Leh Ladakh Sightseeing – Places To Visit In and Around Leh
We take it that you’ve finally decided to visit Leh Ladakh. We used the word finally, because we KNOW you’ve wanted to go for a long-long time. Or maybe you’re here just to convince yourself, yet again, that it’s high time for you to get out of that couch and leave. No matter what category you fall into, here we have written about some places you must include in your Leh Ladakh Sightseeing.
As you can see in the map, Leh or the hermit kingdom is connected to India via two roads, namely NH 1, i.e. the Srinagar-Leh Highway, and the Leh-Manali Highway. If you’re planning a road trip, you can visit some of these while on your way to Leh. I myself flew over there and so I visited them on day tours from Leh. Here are some places you must add to your Leh Ladakh Sightseeing list:
Also Read: Best time to visit Leh Ladakh.
Must Visit Places In Leh:
1. Leh Palace: Quite similar to Lhasa’s Potala Palace in Tibet, Leh Palace, being a nine-storey building, is one of the tallest of its times. Although it’s in the ruins now because of being primarily built from sand and rocks, the travelers find the hike to the place worth the experience. The terrace provides panoramic views of Leh Valley and the surrounding areas and contains a lot of Leh’s history as pictures in its small rooms. Zanskar Range is also visible from the rooftop.
2. Shanti Stupa: Built in 1991 by Japanese and Ladakhi Buddhist monks to promote peace and mark 2500 years of Buddhism, Shanti Stupa is one of the most inexplicably magnificent Tibetan structures ever built. Travelers and tourists love its peaceful vibes, amazing architecture and spectacular views, especially at sunrise and sunset. The small café makes up for the climb and photographers find it to be a perfect place to shoot for the time lapse sequences.
On Leh Manali Highway:
1. Shey Gompa: Shey Monastery is located in the Choglamsar Village, very close to Leh. The climb to the top of the Shey Palace & Monastery can be a bit tiring, so we recommend it in the first half of the day. It provides astounding views of the mountains surrounding Leh.
2. Druk White Lotus School: Popularly known as Rancho’s School in the Bollywood movie “3 Idiots”, Druk White Lotus School is in Shey, Ladakh. If being Rancho’s School wasn’t a good enough reason for you to visit it, the school has won certain awards such as Best Green Building, Best Education Building, etc.
3. Thiksey Monastery: Some travelers and tourists believe it to be one of the best designed monasteries in Ladakh, and it has one of the biggest statues of Maitreya Buddha. The Bollywood movie “Dil se” also featured Thiksey Monastery. Some travelers recommend booking a place close to the monastery and going to the early Morning Prayer.
4. Hemmis Monastery: Many travelers call it a hidden gem, and it is one of the richest monasteries in the area with about 300 monks living in it. The drive to this place is full of amazing scenic views, and once can peacefully meditate in it.
On Leh Srinagar Highway: NH1
1. Hall of Fame: It is a must visit place to know about the warfare used as well as seized by the Indian Army during the war and the related stories about how they are protecting our country. The six major wars fought by the army are explained in detail and the Indian Army itself maintains the museum.
2. Spituk Monastery: Spituk Monastery is located near the Hall of Fame Museum. It offers spectacular views of Leh including the Museum and Leh Airport from the top. Although it has some steep stairs, it is easily accessible.
3. Gurudwara Pathar Sahib: This is a must visit place in Leh, which you can visit via a cab or a bus. There is a beautiful story associated with this Gurudwara and the food from the Langar is delicious.
4. Magnetic Hill: This is one of the must visit places as it is said that it defies gravity. As you reach the indicated point and switch off the ignition, the vehicle starts moving uphill without any external force. And even without any external force, it feels like you’re being pushed. Whatever the reason be, it seems magical.
