"Ladakh Leh - A Kingdom Lost" Top 5 Page for this destination Leh by anilpradhanshillong

Leh Travel Guide: 225 reviews and 706 photos

An Intro

The Ladakh region lies in the Indus valley basin in the state of Jammu & Kashmir of India and occupies almost 60 % of the land mass of the state followed by Jammu and Kashmir regions. This is after the Pakistan attack of 1947 when the Skardu region was lost and the Chinese aggression of 1962, when Aksai Chin (desert of white stone) was similarly lost.

The Zanskar mountains separate Ladakh from Himachal Pradesh while the Karakoram mountains are the borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan. The area of Ladakh is predominantly an arid wasteland, populated with stones, rocks and boulders, making agriculture a back-breaking occupation. Intense cold, high speed winds, scorching sunlight, dry air – all combine to make the area inhospitable and harsh. Whatever rainfall the area receives, is quickly sucked up by the sandy earth, with the surroundings once again turning brown. Only in places like Nubra, Leh and Kargil, there is some amount of vegetation.

The headquarters of this district is Leh, situated at a height of 11,500 ft. At that height, without proper acclimatisation, the first time visitor goes through the entire gamut of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) like breathlessness, nausea, sleeplessness, and headache. Therefore, it is advisable to take complete rest for the first 24 hours and, if possible, extend it by another 24 hours. Lips will feel dry all the time, the skin appears parched, long exposure to sun invites painful sun burns, the blood pressure shows a marked increase and the slightest exertion produces breathlessness. So, just take it easy and go about your business in a very deliberate way for the first day or two.

The Flight & Acclimatisation

The flight from Delhi to Leh starts real early in the morning. The return flight is equally at an unearthly hour of 6.20 am. However, as you bundle your way down the stairs and clamber abroad he waiting bus, you taste pure, fresh air, albeit 40 % less. The sky is azure blue, the nearby mountains a rugged brown, the distant ones an icy white.

As you make your way to the small airport, named after Basuk Rimpoche, you feel distinctly exhausted by the slightest exertion. You need to steady yourself and remind yourself that acclimatisation is essential. Foreigners are required to fill in a ‘Foreigners Registration Form ‘C’, which is conveniently available at the Arrival Lounge. You go out, board your transport and go to your lodgings. A view from the left hand side window of the Kingfisher plane is here at Virtual Tourist.

The first 48 hours’, we merely vegetated, pure and simple. We were advised to sip plenty of water, abstain from alcohol (due to its de-hyderating effect), eat well, sit around and get plenty of sleep. We did just that. Others had done one better – they had started on their AMS tablets two days before (full quota is four tablets before landing up at Leh; one after breakfast, the second one around 2 pm). Only on the second day evening did we take a leisurely stroll in Leh market for about 15/20 minutes). A video of the town is at Virtual Tourist.

Suggested itinerary

Day 1 & 2 -Acclimatisation, Leh Market (15 mins. Leisurely stroll)

Day 3-Monastries – Hemis, Thiksey, Shey, Shanti Stupa, Leh Market

Day 4-Hall of Fame, Gurudwara Shri Pathar Sahib, Magnetic Hill, Confluence Point, Alchi, Tsemo Gompa & Khar Palace, Leh market

Day 5-Khardungla Pass, Nubra Valley, Hunder & Halt

Day 6-Diskit Monastery & Return to Leh, Leh market

Day 7-Changla, Pangong Lake & Halt

Day 8-Rock Painting & Return to Leh, Leh market, Zorawar Singh Fort

Day 9-Catch flight back to base.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Fascinating Lovely Picturesque Spectacular Stark Ominous Implacable Enthralling Intoxicating Gratifying to the soul Virgin territory Unbelievable treasures Incredible scenery Simple, honest, unspoilt people
  • Cons:Bitterly cold during 'off season'
  • In a nutshell:One visit in a lifetime a must!
  • Last visit to Leh: Sep 2011
  • Intro Updated Dec 3, 2011
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Reviews (24)

Comments (5)

  • May 26, 2015 at 10:04 PM

    Re the medication suggestions here : read credible background information from specialists like International Society for Mountain Medicine ( ismm.org ) , Himalyan Rescue Association , the doctors at Leh hospital on Leh.nic.in etc , see a travel doc - and do it in a different way.

  • Aug 6, 2012 at 6:32 AM

    A real treat, a very good advice.thanks.

  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo
    Apr 30, 2012 at 8:46 PM

    Nice tips!

  • mehulraj's Profile Photo
    Apr 4, 2012 at 11:43 PM

    Very much useful tips. It will help me lot when I plan for my trip.

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo
    Nov 20, 2011 at 4:01 AM

    Beautiful photos from Leh and the surrounding monasteries! Reading your tips bring back many nice memories from my visit last year.


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