23 Most Beautiful Places To Visit In Ladakh
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Whether you’re looking for places to visit in Ladakh in July or places to visit in Ladakh in November, Ladakh is a backpacker’s haven, with emerald lakes, trekking trails, and valleys which is also known as the land of monasteries and monks, beautiful villages tucked away in picturesque landscapes, there is a lot to experience here even if you’re looking for places to visit in Ladakh for honeymoon. Ladakh offers everything. But now it’s time to find out the best places to visit in Ladakh and Leh, so let’s find out now.
Here are the 23 Most Beautiful Places To Visit In Ladakh:
1. Tso Gompa
Founded in 1430 by King Tashi Namgyal of Ladakh, it has a three-story high gold statue of Maitreya Buddha and ancient manuscripts and frescoes. Tso Gompa is located on a hill right above the Leh Palace. This mud-brick monastery, built-in 1430, houses an 8m-high statue of Maitreya Buddha (the future Buddha). It can be accessed on foot from Leh Palace and there is also a road up to the gompa. The monastery offers a panoramic vista of the flowing Indus River, the snow-capped Zanskar range, and the surrounding countryside. Besides offering mesmerizing views in its vicinity, the Tso Gompa also sites sacred scriptures and artistic watercolor paintings within. The monastery also has sculptures of Alokistesvara (also known as Padmapani) and Manjushri, both of which are revered elements of the Buddhist faith. This stunning monastery is a must-visit whenever you’re in Leh.
2. Yarab Tso Lake
Tucked away in the Nubra Valley, there is beautiful Yarab Tso Lake in the backdrop of snow-capped mountains and extensive plains, which give blue skies a very panoramic view. Yarab Tso Lake is Ladakh’s best-kept secret that is situated some 15 km from Diskit Region and is believed as a sacred place in Ladakh. It is a high-altitude lake that is hidden in the Sumur Village and can only be reached by trekking uphill for 20 minutes. The charming lake with perfectly clear water, set in the midst of the contrasting rocky surroundings makes it a genuinely awesome site. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the feeling of tranquility experienced on visiting Yarab Tso Lake compensates for the fairly troublesome climb. But remember, this lake is regarded as one of the holiest and high altitude lakes in the Nubra Valley, Yarab Tso Lake is highly revered among the locals of the region. It is advised not to wash your feet or try to swim in this enrapturing lake. So, try to simply sit by the rocks, breathing in the unpolluted mountain air, relishing the sight of colorful prayer flags fluttering around the crystal clear aquamarine water, and experience the sense of calmness it brings. If you are planning a trip to Ladakh, then the beautiful lakes here cannot be missed at any cost. These lakes are an integral part of the landscape here especially this pictorial lake holds crystal-clear water, and is still untouched by the outer world.
Famously known for its therapeutic hot springs, the Panamik is the last destination for tourists traveling across Ladakh which is a beautiful scenic village in the Nubra valley. The hot water springs of Panamik are enriched with a high amount of Sulphur. A dip in these Sulphur hot springs is believed to cure various health ailments. Owing to the health benefits of these hot springs, the Panamik village is visited daily by the people from neighboring villages. But this uninterrupted destination in Ladakh creates a heaven on earth ambiance. With the snow-clad peaks and rich green valleys, a visit to Panamik Village will truly amaze you. With the shadows formed by fluffy clouds above, you can see them pass you as you walk around the charming village. As the region lies on the Indo-Tibetan border, it serves as a base for the trek to Ensa Monastery, which is famous for Buddhist murals. The tiny hamlet is also known for the Pashmina goats and the Bactrian camels which have two humps and were a great mode to transverse in the silk route. Although everything about this place is captivating, the view of the sun-capped peaks and green valleys are truly mesmerizing. The panorama is more enchanting during the month of September and October when the trees turn yellow with a tinge of red. So, don’t miss it.
