Planning a trip to the enchanting land of high passes and mystical barren lands? Here is a list of things you must do while in Ladakh:

1. Visit the Leh Palace

Trust this 400 year old Palace to cast you under its spell with the magical view of the Himalayas surrounding it. Located on the top of the deserted Tsemo Hill, The Leh palace offers stunning views of snow-capped mountains and the valley.  Each story of this nine-story high palace has a different story to tell. It is said to be a miniature version of  the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet.

2. Witness the Confluence of the Indus and Zanskar rivers

Called as “Sangam” by the locals, the confluence of the rivers indus and zanskar forms a spectacular view. For all you adrenaline junkies this place also offers the highest point for river rafting in the world.

3. Watch the sunset over Gurudwara Pathar Sahib

12,000 feet above sea level, 25 km from Leh, on the Leh-Kargil road , lies Gurudwar Pathar Sahib. Make sure to visit this gurudwar during the golden hours and witness the most beautiful sunset of your life.

4. Experience the supernatural Magnetic Hill

30 km from Leh, towards Kargil, stands a hill which is said to have magnetic powers known as the Magnetic hill. If you park your vehicle at the right spot marked on the road, turn off the engine and let your vehicle stand in neutral, you will see that it will slowly start moving uphill and can go up to a speed of 20 km per hour on its own! Can’t believe it? Try for yourself.

Quick tip: You can cover the confluence of Indus and zanskar rivers, Gurudwara Pathar Sahib and Magnetic Hill in one day as they are located on the same road and are a few kms away from each other.

5. Drive to Khardung La Pass

18,380 feet above sea level, Khardung La is said to be the highest motorable pass in the world. If you visit this place in May, you will still find it covered with snow as the snow only starts to melt in June. Stop at Khardung La top to make a snow fairy or capture a great shot amidst the snow covered mountains. The Indian Army that manages most of the roads in Ladakh, has set up a café at Khardung La top for travellers, where you could get a steaming hot cup of maggi or delicious veg momos to battle the cold. Say hi to the soldiers working in the café as they are very friendly and love to make conversation.

On the way to the top
Quick tip: While travelling to Khardung La pass you may face a little discomfort and difficulty in breathing, but that can be conquered by religiously sipping on water or some lemonade during the climb and there will be no need to carry oxygen cylinders. Khardung La is also the gateway to Nubra valley so you can visit this place while travelling to Nubra Valley.
Salute the Indian Army

6. Visit the Hunder Dunes in Nubra Valley

Hunder dunes

Just like an oasis amidst the cold desert, Hunder is a beautiful but remote village in the enchanting Nubra Valley of Jammu and Kashmir. It is home to the Bactrian double-humped camel which is a native of central Asia. 150 km north of Leh across the Khardung La Pass, you will enter the magical realm of Nubra. You can either enjoy a ride on the double-humped camel or opt for an adventurous ride on the ATVs available on these silver sand dunes.  Stay overnight in Nubra and fulfil your stargazing dreams with unparalleled views of the glittery night sky.

Bactrian double-humped camel, Hunder
Quick tip:  To enter Nubra Valley you will require a permit which can be made in Leh for Rs.600. There are also many camping sites and hotels available in Nubra Valley to stay overnight.

7. Pangong Tso

A trip to Ladakh is incomplete without visiting the panoramic Pangong lake. Situated at a height of about 14,270 feet above sea level, this lake is said to be the highest salt water lake in the world. Inspired by the infamous climax of the bollywood blockbuster “3 Idiots”, you will be amazed to find lakeside cafes such as “Rancho Cafe” and “3 Idiots Cafe”. The breathtaking  130 km long lake extends from India to China. The locals say, on “Purnima”(full moon) night you can see three different colors in the water of this lake but we don’t know how far that is true.

Quick tip: If you plan on staying overnight in Pangong opt for a room instead of the tents available as the temperature drops very low at night and it can be unbearably cold. The room also provides you with hot water bags which can be very beneficial. Also, plan a trip to Pangong only after you have stayed in Leh for a minimum of 3 days as you need to get acclimatized to go to Pangong which is 14,000 ft. above sea level.
At the Pangong Tso
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 P.s. All the pictures are shot by me.

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