If you happen to be an avid traveler you will find that a lot of places have a few things in common. Like Coorg is often called as Scotland of India, Khajjiar is the Switzerland of India and many more. However, there are some places which are just one of its kinds. You need to travel there to really understand and witness the uniqueness. Ladakh is one such masterpiece and out of possible hundreds of things you could do there, I am going to list the very best for you. So come april, when the roads start opening up, you will be more clear on what all you must do when in Ladakh.
- Take the National Highway instead of flying
You can always take a flight from your town to Leh, however, the real fun lies in taking a road trip to Ladakh from Delhi. Almost 1000 kms of good, amazing, broken, muddy, concrete and uneven roads will give you an experience of lifetime.
- Forget hotels, embrace camping
Even if you do not like camping or haven’t tried it yet, you are sure to have an unforgettable experience while camping at Sarchu or Tso Moriri. With no signal on your mobile phones, you can take a break from all the technological advancements (interference) and get back to the nature and the beauty it has to offer.
- Watch Sunrise by the lake
Sunsets on beaches are way too common now. Get up early and watch the sunrise sitting beside the lake and get mesmerized by the surroundings. You will have never breathed air as fresh as that in Tso moriri and Pangong Lake.
- Sit by the lake and do nothing
Even if you are not a morning person and do not plan to get up early just to watch the sunrise, do not get disheartened. You could simply sit by the lake and do absolutely nothing. Even that will be an experience to cherish. Without any network, you will not be hooked on to your cell phone and might just spot some beautiful birds out there.
- Watch out for the BRO Signs
The border road organization has put up various boards all along the highway to emphasize on road safety. However, the thing to be impressed is the humor and ingenuity of the signs which range from being outright funny to being cheeky and sometimes naughty as well. My personal favorite was, “Be gentle on my curves.”
- Go Click crazy
This place is a photographer’s delight. You could get tired of taking pictures, but there won’t be any dearth of places worth clicking at every 100m.
- Get a Bike
A lot of thrill seekers ride to Ladakh on a motorbike. However, if you do not wish to travel the entire length on a bike, you could just rent one in Leh and travel to any of the amazing locations nearby. You can drive up to Khardung La, one of the highest motorable roads in the world.
- Go Hiking
This one is only for those who are really fit because; in Ladakh you are short of breath even while sitting casually. So in order to hike up a small mountain, you need to be at your best. All the hard work finally becomes worth it when you get a view, very few can.
Other than motor bikes you can also rent a bicycle and drive up the mountain ranges. However, you must carry a first aid box and some liquid to avoid any chance of dehydration. It only is lot of fun but also helps you manage the extra calories you would have gained while dining at German bakery last night.
- Visit the Monasteries
Leh is home to many beautiful and majestic monasteries with a rich history and heritage. Some of the famous ones are Hemis, Diskit and Alchi.
- Chat with the Monks
While you are at the monasteries, sit down with the monks and get to know their lifestyle and view. Some of them can give you perspectives which could shape your entire life.
It might seem to be a little off the list while you are traveling, but it is a different feeling altogether when you meditate in one of the monasteries high up on the mountains. It will certainly give you a feeling of tranquility and serenity you yearn so much in the bustling city life.
- Visit a local family
Go visit and even stay with a local family out there and you would be amazed at their hospitality and simplicity. The people here are one of the most helpful and kind ones you will ever find. Get to know them and their life.
- Eat Maggi!
Yes! Now that Maggi is officially back on the shelves, have some at the high altitudes and you shall fall in love with it all over again. Even during the banned phase, leh was one of those places, where Maggi was still available.
- See the double humped camels
Once you are in the Nubra Valley, you can see the double humped camels, otherwise known as bacterian camels, found only in this region. Go on ride sitting in between those humps on the sand dunes.
- Khardung La: one of the highest motorable road in the world
Visit Khardung La(18380 feet) and enjoy the experience of being on the world’s highest motorable road. But be sure not to stay there for more than 30 minutes or an hour for the fitter ones. At this height, the oxygen levels drastically reduce you might feel a little dizzy after some time.
- Enjoy the snowfall
If you are lucky or unlucky, depending on your tastes, you might get to enjoy snowfall at khardung La or Baralachla pass. It gets even more beautiful as the soft flakes of snow fall and cover the entire roads. The downside however is that too much of it can and often does block the roads for a couple of days.
- Make a wish by stacking some stones
While in Leh, you will get to see stones stacked up all along the highways and almost everywhere. People here do this to make a wish and since early ages. It is also considered to bring good luck to the travelers.
- Watch the sky during night
The place is very pollution free. So the skies are often unusually clear. You would have never seen so many stars in your life as much you can see here. And if you are lucky to be there during the full moon, you will fall in love with it.
- Confluence of Indus and Zanskar river
Do visit the site of confluence of the two rivers. You can literally see the 2 rivers meeting each other with the naked eye. However, if you are there during the winters, you will see a frozen Zankar river on which people even trek.
- River Rafting
If you love adventure, go for river rafting in the Zankar river. It is one of the most challenging, yet fun place to try this activity.
- Witness purest form of reflection in the crystal clear lakes
Both Pangong and Tso Moriri lakes are so crystal clear that you could literally see the perfect reflection of the majestic mountains and the blue skies in the lake. It is a beautiful sight to permanently carve in your memories.
- Defy gravity in the Magnetic hill
Although, it is merely an optical illusion, watch your car go uphill with the ignition of the vehicle off. You can even try impressing your unaware friends with your superpower.
- Visit Shanti Stupa
This one offers the most panoramic and majestic views of the city of leh and the surrounding mountains and their snow clad peaks. If you have time, watch the sunrise or sunset. It is remarkably beautiful.
- Catch a Snow Leopard sighting
Hemis National Park offers you the chance to see the enigmatic snow leopard. Very few people can boast to have seen this majestic creature.
- Hall of Fame
While you are having fun in Ladakh try to find some time and visit this place near Leh. It is a dedication to the soldiers who fought in the Kargil war and peek into the lives of army men posted on the Siachen sector.
- Enjoy the festivals
There are a lot of festivals held in the city and monasteries which is a must see if you happen to visit at that time of the year. Some of them are Hemis Festival, Losar Festival and the Ladakh Festival.
- Adventure treks
If all this still doesn’t fulfill your need for adventure, you can go for go for the extreme ones which are bound to satiate your thrill needs. Some of the best treks are Chadar frozen river trek and the Zanskar chadar trek. However, if you plan to go on these, you must keep in mind that in no way are these treks easy or simple. They will challenge you to the core. But, once you complete them, you feel have an immensely satisfying and gratifying feeling. After all, how many of us get to actually walk on frozen river in our lifetime.