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Best Time To Visit Ladakh

Discussion in 'North India' started by Navi, Apr 6, 2016.

  1. Navi

    Navi New Member

    I am from the UK and will be visiting my family in Punjab. I don't want this year's holiday to be restricted to be just in Punjab and instead, want to go further and explore other parts of India mainly in the North. One destination which I have in mind is Ladakh. It is closer to Punjab and also, a very popular holiday destination, and I think if there is an opportunity to go there then it shouldn't be missed.

    It is a destination which my cousins in Punjab have also thought of but nothing has been finalised yet. I am the organiser in the family; hence it is up to me to find out all that I can about Ladakh and get things started, and I did not see anything better than joining the forum to ask my queries.

    1. How long does it take to drive from Punjab (Amritsar) to Ladakh?

    2. Is there a flight which goes from Amritsar to Leh?

    3. Should we travel in a car or take a flight?

    4. Is June a good time to visit Ladakh, as that is when I will be in India?

    5. How many days do you recommend staying in Ladakh keeping in mind that I would like to explore most of Ladakh?

    6. Punjab will be quite hot, what will the weather be like in Ladakh, so I can bring clothes according to the weather?

    7. I am not into trekking, are there any other activities which can be done in Ladakh?

  2. Dhruv

    Dhruv Member

    1. The distance between Amritsar and Ladakh is 870km, and the time taken to drive would be around 14 hours.

    2. There are no direct flights from Amritsar to Ladakh. You would, therefore, have two options either get a connecting flight which would be you have a stopover at New Delhi and the minimum time for the whole journey would be 12 hours, and the maximum would be 20 hours depending on what flight you take. The other option you have is getting a train from Amritsar to Jammu, and then taking a flight to Leh from there, and the total travel time would be around 10 hours.

    3. If you just want to be in Ladakh and explore the place then take a flight from Jammu, if you want to be a bit adventurous then take a car and go via Srinagar on the way to Ladakh and via Manali on the way back from Ladakh.

    4. June is a perfect time to visit Ladakh. The weather is much more pleasant during this time of the year.

    5. A minimum of 10 days is recommended to see the famous places in Ladakh, I have also included a days rest as well, as the journey can be tiring especially if traveling by car.

    6. Temperatures during June can reach up to 21c, but the average temperature is 14c. For the early mornings and late nights, you should bring something warm to wear.

    7. Apart from trekking, you can do biking and rafting, other than that it is most sight seeing.

  3. jnorth88

    jnorth88 Active Member

    There are many things to do in Ladakh, but they will all involve a bit of walking. Personally, some of the most beautiful stupas and monasteries are in Ladakh, so they are well worth visiting. But even driving to them, you will have to do a lot of walking in and around to see them all. It can be cold, especially with a wind. But you can also get a sunburn if you are light skinned, like me. I have known many people to get burns without noticing them. Regardless, you will need some comfortable shoes.
  4. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello, @Navi! Welcome to the forum!

    The distance between Punjab and Ladakh is about 958 kms. It can take you about two to three days to reach Ladakh as you would need to properly acclimatise on the way.

    There are no direct flights from Amritsar to Leh. You can book a flight from Amristar to Delhi first and then from Delhi, book another flight to Leh.

    Here are some of the flights from Amritsar to Delhi that I was able to find:

    Air India
    • AI 454 - Departs at 6:55 and arrives at 7:55. Fare is at Rs. 3,333 per person.
    • AI 113 - Departs at 10:30 and arrives at 11:35. Fare is at Rs. 3,333 per person.
    • AI 462 - Departs at 14:15 and arrives at 15:30. Fare is at Rs. 3,333 per person.
    • AI 115 - Departs at 19:05 and arrives at 20:10. Fare is at Rs. 3,333 per person.
    Jet Airways
    • 9W 2662 - Departs at 10:45 and arrives at 12:00. Fare is at Rs. 3,699 per person.
    • 9W 373 - Departs at 14:30 and arrives at 15:35. Fare is at Rs. 3,699 per person.
    • 9W 739 - Departs at 18:35 and arrives at 19:40. Fare is at Rs. 3,699 per person.

    And then, here are some flights between Delhi and Leh:

    Air India
    • AI 445 - Departs at 5:45 and arrives at 7:15. Fare is at Rs. 5,166 per person.
    Jet Airways
    • 9W 2368 - Departs at 5:40 and arrives at 7:05. Fare is at Rs. 7,435 per person.
    • 9W 2366 - Departs at 6:15 and arrives at 7:45. Fare is at Rs.7,435 per person.
    You can also opt to ride a train or bus from Amritsar to Delhi. And then from Delhi, just ride an airplane going to Leh. The Leh Airport also has flights from Jammu, Srinagar and Mumbai.
    The routes leading to Leh, either from Srinagar or Manali, are both picturesque and have beautiful views along the way. I would suggest going to Leh via car, if you do have some experience in driving through these terrains.