4. Khardung La Pass
Khardung La is a mountain pass that local pronunciation is “Khardong La” or “Khardzong La” but, as with most names in Ladakh, the romanized spelling varies. The pass on the Ladakh Range is north of Leh and is the gateway to the Shyok and Nubra valleys. Located at an altitude of 18,380 ft, Khardung La falls on an extremely scenic route in Ladakh that is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ladakh, and for good reason. It is the highest motorable road in the world after all that offers astonishing views of the twisting roads up the mountain and the awesome valley. This pass promises an escape from the regular destinations and it provides splendor sites for the naked eye. Alternatively known as the ‘Pass of Lower Castle’, Khardung La is the inspiration of motorbike, automobile, and mountain biking expeditions. This makes it an adventure aficionados’ paradise indeed. A visit to Khardung La Pass is one of the must things to do in Ladakh. The picturesque panoramas and pure air lure tourists from every nook and corner of the world. Besides, how can one not admire the colorful prayer flags that simply add an added charm in your highway to glory?
5. Pangong Lake
The word Pangong is derived from the Tibetan word Banggong Co which means “long, narrow, enchanted lake”. Pangong Lake is an endorheic lake in the Himalayas situated at a height of about 4,350 m (14,270 ft). Pangong Tso is geographically situated in a disputed territory, claimed both by India and China. The eastern end of the lake is in Tibet and is not claimed by India. The western end of the lake is not in dispute. This beautiful multi-shaded ocean-like lake is about 5 KM wide at its broadest point and about 134 KM long with about 60% of the length extending into Tibet. But if you remember the scene from the Bollywood movie “3 Idiots” when Kareena Kapoor comes riding on a scooter to meet Aamir Khan, then you have already seen the scenic beauty of the picturesque Pangong Tso or Pangong Lake. Pangong Tso-lake in Changthang region of Ladakh has emerged as one of the most wanted places to visit among domestic tourists in recent times especially after the Bollywood blockbusters “3 idiots” and “Jab Tak Hai Jaan”. The beauty of Pangong Tso cannot be described but can only be experienced. The lake mesmerizes one and all with its shimmering beauty. In simple words, we can say Pangong Lake is “Turquoise Blue Paradise” that you would not like to miss at any cost while traveling to Ladakh, and also it is one of the best places to visit near Ladakh.
While most of the villages in Ladakh are known for their extremely enticing beauty and charm, Panikhar totally steals the show which is located 26 km from the village of Sankoo. Panikhar is a captivating village in the Suru Valley of Ladakh, this magnificent hamlet is among the best maintained and serene villages which you will find during your trip to Ladakh. Panikhar is only 75 km from Kargil and can be reached in less than 3 hours by hiring a cab. Untouched by the hands of commercialization, Panikhar has endured and also showcases its bountiful beauty with full glory. With the Suru River following the trails that lead to this bewitching village in Ladakh, the beauty and splendor get further adorned with greeneries on both sides. This serene village is ideal for enjoying the scenic views. It is the best place to get a view of the Nun mountain. You can also visit the nearby Parkachik Pass. You can stop at Panikhar to witness the simple lifestyle of the inhabitants here who are quite hospitable. And if you happen to visit Panikhar during the winters, you will be welcomed by captivating views of snow-capped peaks with its pearly-white meadows casting their spell on you! On the other hand, summers are marked by a magical change that converts the entire village into fantasy land! All you can witness during the summers is colorful flowers throughout the village; which is also known as the ‘Valley of Flowers’ of the Trans-Himalayan region. I am pretty sure after reading this, you won’t like to miss this magical village for sure on your trip to Suru valley.
7. Kun Peak
Located in the upper Suru Valley, Kun Peak is the second-highest peak of the Nun Kun massif. Kun was the first to be conquered in 1913 by the Italian mountaineer Piacenza, while Nun, the highest summit of the massif, was first scaled by the Swiss climber, Madame Claude Kogan in 1953. The Nun Kun Massif is a very popular climbing area of the region that is booked out from months ahead, sometimes years, by climbing expeditions, therefore advance arrangements are a necessity. It offers an opportunity for climbers to scale one of the highest peaks of Ladakh (7, 077 m), and higher than any other peaks in the world outside the great Himalayas! Climbing Kun Peak will bring you a once-in-a-lifetime experience of conquering Mount Kun peak, and thereby the experience to conquer yourself. So, don’t miss climbing this Himalayan mountain if you love to climb but remember it is considered one of the most challenging climbing destinations in the Great Himalayas.
