Traveler Guide of Ladhak

Travel Guide Leh Ladhak

Leh is located in the Indus river valley at a crossroads of the old trading routes from Kashgar, Tibet, and Kashmir. Its importance as a trading town slowed down with the partition of British India, and ended with the closure of the border in 1962 during the Sino-Indian war. Since opening to tourists in 1974, it has become a bustling tourist town, with large numbers of Kashmiri traders.
It’s a small town, easy to get most places by foot. The old town is a compact area of mud brick houses and narrow lanes directly to the east of Main Bazar. Changspa is the agricultural “suburb” northwest of the center, with many guesthouses.
The main Bazaar’s elevation is 3505 meters , so take it easy on your first few days there or risk possible¬†altitude sickness. Even experienced high altitude travellers (Andes) might have some trouble.
Travelling in Leh without professional guidance is like shooting for the moon while being too busy gazing the stars. There are various giants offering customized packages that are tailor-made to suit your needs.
There are two roads in to Leh, one from Manali in Himachal Pradesh in the south, and one from Srinagar in the west. Both routes are equally spectacular in different ways, and both are time consuming with winding, narrow roads, and numerous military checkpoints.
The main advantage of taking the road from Srinagar, covering a distance of 434 km (270 mi), is that it runs at a lower altitude, and thereby reduces the risk and severity of altitude sickness. It is also open longer Рnormally from the beginning of June to October Рand follows the traditional trade route between Ladakh and Kashmir, which passes through many picturesque villages and farmlands.It takes two long days, with an overnight stop in Kargil. Tickets cost Rupees 370/470 on ordinary/deluxe buses.
The route from Manali to Leh, covering a distance of 473 km (294 mi), is one more commonly taken by tourists. It takes two days, normally with an overnight stop either in Keylong (alt. 3096) or in tent accommodation in Sarchu (4253) or Pang (4500). Making the first stop in Keylong drastically reduces the risk of altitude sickness (AMS). It traverses one of the highest road passes in the world and is surrounded by wild rugged mountains. The scenery is fantastic, though it is definitely not for the faint hearted. This historical trade route was linked to Yarkhand and was severed by the India-China war in 1962, and later was transformed in to military supply road. Reliable access is limited from mid-June to end-September, as it is blocked by snow for rest of the year.
Clearing of snow on both these roads starts sometime in early April. Once the whole road is cleared of snow and has been opened for public transport, this is announced at: 

Travel Guide Ladhak

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By bus
State buses run from Srinagar and also privately operated deluxe buses.From Manali HPTDC,( Himachal Pradesh Tourist Development Corporation), operate Deluxe buses that stop overnight in Keylong ,between July and September. HPTDC start at 09:00 from Manali to Leh, 18:30 from Delhi to Manali. Cost Rs 2400 for good bus for Manali-Leh, Rs 1300 from Delhi to Manali prices here.HRTC , Himachal Road Transport Corporation, the state run buses ply the road during the officially open period, allowing you to stop in a number of places along the way. Total cost Rs. 130 (Manali-Keylong) + Rs 513(Keylong-Leh) . Private buses stop in Keylong , Darcha or Sarchu Рthe last alternative (eight hundred meters higher than Leh ) involving a high incidence of altitude sickness. There is also a direct bus from Manali to Leh, which takes around 24 hours. This route is not advisable as it dramatically increases the likelihood of altitude sickness. On some buses late booking passengers end up having a wooden bench instead of more comfortable seats, with no seatbelts, and will be repeatedly banging their head for the whole journey. Sleep is next to impossible, and by the end of the journey even the most hardy of passengers in this position will have lost the will to live. Drivers also have a tendency to cut corners; on one particular journey our driver drove down a muddy hill, before we got stuck and were forced to dig ourselves out in the freezing dark for two hours before we could continue. Notwithstanding, the views on this route are spectacular. It is possible to book tickets direct Delhi-Leh , but the best option is to break off the journey in Manali and at the lower end of Lahaul : Sissu , Keylong (main population center) or Jispa Рall around 3100 altitude.
