A vacation in Ladakh will take you beyond the usual hills and snow scene. It has giant glaciers and cold deserts with a unique wildlife and terrain. To prove that it’s the most adventurous place, there are activities such as trekking and rafting. For your camera, it presents the most breathtaking sights that include shimmering crystal clear lakes and gushing rivers. So, to make sure your trip ends with happy memories and no regrets, here are the top 10 things to do in Ladakh!
1) Seek Out a Heart-Pounding Adventure
Thrills are easy to find in Ladakh, whether you fancy rafting the rapids, hiking peaks or climbing mountains amidst breathtaking landscapes. From a quiet drift through the wilderness to a white-knuckled journey down turbulent rapids, the myriad rivers of Ladakh are meant to give you an amazing rafting experience.
Discover Ladakh in a whole new way on your next trip by trekking along in regions like Lamayuru, Markha Valley, Stok-Kangri and Shyok Valley. From accessible nature paths to mountain hikes that are physically challenging, Ladakh has something for every adventurer. Go on a Ladakh tour to get an adrenaline rush by experiencing all sorts of adventure activities, all set to the backdrop of jaw-dropping landscapes.
2) Take a Spiritual Tour to Monasteries
Satisfy your sense of spiritual curiosity by taking a tour to the ethereal world of Ladakh. Monasteries are not just intensely spiritual spaces but also beautiful architectural masterpieces hidden in a landscape of austere beauty.
Monasteries like Hemis, Thiksey, Spituk, Gompa Soma, Shey Gompa, Stakna, Sumda Chun are centres of Buddhist heritage and culture and house a number of rare wall paintings, stone carvings and inscriptions, murals, ancient thangkas (painting on cloth), antique pieces and artefacts.
3) Celebrate Festivals With the Locals
Ladakhis come together for a number of festivals to celebrate their unique culture and identity. These festivals offer a surprisingly diverse repertoire of theatre, folk opera and dance, characterised by local legends, myths and folklore that have been passed on generations for centuries.
Ladakh Hemis Festival (June-July), Dosmoche (late February), Losar (Ladakhi new year), Phyang (late July or early August), Ladakh Harvest Festival (September), Tak-Tok (ten days after Phyang), Sindhu Darshan festivals with their world-famous symbolic mask dances, traditional rituals and colourful costumes give a fantastic insight into the life of Ladakhi people and their love for land and unique heritage.
4) Whet Your appetite With the Distinct Flavour of Ladakhi Food
If you find yourself wondering what the Ladakhis eat besides the world-renowned momos, you must take a tour to Ladakh to discover the real cuisine. Ladakhi food, like Ladakhi people and their culture, has a unique character. The distinctiveness of the food is characterised by Ladakh’s geographical location, religious beliefs and customs while also revealing information concerning its cultural history.
The delicious and convenient kholak, warm bowl of thukpa, flatbreads called Khambir, uniquely different Butter Tea with salt and Yak butter, fluffy Tingmos and rich Skyu guarantee to satisfy all your gastronomic cravings.
5) Camp Beside Lake Tso-moriri
Imagine the view of the clear mountain lake, the rustle of the breeze through quaky alpine leaves, the smell of grass in the fresh mountain air, the sight of rare ducks wading in the lake and the night sky lit up by the bright stars. Lake Tso Moriri is located at an altitude of 4595 m and flanked by lofty mountains from all sides. The area around the lake is inhabited by nomadic herders of goats, yaks and cows. Far away from civilisation, experience solitude and tranquillity near this body of crystal blue water.
6) Photograph the Alien Landscape of Lamayuru
No need to visit another planet; take a tour to Ladakh to photograph what seems like a different planet with alien surroundings. The moonscapes of Lamayuru, a small village located in western Ladakh at an altitude of 3500 m has been formed by sediment rock formations of different shapes which gives an extraterritorial cratered look to the land.
Adding to this already dramatic setting is a perilously placed monastery, Lamayuru Gompa which is under the Red-Hat (‘Zhawa-mer’) sect of Buddhism and inhabits around 150 Buddhist monks. There are a few more picturesque monasteries you’ll find on your tour to Ladakh. Photography enthusiasts flock around this area to get surreal shots of this dramatic landscape.
7) Spot Rare and Exotic Wildlife
Ladakh’s formidable mountain ranges and remote wilderness makes it a haven for several rare and endangered species such as the Snow Leopard, Lynx, Pallas’ Cats, Blue Sheep, Ibex, Shapo, Tibetan Argali, Red fox, Marmot, Black Necked Crane, Bactrian Magpies, Finches, etc. With patience, you might get to see these incredibly rare species in their natural habitat.
Shang Valley and the Rumbak Valley areas of the Hemis High Altitude National Park are the best places to find endangered mammals including the much elusive snow leopard. Take a tour to Ladakh to get a glance of these rare species and be fascinated by how they have evolved and adapted themselves to Ladakh’s rugged terrains.
8) Reach for the Clouds at KhardungLa Pass
Take a tour to Ladakh this summer to watch the Khardung La pass come alive with wildflowers, creeks flowing with snow-melt and incredible mountain vistas. Located at an elevation of 5600 m, this passage to Nubra and Sylok Valleys offers spectacular views of glacier-carved valleys, daunting peak summits, distant crystalline lakes along with beautiful white tufts of smokey clouds, floating in the vast blue sky.
Also known for being the world’s highest motorable road, a drive around the winding paths is dangerous yet thrilling. Pack your bags now to experience this ultimate adventure.
9) Get a Little Closer to Locals Through Home-stays
Staying as a guest of a local in Ladakh can be a highly rewarding experience, adding real meaning to a holiday and creating opportunities for authentic cultural exchange and a closer insight into the real life of the community. Eat traditionally cooked meals, participate in day-to-day activities of the family and trek around in the stunning locations for a truly wholesome experience.
It will not only be easy on your pocket (as most of these homestays are way cheaper than normal hotels) but also of direct economic benefit to the people who need it. Discover the land and its hidden treasures with its original inhabitants on your next tour to Ladakh.
10) Relax and Unwind On the Shores of Lake Pangong
This enchanting, blue brackish lake of Ladakh at an altitude of 4350m is not to be missed on a tour to Ladakh. The size of the lake can be inferred from its name, Pangong, which means extreme concavity. It is around 5-6 km wide and over 144 km long with half of it on the other side of the Indo-China border.
Pangong Lake with its ever-changing hues provides the ideal setting to kick back and relax. The emphasis is on being instead of doing – relax and take in the spectacular sights around the lake. Zoom in your cameras to shoot the rare birdlife that flocks around this area. Take full advantage of the revitalising scenery of the lake. It’s a perfect way to end your Ladakh trip – or a place to embark on a new inner adventure.
Perfect to satisfy your heart’s calling for adventure, Ladakh goes beyond sightseeing and the usual tourist hangouts. These must-do things in Ladakh will help you make memories of a lifetime and enjoy an unusual holiday in the lap of nature.
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