A travel Guide to Leh

Leh Tourism

Leh, India is a joint-capital and largest town in the union territory of Ladakh. Leh has many nicknames like “Little Tibet”, “The Last Shangri-La”, and “The rooftop of the world”. Situated at an altitude of 3500 m above sea level, Leh is one of the highest cities in the world. This place is adored by people all over the world for its natural beauty and mountainous terrains. Leh is the only place in the world where you can find a desert and sky-penetrating mountains at an interval of a few hundred km.

For Centuries Leh has been a paradise, hidden among the jagged peaks of western Himalayas. Since the late fifteenth century, Leh has been an important junction of Indo-Chinese trading. Present-day Leh is an important tourist destination and military outpost for the Indian Army. Some of the major Leh tourist attractions include Khardung La, Nubra valley, Magnetic Hills and Hemis National Park.

Leh Tours is filled with innumerable adventures of the jaw-dropping scenic beauty of the Himalayas, valleys, waterfalls, lakes, and lofty peaks. Present-day Leh is well known for its exotic wool, handicrafts, and cuisines. Here is a detailed insight of Leh tourism.

Places to visit in Leh

1. Pangong Tso

Pangong Tso is a 5 hours drive from the main town of Leh. Pangong Tso, meaning “high grassland lake”, is the crown jewel of Leh tourist places. It is a landlocked lake spanning from western Ladakh to eastern Tibet for a distance of 5 km approx). Nearby glaciers from the mountains and unground flowing streams of water have formed this salt-water marvel for millions of years. The lake is well-known for its breathtaking beauty and colour-changing ability. It has been popular for bikers, tourists, and campers for decades. Located at an altitude of 4350 m above sea level, it is one of the highest lakes in the world.

2. Thiksey Monastery

A top-spot holder in the Leh travel guide is the Thiksey Monastery. The Monastery is an architectural marvel located in the hilly terrains of the western Himalayas. Approximately 19 km from Leh, Thiksey Monastery is a gompa (Tibetan style monastery) built-in the mid-15th century by Sherab Zangpo. Legends say that once Sherab Zangpo was performing Buddhist rituals near the yellow temple (old Buddhist temple in Leh) when two crows appeared out of nowhere and flew off with his ceremonial plate. After days of searching, the plate was found on a peak of a small hill (modern-day Thiksey) unharmed by the harsh weather of Leh. Astounded by this phenomenon, Zangpo decided to build a monastery there. Thiksey Monastery holds great significance among Buddhists of Leh. It has various artefacts of Buddhist art like stupas, statues, wall paintings, and swords. The most breathtaking among them is a 2-storied high statue of Maitreya Buddha, situated in the main prayer hall of the monastery.

3. Hemis National Park

Hemis National Park is a high-altitude national park located a few km from Leh. It is a 2 hours drive from the main town. Greatly appreciated for its flora and fauna, the national park is most well-known for its majestic Snow leopards (at around 200). Opened in 1981, Hemis National Park organises some of the most popular trekking expeditions in Leh. Every year hundreds of professional mountain climbers come here to climb peaks like Stok Kangri and Kang Yatse, located inside the park. Hemis National Park also has a monastery, a memorial monument, and camping sites, and viewpoints, making it an all-rounded tourist attraction.

4. Markha Valley

Considered the hidden gem of Leh by some, Markha valley is one of the most famous Leh tourist places. It is situated on the banks of river Markha, a tributary of the Zanskar river. This beautiful valley is located 40 km away from the town of Leh. Throughout the year, thousands of tourists visit Markha Valley for trekking and camping. The trekking route of Markha Valley consists of snowy terrains, river crossing and zip-lining over frozen lakes. With unexplainable natural beauty and affordable hotels nearby, Markha Valley is favoured by adventure lovers throughout the country. Small villages located in the valley provide food and lodging for trekkers as well.

5. Hall of Fame

This patriotic monument is one of the most celebrated Leh attractions. The Hall of Fame is a museum dedicated to the brave military personnel of the Indian Army who laid their lives for their motherland during the Indo-Pak war. The museum holds various pieces of military equipment, vehicles, and infantries from the Indo-Pak war. It is located on Leh-Kargil road, about 4 km from Leh.

Things to do in Leh

Leh has countless adventures one can take part in. Some of the most famous things to do in Leh are:

Road trip to Tanglang La and Magnetic Hills

Leh tourism is famous for its road trips. Every year more than 5000 riders throughout India take on the journey to Tanglang La, one the highest motorable mountain passes in the world. Tanglang La is located 5328 m above sea level.

Magnetic Hills is a part of the Leh-Kargil Highway. The trip to Magnetic hills is a once in a lifetime experience. You will get homestays in the Magnetic Hills, but the numbers are small. So, booking a hotel in the city will be a better option.

Camping in Nubra Valley

The real spirit of Leh tourism lies in adventurous activities like camping, trekking, biking, and skiing. There are more than 20 camping spots in Leh. But the standout among them is Nubra Valley. Natively called the “valley of flowers”. It is home to more than 300 species of fauna that grow only in this part of the world. Situated about 150 km from Leh, camping at Nubra Valley is something everyone can enjoy

Chadar Trek (Trekking on a frozen lake)

One of the most sought-after Leh attractions is Chadar Trek. It consists of an adventurous, 105 km long one-way trek over the frozen river Zanskar and its nearby highlands. The Chadar Trek attracts both national and international tourists.

Indus River Rafting

Indus river rafting is a fun and challenging adventure sports one can sign-up for during their stay in Leh. The conventional routes are Phey to Nimo, Upshi to Nimo and Upshi to Kharu. Among all the other Leh attractions, this one is the most popular and affordable.

Camel or Yak Safari

Residents of Leh use Bactrian Camels and Yaks to give a tour of the nearby mountains. Camel and Yak Safaris are both entraining and affordable. It is an activity that people of all age groups can enjoy. Most hotels in Leh provide this service in their brochure.

Best time to visit Leh

The best time to visit Leh is during the months of April, June, July, and August. The temperatures are pleasing. All roads and major tourist attractions are open during this time.

As the monsoon approaches, the climate of Leh gets colder. Winters see the least tourist activities due to freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall. So, summer is definitely the best season to visit Leh.

How to reach Leh

If you are thinking about how to reach Leh, here are some tips you can follow.

By Roadways: Cabs and busses from Srinagar and Kargil come to Leh at a regular and frequent interval. You can simply hop on any one of them. If you like riding, you can also hire a bike from Srinagar and ride to Leh.

By Railways: Pathankot, Kalka, and Chandigarh are the closest station to Leh. You can get down in any of those stations. For the rest of the journey, you have to travel by road.

By Airways: Tourists can get direct flights to Leh from cities like Kolkata, Delhi, and Mumbai. You can reach the nearest airstrip, Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport, via flight and then take a 6-minute drive from the town.

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