Located midway between Padum in the scenic Zanskar Valley and Kargil, Rangdum is one of the most beautiful places to visit during your trip to Ladakh. Being one of the most extreme and isolated, Rangdum is an oblique extended plateau encompassed by breathtaking hills on one side and encrusted rocky mountains on the other. This gorgeous valley in the pictorial valley of Ladakh is adorned by fascinating and colorful peaks on one side and stunning glaciers along with rugged mountains on the other side. The chief attraction of this place is a massive 18th-century monastery ‘Rangdum’ which houses as many as 40 monks. It is perched atop of a centrally rising mound and ensconced by a separated route of a mountain stream that creates an aura of age-old fortification protecting a mystical mountain. Secluded from the humdrum of city life, Rangdum is the ultimate place to wind up, relax, and get rejuvenated while having a tryst with the enchanting beauty of nature. In addition to this, visiting Rangdum will also get you the opportunity to witness and enjoy the contrasting sides of the Ladakh region. While one can enjoy the stimulating views of the rugged mountains where you can revel in the astounding views and charm of several vibrant mountains around the valley. So don’t miss it because along with the snow-clad peaks that depict the unique charm and aura of a Ladakh trip, there are the verdant meadows that will make your stay in Rangdum an extremely soothing affair!
Padum, named after Padmasambhava and known as the second Buddha is the only town in Zanskar and one of the two main capitals of the erstwhile Zanskar Kingdom. It is the most populated town of Zanskar that is inhabited by around 2000 people. The traditional heart of the village is below the gompa where two large chortens stand above old buildings. Padum is the base for many difficult treks such as Padum to Darcha via Shingo La, Padum to Lamayuru via Singge La, and Padum to Leh via Cha Cha La, Rubrang La, and the Markha Valley. Around Padum, you can visit the Starrimo Monastery, which houses about 30 monks, and Pibiting village, with its dominating hilltop monastery. Bardan, about 12 km from Padum on the trekking route to Darcha, has a 17th-century gompa, which is worth visiting. A favorite among photographers, the town of Padum is scenic and known for its Spartan splendor. The fields that acquire different hues with the change of season and the close view of the Drang-Drung glacier’s long and winding river of ice and snow create an almost magical image to be captured.
10. Tiger Hill
Tiger Hill traditionally known as Gangz La (also called Point 5062) is a mountain in the Drass-Kargil area which is one of the highest peaks in the area and was the subject of a battle during the 1999 Kargil War. Since Tiger Hill is the highest peak in the sector, it overlooks National Highway 1D, a road that connects Srinagar to Kargil, and is the main supply route of the Kargil sector. The main tourist attraction of this hill is trekking where you can climb up to the viewpoints to get a panoramic view of the surrounding area. You can consider camping there to enjoy an outdoor evening. There is a Kargil War memorial on the highway road. One can get a good view of the hill from the memorial on a clear day. Inside the Kargil War memorial or the Drass War Memorial, you can find a memorial sandstone wall with the names of the soldiers who died during the battle. Another notable point of elegance here is the beautiful natural beauty of Tiger Hill, which is covered in mild verdant foliage paired with sublime clouds in the background. The fresh morning air as you make your way to the summit is a refreshing experience away from the banter of city life.
11. Suru River
The Suru River is a 185 km long river tributary of the Indus River that flows entirely through the Kargil where the Penzella glacier near Pensi La is the main source of the Suru River. The Suru River forms the western and northern boundary of the Zanskar Range. The river flows westwards, along with the Kargil-Zanskar Road, from its source and forms the Suru valley, which is towered by the massif of Nun Kun mountain. It drains the Nun Kun mountain massif of the Zanskar Range in the Suru valley and is joined by a tributary “Shafat Nala” at the pastures of Gulmatango. The Suru River has extensive possibilities for rafting and it is practiced during the summer. The Suru Valley is the starting point for rafting trips, and it also provides a base for mountaineering expeditions to the Nun Kun mountain massif.
