Most of us travel to Leh on a packaged tour. Why? The taxi union rates are high and fixed. To spend as a single traveller or two is an expensive affair unless it’s a honeymoon trip :D. What happens to those places the packages don’t include?!. The answer is simple – those places are more beautiful simply because it is the road less taken. With that being said, here are few must-visit places near Leh that one can add to their itinerary.
Two girls joined me and they were ready to explore this road less taken post our packaged tour. We rented a car for ourselves and started the journey from Leh for three days. We three believe that these are must-visit places near Leh.
Places to visit near Leh
I wouldn’t call these places hidden gems or offbeat, however, they are not visited by many people. Here are my must-visit places near Leh that you can add to your itinerary. I got to explore the first two and have planned to finish the other three on my next trip.
- Tso Moriri
- Tso Kar
Before one reads further, there are travel companies that have started including offbeat places in their itinerary. I was there for ten days in total. One can change the itinerary and make it long or short depending on the time that is available.
Seven days Ladakh itinerary
The packages tour campany organised the trip and this was how I spent my first seven days in Ladakh.
Day One: Leh (Leh Palace, Tsemo Gompa and Shanti Stupa)
Day Two: Leh (Market, Zanskar Valley – Sangam, ATV (now banned), Gurudwara Pathar Sahib)
Day Three: Khardung La, Sumur
Day Four: Diskit, Hunder, Nubra (we saw double humpback camel which is now banned) and Turtuk
Day Five: Pangong Tso, Durbuk
Day Six: Chang La, Leh (We could have explored Stok village, Shey Palace, Thiksey Gompa, Hemis Gompa and Rancho school. This will be a tad hectic one to cover all in one shot. The gang decided to chill, so I missed visiting them. Disadvantages of group travel 🙁 but hey there are advantages as well right :). Two days is ideal as there will be a lot of walking around).
Day Seven: Fly back to base.
Instead of coming back to Leh, from Pangong, one can directly head to Korzok and Hanle. One can visit Stok, Shey Palace, Thiksey etc on the way back.
Important things to know before planning your trip to Ladakh
- One need permits to visit places like Tso Moriri, Hanle etc. Please check with the locals/DC office and sort this out. There are multiple check points where they will ask for permits.
- Limted hotels and therefore book stays in advance.
- If you choose the oads less taken, prepare for bad roads and have that fun ride/drive 🙂
- BSNL works on and off. Take one from your base city and not buy one in Ladakh as the SIM takes time to activate.
- High Altitude, so please be careful of AMS. If acclamatized, then there should be no issues.
Must-visit : Tso Moriri, Karzok Village
Tso means lake in the Ladakhi language. While everything about Pangong is enough said and commercialised, Moriri is still a place one can experience tranquillity. Brilliant reflections of the clouds on the water, blue/turquoise scenery with mountains as a backdrop, horses grazing in those open fields and a small village set up can satisfy those eyes and hearts to the fullest. Before reaching Tso Moriri, one will cross a small lake called Kyagar Tso. The day we returned, this lake was turquoise in colour and we could not take our eyes off it.
Tso Moriri is at a high altitude of about 15000 ft in the Changthang region of Ladakh. The saltwater lake attracts a lot of migratory birds and animals and is home to Changpa nomads. This is a sacred lake to the locals. In Karzok, one can visit the monastery and walk around the entire area as such. Small hikes are possible to make the best of the place. One can spend a day or two depending on what’s on the itinerary.
Must-visit : Hanle
Did you know that India’s highest astronomical observatory is in Hanle, Ladakh? Neither did I until I tried to google and search for less travelled places near Leh.
Hanle is at a height of 15000 odd ft and the location is perfect for astronomical observation. This place boasts of clear skies and has ideal weather conditions almost throughout the year. One can take a quick tour inside the observatory and see the two telescopes that it houses.
Because of clear skies almost through the year, many photographers go to Hanle to get those perfect milky way shots. A normal phone can capture the stars and milky way as the sky gets brightly lit. We were so unlucky that it started to rain when we arrived in Hanle.
The drive to this place is not anywhere close to what one may experience in the other parts of Ladakh. Green, red, grey and brown mountains with clear skies will leave one spellbound. The Hanle village is very tranquil and it’s best to stay here for two nights. The green fields against such huge mountains housing so many yaks and other animals grazing is a sight that one can never forget. One of the oldest monasteries is also in Hanle.
Must-visit place near Leh :Tso Kar
Another high altitude lake in Ladakh, Tso Kar is 80 km away from Tso Moriri. Even lesser people travel to Tso Kar due to the bad road conditions. That being said, locals say that Tso Kar is also beautiful and serene.
Must-visit place near Leh : Lamayuru and Lingshed
Lamayuru is on the way to Srinagar / Kargil. One can take a day trip from Leh to Lamayuru. This place is called the ‘Moonscape for Tourists’ due to its unique barren and rocky formations. Famous local festivals attract people to Lamayuru.
Lingshed, earlier known as Linshot is known as a hunting village in the Zanskar region. One of the oldest monasteries of Ladakh is in Lingshed and Dalai Lama has stayed there. This place is also supposed to be very picturesque.
If you have visited or heard of other places that people don’t frequent, please do let me know 🙂 It’s always nice to know and learn about new places and the experiences they offer. Until the next post, Just Go!