Similar options are available while coming back from Leh. However, if you are going to Srinagar, the major part of the journey will take place at night and you may not be able to enjoy the scenery. The journey takes about 15 hours, starting at 5PM in the evening for shared cabs. Different cabs have different times but most would stick to 4 PM to 7PM slot. The approximate price is Rs. 2000 to Rs. 2300 as in August,2014.
Cab journey to Manali takes 18 hours and starts in the wee hours of morning at about 1 AM or so. Again, different cabs have different times close to 1 AM.
By jeep
The fastest way to get to Leh from Manali is by ‘jeep’. Shared jeeps do the trip in one long day (of about 20-24 hours) as opposed to two short ones on the bus. Keep in mind that that all single day rides comes with a risk of being stranded near five thousand meters without being acclimatized , with severe altitude sickness as a result. The journey costs up to Rs 1500 for a seat on a shared jeep. During the high season tickets for the jeep rides must be bought in advance of the day of departure and the main street in old Manali is full of ticket touts, you won’t have to find them for yourself.
Leaving Manali before dawn, arrival in Leh is sometime after sunset. Although this is the longest and most uncomfortable car journey you will ever take it’s an experience unparalleled in India. Crossing overthe five thousand meter passes affords views of stunning and the bizarre territory. It is advised to take a front seat in the jeep and by NO MEANS allow yourself to be seated in the boot. These seats (in the boot) are inward facing and 24 hours sitting on one of those will take all the pleasure out of the trip.
A privately hired jeep allows the luxury of stopping wherever you like, and allow you to decide on how many people you will travel in your group. If you have a group of five, or can form one with other travellers, this is the most recommended way to get to Leh. While it might be one of the most expensive things you book in the whole of India (around 3000 rupees), the ability to stop whenever you want, take your time and be comfortable for the whole journey is definitely worth it. On the uncomfortable and lengthy bus ride the experience can often be ruined. It is at least worth taking a private jeep on one of your journeys to really get a level of appreciation for the spectacular scenery at your own pace. Try to find a driver who is not in a hurry and wouldn’t mind doing frequent stops.
If you are coming from Srinagar, go to #1 taxi stand in town. Book only your seat on sumo taxi jeep to Kargil for Rs. 500. Stay overnight. Book your seat for Leh from Kargil and pay 400 rupees upon arrival in Leh. Get them to drop you at Fort Road which is the heart of the tourist area and accommodation is close by. Make sure you ask for middle seat in the taxi. Too crowded in the front and too uncomfortable in the back. Fantastic scenery for whole two days.
If you are coming from Leh, you can buy tickets either from various agencies around the town, or directly from office located in bus station. It is in the first floor of the nortern (uphill) building, doors facing away from the buses. Price there was Rs. 1500 for front seat in September 2009, and the ride down to Manali took 23 hours starting midnight.
By truck
It is also possible to travel between Leh and Manali by truck. These trucks ply the route when it opens in summer and they will be no new sight for anyone who has been in India for even a few days. Making the 490 km (304 mi) journey in the cab of one of these trucks is an experience; they are not as comfortable as the jeeps, nor do they give as good visibility as either jeeps or buses, and take anywhere up to 3 days to complete; but sleeping in the cab and eating the same food as the locals is worth it. You can pre-arrange truck drivers in Manali by going to the main truck stop in the new town. Here the drivers stop on their way from Delhi to Leh and will be more than happy to give you a ride for 500 rupees. Make sure you don’t pay before you travel. In Leh there is a similar truck park. Try to pick a truck with the least amount of passengers already otherwise your trip will be even less comfortable. Travelers staying longer in Ladakh are likely to find themselves traveling by truck at some point, and probably don’t need to go out of their way to take one.
