), we suddenly were proud of ourselves. We were left with two more spots ‘Pathar Sahib’ and ‘Hall of Fame’, which we decided to cover on our way back to Leh. And finally, we got our bikes deposited and headed back to our rooms for good food and some comfortable rest.
The next morning, we had our breakfast, gathered our stuff and picked up some snacks and water bottles for our road trip. We were heading towards Nubra Valley via World’s highest Motorable Pass, Khardungla Pass, which was our first stop. Khardungla Pass is at a height of 18380 feet above sea level and is only 40kms from Leh. It took us around an hour and a half to reach the pass.
The snow-covered mountains were breathtaking! The rush in the area clearly was a visual of excitement to capture all at once. We found couples group of age 65- 70 years who were super active to take pictures and live the moment. After crawling in the rush, we made it to the photo spot. Hundreds of people in line to take a picture with the board that said ‘Welcome to the Top of the World-Mighty Khardungla (Ht- 18380ft).’ We could only manage to stop by for 30 minutes as the oxygen level was too low.
We hopped on into our car and drove for another 75 kms in around 2.5 hours, to our next stop which was at the Diskit monastery, in the Nubra valley of Ladakh. Also known as Diskit Gompa, the Buddhist center is one of the oldest and largest monasteries with a 32-meter tall statue of Maitreya Buddha facing down the Shyok River towards Pakistan in Leh Ladakh.
The statue is so well maintained and the coloration on the statue makes it even more attractive. You have to climb over 100 steps to get to the statue. The Monastery has a prayer hall which has a statue of Cho Rinpoche, and several images of fierce guidance deities. After getting few good shots, we headed to Hunder Sand Dunes for a Camel Ride, which was around 5 kms from the Monastery, which took us not more than 15 mins.
Hunder is famous for double hunch back camels, a native of Central Asia. They offer group Camel ride for 15 mins for Rs. 250/-, you have to get a token to get into the queue for your number to come for the ride. Based on the strength of your group and availability they would call out your token number and take you on a ride on the camel in the sand dunes. We then headed for our overnight stay at Valley Flower Camp, Sumoor.
The next morning, we got ready had breakfast and started early for the highlight destination of the trip, Pangong Tso. It was a long 5 hours’ drive via Shylok River. You will witness the river flowing along the road most of the time. We took frequent breaks on the way to acknowledge the most picturesque landscapes.
We spotted Pashmina goats, Wild Horses, Yaks, Himalayan Marmot on the way. Our driver had the patience to deal with us as we had so many questions about the place running through our mind and lots that we didn’t know.
We reached Pangong at around 3 pm and couldn’t believe our eyes. We’d never seen those shades of blue. We stopped by the lake to witness the beauty it beholds. Spending our hours clicking pictures with ‘3 Idiots’ Scooter and ‘All is Well’ seats. The weather was getting colder and it also started raining which made us shiver, so we decided to have some tea and Maggie at a stall on the lake.
Rahul also took a ride on the Yak which was the most hilarious moment for us. After spending a couple of hours at the lake, we checked- in at the 100 Sky Camp and rested for a couple for hours before heading out again for the night beauty of the lake.
Our Rainbow Moment
But while we were resting, we heard our driver calling for us “‘Sir’ ‘Ma’am’ Please come out fast”. As we stepped out of our camps, our driver pointed towards the 2 rainbows that were painting the sky. We rushed in to grab our camera and ran to click pictures before we missed it. Our driver then told us that it rained in Pangong after a really long time and witnessing a rainbow on the first rain of the season was unexpected. We felt so lucky and mesmerized that we decided to walk down to the lake and spend time on lake witnessing its beauty.
As the night came in the lake looked magical under the Moonlight. We had our dinner and covered ourselves properly and slept cozily as the night was freezing cold.
After our delish breakfast at the camp, we headed back to Leh. Our first destination for the day was Changla Pass. The route was adventures, visibility was zero because of fog. We were heading to an altitude and the temperature was falling drastically. After reaching Changala Pass, second highest Motorable Pass, the climb to the pass is very steep, at an altitude of 17,590 ft. We got down to click a few pictures but the temperature was too low to stay any longer.
We then resumed our journey back to Leh. On the way, we also got down to see the Thiskey Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries, affiliated with Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism, and Rancho School, where the Bollywood movie 3 idiots was shot. Tourists were not allowed to enter the school premises or communicate or click a picture with any student. We were followed to see only a spot where the movie was shot.
It took us a total of 6 hours to get back to Leh. We then checked into our Guesthouse- Raku Guesthouse. Relaxed and later went down to the main market to have some food and buy some local stuff as a memorial. The trip to Ladakh was coming to an end. It was our last night in Leh, so we planned to party and sit outside and reunite all our memories of Ladakh.
We finally packed our bags and checked-out from the Guesthouse, saying Goodbye to Ladakh, we headed for Kargil as our returning flight was from Srinagar, our trip got extended for 2 days, which was mere traveling and visiting on the way spot. On our way to Kargil, we stopped down at the Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, which stands at the place where Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion and the first guru, was believed to have vanquished a demon. Though the region is predominantly Buddhist, Gurudwara Pathar Sahib is also worshipped and venerated by Buddhists. Tibetan Buddhists venerate Guru Nanak as Guru
Gompka Maharaj and as Nanak Lama.
Our next spot was Lamayuru Monastery, the famous Buddhist monastery at a height of 11520ft. We had to pay Rs30/- per person to visit the monastery from inside. The monastery is a wonderful ancient structure, where travelers can access the prayer hall which is the key part of the monastery. The monks were performing their daily rituals and preparing for a two-day cultural festival that happens in the second month of the Tibetan Lunar Calendar.
We then left for Kargil. It took us 7 hours to reach Kargil. After checking into our hotel, we left out for the main market to grab some food and shop a little from government shops. The long drive got us to sleep early as we had a long travel to do for the next day as well.
The finale of our trip, we got up early, packed and headed towards Srinagar. We had to anyhow cross the Zozila Pass before 10 AM, as the Amarnath Yatra was to start from that day. We managed to reach on time even after stopping at Drass to visit the Kargil War Memorial.
The road to Srinagar via Zozila Pass and Zero Point was scary, as it had rained and snowed the previous night, led to the clearing of the road because of which the roads were damaged. Somehow, our driver safely managed to drop us at Srinagar in our hotel. We freshened up and got down on the streets of Srinagar to spend some time on Dal Lake boating and visited few nearby parks. Shopped a little and came back to back our bags, after all, we had to bid goodbye by catching an early morning flight the next day.
Budget (for one)
Delhi to Leh: Rs. 8,000/-
Srinagar to Delhi: Rs. 5,000/-
Leh Package (for 8 days): Rs 24,600/-
1. Raku Guesthouse in Leh
2. Valley Flower Camp in Nubra Valley
3. 100 Sky Camp in Pangong Tso
4. Zojila Residency in Kargil
5. Hotel Himalayan Resort in Srinagar
Buffet breakfast and dinner for 7 days
Lunch: Rs. 300-500/ day
Royal Enfield Bike for 1 day on Day 2 (excluding petrol)
Cab with protected area permit for travel to Nubra Valley and Pangong regions
This article was submitted to us by Varsha Parashar. You can see more of her travels here.