12. Mushkoh Valley
Located about 8km from Drass, Mushkoh Valley is a glacial paradise, mostly known for its remarkable wildflowers that bloom in the summer months whose trekking trails offer the most surreal experiences. It is considered to be glaciated and unsuitable for human habitation that is situated at an elevation of around 11,000 feet is just eight kilometers from the main market in Drass. The valley has a population settled in a beautiful highland village surrounded by mountains and meadow on all sides that has a breathtaking landscape as Dras River also flows through it. From Mushkoh, you can also trek to Tilail in Gurez (Bandipore) in few days which passes through many meadows. The meadows are dotted with different varieties of flowers. The mountain slopes in the Mushkoo Valley are filled with flowers giving the village a breathtaking beauty. So, if you’re an adventure enthusiast, a trek here is highly recommended.
Located at a distance of 30km from Dras and lying on one of the trails of Amarnath Yatra, Minamarg is known for its scenic hills and valleys and Machoi glaciers. Surrounded by the pristine Machoi Glacier – a place where the Drass river originates from and brimming with lush vegetation and exotic flora, Minamarg is a true paradise for all nature lovers. You need to visit this place for the most spectacular view of the Drass Valley. So, If you’re looking for a slightly more immersive experience in Drass then look no further than Minamarg, a charming and unexplored valley that will take your breath away.
14. Alchi Monastery
Located in the Alchi Village of Ladakh, Alchi Monastery is a complex of Buddist temples of which Alchi Monastery is the oldest and most famous. It is regarded as one of the most important Buddhist centres in Ladakh and also as one of the monastic jewels of Ladakh that dates back to nearly one thousand years and so the effect of the Tibetan influence can be seen in the local culture. Cemented on a flat ground unlike other monasteries in Ladakh, the traditional architecture of the monastery is a monastic complex that has 3 separate temples, known as Dukhang, Sumstek, and the Temple of Manjushri. Dukhang, the assembly hall, is the largest and the oldest preserved part of the monastery. The walls of the assembly hall are full of ancient paintings that depict different forms of Buddha and goddesses. Sumtsek, the three-story temple is popular for its four-armed big Bodhisattva statue which occupies two floors of the temple. On the ground floor, there is a Maitreya Buddha along with a figure of white Avalokiteshvara and Manjushri. The Temple of Manjushri is also known as Jampe Lhakhang. Along with images of Manjushri, the temple has a sculpture and a painting of Rinchen Tsangpo. Apart from the historical and cultural factors, Alchi Monastery is also a place for adventure lovers. Rafting is a popular choice among people who visit this monastery due to its location being close to the Zaskar River, which is an added advantage for the rafters.
15. Shyok Valley
Shyok Valley which is close to Nubra is a valley of the Shyok river, which originates from the Rimo glaciers and is at an elevation of 10,500ft. Rising from the Khumdang glacier, the Nubra and Changchenmo rivers fill the waters of the Shyok river. The Khardung La pass, the highest motorable road in the world, on the Ladakh Range which is on the north of the town of Leh is the gateway to the Shyok Valley. Shyok Valley is a paradise for those who yearn to witness the greener side of Ladakh Valley. Away from the humdrum of a typical tourist destination, this valley is the ultimate destination to laze around while doing nothing but enjoying the pristine beauty of nature. The towering ranges of the valley are a visual delight with vegetation on its borders. Shyok river is also known as the river of death, probably because its route is a difficult one, not opted by many. This river is a tributary of the river Indus. Untouched by the hands of commercialization, a visit to Shyok Valley is a must while planning a trip to Leh.