5. Confluence Point (Sangam Point): Also known as Nature’s Marvel, it is the meeting point of the mucky river Zanskar with the clean bluish river Indus. The difference between their colors is quite evident. It is a breathtaking view and is one of the major tourist attractions in Ladakh. You can also try river rafting here if you haven’t tried it elsewhere before.
6. Stok Palace Museum: Accessible via a shared auto from the Leh market, it is a place containing intriguing collection of Buddhist artifacts, weaponry, Thangka paintings, etc. You must visit it if you want to learn about the Ladakh royalty.
7. Lamayuru: Due to its resemblance to the moon’s surface, Lamayuru is known as the Moonland of Leh. It is almost the midpoint between Leh and Kargil and is home to more than 150 monks. Lamayuru Monastery is a must visit place here and it has a rich collection of artifacts. It is a peaceful and serene place, and offers you a chance to go within, amongst all the beauty. You can read about a funny incident which happened with me in Lamayuru, here.
8. Mulbekh Monastery: It has a 9-Meter tall, 2000-year old standing Budhha’s statue carved on an existing stone, and is one of the must visit places in and around Leh Ladakh. Mulbekh village is also one of the rare villages where the Muslims and Buddhists are living in peace and harmony since ages.
9. Shargole: The hike to the Shargole Monastery is worth the view, experience and peace it has to offer. It is situated not far from NH-1. The monastery seems to be embedded in a cliff and gives an amazing scenic setting.
10. Drass War Memorial, Kargil: It a must visit place, a war memorial built by the Army in the foothills of the Tololing Hill. This place is filled with the stories of success, sacrifice, bloodshed and love for the country. It’s an honor in itself to be able to visit such a place and learn more about Indian Army’s valor and pride. The heart wrenching Kargil war documentary and old letters from the army officials are enough to move something within you.
1. Khardung La Pass: It is the world’s highest motorable road at 18380 Ft. and the journey via it is breathtaking in itself. It is once in a lifetime experience and the mesmerizing view of the snow capped Himalayan Mountains are to die for. We recommend not staying at the top for a longer time as there’s very low oxygen.
2. Diskit: Located at a slight detour from the way to Nubra Valley, it is famous for Diskit Monastery, which has one of the largest statues of Buddha. It also provides a great view of Nubra Valley and the mountains.
3. Turtuk: India gained possession of the Turtuk village in the 1971 war and the government opened it for tourists in 2010. Turtuk Monastery is the viewing point of K2 or Mount Godwin-Austen which is located across the border in Pakistan. This village also has 2 to 3 small museums for the tourists.
4. Nubra Valley & Hunder Sand Dunes: Nubra Valley is a high altitude Himalayan desert, whose beauty is inexplicable. Sand Dunes of Hunder are a must visit too, and a few travelers recommend to visit them on a full moon, if possible. At the Sand Dunes, you can enjoy a ride over the Bactrian camel.
5. Pangong Tso: Made famous by Bollywood movies such as “3 Idiots” & “Jab tak hai Jaan”, Pangong Tso is a beautiful lake which extends from India to China. It has a range of beautiful shades due to sun’s reflection, and pictures can never do justice to its sheer beauty. The depth of the lake is unknown, but it is once in a lifetime experience to spend a night in a tent beside the lake.
6. Chang La Pass: Much like Khardungla Pass, we recommend to make your stay quicker as this is the 2nd highest pass in the world. Like most of the places it is full of beauty but also known as one of the most dangerous passes.
7. Tso Moriri: Tso Moriri, also known as the “Mountain Lake”, is one of the many lakes within the Changtang Wildlife Sanctuary. Although Bollywood movies have made Pangong Tso more popular, certain travelers find Tso Moriri to be more beautiful. Not many tourists visit Tso Moriri due to the higher altitude, and hence there’s very less commercialization. It is one of the must visit places in Leh Ladakh and is hardly at 6-7 hours drive from Ladakh.
That my friend, is a list of must visit places in and around Leh. Most of these places are best experienced on a motorbike, but you can always rent a car or use buses to visit them.