Ladakh is a place like no other. Surrounded by two awe-inspiring mountain ranges, Karakoram and the Himalayas, Leh-Ladakh will redefine the concept of natural beauty like you never knew it. If you can take thin oxygen levels and some hardships on a holiday, brace yourself for a roller coaster ride.
But before you plan your adventure trip to Ladakh, make sure you include the following hotspots in the list no matter what.
The Marsemik La stands at an elevation of 18,900 ft., more than the height of Khardung La which boasts of the highest motorable road in the world. Well! Despite of the Marsimik standing at an elevation higher than Khardung-La, it is not the highest motorable road as this pass can only be reached by very few skilled bike riders and four wheel drivers (mostly Army jeeps and trucks).
Also, the pass is the riskiest in the region owing to its steep slopes with loose sand and gravel and sharp rocks. Unpredictable snow storms, avalanches and blizzards can show up any time during the climb. With extreme scarcity of oxygen and zero greenery, this is the most inhospitable place in the world. A climb to the Marsimik La is only meant for real ardent adventure fanatics. So, if you have that zeal and skills, do give it a shot but, be prepared for the worst.
Unarguably, the most beautiful valley of Ladakh, Markha Valley is tucked away high in the Himalayas in the east with the peak of ‘Kang Yatse’ guarding it. The valley is a paradise for trekkers and many ardent trekkers venture on the Markha Valley trek every year. Offering some of the most varied and scenic trekking trails in Ladakh, the trek is not only popular in the region but also in the world.
Luring many ardent trekkers from different parts of the globe, this trek is an epitome of nature’s workmanship and traverses you through different landscapes comprising of gurgling rivers, narrow gorges, rocky canyons, lush fields, quaint villages and terrains of multi- coloured rocks.
Do not miss on clicking some memorable pictures against the ruins of ancient forts and castles that you encounter enroute to the valley. As you enter the enticing valley, take in the vistas of elaborate chortens, swaying prayer flags and Mani walls against the backdrop of captivating snow-clad mountains and revel in the panoramas of the peak of Stok-Kangri as it stands in its full glory touching the Southern skyline of the valley.
Located on the way to Lamayuru, the Rizong Monastery overlooks the Indus Valley and is perched on a cliff to the west of Alchi, 73 km. from Leh. One of the most significant monasteries of Ladakh, it holds a special place in the hearts of Tibetan Buddhists because of its association with Guru Padmasambhava, who is believed to have meditated in the caves in the surrounding region.
The shrines in the monastery complex house statues of Lord Buddha, Sakyamuni Buddha, stupas, wall paintings and other Buddhist relics that are worth taking a look during your visit to the monastery. One of the only monasteries in Ladakh where Cham dances are not performed, this monastery is governed by strict rules and restrictions for lamas. Located amidst serene and tranquil settings, no wonder, it is called as the ‘paradise for meditation’.
Located on the banks of the Indus River at a distance of 25 km. from Leh, the Stakna Monsatery is perched on a hill that resembles the shape of a tiger’s nose. The monastery gets its name from the same hill. Vibrant colours on the inner walls of the monastery immediately catch your attention as you enter the courtyard which also houses a 7 ft. tall silver gilded Chorten with figure of Lord Buddha engraved on it.
Paintings of Sakyamuni and Bodhisattva adorn the walls of the prayer hall. What adds to the beauty of this little monastery are the striking views of the Indus valley and Indus River that make you fall in love with the place.
Namgyal Tsemo Gompa
Famous for its three storied solid gold statue of Maitreya Buddha, the Tsemo Gompa dates back to 15th century and is located on a hill top right behind the Leh Palace. Besides an impressive architecture and a huge collection of beautiful frescoes and wall paintings adorning the walls of the assembly hall, the monastery offers breath-taking views of the Indus River and snow-capped peaks of distant Zanskar ranges.
Imposing statues of Avalokitesvara and Manjushri are also prominent attractions of the monastery. Definitely a must-visit sightseeing destination during your holidays in Leh.