Leh ( 3500 M ASL), a fascinating labyrinth of winding streets and quaint bazaars. The main street is open and airy, with rows of shops on either side. On either side of the market are seen a long line of Ladakhi women in traditional dress and colourful jewellery of coral and turquoise, seated behind enormous baskets, selling vegetables. The spectacular eight-storey Leh Palace looming above, overlooking the town, was built in the 16th century, about the same time as the Potala in Lhasa which it resembles. The stroll through the town is followed by a visit to Sankar gompa, about 2 km from the market. It has a number of pure gold icons and richly painted walls, its pictures depicting different stories, including some from the Panchtantra. Well connected by Road by driving from Manali towards north to Leh approx 500 kms By driving from Srinagar to east to Leh approx 475 kms Daily flights available from Delhi - all flights are very early in the morning Nubra Valley in The north of Leh Pangong Lake in the east and by driving from leh towards south east you may exploer Tso Moriri Lake and Tso Kar Lake via Tanglangla pass By following river Indus in the west of Leh you may explore Pathar Sahib Gurudwara / Alchi monastery and Lamayuru monastery.
Shanti Stupa in Leh is located 10 minutes driving distance from Leh market is a Buddhist white-domed stupa on a hilltop in Changspa, Leh district, Ladakh. It was built in 1991 by Japanese Buddhist Monk Gyomyo Nakamura . it offers an incredible view of Leh valley and majestic Stok Kangri Peak at the back drop.
Sankar Monastery, is a Buddhist monastery within an easy 15 Minutes walk from Leh in Ladakh towards Shanti Stupa route. It is a daughter-establishment of Spituk Monastery and the residence of the Abbot of Spituk, the Venerable Kushok Bakula,
LLeh Palace is a former royal palace in Leh Ladakh. Modelled on the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet, the palace was built by King Sengge Namgyal in the 17th century. It is nine storeys building. The palace was abandoned when Dogra forces took control of Ladakh in the mid 19th century, forced royal family to move to Stok Palace in left bank of river Indus.
The Palace Museum holds a rich collection of jewellery, ornaments, ceremonial dresses and crowns. Chinese thangka or sooth paintings which are more than 450 years old, with intricate designs, retain bright and pleasing colours derived from crushed and powdered gems and stones.
Situated in the east of Leh town approx 15 Kms away by following Leh – manali highway your first stop would be at Shey palace and Shey monastery built first in 1655, near Shey village, by the king of Ladakh, Deldan Namgyal, also known as Lhachen Palgyigon. It was used as a summer retreat by the kings of Ladakh. Shey monastery was built by the same king in the memory of his late father, Singay Namgyal
Thiksay Gompa related with the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Located on top of a hill approximately 20 kilometres from Leh city. One of the most beautiful and picturesque monastery in Ladakh. It is noted for its resemblance to the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet and is the largest gompa in central Ladakh,
It is a twelve-story complex and houses many items of Buddhist art such as stupas, statues, thangkas, wall paintings and swords. Maitreya Temple installed to commemorate the visit of the 14th Dalai Lama to this monastery in 1970, contains a 15 metres high statue of Maitreya, the largest such statue in Ladakh.
Located nearly 45 Km east form Leh town by crossing Indus river by following a deep gorge of mountains on left bank of River Indus. Hemis Monastery existed before the 11th century. Naropa, the pupil of the yogi Tilopa, and teacher of the translator Marpa is connected with this monastery. Hemis Monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery (gompa) of the Drukpa Lineage, located in Hemis, re-established in 1672 by the Ladakhi king Sengge Namgyal. Most famous annual Hemis festival honoring Padmasambhava is held here in early June.
Stok Monastery and Palace is a Buddhist monastery in Leh district, Ladakh, nearly 15 Km south of Leh City in the left bank of river Indus. Stok belongs to the yellow-hat sect of Buddhism. The oldest parts of the gompa are some 550 years old though the main Dukhang is only about 50 years old. It was founded by Lama Lhawang Lotus in the 14th Century and has a notable library including all 108 volumes of the Kangjur. A ritual dance-mask festival is held annually.
Nubra Valley ( floor elevation is around 1000 Ft) is a tri-armed valley located to the north east of Leh City Over Khardungla pass which is the highest motorable pass in the world (18380 Ft )above sea level. This is also called Valley of flowers in Ladakh. After crossing Khardungla pass you can see the Shyok river flowing towards Nubra where you can see the confluence of Shyok and Siachen river.
