Day 1: Fly from Delhi to Leh. Keep your cameras ready in the flight itself for dramatic pictures of the snow-capped Himalayas. The Leh airport is at 10, 000 feet and you will feel the difference at once. To acclimatize yourself, it is advisable to walk slowly and take it easy for the first day or two. Check into your lovely hotel The Kaal built in the traditional Ladhaki style with carved windows and prayer rooms with exqusitely carved wooden furniture. The atmosphere is homely and the food is excellent. The hotel is a short driving distance from the town centre. Rest and acclimatize yourself. You may visit the Leh market later in the evening. Overnight Leh.
Day 2: Visit the Thiksey and Hemis monasteries, and the Shey Palace. It's a full day trip and about a 100 km of driving trip. But it's still an easy trip for the first day. The colorful monastries of Ladakh are an experience by itself. The paintings and carvings and the statues of the Buddha are beautifully artistic. Return to Leh in the evening. Overnight at Kaal hotel.
Day 3: Drive to the Alchi monastery 75 km away, visiting some interesting places like Rizong Gompa enroute. The Alchi monastery is the oldest monastery in Ladakh. Make sure to take a torch, it's dark inside and you don't want to miss the ancient paintings on the walls, or the statues are quite amazing. Cameras are not allowed inside the sanctum sanctorum but you can take pictures outside. The walls outside are full of dramatic paintings done in the traditional Ladhaki style. Overnight camp at Alchi Uleytokpo Camp. These camps are beautifully designed with tents for two people and have modern washrooms. Overnight Alchi.
Day 4: Drive back to Leh via Lamayuru. The Lamayuru monastery has an amazing view. Leading to the monastery the landscape appears from another planet & is known to closely resemble the moon's craggy hills & this part of Lamayuru is known as moonscape. Overnight at Kaal Leh.
Day 5: Early morning start for the beautiful Pangong Lake 155 km away. This is a long 5 hrs drive over the mountains and a river bed, later crossing Changla Pass at 17, 000 feet. You can see the snow capped mountains and it can get cold here. The Pangong lake is a picturesque lake with many dramatic shades of blue. The waters are crystal clear. You have the option of spending one night at Pangong - subject to availability in the one and only hotel here! Option 2 is to return to Leh. Overnight Leh / Pangong.
Day 6: Drive to the highest motorable road in the world at 18, 830 feet, to Khardongla Pass. The road is well maintained by the army and the view as you keep going higher is amazing. Enjoy the top of the world feeling. Drive back to you hotel in Leh. Overnight Leh
Day 7: Easy day in Leh . Maybe climb Shanti Stupa if youíre up to it! Overnight Leh.
Ladakh known as Little Tibet is in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir. No militancy has touched this area. It's a peaceful Buddhist state which has given refuge to the Dalai Lama and many Tibetans who crossed over from Tibet on its eastern side. South of Ladakh is the beautiful state of Himachal Pradesh. For adventure lovers Ladakh offers high altitude scenic treks and river rafting in the Indus and Zanskar rivers. The high mountain ranges speak of splendid isolation. Colorful monasteries are perched atop perilous peaks with prayer flags fluttering in the wind. It is a mystical, magical place.
Leh: the capital of Ladakh, is a busy little town with roadside cafes, local shops selling beautiful thankhas, curios, clothes, jewelry and hand-crafted wooden artifacts and furniture. The 16th Century Leh Palace is situated here. The Shanti Stupa and the Sankar Gompa are close by. The three famous monasteries Ė Shey, Hemis, Thiksey are within a 45 km radius.
Lamayuru Monastery: is 125 km away from Leh. Driving to the monastery is a rewarding experience as some of the terrain closely resembles that of the moon and is famously known as the moonscape. The barren sands and craggy hills with deep ravines could be any planet other than the earth! The monastery itself is at an altitude of 11, 600 feet and you can look out at the moonscape and enjoy the view from your vantage point. The main statue here is of the teaching Buddha seated on a lion throne. The paintings in all the monasteries are outstanding works of art.
Alchi: is about 67 km from Leh nestled amidst high stark mountains. The Alchi camp is a wonderful place to spend the night. It is a warm cozy room for two with proper comfortable beds, modern washrooms, a great dining area - almost touching the mountain side and excellent food. The Alchi monastery dates back to the 11th Century and houses one of the best statues and paintings of the Buddha. From Alchi you can drive to the imposing Ridzong monastery dramatically perched on a mountain with an equally dramatic view of the valley below.
Khardungla Pass: is the highest motorable road in the world at a height of 18, 380 feet just 37 km north of Leh. From here you can drive all the way to Nubra valley which was once the ancient route of the caravan trade to Central Asia.
Nubra Valley: is 120 km from Leh over the Khardungla Pass with a varied terrain of rugged mountains, forests and desert. The villages have thick plantation of willow and poplar trees, the main village is Deskit with a 500 year old monastery. There are sand dunes here and you can enjoy a camel ride on the double-humped camels. The last village is Panamik which has hot springs reputed to have therapeutic qualities.
Pangong Lake: is 145 km from Leh at an altitude of 14, 000 feet over the Chang La Pass which is the second highest motorable road in the world at an altitude of 17, 800 feet. You can see snow-capped peaks from up close and the area is cold even in the summer months. Reaching Pangong Lake is quite an adventure over river beds and high passes. Itís a 5 hrs drive but well worth it as you get the first sight of the huge lake with amazing shades of blue. Just one third of the Lake is in India the rest lies in China. The shimmering shades of blue glitter and sparkle, surrounded by the most awesome mountains.
Hotel Omasila - Leh
The Kaal - Leh
WelcomHeritage Shambha La - Leh
The best time to visit Ladakh is between mid-June to September. The snow melts in most parts except on high mountain ranges and the Passes are open. The sunís effect in the day can be rather harsh due to the rarified air. Make sure to carry your sunblock cream, glares, hat and plenty of water. It is advisable to drink lots of water and if youíre prone to high altitude sickness take your pills before driving up the high passes. No alcohol and no smoking would be wise! The temperatures at high altitude and in the shade can be both cool and very cold, dipping down to -3 degrees celsius even in summer! It is essential to carry your windcheater, woolen clothing, thick socks, woolen caps, scarves, lip balm and of course comfortable but sturdy walking shoes Ė and youíre ready to conquer the Land of High Passes!