I went with my family in August, the weather was sunny with very cold winds. But the morning and nights very quiet cold and it even rained in Nubra Valley & Pangong Lake. At this time of the year, Leh-Ladakh can serve you a variety of weather in its menu. We travelled for 8 days in Leh-Ladakh and it still felt like more is there to explore.
GOB Tip- Pack for all weather types 😛 “Kidding”, but do keep an umbrella or raincoat along with some warm clothing. And if you are travelling on bikes then you ought to carry a windcheater and wear sunscreen all the time.
For more tips to plan your trip to Leh Ladakh click here
Travel Duration – 8 Days
Travel Mode – Flight & Hired mini tempo and Bikes
Travel Budget – INR 25 – 30,000 (One can plan backpacking and a budgeted trip to Leh Ladakh in INR 18 – 23,000)
Here is a glimpse of how I had spent and planned my trip to Leh Ladakh:
DAY 1 -Arriving Leh
We had taken an early morning flight and after coming to our hotel, Kora where we rested or slept the whole day. In the evening we walked to the nearby Leh local market. Where we found this quaint little cafe on the Zangstin road. The cafe was on the first floor, above a few street stalls. We ordered spinach cheese momo’s thrice. Yes, they were that amazing. The locals are quite friendly and helpful. We had lost our way back going towards the hotel and one of them even helped us reaching back safely. After having a delicious dinner at our hotel we again slept not giving our bodies much exertion. Next day we could feel that climbing even 3 floors were becoming difficult and we were easily losing our breath. The only solution was to make slow movements and keep drinking water.
GOB Suggestion – Go by road if you have the appetite for it. The landscapes you encounter will take your breath away.
DAY 2 – Leh Local Sight Seeing
Our second day was spent local sightseeing in Leh. Where we visited:
This place looks like a whole city on top of a hill. The monastery houses several thankas, stupas, wall paintings and statues in the twelve storied building. This must-visit attraction also has a museum which treasures many sacred items. You can also find a large pillar engraved with the Buddha’s teachings and a 15 meter high Buddha statue at the main prayer hall.
The Shey Palace is situated 16 km from Leh City. The palace in which the monastery is located used to be the summer retreat of the royal family of Ladakh. Shey Monastery is believed to have been built in 1655 by Deldon Namgyal, in the memory of his father, Singay Namgyal. The gompa is known for its copper-gold statue of Shakyamuni Buddha. This statue is the second-largest Buddha statue in Ladakh. Things to Do and See around Shey Palace: Witnessing the copper-gold statue of Shakyamuni Buddha and stupa. One should also see the carvings on the rock-face of five Buddha in meditation. Best time to visit: The best time is during the festivals of Shey Loo Doo and Shey Rupla. Apart from this, one can visit between July and September, when the weather remains is quite pleasant.
The name of this school is Druk Padma Karpo School, also known as Druk White Lotus school. The clean and eco-friendly structures of the school are designed to withstand seismic activity. This school was conferred one of the most beautiful schools in the world by BBC London in the year 2016. There is a small cafe that serves delicious sandwiches and watermelon juice and a souvenir shop on the campus. Inside the souvenir, you will find a variety of items to shop for yourself and a wall that shows a timeline of events about the school. Would suggest visiting this place in the last as one can relax and eat here after a day of the outing.
Leh Palace also referred to as the ‘Lhachen Palkhar’ is a yesteryear royal palace located in the picturesque Ladakhi Himalayan town of Leh. The construction of the Leh Palace began in the sixteenth century and it was completed in the 17th century, making it as one of the tallest buildings of that era with nine storeys. The rooftop of the palace provides spectacular views of the mountain of Stok Kangri and a panoramic view of the entire town and the breathtaking view of Ladak snow-clad mountain range. The palace is now in a state of despair, being maintained by the ‘Archaeological Survey of India’ (ASI). However, the majestic building has a museum showcasing over 450 years old artefacts.
It’s a beautiful place near the Shey monastery. This is a must-visit site. The Indus river flows by Leh and this Ghat. This project was started in 2000.
DAY 3 and 4: To Pangong
After breakfast, we left for Pangong Lake (highest saltwater lake in the world) which is at 14,500 ft. via Chang La 17,350 ft. which is the third-highest motorable road in the world. At Changla Pass there is a small cafe that serves delicious maggie and different kids of chai and a military check post.
Pangong lake is an unparalleled beauty of nature, situated at the foothills of the Changchenmo range to the north, their reflection shimmers into the ever-changing blues and greens of the lake’s water. Above the Spangmik are the glacier and snow-capped peaks of Pangong range. Pangong lake is quite mesmerising to look at all day long. After the movie 3 Idiots, they have also installed a few things related to the movie. Like the scooter, bum chairs and archery stalls. This place is a treat for photographers.
A lot of camps had been recently demolished due to exploitation of nature at the lake. These camps were situated quite near to the lake, therefore, polluting the environment. A good measure was taken by the India government to preserve this mesmerising natural wonder. Hence, our stay was shifted to The Regal Camp, Pangong for the nest 2 days. The camp is worth staying as they provide all amenities and the camp rooms are clean and well maintained. The staff is friendly. You can also create your own bonfires, all you need is to bring your own firewood.
