Beautiful in its severity, Ladakh is located between the greatest mountain ranges of the planet, the Himalayas and the Karakorum. This distinctive Indian region is completely different from the rest of the country. Huge desert spaces, among which camels and yaks roam alone, poor but hospitable villages and rich Buddhist temples – all this is Ladakh, a quiet and cold corner of Tibet.
A land that looks accidentally forgotten on the very edge of noisy and hot India.
How to get to Ladakh
According to cachedhealth.com, the main airport of Ladakh is located in the administrative center of the region, the city of Leh. You can get to Moscow with a change in Delhi. There are flights from three Moscow airports, but the fastest is from Sheremetyevo, from where Aeroflot flies directly to the Indian capital, and then Air India flies to Leh. The total travel time is about 10 hours.
You can also go to Ladakh from Domodedovo, but with two transfers: in Sharjah and Delhi, and the travel time grows to 15 hours. The flight is operated by Air Arabia and Spice Jet. The journey from Vnukovo also involves two transfers: in Dubai and Delhi, the same 15 hours on the road, Flag Dubai, Air India and Vistura operate on the route.
The flight from St. Petersburg takes 13-18 hours and is operated by Aeroflot and Vistura or Air India. Those departing from the northern capital will have to make at least two transfers: in Moscow and Delhi. On the way back, there is even an option with three transfers: in Delhi, Istanbul and Minsk.
From the airport to Leh
Passengers arriving in Ladakh by air begin their journey through the region from the air harbor named after. Kushoka Bakula Rinpoche. It is known as one of the most secure airports in the world – only a camera or a laptop is allowed in hand luggage.
The airport is located 8 km from the center of Leh. Buses run to the city, but it is easier and more convenient to get there by taxi: the trip will take 10 minutes and will cost 230 INR. Prices on the page are for March 2021.
By bus from Delhi
Airplane is the fastest way to get to Ladakh. But arriving in a region located at an altitude of more than 3 km above sea level may not have the best effect on health. Therefore, many make part of the journey by land, getting from the subtropics to the cold Tibetan highlands in a few hours.
The bus from Delhi (Maharana Pratap ISBT Kashmiri Gate Station) goes with a change in the city of Keelong, but the road from Keelong to Leh is open only in summer. The journey through vast plains and stunning mountain passes lasts around 50 hours. A ticket on the Delhi – Keelong – Leh route costs 1380 INR.
The region has a well-developed bus service, the cost of tickets to the main attractions does not exceed 250-350 INR. A three-day trip to popular locations in an SUV with a driver will cost 20,000-30,000 INR. A sightseeing taxi ride within Leh will cost 2500 INR.
Many hotels rent bicycles, but cycling in the highlands is not the best idea for those who constantly live on the plains.
“Star” hotels basically correspond to their price: a night in a standard double room in the “five” will cost 7,000-10,000 INR with breakfast, there are options for 5,000 INR. In general, the usual price for a clean double room in a small hotel near the center: 3000-4000 INR. A family room for 2 adults and 1-2 children costs about the same. And if you order accommodation on the spot, you can easily meet the 1000 INR. A bed in a good hostel costs 400-450 INR.
In the remote villages of Ladakh, you can only count on accommodation from the locals: with mattresses or rugs instead of beds for 300-500 INR per day. Another option is campgrounds. There are relatively high prices, but there are beds and well-appointed restrooms. You can set up your own tents in Lakakha without any restrictions, unless otherwise indicated.
Cuisine and restaurants
Leh has many eateries and restaurants with cuisine from almost all regions of India. There are Punjabi tandoori chickens, Mo-mo Tibetan dumplings, chicken tikka, and nihari beef with rice and a variety of sauces. The largest concentration of eateries is in the main market and along Changpa Street.
The average price for a lunch in an eatery for locals starts from 100 INR, for a hearty lunch in a tourist cafe you can pay 250-300 INR. In the wilderness of Ladakh, there are few worthy food – it is better to take a supply of provisions with you.
Sights of Ladakh
People go to Ladakh for the Martian nature and the beauty of ancient Buddhist monasteries. But you can spend a couple of days getting to know the charismatic capital of the region – the city of Lekh. Of the historical locations, the Sankar Monastery and the Shanti Stupa with a stunning observation platform, as well as the former royal palace, are noteworthy here.
In the Main Bazaar area, there are mainly hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops and travel agencies – in the latter you can buy a ready-made tour. A 5-day trip will cost 20,000-30,000 INR. But you can organize the tour yourself – there are buses from Lech to the main tourist attractions of the region.
Natural “must-sees” of Ladakh: the Nubra Valley, as well as the Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri lakes. Nubra is imbued with the spirit of the primeval high-mountainous desert: snowy peaks are adjacent to the dunes. Herds of camels add color (you can ride them). A similar landscape, only with water instead of sand and yaks instead of camels, can be seen near Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri lakes. They even bathe in the purest sky-colored icy water.
For trekking, you need to obtain the appropriate permit at the office. website of the Leh administration (in English). Permit cost: 400 INR one-time (environmental tax and contribution to the Red Cross fund) and 20 INR for each day of the trip.
The largest monastery in Ladakh, Tiksi, is located 20 km from Leh. This is a real city with streets stretching to the top of the mountain, and many religious and administrative buildings. Also among the most important and beautiful Buddhist monasteries are Hemis (45 km from Leh), Stakna and Likir. All of them are within an hour’s drive.
On the Leh-Srinagar highway, 26 km west of Leh, there is a natural phenomenon called Magnetic Hill. Due to the features of the relief, it seems that the road goes uphill, although in fact the opposite is true – it goes down.
The climate of Ladakh combines the conditions of a burning desert and the Arctic, so they joke here that a person sitting in the sun, but with his feet in the shade, can get sunstroke and frostbite at the same time.
The severity of nature affects transport accessibility, and hence the attendance by tourists. In winter, which lasts from October to April, it is cold and deserted here, since the roads from the south are closed. In summer (May-October), on the contrary, it is very comfortable, and due to the remoteness, there are relatively few tourists.