These are the 10 Places to See in Leh-Ladakh Before You Die!

best places to visit

If ever there was a place that synonymized the place for paradise in India, the Leh-Ladakh region would be it. Located in far northern India, Leh-Ladakh is brimming with must-see places. These are beautiful places that will incite your imagination long after you’ve returned home. Well, this article offers insights on 10 of the best places to visit in Leh-Ladakh!

  1. Shanti Stupa
  2. Leh Palace
  3. Khardung La Pass
  4. Nubra Valley
  5. Namgyal Tsemo Gompa
  6. Spituk Monastery
  7. Hall of Fame Museum
  8. Changtang Wildlife Sanctuary
  9. Tso Kar Lake
  10. Stok Palace

Shanti Stupa

You’ll drive 5 kilometres from Leh to reach this magnificent place. There are many things you can do when you reach this wonderful temple/place of worship. This is considered to be one of the top tourist places in India. You can engage in many interesting activities, one of which is to try to communicate with the Great Buddha by meditating in Buddha Hall. Other things to do are: taking many photographs of this splendid place, exploring this temple, and of course, shopping for souvenirs in the form of locally made goods!

This place gleams when the Sun shines on it. The reason being that it’s made entirely from white stone and marble! This is one of the reasons why Shanti Stupa is one of the major local highlights in this region. Buddhists from Japan and the Ladakh region constructed this temple for two reasons. The first was to promote peace in the region and throughout the world. The second was to commemorate the 2,500 birth anniversary of Buddhism. 

If you want to see an event that will make for a great background for a Facebook selfie, take a picture of the stupa at night. You’ll notice that the temple gleams in the soft moonlight. This gives it both a sublime and surreal experience. If you don’t want to meditate, you can enjoy nature, and you can marvel at the Sunrise and Sunset at this stupa. Both events are breathtaking and should be posted on major social media platforms. They’ll get a lot of shares and good comments!

Leh Palace

This place is a short drive of 5 kilometres from the nearest major city, which is Ladakh. Indian citizens will pay INR 15 to visit this place. Foreigners will shell out 100 INR to tour this place. Once there, you can visit the museum which is filled with delightful artefacts from the area. You can also climb to the top to take pictures that are worthy of posting on social media. Finally, you can take pictures of the architecture and post them on Instagram and Facebook for many shares, likes, and good comments!

Leh Palace was constructed in the 1600s and is an example of the best and finest in Medieval Tibetan architecture and building principles. The entire place is made out of thick layers of rock. This insulates it from Leh’s incredibly harsh and cold winters. It also acts as a natural air conditioner when the thermometer soars during the summertime. 

This palace put the Leh-Ladakh region on the global tourist map. You’ll see the obvious reason why when you look at the beautiful countryside and explore the palace’s many halls, chambers, and large halls.

Khardung La Pass

Expect a drive of a little over an hour from Leh. This pass is located 39 kilometres away from the nearest city, Leh! Expect to pay a flat entry fee of INR 20 every day you visit this pass. Once you are there, you can explore the place either on foot or by bike. Regardless, there are many great photo ops in this place which are social-media worthy.

This road cuts through one of the highest mountain chains in the world – the Himalayas. You can drive across it easily. This may be rare in the Leh-Ladakh region. It’s currently a mountain pass for tourists to enjoy. However, it has a long and rich history where it was used to transport supplies to caravans that travelled from Europe to China on the Old Silk Road. Back then, the pass leads to the heart of Central Asia, and that’s where many of its supplies came from!

You’ll love this place if you are a hard-core biker. As is the case with all mountain passes, it has challenging passes and rocky terrain that will put the skills of even the most talented and experienced bikers to the test. Remember that while you can drive on it, you have to be skilled at driving on mountain roads. You’ll likely be dodging the many rock and snow, mud, and crater slides that plague these roads.

Nubra Valley

Since its 121 kilometres away from Leh, expect to drive almost 5 hours to get to this iconic valley. You need to visit this valley if you’re serious about visiting the places that showcase the true essence of the Leh-Ladakh region. This valley contains the spirit and personality of the entire region. You can visit this place for free. Also, since this place is a combination of the best in Asian, Central Asian, and even Middle Eastern lifestyles and cultures, you can do something you would never be able to do at home – ride on a Bactrian camel!

Of course, you can also take a jeep expedition to see the wildlife and flora of the region. Many places in this valley would make for a great photo op as well. This valley is watered by the surrounding Nubra and Shyok rivers. This is the reason why you’ll find so much great and healthy vegetation here. You’ll love the apple orchards and monasteries where Buddhist monks used to pray and meditate. Finally, you may be surprised to see many sand dunes in this somewhat dry and colder region.

Namgyal Tsemo Gompa

This is a great place to visit if you love to take photos. It’s located 5 kilometres away from Leh, so it’s a short plane ride away. The only way you can reach this place is by plane. You’ll pay INR 20 to see this place. Namgyal Tsemo Gompa is a monastery that was built on top of a huge hill. It was built in the 1400s, so you can marvel at its beautiful, medieval Buddhist architecture, designs, and engineering. 

