“To travel is to take a journey into yourself”, said by Danny Kaye. One of the best travel destinations in India is Leh.
Leh is a picturseque town located in the district Ladakh in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. It can be a magical retreat from your taxing city life. I made a backpacking trip to Leh with several friends in the month of June 2018 and was spellbound by its beauty and charm. It was an experience which will last a lifetime for me!
The journey to get to Leh by road is challenging at the same time breathtaking. One can get a fantastic view of the gushing Indus River, the snow-capped mountains, melting glaciers and deserts at the same time.
There are two routes to get to Leh. One is via Zoji La Pass starting via Srinagar- Leh highway and the other is from Manali to Leh via the Manali – Leh Highway.
In our case, we took the Manali-Leh Highway route in a cab that halted at Jispa for the night. We also covered Rothang pass on the way. It was a 2-day journey to get to Leh from Manali. Government run buses, i.e. HRTC buses are also available from Manali to Leh with a night stay at Keylong.
One can also catch various flights that land directly at Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport if not comfortable with a long road journey. This airport has flights coming in from Delhi, Srinagar, and Chandigarh.
The best time to visit would be during the summer months of June and July as by this time, all the snow melts and the highways from Manali to Leh and Srinagar to Leh open. Even the time from Mid-September to Mid-October can be preferred, i.e. after the monsoons end and before the harsh winters commence.
An ideal trip to Leh should be for at least 10 to 12 days in order to cover all the destinations.
Leh has a lot of local sightseeing that one can do. This can be done either by hiring a taxi or a bike to cover the local destinations.
The local market is very lively, warm and is always bustling with tourists. The market has lovely restaurants of all cuisines. One must try the butter salt tea and Thukpa (noodles soup)! It also has many shops that sell woolens, dry fruits, and other local handicrafts.
The other destinations one can cover is the Thiksey Monastery, Shey Palace, Shanti Stupa, Leh Palace and Magnetic Hill. The architecture of the Monasteries and the houses is Tibetan. You get a splendid view of the entire town from the top of the Thisksey Monastery. All the Monasteries have a calm atmosphere and you feel spiritually liberated even though you are there for a short while.
People in Leh are very approachable, calm and polite.
The other places you must visit near Leh are Khardungla Pass which is the highest motorable road in the world and is at a height of approximately 5, 359 meters above sea water.
Nubra valley located next to Hunder village is the highest altitude desert in India. It is a marvel that a desert with sand dunes can be located at such a height. It houses the two-humped camel and one can opt for a camel ride there. We stayed for the night at Hunder village and started off to Pangong Tso Lake the very next morning.
The next destination we covered was the pristine Pangong Tso Lake. The lake had crystal clear water and gave out a bluish tinge. We could see the rocks and pebbles underneath. The water was really ice cold as the ice had recently melted away. The lake’s beauty captivated us and we spent hours staring at the lake and the clear sky.
The time I spent in Leh was for just 10 days but each day was so memorable that it seems to be stuck in my mind’s eye. Everything starting from the culture, cuisine, the people and the architecture is unique about the place!