Not many places in India can match the natural beauty and aura of the unique landscape of Ladakh. Travelling to the north face of India is an adventure of lifetime for some and a dream for others. However, if you belong to the former category of travellers, we recommend you explore the lesser-known valleys of Ladakh, for you are bound to be rewarded with remarkable sights and unforgettable adventures.
So, following are the 7 most stunning valleys of Ladakh you should explore the next time you travel to this Himalayan desert.
1.) Zanskar valley
If Chadar trek in Ladakh has ever been on your bucket list, you must know it's just one of many attractions of Zanskar valley. Situated at an approximate altitude of 13,000 feet above sea level, Zanskar valley is one of the highest and, perhaps, one of the most beautiful valleys in Ladakh. Ever wondered how a barren land can be this gorgeous?
Key attractions: Padum, Pipiting, and Karsha villages
Best time to visit: May-June and August-September
How to reach: Srinagar - Kargil - Padum - Zanskar valley
2.) Indus Valley
If you are in Ladakh, why would you not want to visit the valley which was once home to one of the oldest civilizations in the world, Indus Valley civilisation? Apart from being the historical wonder it is, the colourful mountains, the music of free-flowing Indus river, the peaceful monasteries, and quaint villages of the valley make for everlasting travel experiences.
Key attractions: Visit popular monasteries like Shey, Thiksey, Hemis, Spituk and more. You can also embark on Indus Valley trek that leads to Likir and Yangthang via Phobe La and Charatse La.
Best time to visit: June to mid-October
How to reach: Whether you are arriving by air in Leh or by rail in Srinagar, NH 1D Srinagar-Leh Highway and Manali-Leh Highway are the two highways that take you to the valley in Ladakh.
3.) Nubra valley
It's not just the Thar desert in Rajasthan where you can enjoy a camel ride; Nubra valley in Ladakh, the high-altitude cold desert, is also known for bactrian camel rides in the vast stretches of barren land that are surrounded by towering Himalayas.
Key attractions: Desert villages of Hundar and Diskit, hot springs of Panamik, and ancient Budddhist monasteries.
Best time to visit: June to mid-September
How to reach: Airport in Leh is 120km and railway station in Jammu is 370km from Nubra valley. If you are travelling by road, taking Leh - Khardug La - Diskit route is the best bet.
4.) Markha valley
Markha valley in Ladakh is the place to be if you are looking to experience sheer adventure and natural beauty. Witnessing yaks grazing peacefully, crossing rivers on foot, sleeping under open sky in parachute tents; exploring this valley is just as good as discovering an unknown land.
Key attractions: Embark on Markha valley trek through Hemis National Park [which is home to the rare snow leopard].
Best time to visit: Mid-June to September
How to reach: Whether you are travelling by air or by train, Leh is the nearest major town fro where you can travel either to Chilling or Stok village and then to Markha valley.
5.) Drass valley
You might have known Drass as the second coldest inhabited place in the world, or for the war memorial, but there's much more to this beautiful valley. Trekking enthusiast or a nature lover, Drass valley won't disappoint you.
Key attractions: Hike up the Manman Top and enjoy panoramic views of Drass valley. If you are a wildlife lover, take a walk through Chorkiat forest
Best time to visit: Mid-June to mid-September
How to reach: Sheikh Ul-Alam International Airport in Srinagar at a distance of 165km is the nearest airport to Drass and railway station in Jammu (430km) is the nearest railway station. Srinagar - Kargil highway is the best way to reach Drass valley.
6.) Suru valley
No, the valleys of Ladakh are not just about the rugged mountains and high-altitude lakes. In fact, Suru valley is so fertile that agriculture is the main occupation of the locals. The valley is also known for locally-made grape liquor. Go, check it out yourself!
Key attractions: Rangdum monastery and snow-capped peaks of Panikhar are some of the must-visit places in Suru valley.
Best time to visit: June to September
How to reach: Whether you are travelling by air or train, Kargil is the main town from where you can get a local bus to reach the main settlements in Suru valley such as Sankoo, Parachik and Panikhar.
7.) Salt Lake valley
Salt Lake valley, which sits about 5,000 metres above the sea level in Rupshu region of Ladakh, is home to two picturesque and lesser known lakes which are great alternatives to the much popular Pangong Tso. If you wish to go offbeat in Ladakh, Salt Lake valley is where you should be heading to.
Key attractions: Visit Panluk lake, Tso Kar lake, and Thuggi village in Salt Lake valley.
Best time to visit: June to mid-September
How to reach: Once you reach Leh, you can travel to Salt Lake valley via Tanglang La pass.
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