Ladakh is located 11,000 feet above sea level in the state of Jammu & Kashmir in India. It is also known as The Roof of the World as it is geographically located on the Western Himalayas range; home to the highest mountain in the world.
The word Ladakh itself translates to the land of high mountain passes.
Despite the many warnings of the political instability and safety precautions, I still went anyway. Since when do I listen to these? 😛
I am so glad I went and I want to share the amazing experiences I had within my short two days trip.
I did not research into Ladakh so I did not have any expectation nor did I have any information of the city. Every step was a surprise; a pleasant one I must say.
From stumbling with an amazing driver as I began exploring to an amazing home-stay with a family that treated me in the best possible way.
Ladakh is a sparse and rugged city that has a very rustic and dramatic feel. I felt like I was in Tibet or Mongolia.
I was stunned with every little detail around me; the landscape of high mountains, the content expressions of very Mongolian/Tibetan looking locals, timid young monks, fresh air, the peaceful vibe, polite and compassionate locals, ancient monasteries and hilarious road signs every few kilometers. I could go on and on of how amazing Ladakh is.
Ladakhis are extremely humble and down to earth.
So because I did not have much time in Ladakh and with lack of preparation, I managed only to visit the below places. Check out the post for the list of things you should know before visiting Ladakh here and prep yourself accordingly! 😀
1. Khardung La
So, instead of acclimatizing for a day as advised by everyone, I went to the highest motorway road in the world straight out of the plane. It is 18,380 ft above sea level! I had to convince the driver that I can tolerate altitude sickness.
Boy was I wrong. As we drove higher through the narrow roads between the gorgeous Himalayan mountains, I felt sick; I couldn’t breathe, my heart was racing, nausea was taking over my mind, body and soul. The driver noticed that I was struggling and he asked if I am able to breath. Of course I can! I’m fine! Don’t worry about me.
Yea. Right 😛
I took these photos to remind myself of how I couldn’t even smile or hold the phone up to take a proper photo 😀
Nevertheless, I enjoyed the ride that lead to Khardung La despite the multiple stop along the way do to high snow level. The view is simply breathtaking.
2. Magnetic Hill
Although it lasted less than 5 minutes. It was a great to experience the phenomenon that defies the law of gravity.
3. Hemis Monastery
Hemis Monastery is the largest and most important monastery in Ladakh due to its role as the headquarter of a branch in Tibetan Buddhism. It was already closed when I got there so I did not get to explore much. Instead, a couple of little monks gave me some chips to feed the donkeys 😛
Growing up in Saudi, I don’t get exposed to animals. So whenever I see any animals, it excites the child in me 😀 I love love love interacting with animals.
4. Shey Monastery
Shey Monastery was the capital of Ladakh. Upon my visit, there was a ritual that has been going on for a couple of days. To be honest, I am not sure what was going on due to language barrier. However, the Ladakhis were so kind and invited me to join them for some hot cup of butter tea.
5. Shanti Stupa
Shanti Stupa is located on a hill top so you get a 360 view of the city when you get to this beautiful white dome.
6. Thikse Monastery
Another monastery located on a hilltop for a great view of the city. I visited Thikse Monastery close to dinner time and I was invited to enter the kitchen while the cook prepares food for the monks.
These shy monks were helping the kitchen by carrying gallons of water.
7. Spituk Gompa Monastery
I love the quotes on the walls of this monastery.
8. Organic Stores
Ladakh is all about organic products! Don’t forget to go to any organic stores and purchase loads of stuff! I personally bought dried fruits for my snacks during my trip and of course loads of Himalayan Salt to bring back home! 😀
How long should one stay?
It is recommended to stay at least 5 days or even weeks if you plan on going for an epic adventure because your body would need to rest for a day to acclimatize.
Who is it for?
It is for those looking for off the beaten track, curious to learn about the mix of culture and life in this underrated city.
Ladakh has so many beautiful untouched nature such as the Pangong lake, Tso Moriri and chasing snow leopards!
I met an amazing guy who runs an expedition company that helped me during my stay in Leh. You are guaranteed to have the best time in Ladakh!
Contact Person: Imran
Contact Number: +918803425502