Ladakh is the crown-jewel of India and a hot-spot that attracts tourists from India as well as all over the world. But what is it that makes it a ‘must-visit’ tourist destination, despite that fact that it is not a very easily accessible place and the facilities available are not exceptional either?
The charm of Ladakh cannot be expressed enough in words, nor contained in a few expressions. Here are some of the best reasons why you SHOULD take that life-altering and alifetimetrip, guaranteed to fall in love and wanting to come back again and again!
1. Intriguing beauty
As you come into Ladakh from the Manali-Leh Highway, you would see an abrupt change in the landscape after crossing the Lahaul Valley. If you come via Srinagar, the same is visible as you cross Zoji La.
The lush green expanses suddenly turn to rugged mountains that are devoid of any forms of vegetation. The rustic appeal is both daunting and intimidating, as you face the harshness of nature. The desert-like expansiveness of raw mountainous terrain makes you feel the powerful forces of nature and how you are but a tiny speckle in the magnanimous environs. Places like Nubra Valley allow you to experience the clear flowing river and sand-dunes of the desert, and are a photographer’s delight!
2. The land of blues of all hues
Where else will you find the azure blue lakes competing with clear blue skies, embellished with pristine clear clouds? The legendary Pangong Lake that stretches for miles, crystal-clear, shimmering, enticing! The Tso Morriri, Tso Kar, Kiagar Tso, Tso Kyin – and so many more – each charming, untouched and breathtaking!
3. Explore nature on foot – the picturesque trekking trails
Ladakh is the epitome of pleasure for a trekker. So many routes have been trod upon by enthusiastic folks who love to be one with nature, as they enter her deepest folds and discover her delightful secrets. If you have a backpack, a tent, a map and some provisions for yourself, along with a daring spirit, just set off on this awesome experience! The famous Chadar trek is very popular, as is the Markha Valley trek. For those who like adventure, Stok Kangri trek has some surprises and challenges!
4. The charming monasteries – the Gompas
Dotting the mountains are quaint monasteries – the Gompas – prides of Ladakhi population. Vibrant and somewhat startling wall murals adorn these, but the Gompas inside are melting pots of heritage, culture, ancient Buddhist scriptures and are the main source of strength of the community here, to live in such harsh conditions, with a smile. Inside the monasteries there is a soothing environment; the simplicity and dignity of the monks rubs on to you as well. Little monks who are but boys, despite the heavily austere robes, take your heart away!
5. The colorful festivals
Ladakh festivals are vibrant and full of dance and gaiety. These are the best places which bind all the community members together, where everyone comes together joyously. Their colorful dances such as the Cham are bold and bizarre. The monasteries host many of these festivals and a famous one is the Hemis festival. Many festivals such as Ladakhi Losar, Spituk Gustor, Thiksey Gustor and Stok Monastery Festival occur in winter and are thronged by tourists.
6. Clear skies for astronomic wonders – perfect for stargazing
Ladakh is very popular amongst photographers and astronomers for its clear vision of the night sky – unpolluted. In fact, many like to pitch tents in the wilderness and simply connect with the universe at night. A special permit can take you to Hanle, the paradise for those wanting to spot the Milky Way! This is home to the Indian Astronomical Observatory, which boasts of having the highest telescope in the world!
7. Lovely and warm Ladakhis
It is impossible not to be bowled over by the simple and sweet natured Ladakhi residents. Cheerful, despite the harsh life, and God-fearing, they are very hospitable and friendly. In fact, if you are lucky, the locals may even offer you a sumptuous yet simple meal. If you can get to stay with a local family, you would have hit the jackpot! It’s the perfect way to get a first-hand experience of the local lifestyle!
Our travelers with the shy Ladakhis
8. The ‘oh-so innocent’ cute kids
The kids are so cute! They do not possess the modern gadgets and live childhood the way as it is probably supposed to – pure, close to nature and full of human touch. Their innocent smiles are sure to touch you! This happy disconnect with the unnecessary complications of the modern world gets on to you and you begin to feel child-like yourself!
9. Safe heaven for women
Ladakh is very respectful towards nature and its creations. So many women travelers alone or in groups have recounted wonderful experiences where they roamed around freely without the constant fear of being stalked, stared at or touched. A message for those in the rest of the world, if they care to listen!
10. The Rarest Wildlife
Ladakh is home to the rarest species of wildlife. The Snow Leopard, innumerable birds, kiangs, marmots and charming furry friends can be spotted here. Habitat to yak, ibex, bharal and the like, this is a favorite for those who love to be with the creatures of nature and wildlife photographers.
God’s own creation – the picturesque land of Ladakh – is frequented by many via road or by air. Those who want to push their own body to the extremes love to take bike trips here on the world’s highest motorable roads.
Truly Ladakh is and will always engage, astonish, inspire and mesmerize visitors! No wonder than that whatever has been said and written about this marvel is never enough!