You can take lots of pictures of the legendary and historic Zanskar range and Indus River and surrounding valley. Remember that this was the birthplace of Mohenjo Daro and Harappa – some of the oldest civilizations in the world and India’s oldest known civilization. 

If you tour the monastery, you can take pictures of the life-sized replica of the Great Buddha. You can also marvel and take pictures of the many reliefs, frescoes, and paintings that showcase the best in Tibetan medieval art and culture. You’ll have to go inside the monastery to do this!

Spituk Monastery

You’ll drive 8 kilometres from Leh to reach this place. You can take lots of photographs of the beautiful monastery and scenic surroundings. Of course, if you love to experience the culture of the places that you visit, you’ll enjoy the many fairs and festivals that characterize this place. Everyone who visits pays a flat fee of INR 20. 

This monastery has a breathtaking view which, when combined with its stunning architecture, design, and engineering style, makes for a must-see place. It was built around the year 1000. You’ll see a lot of early Buddhist and Tibetan Middle Age concepts. This place is one of the many that characterizes the region. You’ll see paintings, masks, and idols of many Hindu and Buddhist deities and spiritual figures both on the interior and the exterior of Spituk. These include the Lord Buddha and the great Hindu goddess of Death and Destruction, Kali.

Of course, if you get the chance to, you should see the annual Spituk festival. The locals unveil and present their favoured deity Goddess Kali during this time. The entire event is celebrated by monks who dance while wearing masks with religious themes and 

Hall of Fame Museum

This is also one of the most popular tourist places in India. You’ll understand why when you the many memorials constructed to honour those Indian jawans who died while fighting Pakistan in the Kargil and Siachen glacier wars. This museum is a 4-kilometre drive from Leh. Once you get there, you can take lots of pictures of the memorials, arms, and munitions seized from enemy soldiers, uniforms, and other army relics, and biographies of fallen officers. Of course, this is a great place to learn about contemporary Indian military history.

Indians will pay INR 10 as an entry fee. Foreigners are charged INR 50.

Changtang Wildlife Sanctuary

The Leh-Ladakh region has some of the best places to visit in India. One of these is the Changtang Wildlife Sanctuary. You’ll drive a total of 121 km from Leh to get here. Expect to spend almost three and a half hours driving on the Keylong-Leh Road. While there, you can take great pictures of unique wildlife. You’ll pay INR 5,999. But don’t’ worry, this includes food and lodging, so it’s actually a pretty good deal.

You’ll marvel at the wide diversity of wildlife that can survive in this arid and bitterly cold climate and harsh environment. They have to constantly negotiate through rocky terrain. Added to this is the fact that there is little in terms of trees, flowers, and plants for food – these animals must, therefore, be good at hunting and gathering.

You’ll see animals that are unique to the Leh-Ladakh region. These include the Tibetan Ass, the Wild Yak, the Tibetan Wolf, the Blue Sheep, etc…You’ll also witness breeding programs for migratory species like the Brahminy Duck and the Bar-headed Goose.

Tso Kar Lake

You can visit this small and calm lake for free. Its tranquillity and scenery make it one of the most visited tourist places in India for Indians and foreigners. You’ll drive almost 4 hours on the Keylong-Leh road because it’s 230 kilometres away from Leh. 

This place has lots of nice places for camping overnight. This is great if you love to gaze at the stars at night from underneath a burlap tent. The only other inhabitants will be the occasional nomad who is either herding his livestock or is in search of food for his family. A visit here during the summertime will allow you to see many species unique to the region. These include the Bar-headed Geese, the Black-necked Crane, and the Brahminy Duck. This lake is these species’ breeding ground.

Stok Palace

You’ll pay INR 50 to enter this palace. Once here, you can marvel at this place’s and region’s rich history. There are also many great photo ops in this palace. It was constructed in 1825 and is known throughout the region for its great architecture. Since it was built towards the end of the Mughal Empire, it sports many geometric and magnificent gardens that characterize Mughal architecture. 

If you visit the palace, you can take many pictures of the many items that belonged to Buddhist royalty. These include pieces of clothing and crowns. Since the terrain is rough, your best bet is to explore the grounds with a jeep. You can drive here from Leh. Since it’s 13 KM away from Leh, you’ll be driving almost half an hour.

These are Leh-Ladakh’s region’s ‘hidden gems.’

The Leh-Ladakh region has long been talked about around the world as being one of the best places to visit in India. The ‘hidden gems’ that this article has described in some detail explain why!

By Prita Kulkarni

Prita is a Natural Born Writer & consultant with 3 years of training in consulting, writing, and analytical work. Her strong points are in market research and analysis, social media and digital marketing, networking, and business development. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Accounting from UC Riverside and an MBA with an emphasis in business plan development from Baylor University.

View all of Prita Kulkarni's posts.

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