    For the more adventurous people, they do take the Manali to Leh route as you'd pass through five of the highest passes in the world through it. For the inexperienced drivers and those that it's going to be their first time in Leh, it's better to take the Srinagar to Leh route. Either way, both routes offer sceneries along the way.

    You can also use both routes, one for reaching Leh and one for going home. For this, since you're a first timer in Leh, I'd recommend just taking the Srinagar to Leh route on the first way and when you're going home, you can take the Manali to Leh route. You'd have less problems with AMS this way.

    Keep in mind that with a flight to Leh, there's a higher chance of acquiring AMS. So even if the flight is quicker, you would still need a day to rest in Leh in order to acclimatise your body to its higher altitude. But for people who have elderly with them or very small children, then, it's a good idea to just go to Leh via flight.

    June is a good time to visit Leh especially those who want to see snow. By this time as well, both routes leading to Leh are opened. However, I'd advice against traveling to Leh within the first few weeks of June. Since the snow is just melting, landslides and road blocks aren't uncommon to the area. It's better to travel to Leh at the end of June and the first week of July. Always watch out for the weather reports about Leh as well. If the weather is extremely harsh, postpone your trip to Leh.

    By the end of June, most of the snow has already melted in the region. Lakes start to look mesmerising with their blue colours. The famous Rohtang Pass in Manali also opens up by this time. In the higher altitude areas, you can still find and play with some snow. Temperatures can range between 16°C to 21°C during day time. By night time, temperature is at 7°C to 9°C. You would still need your woollen clothes and jackets especially during the evening.

    Also, don't forget to bring your sunscreen. The sun can be harsh in Leh during the month of June and you might get sunburnt as well. Also, bring your umbrella and cap for sun shields.

    I'd recommend at least 7 to 10 days for you to fully explore Leh. With these number of days, two have to be allotted for the ascent to Leh and the other one day for the descent to Leh. The remaining days can be allotted for exploring the attractions en route to Leh and in Leh itself.

    As I've said, during the month of June, temperatures range between 16°C to 21°C. Night time temperatures are lower at about 7°C to 9°C. Since you come from a more tropical side of the country, it's best to bring your woollen clothes and jackets. By the end of June, it is also not impossible to experience rain showers in the region. So it can get more cold during that time. Bring your socks, winter gloves and thermal clothes as well.

    You can do some sightseeing in Leh first. These are the attractions in Leh:

    • Leh Palace - This palace was built by King Sengge Namgyal in the 17th century. It was modelled after the Potala Palace in Tibet. This was once the residence of the royal family of Ladakh until the Dogras conquered the region and the family was forced to move into the Stok Palace. Now, the palace houses a museum showcasing a collection of the jewelries, costumes and crowns owned by the royal family. There are also Tibetan paintings in the museum which are about 450 years old already.
    • Stok Palace - This palace was built by King Tsepal Tondup Namgyal after the invasion of the Sikhs to Leh. It is still the residence of the descendants of the royal family of Ladakh. There's also a museum here showcasing the history, currency and weapons of the royal family during the ancient times.
    • Hall of Fame - This is located nearby the Leh Airfield. This museum was built to commemorate the deaths of the soldiers in the Indo-Pakistan War. The first floor contains the names and information about the soldiers who have died in the war. There's also a small souvenir shop here. In the second floor, you'll find some information about the weapons used during the war.
    • Shanti Stupa - This is white-domed chorten located in a hilltop in Chanspa in Leh. It was built in 1983 by Bhikshu Gyomo Nakamura although it was only inaugurated in 1991. The stupa serves as symbol of the peace and relationship between the Japanese and the Ladakhis. It houses the relics of the Buddha at its base.
    • Jama Masjid Ladakh - The mosque dates as far back as the 1666-1667 AD. It is believed to have been built by Raja Deldan Namgail and Aurangzeb. The building of the mosque is sort of an agreement between the two empires, whereas the Mughal Empire would protect the Ladakhi region and as a consequence, they have to pay tribute to the Mughal Emperor yearly. The Shah-I-Hamdan Memorial, dedicated to Sufi saint Mir Sayed Ali Hamdani, can also be found within the mosque. There's a rule though that only men are allowed within the mosque premises.
    • Wanla Gompa - This Buddhist monastery is believed to have been built around 1,000 AD. It is 1 of the 108 monasteries built under the reign of the King of Ladakh. The main attraction of the monastery is the three-storied image of the 11-headed Mahakaruna or Avalokiteshwara. Aside from that, you can also see different paintings here of Buddha, Bodhisattvas and Mandalas.
    • Hemis Monastery - The Hemis Monastery is believed to have existed since the 11th century. This is evidenced by the manuscript found in the monastery connecting it to Naropa, a pupil of Tilopa and also the teacher of Marpa. It is mainly a monastery of the Drukpa Lineage in Leh. This is also the venue for the annual Hemis Festival, a festival dedicated to Lord Padmasambhava.
    • Rangdum Gompa - You can find this in Suru Valley in Ladakh. This monastery is believed to have been built by Gelek Yashy Takpa about 200 years ago. The monastery is the home to about 30 monks and donkeys. The monastery belongs to the Gelugpa sector of Buddhism.
    • Lamayuru Monastery - This is the oldest monastery in Ladakh, built around the 11th century. It was also Naropa who founded this monastery. It is the home to about 150 monks, although at one point in time, it was about 400 monks even. It is also the venue for the two masked festivals held during the second and fifth months of the Tibetan lunar calendar.
    • Thiksey Gompa - This monastery is connected to the Gelug sector of Buddhism. You can find it in Thiksey, just before you reach Leh. It's a large monastery with about 12 storeys. Inside, there are stupas, paintings, statues and swords. It was established in 1433 by Sherab Zangpo, with the help of the King of Ladakh. Back then, it was called the Lhakhang Serpo and was located in Stagmo. By the midddle of the 15th century, Palden Zangpo continued Sherab Zanpo's work and built a larger monastery about a few kms away from the former Lhakhang Serpo. This is now the Thiksey Gompa.
    • Shey Monastery - The Shey Monastery is located on the Shey Palace Complex. It was built in 1655 under King Deldon Namgyal, in the memory of his late father, Singay Namgyal. The main attraction of the monastery is the gilded gold statue of Shakyamuni Buddha.
    • Sankar Monastery - This is within Leh itself. It is a monastery and the abode of Abbot of Spituk, the Venerable Kushok Bakula, who is the senior incarnate lama of Ladakh. It is also the home to a few monks, about 20 of them. There's an image of Avalokitesvara here, with 1,000 arms holding weapons and also 1,000 heads.
    • Namgyal Monastery - This monastery/fort was founded by Tashi Namgyal in the early 15th century. It is famous for the three-storey golden idol of Maitrieya Buddha. There are also statues of Avalokitesvara and Manjushri within the temple. It's just beside the Leh Palace as well so it's easy to find.
    • Pangong Tso - Pangong Tso means High Grassland Lake. The lake is about 4,350 metres above sea level and it extends from India to Chine, although about 60% of it lies in the latter. The lake is home to several species of birds but not fishes. During summer, you might be able to spot the bar-headed goose and Brahmini duck here. You need a permit though to visit the lake as it's in the Sino-Indian Line.
    • Tso Moriri Lake - You can find this lake in the Changthang area of Ladakh. The lake is home to about 34 species of birds like the brown-headed gulls and bar-headed geese. The Korzok Monastery can also be visited as it's nearby the lake.
    • Tso Kar Lake - You can find this in the Rupshu Plateau of Ladakh. It is a fluctuating salt lake connected to the Startsapuk Tso. Its tributary, Startsapuk Tso is the home to a variety of birds and other species of animals.
    • Magnetic Hill - This is a gravity hill located in Leh. In reality though, the magnetic action is just an optical illusion, making it seem like you're going uphill, when in fact you're going downhill.
    • Donkey Sanctuary - You can find this in Leh, near the Korean Temple Road. This is where the abandoned and retired donkeys go to. Bring them some carrots and enjoy the views all around.
    • Nubra Valley - This is about 150 kms North of Leh. Foreigners need a permit to enter this region but Indian nationals don't need any permit at all. The Nubra Valley is a high altitude cold desert with rare precipitation and almost no vegetation. You can visit the surrounding villages here mostly inhabited by Nubra Buddhists. The Siachen Glacier can also be visited in this region, which is the main source of the Nubra River.

    Here are some other activities you can do in Ladakh, aside from sightseeing:
    • Watch the sunrise from Pangong Tso Lake and Tso Moriri Lake. There are plenty of camping grounds within these lakes' banks so you can stay for the night and enjoy the sunrise views as you wake up.
    • Bird watching is also another activity you can do within the lakes of Leh. You can spot some rare species of birds and during the winter, there are even migratory birds around the lakes.
    • Camel safaris can also be done in the Nubra Valley. It's a great activity to explore the region without resorting to trekking.
    • You can also try river rafting in the Zanskar River. The session lasts for 2 to 3 hours. It's thrilling and fun at the same time. Cost varies but it's between Rs. 1,500 to 2,000 per person.
    • For the more adventure driven people, you can also try paragliding. There are many regions in Ladakh offering paragliding to tourists. It's best done on Khardung La though, the highest motorable pass in the world.
    • You can also try and spot a leopard in the Hemis National Park. Don't be disappointed if you cannot spot one though as they are quite elusive. There are many more animals you can see in the Hemis National Park anyway, not to mention the shrubs and plants.

    I hope this helps.:)