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Ladakh in November

Discussion in 'Jammu & Kashmir' started by AdiH, Oct 7, 2016.

  1. AdiH

    AdiH New Member

    I would like to go to Ladakh in November and would like some advice and suggestions for my trip. The reason I am going in November is it is only that holidays are available, and Ladakh is a destination I have been longing to go to. I have a few queries about this trip and would most grateful is previous travelers to Ladakh or those who have the knowledge about the destination answer them.

    I will be getting a flight to Ladakh, so getting there would not be an issue.

    1. I would like a list of places to visit in Ladakh which can be covered in one week.
    2. Should I visit any places outside of Ladakh, if yes which ones?
    3. I know the weather will be cold, but please give an idea of the expected temperature so I can pack accordingly.
    4. Should I prebook my hotel stay or go and see hotels there first?
    5. Is there any place in Ladakh where I would find a variety of restaurants, or are there just the odd few?
    6. How many tourists should I expect to see during the month of November?

  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello there, welcome to the forum!

    Since you're reaching Leh by flight, you need to rest for the first day that you arrive in the region. By the second day, you can cover the nearest attractions but do not venture into excursions out of the city. Do not overexert yourself as well as you might get AMS so for the second day, only visit a few attractions. Also, do not go anywhere yet that has a higher altitude than Leh itself. I'll divide this list into different days so you'd know what to visit in your second day, third day and so on.

    Places to Visit (Second Day in Leh)
    • Leh Palace - This is about 2.5 kilometres away from the city centre of Leh. From the outside, the grandeur and architectural prowess of the structure is apparent. Its bricked appearance with a sandy colour easily blends in with the surroundings, yet it still stands out. Completed around the 17th century by King Sengge Namgyal, the palace was the home of the royal family until their exile into the Stok Palace, years later. As you walk into the palace, its real condition would greet you. The interiors are in a dilapidated condition, there are no furnitures nor lightings. There are cracks in the walls and it's hard to imagine that this palace was once the seat of the royals in the region. From the palace though, you get an unobstructed view of the surrounding city and the mountains.
    • Sankar Monastery - This is about 3.7 kilometres away from the city centre of Leh. The monastery has a small window time of opening, from 7:00 am to 10:00 am or from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. So you need to either put this on top of your list or at the end of your list. The monastery was founded by Skyabje Bakula and this is also where Kushok Bakul resides, the head of the Gelugpa sector of Tibetan Buddhism. From a distance, since the monastery is located on a hillock, it seems pretty small. The main shrine of the monastery has Goddess Tara in her manifestation as Dukkar. Climb further on top and you'll find the library where the Kandshur can be found and further more is the terrace where you get to enjoy the views of the surroundings.
    • Hall of Fame - This is about 4.8 kilometres from the city centre of Leh. You can end your second day here and pay tribute to the brave soldiers who died during the Indo-Pakistan war. It has different sections with the main one being the first floor, where the names and pictures of the soldiers who died during the war are displayed. On the second floor, the weaponries seized from the Pakistani army are displayed. There's also a short show here that you can watch which discusses the Kargil war.
    Places to Visit (Second Day in Leh)
    • Namgyal Monastery - This is about 4.6 kilometres from the city centre of Leh. Just behind the Leh Palace is the Namgyal Monastery. As opposed to the sandy colour of the Leh Palace, Namgyal Monastery is a mixture of white and red. It's easily distinguishable from the surroundings. It was Tashi Namgyal who founded the monastery, at the same time that he founded the Leh Palace (although Sengge Namgyal completed it). The monastery is well-known because of its three-storey high Maitreya Buddha but there are also other idols of Manjushri and Avalokitesvara here.
    • Spituk Monastery - This is about 6.6 kilometres from the city centre of Leh. Home to about 100 monks, Spituk Monastery is located close to the Spituk village. The exteriors of the monastery are a bright red and it has about 100 steps to reach the top. The main sanctum has the idol of Goddess Kali with Vajrapani and Sri Devi. The topmost floor gives one a great view of the city of Leh along with the mountains and the river. If you have the time, do spend a few minutes in the garden, it's refreshingly calm and serene, perfect for meditation.
    • Shanti Stupa - This is about 5.3 kilometres away from the city centre of Leh. Its imposing white facade and dome is quite visible from anywhere in Leh. The stupa can be reached by driving or by foot. However, by foot, you need to climb about 500 steps so it's not really recommended for the elderly or young children. For the physically fit though, it's a great way to pay worship the stupa. The stupa was built around the 19th century and is a symbol of peace between the Ladakhis and the Japanese. It only has two floors, with the lower one being dedicated to the Lord Buddha in a seating position and the second one has many images of Buddha, from his birth until his death.
    • Stok Palace - This is about 13.4 kilometres away from Leh. This palace was built by Tsespal Tondup Namgyal during the 18th century. Even until now, it is the home to the descendants of the royal family. Not all of the palace can be accessed by the visitors though because of this. The only sections that you can visit are the king's room, queen's room, dining area, kitchen, gompa and museum. Still, these sections can give you a glimpse of the bygone era. You cannot really compare the Stok Palace with the palaces in Rajasthan, because they're quite different. The Stok Palace is relatively small but still exudes that grandeur that palaces evoke in us.
    Places to Visit (Fourth Day in Leh)
    • Stakna Monastery - This is about 24.2 kilometres away from the city centre of Leh. It is located on top of a hillock, which is shaped like a tiger's nose, hence the name of the monastery. The main shrine here is dedicated to Arya Avalokitesvara. The main assembly hall of the monastery has different images of Buddha though that are worth exploring. The walls are also designed with different paintings of Buddha. You can also visit the library located within the monastery premises.
    • Matho Monastery - This is about 26 kilometres away from Leh. Founded in the 16th century by Lama Dugpa Dorje, the Matho Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in the region. From the outside, the combination of its red and white facade is very apparent. The main assembly hall of the monastery has an idol of Avalokitesvara along with Maitreya, Sakyamuni and Buddha. The monastery also has numerous collections of ancient thangkas that are worth seeing.
    • Phyang Monastery - This is about 16 kilometres away from Leh. Aside from being a religious attraction, the Phyang Monastery houses a museum. This museum has ancient collections of thangkas and even weaponries from the Chinese and Mongolians. Don't forget to look at the walls, adorned with numerous exquisite paintings. The Phyang Monastery is one of the biggest monastery complexes in the region so it can easily take a few hours to explore.
    Place to Visit (Fifth Day in Leh)
    • Pangong Tso - This is about 147 kilometres away from Leh. To reach the lake, you have to pass through Chang La, one of the highest passes in the world. Reaching Pangong Tso can take around 6 to 7 hours by car though so you need to leave early from Leh. You can spend two to three hours here and return to Leh by afternoon. Some do opt to stay beside the lake as there are some guest houses around it. The beauty of the lake is beyond words, with its ever-changing hues of blue. Do bring your own water and snacks as much as possible since you're visiting during November, food availability around the area is not quite sure.
    Place to Visit (Sixth Day in Leh)
    • Nubra Valley - This is about 159 kilometres away from Leh. To reach Nubra Valley, you have to pass through Khardung La, yet another pass, considered by some as the highest pass in the world (although proven to be untrue). Once in Nubra Valley, you can visit the sand dunes of Hunder. Nothing beats exploring the white sand dunes while riding a camel. On the next day, you can explore other places like Diskit, where there are some monasteries that you can visit. Wherever you look, the stunning landscapes if Nubra Valley would sure leave a mark in your memory and in your heart. It's the perfect place to end your journey in Leh. Preferably, you need at least two days to explore the region.
    I've included them in the above list already. Two places worth exploring outside of Leh are Pangong Tso and Nubra Valley. Ideally, Pangong Tso needs at least a day and you can go back to your hotel by afternoon. Then Nubra Valley is preferably explored within two to three days. There are some guest houses and hotels within Nubra Valley that you can stay in.

