Ladhak - A Cold Desert Hidden by the Himalayas

Tripoto
6th May 2018
Photo of Ladhak - A Cold Desert Hidden by the Himalayas by Vidya Sundaram

If you can imagine yourself sipping chai gasping at snow clad mountains, sand dunes and cobalt blue skies all at once, then Ladhak is calling and you must go.

Things to keep in mind while you plan your trip to Ladhak:

1. Say goodbye to your prepaid sim cards because they will not function in the whole of Ladhak. Airtel and BSNL postpaid connection has descent network in most of Ladhak except in Pangong area.

2. Carry power banks and spare batteries to be on the safer side while travelling in Ladhak because road blocks and landslides might occur.

3. Carry lots of layers and also a good pair of thermals because the temperature here is unpredictable.

4. Carry woolen socks and gloves because your fingers and toes get frozen first, so the normal cotton ones will do no good.

5. Carry lots of sunscreen, body lotion and lip balm because your skin gets very dry too quickly.

6. Carry a water bottle with you and keep sipping water to avoid dehydration.

7. It’s rare to find rest rooms on the way to Nubra valley and Pangong Tso because the journey is via rough terrains so do carry lots of tissues and hand sanitizer. Because you might want to use one so badly but all you might spot is one with no water supply.

8. Carry tablets for altitude sickness (Diamox), vomiting, diarrhea, headache and cold. Even if you happen to fall sick, don’t hesitate to visit the hospital in Leh, the doctors just charge 5₹ for consultation. ( 5₹ – you heard me right)

Day 1

Keep your eyes wide open as soon as your flight departs from New Delhi because you will be witnessing the Himalayas in a whole new perspective the next one hour.

Ladhak from the flight

Photo of Leh by Vidya Sundaram

Sunrise high above the mountains so high

Photo of Leh by Vidya Sundaram

KUSHU GUESTHOUSE, LEH

We checked into Kushu Guesthouse in Leh. The people of Ladhak will impress you if you haven’t already got impressed by the sight of this place. The staff here were very friendly & the room was warm and cozy with a view.

We took rest for a while because too many people had spoken about altitude sickness but we dint face any such thing.

chai with a view

Photo of Leh by Vidya Sundaram

Kushu Guesthouse, Leh

Photo of Leh by Vidya Sundaram

INDUS (SINDHU)- ZANSKAR CONFLUENCE ( SANGAM, Leh)

This was our first stop and we really felt like being inside a painting. The two rivers with visibly different shades ( Indus - green and Zanskar - blue) flow through the mighty Himalayas.

Sangam, Leh

Photo of Leh by Vidya Sundaram

Sangam. Leh

Photo of Leh by Vidya Sundaram

This hill is believed to pull the vehicle against gravity when placed in neutral gear. While some say it’s magnetism others say it’s an illusion.

Magnetic Hill,Leh

Photo of Magnetic Hill, Srinagar - Ladakh Highway, Leh by Vidya Sundaram

Magnetic Hill, Leh

Photo of Magnetic Hill, Srinagar - Ladakh Highway, Leh by Vidya Sundaram

This was our first monastery visit in Leh. We learnt to spin the bell and had the famous Butter Chai for 10₹.

The big bell

Photo of Spituk Gompa, Leh by Vidya Sundaram

Spituk Monastery

Photo of Spituk Gompa, Leh by Vidya Sundaram

The smaller bells

Photo of Spituk Gompa, Leh by Vidya Sundaram

Butter Chai with a view

Photo of Spituk Gompa, Leh by Vidya Sundaram

Do visit this place during sunset to witness the white structure more beautifully. The roads leading to this place is bad but it’s just a 15 minute drive from the Leh Main Bazar Area.

The furry Himalayan dogs

Photo of Shanti Stupa, Shanti Stupa Road, Leh by Vidya Sundaram

Shanti Stupa, Leh

Photo of Shanti Stupa, Shanti Stupa Road, Leh by Vidya Sundaram

We got back to our room to find a 6 course meal waiting for us. The breakfast and the dinner was a compliment from the guesthouse.

Dinner

Photo of Ladhak - A Cold Desert Hidden by the Himalayas by Vidya Sundaram

Breakfast

Photo of Ladhak - A Cold Desert Hidden by the Himalayas by Vidya Sundaram
Day 2

We got up early to proceed to Nubra Valley via Khardung la pass. But when we started nearing Khardung la, we were forced to stop due to the unpredictable weather in Ladhak.

People had warned us of the scorching heat of the sun and the UV rays but little did we expect to face snow storms and negative temperatures during the month of May. The landslide due to the sudden change in climate made us change our plans for the day with a heavy heart.

We decided to turn back and explore more of Leh.

Enroute Khardung La

Photo of Khardung La Road by Vidya Sundaram

Enroute Khardung La

Photo of Khardung La Road by Vidya Sundaram

Ladhak is the only place in India where the Sindhu/ Indus river flows before entering Pakisthan. A ghat is built to perform puja during the monsoon months.