Check in at your hotel / Camp at Diskit. Visist Diskit Monastery which is nearly 350 years old Gompa and largest in the valley. Visit Sand dunes at Hunder where you may have a two humph camel ride. Hunder was the capital of Nubra Kingdom in 17th Centuary, Back to the hotel and overnight stay.
Along the Nubra or Siachan River lie the villages of Sumur, Kyagar, Tirith, Panamik, Turtuk etc... Samstanling monastery is between Kyagar and Sumur villages. Stop fo r a while to see Panamik hot springs. Bathing facility is also available. Turtuk is a village 205 km from Leh on the banks of Shyok River. Residents speak Baltistani, Urdu and Ladakhi Language; it has opned recently for tourist and last village of the region. Beautiful valleywith incredible view of Himalayas and valley offer and extravaganza attraction to Tourist. K2 mountain peak located across the border in Pakistan can be visible. Few gompas located around the village.
The Siachen Glacier is located in the eastern Karakoram range in the Himalaya Mountains by driving from Leh to Nubr and further to Siachen. it is the longest glacier in the Karakoram and second-longest in the world's. capet elevation of ia approx 5,753 m (18,875 ft) above sea level. The average winter snowfall is more than 1000 cm(35 ft) and temperatures can dip to −50 °C (−58 °F). this is the most diffuclt border survival region in the world as well an IMP place / battle field for Indian soldiers. Incredible views around will attract you to explore the extreme north of India and witness the life of our brave soldiers protecting the boundaries in the harsh conditions as such. Day trips can be organize.
The Pangkong lake (which means extensive cavity or hollow) is a very long narrow spread of water situated at an altitude of 14,500 feet (4,750 m). situated in the north east of Leh city by crossing third highest pass called Changla Pass (17370 Ft ) Extending from east to west, only a quarter of the lake lies in India, the rest stretching into Ruthog (Tibet). Its eastern extremity is unknown. The lake acts as an important breeding ground for a variety of birds including a number of migratory birds. During summer, the Bar-headed goose and Brahmini ducks are commonly seen here. The region around the lake supports a number of species of wildlife including the kiang and the Marmot.
Rupshu is a vast area to the south east of Ladakh, on the road from Manali to Leh. The valley lies at an altitude of 4,000 to 5,000 meters. Cultivation is difficult because of the extremely cold and dry climate, though there is ample grazing land. The small population is thus widely spread and consists mainly of nomadic shepherds, called Changpas. The Changpas also engage in trade and work the caravans between Ladakh, Lahoul and Spiti.
The trail commences from the Indus valley, goes over the Kangmaru la into the Nimaling plains, over the Zalung Karpo la towards the Rupshu Valley. Following the Kurna Chu through the beautiful Sorra gorge, the trail goes over two more passes before ending on the banks of Tso Morari or "mountain" lake, situated in the middle of the elevated district of Rupsu. The lake is formed by a tributary of the Spiti river. The lake’s name is characteristic of its situation - nestled in the midst of 20,000 foot plus peaks which completely shut the lake in. Legend has it that a woman riding a yak was carried into the lake. At first the yak swam boldly out and the woman (chomo) was delighted. But after a while the animal grew tired and sank deeper in the water. The chomo became frightened and screamed "Ri Ri, Ri Ri" until the yak sank and she drowned. Since then, the lake has been called Chomo-riri.
The area is rich in wildlife including the kyang (wild ass), red fox and the rare, highly endangered snow leopard. Black-necked cranes and bar-headed geese flock to the lakeside for breeding during the summer months. Tso Kar is another brackish lake and this whole region has supported a vital salt industry that allowed the Changpas to trade with merchants from the other regions of Ladakh.
Driving in the west of Leh by following river Indus you will amaze with the beauty of sham valley. Spituk monastery / Pathar sahib Gurudwara / magnetic hill / confluence of Zanskar and river at Nimo Indus you may explore aother monastery called Likir located just before Alchi Gompa driving right in a subway lane for few minutes.
ALCHI GOMPA is located near the small village of Saspol. It is one of the earliest monasteries built in Ladakh, dating from the 11th century. Because it was constructed before the invading wars begun in the 15th century, Alchi was built on lowlands, rather than on a hilltop as other gompas were, to protect them from marauding armies.