16. Stok Kangri
Located in Hemis National Park, 12 km southwest of the trailhead in the village of Stok and around 15 km southwest of the city of Leh, Stok Kangri is the highest mountain in the Stok Range of the Himalayas. Stok Kangri (6,121m), in the Zanskar mountain range, is the most accessible, and one of the most popular climbs. It is a non-technical climb, and on a good day, you can make it to the summit and back to the base camp, on the same day. The peak provides stupendous views of the Indus valley and the Karakoram mountain range. A paradise for those who desire to have a tryst with the snow-clad peaks and mountains in Ladakh, Stok Kangri is definitely one of the most enthralling tourist attractions in Ladakh! Reaching a maximum height of 20,182ft, this soaring mountain is the highest peak in the Stok Range of the great Himalayas in the entire Ladakh Valley. Among all the treks, the Stok Kangri Trek that usually originates from the base of Stok Village and winds upon reaching the peak is the most sought-after trek in Ladakh. It is often compared with the thrill and adventure of the poised Roopkund Trek and requires an ardent trekking experience along with proper acclimatization. But the view from the top of Stok Kangri is simply one of the best in the Himalayas. You can enjoy great views of the Zanskar and Karakoram ranges including the second highest peak in the world from here.
17. Tso Moriri Lake
Also known as Mountain Lake, Tso Moriri Lake is a spectacular site amidst mountain ranges in Leh. Tso-Moriri or Lake Moriri is a High Altitude Lake that is officially named as Tso-Moriri Wetland Conservation Reserve which is located in the Changthang area with an altitude of 4,595 m (15,075 ft). This lake measures about 28 km in length from north to south and about 4-6 km in breadth and about 100 feet on average in-depth. The maximum depth of Tso-Moriri Lake is 248 feet. This beautiful lake is surrounded by barren hills, with the backdrop of beautiful snow-covered mountains. Tso-Moriri is a mind-numbingly beautiful, calm, and sacred lake for the local people of Ladakh. The water is crystal clear and of deep blue color. However, since Tso-Moriri Lake has no outlet, its water is consequently brackish, although not very detectable to the taste. Tso-Moriri is slightly higher than Pangong Tso and the water is far less brackish supporting more birdlife. In fact, Tso-Moriri Lake was once a popular source of salt. In reality, this place is extremely harsh and difficult to survive especially in winters but this eye-soothing lake is the Divine Destination in Ladakh.
18. Rupshu Valley
Rupshu is a small valley in the midst of mountains that is actually a western extension of the Tibetan Plateau. The Rupshu Valley lies southeast of Ladakh on the road from Manali to Leh which has some of the most amazing scenic panoramas that are found in Ladakh. This pretty valley is inhabited by a small population of ‘Changspa’, who are nomadic shepherds. It is an abode of different sects of the Indo – Tibetans that reflects from cloister to cloister, a terrain that changes its color at every turn, and a cascade of mountains which is captured from high altitude passes, Rupshu Valley perks you to discover a potpourri of culture and nature. So, don’t forget to explore Ladakh’s remote Rupshu district, home of nomadic tribes, hidden forts, high passes, and majestic yak.
19. Tso Kar Lake
Being very popular with bird watchers, Tso Kar Lake is surrounded by the marshlands that host amazing birdlife which include Brahmni ducks, bar-headed geese, and the great crested grebe. The Tso Kar Lake is also known as ‘White Lake’ is one of the three high-altitude saltwater lakes in Ladakh. It is known as ‘White Lake’ because of the white salt of the water deposits all over the lake shores. Tso Kar Lake is the smallest lake among the three important lakes in Ladakh that is situated in Rupshu Valley, about 250 km southeast of its principle town, Leh at an altitude of 4660m/15280ft in the Changthang region of South Eastern Ladakh. Tso Kar Lake is at a distance of around 50 km from Tso Moriri Lake. Besides birdwatchers, Tso Kar also attracts a lot of wildlife lovers. Surrounded by hills and mountains on all sides, the lake itself gives a wonderful scenic and amazing view. The views at Tso Kar, just as breathtaking as they are during the day and can be even more exciting during the night, with the mountains around shining in the glow of moonlight. The lake looks up to an endless sea of mountains. The Lake has bewitching beauty that keeps you hooked all your life.
