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Ladakh – The Land of High Passes

Experience mountains, cold deserts, and lakes up in the Himalayas

Tso Moriri, Ladakh

When you think of a trip to the Himalayas – Leh and Ladakh is the first thing that comes to our mind. The Ladakh range is an elegant combination of mountains, cold deserts, and lakes. It is house to about 225+ species of birds such as Hoope, Robins and Finches. It is one of the highest plateau of Kashmir with avg height of 6000 meters but does not have any major peaks in the region.

Two Hump Camel in Ladakh
Photo Credit: Pranav Bhasin

Ladakh means ‘the land of high passes’. It is situated on the eastern side of Jammu and Kashmir with the northern tip extending into Pakistan. It runs for about 370 km between the Indus and Shyok rivers, and then set foot in the Tibetan border in the south-east of Ladakh. These ranges are also known as Kailash Range in Tibet. People often confuse between Leh and Ladakh and call them as one, whereas Leh is the largest town of Ladakh range. It is the home to the world’s highest bridge Bailey bridge which was built by the Indian Army in 1982 at a height of 5,602 meters above the sea level.

Here is the list of places to visit in Ladakh Mountain Ranges:

1. Zanskar Valley

Zanskar Valley
Zanskar Valley

Zanskar Valley is one of the best places to visit in Ladakh. It is located in a very isolated and peaceful region sandwiched between the Zanskar Range and the Great Himalaya Range. The beauty of Zanskar Valley lies in the snow-covered lofty mountains and deep narrow valleys. The best time to visit is in between June and September. It is shut for the visitors during the rest of the year due to overwhelming snowfall. River Rafting is one of the famous adventurous activities here.

2. Nubra Valley

Sand Dunes of Nubra Valley
Sand Dunes of Nubra Valley

The Nubra Valley is enriched with sightseeing possibilities. The sand dunes of Nubra Valley offer an exciting experience to the tourists. The most famous attractions here include its two-humped camels and the Diskit Monastery. The most suitable time to visit this valley is during the Autumn Season which is between the month of July and September. Trekking and Camping is an adventurous way to enjoy Nubra Valley.

3. Khardung La Pass, Ladakh

Khardung La Pass
Khardung La Pass

Khardung La Pass is well known with the motorbike enthusiasts as it offers the highest altitude motorable pass in Ladakh. It is a gateway between the Nubra and Shyok Valleys, at an altitude of 18,500 feet. The best time to visit Khardung La Pass is during the summer season between May to September.

4. Kargil

Kargil, Ladakh
Kargil, Ladakh

Kargil is the second biggest town of Ladakh range and faces the Gilgit Baltistan district of Pakistan to the west of Leh. It is a transit hub for the trade routes to Leh, Zanskar, and Srinagar. This town is widely known for the armed conflict that took place between India and Pakistan in 1999. It is a wonderful place with a lot of scenic attractions and adventurous activities such as trekking and mountaineering. The summer season along with chilled nights is the best time to visit Kargil.

5. Magnetic Hill

The Magnetic Hill also knows as Mystery Hill seems to defy the phenomenon of gravity. It is said to pull stationary vehicles up the hill but giving an illusion of cars rolling downwards. It is located about 30 kms from the Leh City on the Leh-Kargil Highway. This unique optical illusion puzzles the people watching from afar and has become a major tourist attraction. These scientific mysteries are still unexplained by the researchers.

6. Pangong Tso Lake

Pangong Tso Lake
Pangong Tso Lake

The Pangong Tso is a Tibetan word which means high grassland lake. It is a glacial lake spread over 150 km covering India and China. It is the highest salt water lake located at an altitude of 4350 meters in the Himalayas. It is an amazing site for camping with a spectacular view of the lake. It is a very popular spot for movie shootings and closure scenes of the Bollywood Movie – 3 Idiots were filmed here. The best time to visit this lake is from June to September.

6. Tso Moriri Lake

Tso Moriri Lake
Tso Moriri Lake

Tso Moriri Lake, also known as Lake Moriri or Mountain Lake is located in the Changthang Plateau at an altitude of 4,552 meters. It is the largest high altitude lake in India which is about 26 kms in length and 3-5 kms in width. It is accessible by road in summer and is completely frozen during winter. This place attracts more than 35 avifauna species and bird watching is the popular activity here.

Zanskar Trek, Leh
Zanskar Trek, Leh

The high passes, beautiful monasteries, frozen lakes, and cold deserts are the major attractions of Ladakh range which leaves tourists mesmerized and speechless. Blended with Indian, Tibetan and Buddhism linings, it’s a place worth visiting.

So, just go and experience it yourself and tell us your amazing stories in the comments below.

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Written by Mahima Tomar

I am a solo traveler who love the feeling of being anonymous in a city where I've never been before.

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