Sindhu Ghat

Photo of Sindhu Ghat by Vidya Sundaram

Get used to climbing inclined roads and driving through mountain bends because Ladhak is the land of passes and every place of attraction is located high up.

Shey Palace, Leh

Photo of Shey Palace, Leh Manali Highway, Shey by Vidya Sundaram

RANCHO’S SCHOOL & CAFE

This place is named after Aamir Khan’s character in 3 idiots and this was the exact same location where the final school scene was shot.

World of Rancho

Photo of Ladhak - A Cold Desert Hidden by the Himalayas by Vidya Sundaram

Rancho's School

Photo of Ladhak - A Cold Desert Hidden by the Himalayas by Vidya Sundaram

Rancho's Cafe

Photo of Ladhak - A Cold Desert Hidden by the Himalayas by Vidya Sundaram

This was my personal favorite monastery. It looked beautiful inside out.

Thiksey Monastery

Photo of Thikse Monastery, Leh by Vidya Sundaram

Thiksey Monastery

Photo of Thikse Monastery, Leh by Vidya Sundaram

This is another famous monastery in Ladhak with a museum that reads out the history behind theses Tibetan structures.

Hemis Monastery

Photo of Hemis Monastery Museum, Hemis by Vidya Sundaram

Hemis Monastery

Photo of Hemis Monastery Museum, Hemis by Vidya Sundaram

Hemis Monastery

Photo of Hemis Monastery Museum, Hemis by Vidya Sundaram

We bought few winter wear from the Tibetan Refugee Market and strolled through the bazar streets.

We finally got a chance to taste the local cuisine . We tried thukpa (soupy noodle) , momos (dumplings) and hakka noodles.

Thukpa

Photo of The Tibetan Kitchen, Leh by Vidya Sundaram

Momos

Photo of The Tibetan Kitchen, Leh by Vidya Sundaram

Hakka Noodles

Photo of The Tibetan Kitchen, Leh by Vidya Sundaram
Day 3

We travelled through deserts, snow clad mountains, bumpy roads, high altitude passes & freezing temperature for 7 hours to reach Pangong Tso. There are no words to explain the beautiful landscapes that kept changing.

contrasting landscapes

Photo of Ladhak - A Cold Desert Hidden by the Himalayas by Vidya Sundaram

spot the road

Photo of Ladhak - A Cold Desert Hidden by the Himalayas by Vidya Sundaram

Frozen washbasin

Photo of Ladhak - A Cold Desert Hidden by the Himalayas by Vidya Sundaram

Frozen river

Photo of Ladhak - A Cold Desert Hidden by the Himalayas by Vidya Sundaram

Maggi

Photo of Ladhak - A Cold Desert Hidden by the Himalayas by Vidya Sundaram

The loopy roads

Photo of Ladhak - A Cold Desert Hidden by the Himalayas by Vidya Sundaram

We totally forgot about the tiring journey as soon as we spotted the mesmerizing Pangong lake. We wore all the layers we could before stepping outside to face the negative temperatures and chilling breeze.

We stayed the night in a tent in PANGONG SARAI and it ended up being the coldest night of my life. The food and ambiance was good but the facilities to face the negative temperatures was insufficient.

Pangong Tso

Photo of Pangong Lake, Leh by Vidya Sundaram

Pangong Sarai Tent

Photo of Pangong Lake, Leh by Vidya Sundaram

Pangong Lake

Photo of Pangong Lake, Leh by Vidya Sundaram

This is the second highest motorable pass in the world after Khardung la. It was pouring snow outside, still we made it a point to capture some pictures.

Chang La Pass

Photo of Chang La by Vidya Sundaram

Chang La Pass

Photo of Chang La by Vidya Sundaram

Chang Baba Temple

Photo of Chang La by Vidya Sundaram
Day 4

We started back to Leh through the same route and fell in love with the contrasting landscapes of Ladhak.

Ladhak

Photo of Ladhak - A Cold Desert Hidden by the Himalayas by Vidya Sundaram

snow everywhere

Photo of Ladhak - A Cold Desert Hidden by the Himalayas by Vidya Sundaram

snow peaks or sand dunes ?????

Photo of Ladhak - A Cold Desert Hidden by the Himalayas by Vidya Sundaram

We wanted to carry a part of Ladhak with us back home and immediately the Tibetan Prayer Flag crossed my mind. You get to see them in every nook and corner of Ladhak and they supposedly bring luck when gifted. They come in varying sizes and are available in almost every shop.

Tibetan Prayer Flag

Photo of Leh Main Bazaar, Leh by Vidya Sundaram

Leh Main Bazar

Photo of Leh Main Bazaar, Leh by Vidya Sundaram
Day 5

The sun came up high after 4 days and it was time for us to bid goodbye to this paradise. Ladhak is an underrated tourist place. It has so much to offer for everyone, from beautiful landscapes to rich culture.

We booked our accommodation and transport within Ladhak with the untravel team and I would definitely recommend them. They were very flexible and took care of all our needs.

1 Comment(s)
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Awsome write... Informative and inspiring. Packing my bags...!!
Sun 05 20 18, 02:43 · Reply · Report