A newly formed union territory, Ladakh leaves you with jaw-dropping landscapes, alpine meadows, rustic heritage and pristine lakes with dramatic backgrounds. It is a popular destination among photographers as it offers the clearest night skies or magnificent wildlife local to this area or dramatic landscapes adorned with barred mountains – the list is endless. It is an absolute delight for nature enthusiasts too.
Home to some of the highest motorable passes such as Marsimik La, Khardung La, Chang La, Ladakh invites several motorists every year. With some unmatched treks like the Chadar Lake, it is also among India’s top trekking destinations.
Ladakh in winters is a solid concoction of spell-binding and unpredictability. But, this white fantasy is what lures the adventurers, backpackers and nature lovers to this land of wonders.
If you’re planning to visit Ladakh during the winter season, here is a list of things you must definitely do:
Top Things to do in Ladakh during winter season
- The Iconic Chadar Trek: Your visit to Ladakh in winters is incomplete without considering the world’s toughest trek. As the temperature falls below the freezing point, Zanskar lakes completely freezes to give birth to the most thrilling adventure of trekker’s life. Walking on frozen ice for over 100km under freezing conditions has its own charm.
- Spot Snow leopard at Hemis National Park – As the harsh winter approaches, the majestic snow leopards descend to the valley, making the rare but breathtaking sightings possible at Hemis. You can also spot Bharal or Blue Sheep and Urial which are an easy sighting in Leh-Ladakh in December.
- Witness the Awe-inspiring Nubra Valley – Another scenic spot of Ladakh, it is known for its breathtaking views and dramatic landscapes. Popular for its white sand deserts and bactrian camels, Nubra Valley is positively the best spot to visit in Ladakh. The confluence of Shyak and Siachen rivers with Karakoram Range in the background makes Nubra Valley a stunning journey.
- Take a stroll around Leh City- Visit the 16th century Leh Palace built by King Sengge Namgyal. You can see it lighted up at night. One can also see the whole Leh city from its roof. If you want to get a panoramic view of the entire city, visit the famous Namgyal Tsemo Monastery, known for its 3-storey high gold statue of Maitreya Buddha, and some ancient manuscripts. There are also other places like the War Museum, Victory Tower, Sankar Monastery and village.
- Defy Gravity at the Magnetic Hill: As the name suggests, the Magnetic Hill is a gravity slope with immaculate gravitational properties. Try not to be frightened by the sudden movement of your vehicle going uphill.
- Attend the Mask Dance at Spituk Monastery – Spituk Gustor Festival is hosted in the 11th month of the Tibetan Calendar. Celebrated as the symbol of victory over evil, the mask dance uses masks painted using natural colours embellished with gold and silver on silk and brocade. Each portrays certain fiery, kind and pleasant spirits. Other activities such as the burning of an effigy and group dances are also held during the end of the festival.
- Visit the Frozen Lakes – Ladakh is famed for two lakes – Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri. Pangong Tso is noted for awe-inspiring views and the climax scene of the 3-idiots movie, this lake is one of the highest saltwater lakes in the world and is located 5km from the city of Leh. Whereas, Tso Moriri offers a pristine view of the lake with the breathtaking backdrop.
- Ride on Khardung La: Located at an elevation of 5359m, it is famous for being the highest motorable pass in the world.
- Witness Ice-Hockey Tournament: Ladakh hosts the world’s highest Women’s Ice-Hockey Tournament. Hosted in Changthang, it lies at an elevation of 14,635 feet above sea level.
- Celebrate New Year at Losar Festival: Perhaps the most loved celebrations of Tibetan Buddhists in Ladakh, Losar marks the start of the New Year. Celebrated with incredible energy and grandiose, the celebration starts with monks from Namgyal Monastery making offerings to the Goddess Palden Lhamo. During this time, you can see the entire city adorned with lights and decorations to bring the best of luck and prosperity. It is also a good reason to plan your Ladakh Trip in January
- Have Unique Wildlife Encounters: Home to some of the most exotic flora and fauna in the world, there is no doubt Ladakh is considered as one of the unique wildlife destinations across the globe. Watch the magnificent fauna in its natural habitat against the snow-covered mountains in the background. You can expect to find yaks, ibex, Tibetan hare, blue sheep, wild ass, bharal, Tibetan antelope, red fox, Tibetan wolf, and mountain weasel along with many exotic birds. Ladakh in winter season becomes a paradise for wildlife photographers.
Top Places to Visit in Ladakh in winters:
Some of the amazing places to visit in Leh Ladakh include the
- Lamayuru monastery: It is one of the largest and oldest monasteries of Ladakh and is located on Srinagar-Leh Highway.
- Hemis Monastery: Located 45km from Leh, this 16th century Tibetan Monastery is famous for the colourful Hemis Festival.
- Shanti Stupa: One of the must-visit tourist places in Ladakh, Shanti Stupa is a Buddhist temple that holds the relics of Buddha enshrined by the 14th Dalai Lama.
Fun Fact: The exact replica of the stupa is situated in the city of Delhi at Millennium Park, Indraprastha.
- Kargil: The second largest town of Ladakh is famous for the Kargil War and Line of Control (LOC) between India and Pakistan.
- Hall of Fame Museum: Situated in Leh, it is an Indian Army-run museum dedicated to the brave Indian soldier who died in the Indo-Pak Wars. The museum contains war exhibits, weapons and a souvenir shop.
- Zanskar: It is a high-altitude semi-cold desert in the North of the Great Himalayan Range. Apart from acting as a climatic barrier, it offers pretty dramatic shots of the valley.
- Diskit Monastery: The oldest and largest monastery of Nubra Valley and one of the most prominent tourist attractions in Ladakh. This 14th-century structure is home to a large idol of Tsong Khapa- the founder of the Gelugpa sect.
Some other tourist attractions include Drass War Memorial, Thiksey Monastery, Donkey Sanctuary, ChangLa Pass, Sand Dunes at Hunder, Turtuk, and many more.
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