20. Magnetic Hill
Located at a height of 14,000 feet above sea level, Magnetic Hill also known as gravity hill and sometimes called mystery hill or a gravity road, is a place located on the Leh-Kargil-Srinagar national highway, about 30 km from Leh. To the eastern side of the hill flows the Sindhu River, originating in Tibet and goes to Pakistan. The layout of the surrounding land produces the optical illusion that a very slight downhill slope appears to be an uphill slope. Thus, a car left out of gear will appear to be rolling uphill. Magnetic hill near picturesque Leh has magnetic properties that attract metallic objects, making vehicles move up at a speed of about 20 km per hour with their engines off. Do you know? The local administration has put up a billboard near the “Magnetic Hill” for tourists stating that if a vehicle is placed on a particular spot on the road and the engine is switched off, it would not slide down but move up. So, don’t miss visiting this hill that has magnetic properties and is one of the several unique places which you can find in Ladakh.
Located 70 km west of Leh on the Leh–Srinagar Highway, Uletokpo is an enchanting village at an altitude of 10,000 ft (3040m). Being the central hub in the city, Uletokpo is an ideal stopover for acclimatizing to Ladakh’s climate and altitude. Uletokpo is world-famous for outdoor activities, like camping and trekking, as it offers a perfect blend of vast terrains and ultimate natural beauty where you can also explore some of the famous monasteries, like Lamayuru, Alchi, and Rizong, which are situated in Uletokpo. Uletokpo is a bed of narrow and deep valleys that makes it perfect for trekking. Trekking provides adventure enthusiasts an amazing experience of walking up and down the high peaks, along with a chance to enjoy the mesmerizing beauty of villages and lush landscapes. The trek routes you may access in Uletokpo are Leh-Spituk-Alchi-Uletokpo, Uletokpo-Lamayuru-Leh. This place also has a rich heritage of ancient Tibetan art and sceneries. The summer season is the best time to visit Uletokpo to experience trekking. The season extends from early June to mid of October. So, don’t miss to visit this amazing landscape while traveling to Ladakh.
Founded in the 11th century by Mahasiddacarya Naropa, Lamayuru is on the Leh – Srinagar Highway and can be visited from Leh. Lamayuru is a tiny village that’s popularly known as the Moonland of Ladakh. Lamayuru is immensely popular for housing one of the oldest and largest monasteries in Ladakh. However, its claim to fame is accredited to the surreal breathtaking view of moonlike landscapes carved into the mountains. A large lake long ago dried up, and the protrusions looked like the surface of the moon. While in Leh, you can take a day trip to Lamayuru, known for it’s Lamayuru Monastery and a stretch of land borrowed from the moon. Visit the monastery to witness the frescos and paintings it houses and the Moonland, for something a bit beyond extraordinary. So, don’t miss visiting Lamayuru because people from various places visit this relatively serene destination to immerse themselves in this scenic beauty.
Located in the Himalayas on the Leh-Manali Highway, between Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh, Sarchu is also known as Sir Bhum Chun and is an important halt point with tented accommodation. It is situated between Baralacha La to the south and Lachulung La to the north, at an altitude of 4,290 m. Sarchu comes into the center of attention from May to September every year when the snow thaws on this route thus making the place a transit campsite in the Himalayas on the Leh-Manali Highway. Sarchu also becomes the starting point for treks to Zanskar in Ladakh. The route is popular with trekkers and high altitude climbers as one has to deal with hostile conditions and difficult terrain. But ever wondered why Ladakh is also called the ‘Land of High Passes’? And every time you cross one at an altitude greater than you have ever done before in Ladakh, it adds to a sense of achievement. Sarchu also resembles Ladakh with its barren splendor which is a beehive of activity between June and September when the snow melts and the Leh-Manali highway is open for traffic.