Ladakh is one of the most beautiful regions in India, sheer diversity of landscape and hues here are truly unrivaled. Having traveled to Ladakh 9 times, I have come to believe, not even a lifetime is enough to explore and appreciate this beautiful region.
Yet, for someone visiting Ladakh with limited time in hand, there is a need to prioritize places in order to see the best that Ladakh has to offer. This list of 10 Must-Visit Places in Ladakh should help you do just that!
So let’s get on with the list of places I feel are a must-visit for those traveling to Ladakh.
10. Indus and Zanskar Confluence
35 km from Leh and along the Leh – Srinagar Highway is the Confluence of Indus and Zanskar Rivers. Here the historic Indus River merges with the often muddy Zanskar River and continues its journey to Pakistan.
Normally the water of Indus is clear and turquoise, while the Zanskar is muddy. Though this can change based on season and flow. There is a cafeteria here for those in search of refreshment and if you have acclimatized to the high altitude and are interested in having an adventure, you can do river rafting here.
Alternatively, you can enjoy the cold yet calm waters of the Indus River.
9. More Plains
There are places in Ladakh, which can fool your senses and More Plains is one of them. This flat wide valley located at an altitude of 15,800 ft, would have you believe that you’re traveling in plains and not in the midst of the Himalayas. With the clear atmosphere of Ladakh allowing to you to see for miles around, meddling with your perception of distance.
More Plains is on the Manali – Leh Highway and falls between Pang and Debring (detour for Tso Kar lake.) So even if you aren’t planning to undertake the land journey to Ladakh, you can still visit More Plains while coming back from Tso Moriri.
8. Hall of Fame
The Hall of Fame is located on the outskirts of Leh, along Leh – Srinagar Highway. Built and run by the army, the Hall of Fame contains not only the military history of Ladakh but also the cultural and natural history.
It is a wonderful place to learn about Ladakh’s history and for all the army aficionados, it has a special section devoted to the army and high altitude mountain warfare.
Hanle is home to Indian Astronomical Observatory, currently the third highest optical telescope in the world at an altitude of 14,764 ft.
Located at a distance of 255 km from Leh, Hanle requires Inner Line Permit, which is only issued to Indian Citizens.
Hanle is known for good visibility throughout the year, making it a great choice for scientists and photographers interested in a perfect view of the night sky. Add to that, Hanle has a beautiful monastery and arid yet stunning landscape.
6. Maitreya Statue, Diskit Monastery
Diskit Village in Nubra Valley is located 115 km from Leh, and in order to reach this village, you have to travel on the highest motorable road in the world, Khardung La. Perched right above the town of Diskit is the Maitreya (future Buddha) Statue and the 14th-century Diskit Monastery.
Even though the 102 ft tall Maitreya Statue is relatively new (consecrated by H.H. the Dalai Lama on 25th July 2010), it provides a panoramic view of the Nubra Valley with the twin towns of Diskit and Hunder along the Shyok River visible in the distance. Making it a perfect vantage point to see God’s own canvas, the Nubra Valley in all it’s glory.
5. Likir Monastery
Ladakh is known as the land of the lamas, with the dominant religion being Buddhism, there are numerous monasteries worth exploring. However, if I had to pick one, it would be the Likir Monastery.
Located 56 km from Leh, after a detour from the Leh – Srinagar Highway, the 11th Century Likir Monastery is rich in heritage and beauty.
Even though it is part of the extended Sham Valley tour, it isn’t as commercial as other frequently visited monasteries. Add to that, the monks here are quite friendly and accommodating to visitors and I often found myself more at peace here than at other monasteries. Apart from the temples, museum here is also worth visiting and the 75 ft high gold-gilded statue of Maitreya is a sight to behold!
4. Shanti Stupa
One of the must-see places in Leh for everyone is the Shanti Stupa, located just above the Changspa Village. Built-in 1991 by Bhikshu Gyomyo Nakamura, a Buddhist from Japan, it contains relics of the Buddha at its base and was enshrined by H.H. the Dalai Lama himself.
Apart from its religious significance, Shanti Stupa also offers a panoramic view of the Leh City and from here, you can watch the sunrise from behind the mountains and Tsemo Gompa and Leh Palace.
3. Rezang La War Memorial, Chushul
216 km from Leh, a few kilometers ahead of Chushul is the Rezang La War Memorial, dedicated to the brave soldiers of 13 Battalion of Kumaon Regiment, deployed under the leadership of Major Shaitan Singh, during the 1962 Indo-China War. On the 18th November 1962, Major Shaitan Singh and his men bravely faced the onslaught of a much bigger and better equipped Chinese army, which was backed by heavy artillery fire. Major Shaitan Singh and his 114 men paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect the integrity, sovereignty, and honor of India.
In order to reach the Rezang La War Memorial, you need Inner Line Permit for Chushul and Tsaga, and currently, only Indian Citizens can obtain it. Since the entire route after Merak Village, runs along the Line of Actual Control (ceasefire line with China) and one can see the Chinese territory en route.
2. Pangong Tso
Pangong Tso is one of the largest and most beautiful high altitude lakes in India and this 135 km long lake situated at an altitude of 14,000ft, is shared with our Chinese neighbors, since they occupy two-thirds of it!
Located 150 km from Leh and made famous by the numerous movies and songs shot here (including the climax of the 3 Idiots), Pangong Tso today retains much of its beauty, even though it is thronged by hundreds of travelers during the season.
In order experience the sheer scale and beauty of this wonderful natural lake, you should travel to Merak Village, the last point till which tourists (especially foreigners) can travel on a normal permit.
1. Tso Moriri
Tso Moriri lake is located 211 km from Leh and in order to reach here, you will be mostly traveling along the Indus River.
This 19 km long lake is brackish, yet beautiful. And since not as many tourists visit it in comparison to Pangong Tso, it is a lot less touristy. It is still possible to find solitude here, if you walk/drive long enough from the Korzok Village.
Don’t forget to explore the cafes in Leh. They serve amazing food (especially if you’re looking for Continental and Mediterranean cuisines.) In fact, it is best to keep a day dedicated to exploring Leh and the cafes here.
Got a question about traveling to any of the places mentioned above? Please leave a comment below.
Have you traveled to Ladakh? If yes, don’t forget to let me know, which places you liked the most.