Daily Archives: 7th April 2019

Ladakh, North India

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Flying into Leh the Capital of Ladakh in the northern region of India is so spectacular and breath taking with terrific aerial views of the mountainous landscape. One of the main reasons to fly is that many of the roads are closed in the winter, also saving you a couple of days driving, therefore more time to enjoy in the surrounds of Ladakh.

There’s a plethora of airlines in India which fly to Leh from Delhi and it’s approximately 90 minutes flying time. When the weather is not ideal, you can expect delays and disruptions, ensure you go prepared and check your onward schedules/connections as they may be affected.

Ideally, include a side trip with the same carrier as your international ticket – this usually includes the same luggage allowance as a through fare and any delays should be re-accommodated by the ticketing airline.

Coming from Sydney, Air India with a stopover/transit in Delhi was ideal as this airline has the accessibility to fly into India’s International Terminals, even when travelling domestically within India – making a transfer onto other destinations seamless with a generous weight limit in economy class.

On the up side, driving allows you to acclimatise more easily to the higher altitudes of which you will encounter along the way.

After an early breakfast, we headed towards the Nubra Valley. The 140 kilometre trip takes  approximately 4 to 5 hours in a small tourist bus. Via Khardungla (18,380 feet), it’s best known as the Highest Motorable road in the World – perhaps not for the faint-hearted tourist, but it’s an experience you won’t regret… or forget.

This is the way to one of the most exciting and adventurous  destinations to visit in India.

We traversed the winding passage ways and it was comforting to come across an Oxygen Cafe-cum-Medical Centre which was opened by the Ladakh Rescue Centre in recent times.  It’s definitely a recommended stop en-route to recharge your batteries, toilet and cafe break. A great opportunity where you can exchange stories with other excited travellers.

The Nubra Valley which is not too far by distance from the Rescue Centre, is still some time away before our arrival there considering it’s an unsealed roadway. It’s obvious the roads are somewhat ‘one way’ in most parts and difficult to negotiate when passing oncoming vehicles – or worse – taking over!

No explanation needed … thanks Giovanni for keeping us on top of things!

Introducing you to the Nubra Valley.  A jaw-dropping spectacle of geographical magnificence.

Nubra is a tri-armed valley located to the north east of Ladakh Valley and Diskit is the capital which is about 150 kilometres north from Leh town. It’s a high-altitude cold desert with rare precipitation and scant vegetation. Needless to say, it’s quite a display of parched fascination.

If you’ve not seen a real live yak before, then understandably you might be just as frantic as us to secure a photo of this mammoth beast with the shag-pile coat.

Happy to have stayed at The Grand Dragon Ladakh, which is the only five-star property in this area boasting fabulous views of the mountains from almost every room.  A relaxed outdoor setting finished off each day of sightseeing with a few well-earned bevvies in hand.

Local markets are filled with fresh goodies with many seasonal vegetables available. All organic here.

Donkeys in the main tourist areas are immune to impatient drivers. After all, it’s been a hard day scouting for a bite to eat when there’s no one else to give you a hand out.

The way to the temples you ask? There’s no shortage of monasteries and temples in Ladakh, in fact I was starting to wonder if I was mistakenly in Tibet.

Thikse Gompa or Thikse Monastery is a gompa affiliated with the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It’s located on top of a hill in Thiksey approximately 19 kilometres east of Leh.

The impressive complex has 12 stories and is built at an altitude of 3,600 metres (11,800 ft). A spiritual retreat with amazing natural surrounds and traditional Buddhist architecture.

Temples and monasteries are found in the most remote places like this one; perched up on a hill and many others which can be found are built on the side of a mountain.

Monks at the temples also take pleasure in spinning the prayer wheels.

A very international group we were and it’s always a treat when everyone’s a good sport.

Some Benefits of Travelling in a Tour Group
  • Someone to show you the way and given an in-depth commentary
  • Instant friends (well hopefully)
  • Safety if anything should go wrong
  • Combine a trip with friends/family and share costs
  • Reassurance for your family when away
  • Group discounts
  • See things you wouldn’t be able to usually

Looking through the window at the old Summer Palace, a 12 foot statue of Buddha oversees the valley.

At the end of the day, it was rewarding to have had the opportunity to visit one of the most interesting and humble destinations I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing – not just in India but on an international scale.  And yes, I’d return to Ladakh in a heartbeat!

Some good advice!

  • Information was correct at time of posting this blog and our visit took place at the end of September and early October, 2018. However, the weather can change overnight as seen in this photo of the Pass on our return.

Season (Months) Best Time and Way to Visit Leh (Ladakh) 1st April to Mid-May
  • Mid May to July. During this time, only the Srinagar-Leh highway opens up, this is just not the right occasion to visit
  • August to Mid-September
  • Mid-September to Mid-October
  • Mid October to Mid-November
  • Mid-November to March
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