DAY 5: Nubra Valley
We started the drive to Nubra Valley via Shayok early morning so as to make the most of the day. On the way, we found a lot of mountain biking stands along with few river rafting ones. We headed straight for the river rafting as we were excited about rafting in the icy cold water. They provided us with a wet suit along with swimming shoes. We rafted for 8 km. What we all enjoyed the most was jumping in the icy river that would make our bodies numb even in the wet suit. But as they say “We had no idea we were creating memories. We thought we were just having fun!” And that’s what happens when we truly enjoy our adventures. Memories to cherish forever!
GOB Tip-off: The river rafting in Leh-Ladakh costs around INR 2000-2500 per person
We had planned of visiting the white sand dunes on the way to our campsite but the weather took a turn as soon we entered the Nubra Valley. We faced Rain combined with a dust storm making our journey a little difficult so we headed straight to our campsite. The rainfall increased upon reaching The Kora Valley Camp, the manager was sweet to serve us some freshly fried pakoras along with tea. After the rain died out we witnessed 2 beautiful rainbows adorning the skies. And again Ladakh gave us some picturesque moments. As the sun shone again in the sky, later in the day, we went to visit the great white sand dunes. Alongside the dunes, there is a little river flowing by where you can dip your feet in and relax in the day and have a little picnic. Camel rides and mountain biking are available at a walking distance from the river where adventure seekers can have some fun.
GOB Suggestion: Pack some fresh fruits, juices and cakes. Sit by the riverside and enjoy the view and relax under the sun’s warmth. And if you’re travelling on your bikes park them aside and breathe in some nature’s break.
And after the fun excursion at white sand dunes, we headed for the Diskit Monastery, where there is a majestic statue of Lord Kartikey and view to the city below. Which will surely make your eyes pop in awe!
Day 6 – Turtuk Village Visit
Next day we headed to the Turtuk Village, situated on the banks of Shyok Village. The picturesque village is the last northernmost village of India before Pakistan in Ladakh. Its is quite secluded and military-dominated as merely 10km ahead lies LOC between India and Pakistan. The natives of the Village speak a very unique language known as Balti, a mix of Persian & old Tibetan. Though this language is slowly dying as there are very few takers in the younger generation.
GOB Suggestion: Learn a new language and spread the word.
A mix of cultures from Pakistan, China and India shape and influence the culture of this village. It’s experiencing a Muslim village in a Buddhist domain within a Hindu majority country. The locals of the village are friendly and welcome the visitors with great hospitality and will offer you the best of apricots and walnuts. As Turtuk is also famous for it’s largest production of Apricots and walnuts.
DAY 7: Nubra to Leh
On the way to back to Leh, we stopped at Khardungla Pass – the World’s highest motorable road (18,390 ft. around 39 Kms.). At Khardungla the tourists are suggested not to stay for longer periods as the oxygen levels are 50% less than normal places. The temperature at Khardungla pass in peak summers is around minus 10-20 degrees. And in winters goes to -40 degrees.
GOB Tip – Don’t stay for more than 30 mins at Khardungla Pass due to lack of oxygen.
From Khardungla we headed back to Leh where we stayed for another 2 days. Leh has a lot of unexplored places and landscapes that one can keep going around and it still won’t end. Later we went to explore the local Leh market, where we shopped quite a lot. The local market is a lively affair all day long. You will find locals with their kids in the evening out there for a stroll, people from all over the world interacting and catching up with the locals. There are also a number of small and big food cafes, bakeries to be explored. You will also find a lot of shops selling singing bowls and artefacts of Monastery. My favourites were the leather bag shops & woollen stoles. They took my heart!
GOB Suggestion – Do sit, eat and relax in the evening at Bala’s German Bakery in the Leh Market.
Day 8: Exploring Leh More
After a good nights rest the next morning we headed for the Gurudawara Pathar Sahib. This Gurudawara dates back to 1517 that has a boulderstone with an imprint of head, neck and backside of Shree Guru Nanak Dev Ji. The Gurudawara is run and maintained by the Indian Army. After having the delicious langar and helping the kitchen staff for cutting the vegetables for lunch we headed for confluence and magnetic hill. Stopping at the vantage point one can see that the beautiful Nimmu valley gracefully holds the confluence of Indus and Zanskar River in its arms.
GOB Tip – If you love to trek do head to the Zanskar Gorge for a spectacular view.
Magnetic hill situated on the Leh-Kargil Highway is a small stretch of road that defies gravity. The reason the stretch is called a Magnetic Hill is that the mountains pull the stationary vehicles upwards. The Magnetic Hill is quite famous among the tourist spot lists and also serves as a pit-stop for tired traveller/ riders.
Next & Last stop was to visit the Shaurya Sthal & Hall of Fame dedicated to the Indian Army. There is a small play area for the kids as well. Where they can experience the physical training setup used for the Indian Army. These have been specially built for children with the decreased difficulty level. At a walking distance, you will spot Cafe Aroma. They serve delicious cheese garlic bread and cold coffee. A must visit foodies!
Always keep in mind Nature is the ruler here!
Next day early morning we took our flight back to Delhi, back home with memories we couldn’t shake off for a while.