    During November, day time temperatures in Leh average between 1°C to 8°C. Night time temperatures can go as low as sub-zero levels. Snow is quite rare during this time though. Make sure that you bring these clothing items during your trip to Leh. Some of the must haves are inner thermal clothes, jackets, heavy woollens, gloves, woollen socks, bonnets, long-sleeved shirts and waterproof shoes. If you're not used to the cold temperatures, then you need to take that into consideration and pack more clothes appropriate for winter. A balaclava might also help, in case you attempt to go to higher altitude areas.

    The month of November is not really a peak tourist season. However, many hotels and guest houses close during this season as the tourists are less. Do check this thread for the hotels operating all-year round in Leh, even during winter season. It's better to try and call these hotels and see if they have available rooms during your visit. Most of these hotels have central heater so you won't need to worry as well.

    Restaurants are quite rare to operate during winter season in Leh. Your best bet would be eating at the hotel you're staying in itself. You can also bring your own snacks and water whenever you go for sightseeing as you might not be able to find shops around. That's really the downside of visiting Leh during winter season, restaurants and shops are quite rare to find.

    Not many as it's considered off-peak tourist season so you can explore the region to your heart's content. However, be very flexible in your schedule as there might be road blocks at times. The closing of the many establishments during this time can also hurt your schedule and it might be hard to find places to eat in or shop at. If you're someone that enjoys the serenity though, then this is the perfect time to visit Leh for that.

    I hope this helps you!:)