The gompa at Alchi was erected by Rin-chen-Izghimpo, one of the first Ladakhi kings to engage in foreign relations. To build the monastery, the Ladakhi king signed a treaty with the Gyalpo (king) of Tibet, who agreed to provide the artisans.
The rambling monastery has six main buildings the Dukhang or main assembly hall, the Sum-tsek or three-tiered temple; the adjoining Manjusri Lha-khang and Lotsawa Lha-Khang temples; the Lha-khang Soma and the Kanjur-Lha-khang.
Further 60 kms form Alchi you may arrive at Moon land at Lamayuru Gompa which is one of the most picturesque monastery in Leh region
Ancient legends say that at the time of Sakyamuni (the Historical Buddha), Lamayuru's valley was a clear lake where nagas (holy serpents) lived. The Bodhisattva Madhyantaka foretold that the lake would be emptied and a monastery built there. The legends continue by saying that Naropa, an 11th century Indian Buddhist scholar, came to Lamayuru and spent many years meditating in a cave, which can still be seen in the main Dukhang. Naropa then caused a split in the surrounding hillside and the lake emptied through this opening. After the lake emptied, Naropa found a dead lion previously covered by the waters of the lake. On this spot, Naropa built the first temple at Lamayuru, the Singhe Ghang (Lion Mound). Other historical accounts relate that in the 10th century the King of Ladakh ordered the building of Lamayuru gompa and placed it under the supervision of Rinchen Zangbo.
Bema, via Achinathang - the home of the Drok-pas. The restricted areas of Ladakh include not only the outlying regions of Nubra, the Pangong Lake and Rupshu, but also the Indus valley below Khaltse, where the villages of Da, Hanu, Garkhon and Darchiks are home to a minuscule ethnic group known as Drok-pa. They are Indo-Aryan by race in contrast with the Tibetan racial characteristics of majority of the Ladakhis, having their own distinct traditions and customs and practicing a form of Buddhism that has an intriguing intermixture of pre-Buddhist animist beliefs.
The Shagkar-Chigtan valley, runs north from Bodh-Kharbu. The people of this valley are known for their joie-de-vivre, and also for having brought Ladakh's rich oral literature to its finest degree of development. Though Muslims, they retained till very recently traces of the Buddhism from which they were converted at an uncertain period during the last 400 years. The best versions of Ladakh's national folk-epic, the Kesar Saga are said to have been those recited by the bards of Chigtan.
One can go further to Batalik to reach at Kargil form this place and further to Srinagar or come back to Leh via Lamayuru
Zanskar can be reached by driving from Leh to Kargil and further in the south to Padum
Though you may have opportunity to Drive from Manali to Darcha and have a trek from Darcha to Shingola pass and trek up to Padum
For the Motor bike or jeep safari it would be just perfect to Drive to Kargil – Rangdum – Padum and back to Leh.
After Kargil start the spectacular drive in the south through the very fertile and agriculturally rich valleys of Sanku, Panikhar and Parkachik of lower Baltisthan along the true left bank of Suru river. While approaching Panikhar, gaze upon the incredible view of Nun and Kun massif, the highest peaks in the Zanskar range. Leave behind the Muslim culture at the last village of Parkachik, with the road winding next to the Suru river and Parkachik glacier, descending from the north-east face of the Nun massif.
continue the drive over the dirt road towards Pensi La (14,400 ft/4389 m). The road takes an almost 90 degree turn towards the east from Rangdum gompa and climbs up to the Pensi La. From here far in the south, the view of Drung Drang glacier (the source of Suru river), flanked by the massive of Z3 (6,129 m) is a spectacular sight. Another 3 to 4 hours drive through the Doda valley will bring us to Padum, the capital of Zanskar
Ladakh and Zanskar form the western edge of the Tibetan plateau and are popularly known as "Little Tibet" due to the similarity of the culture and the high altitude desert landscape. Politically, this region forms a part of India, though the religious head is still the Dalai Lama. The flora and fauna is also similar to Tibet and is quite distinct from the rest of the Himalayas. The region, being beyond the reach of the monsoon, is dry with sparse vegetation. Willow groves and poplars are found near villages. Bushes of elderberry, wild strawberry and sage brush are also common. The fauna includes marmots