Image credit: Before They
“The land so barren and the passes so high, that only the worst of enemies or the best friends would visit this land”, so goes a Ladakhi saying. The barren lands still lie barren and the snowy passes are still a challenge. But there is something about this place, nestled between the Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges, that makes it a must visit, gracing every avid travellers bucket list. This land has a personality, and those who seek find a beating heart and an exhilarating soul.
Here are a few reasons why a trip to Ladakh is not one to be missed:
1. You are on the moon
Image credit: Tim Dellman
Ladakh seems wondrously unreal, so unique is its landscape. You might feel like you’re on the moon, or on another planet. The landscape rises and falls, changing colours and terrain. The barren hills and undulating valleys lay down a setting for a Dali masterpiece about to be painted.
2. A bolt from the blue
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Only when you visit the Pangong Tso lake, will you know what all Bollywood movies mean when they talk of love-struck heroes drowning in the deep, blue ‘lake-like’ eyes of their respective love interests! The vivid colour instantly puts you in the best of spirits. It is not a site to be missed.
3. Monasteries and prayer flags
Image credit: Trevor Cole
More than half the Ladakhis are Buddhists and the region is dotted with ancient monasteries, or ‘gompas’. The most notable among them is the Hemis Gompa, which is 44 km south of Leh and the Diskit Gompa, located in Nubra Valley. Colourful Buddhist prayer flags flutter on the sides of the passes. This place gives you a chance to experience Buddhist traditions and take a dip in their culture!
4. Beautiful people
Image credit: Devyani Gupta
With their sunburnt and friendly, smiling faces, the people are beautiful. Everywhere you go, you will be greeted with a happy ‘Juleh’, the Ladakhi word for hello. Be prepared to feel an onslaught of cuddles whenever you pass a fat red-cheeked Ladhaki kid, and there is no shortage of those!
5. Po cha, Thukpa, Momos and Chang: Let’s talk about food
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If you are a foodie, you have been waiting for this. Food lovers will relish the Ladakhi delicacies! Pocha, a salted butter tea, is like nothing you’ve ever tasted. Thukpas and momos, hot and steaming, are a delight for hungry stomachs on those frosty, biting nights. Wash it all down with some Chhang, the local brew.
6. Starry nights for curious eyes
Image credit: Nimiti Nigam
You would never have seen so many stars in the sky together! Ladakh is a dark and desolate land at night and the sky is brimming with stars. Perfect place for star-gazing and for night time star-trail photography.
7. For the adventurer in you
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A very popular, and highly recommended, method of getting around Ladakh is biking. Nothing beats the thrill of the ride and the wind on your face. And with a landscape like Ladakh’s, it’s a sin to not be out in the open, soaking it all in! This land of high passes and azure blue lakes also offers great trekking and camping opportunities. Adventure is out there, folks!
8. Festivities and Merry-making
Image credit: Julie Hall
If you time your trip just right, you can go in time to visit the wonderful festivals that take place around the gompas. People come out in colourful tradition garb for dancing and merry making. You are a part of the fun, one among the many in this colourful, enthralling harmony of musicians, dancers and singers.
9. For the Zen-seekers
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Ladakh is perfect to get away from the daily hustle-bustle of life into a peaceful Shangri-la where time stands still and thoughts flow uninhibited. It can be your hideout, where you can get a much-needed reprieve from all the lemons that life throws your way! Dabble with Buddhist philosophy, meditate with the monks, find yourself as you scale mountains and cross passes, and let inspiration fill your soul.
10. Camel version 2.0
Image credit: Devyani Gupta
These are camels with a twist! Yes, presenting to you the famous Double Humped Camels. These beautiful furry creatures are designed to conquer cold deserts! You get to see them sashaying among the sand dunes of Nubra Valley, one of the few places in the world with a Bactrian Camel population.
Ladakh can be a thrilling escapade, a spiritual experience, a sight-seeing excursion, a time to get far from the maddening crowd, and a time to have a great adventure. It can be anything you want it to be and more! So stop what you’re doing and start planning your journey to Ladakh!