By motorcycle
The road from Manali to Leh is often known as a Biker’s Paradise. Bikes (motorcycles) are available for rent at Manali. A popular place is Hardev Motors. Also Into Wild Himalaya, near Manali mall road is a great place for bikes, especially Enfields. If you are looking for Pulsars and Royal enfields, you can check¬†Bike rentals manali. Their office is in Vashisht. Heard good reviews about them.
When biking to Leh it is advisable to travel at a slow pace to allow acclimatization. A suggested itinerary is: Day 1 Manali – Jispa (138 km; 86 mi), Day 2 Jispa – Pang (161 km; 100 mi), and Day 3 Pang -Leh (174 km; 108 mi). Essential supplies include: puncture repair kit, spare clutch cables and some good carriers (to hold luggage). The next bike workshop after Manali is Keylong (110 km; 68 mi) and then at Leh (400 km; 249 mi).
Into Wild Himalaya is a specialist guided motorcycle touring company for Manali РLeh Motorcycle tours. for more details visit [www.intowildhimalaya.com]
By plane
Planes fly year round, and are the only option in the winter. Book early and give yourself at least a few days of flexibility as flights are often delayed due to weather conditions. Air India and GoAir have daily flights from Delhi. Air India flights are also available from Srinagar, and Jammu.
Those arriving by air are strongly advised to rest for at least one day in order to acclimatize to the high altitude. (See article on altitude sickness)
When leaving, make sure you have a printed copy of your ticket, otherwise you will not be able to enter the airport. Also make sure that you identify your checked luggage (outside on the tarmac) after going through security or it may not be loaded onto the plane due to heightened security measures.
Be aware that luggage weight limits, both checked and carry-on, are significantly more restrictive to/from Leh than elsewhere in India and they are actually enforced. If you are on a long visit to India it may be advisable to leave some of your heavier luggage in Delhi. Besides airport checked luggage facilities you may find that some hotels are willing to hold your luggage for up to a week if you are returning to the same hotel after your trip to Ladakh.
By train
The closest train stations are Pathankot or Chandigarh, both at least three days away by bus. A new station added recently is Udhampur which is linked by rail to Jammu. Please check the Train schedule as trains may not run on daily basis.
  • Hemis Festival*: Hemis festival is celebrated during June/July to celebrate the birth of guru Padmasambhava.
  • Losar Festival*: Losar festival is celebrated in 11th month of Tibetan calender.
  • Ladakh Festival*: This colourful festival held in the month of September.
Buy
Main Bazaar and the surrounding streets have numerous shops selling souvenirs, mostly Tibetan antiques or replicas. The Tibetan market is a good place to buy little jewelery, souvenirs, and various other goodies.
There are half a dozen good book shops with an excellent range of books on the Himalayas, including guidebooks, phrase-books, books on history, and on Buddhism, as well as novels.
People needing to pick up some warm clothing shouldn’t miss out on the¬†second hand clothing bazaar¬†near the jeep stand. Quality used clothing from first world countries goes for next to nothing here, especially handy if you are only in the cooler climate for a little while.
Leh also has the best selection of¬†food for trekking¬†albeit not all that different from normal instant noodles, biscuits, powdered milk and chocolate that’s available in any village with a shop, but with the addition of fresh and dry fruit and veggies, and a few other luxury foods.
Leh is a good place to pick up Pashmina shawls, a good price for one is about Rs. 4500/- to 7000/-
Hazara Arts on changspa road and on Fort road (the 2 shops with same name and owner) is one of the best shops in leh where you can get 100% pashmina with good smiling face this shop also have a big collection of carpets.
Eat
Budget
Main Bazaar has a few sweet shops selling samosas, chana dhal with puri, and other Indian food in addition to the sweets. The shopping areas of the old town and the area around the bus station are good for Tibetan styled restaurants, although few offer more than thukpa (noodle soup) and momos (dumplings). Vegetarian dishes are difficult to find in these places.
  • Lamayuru Restaurant
  • German bakery
  • MonaLisa on the Old Fort Road offers good non indian cuisine at pretty affordable rates. Try their pizzas and momos.
  • Mughlai Restaurant,¬†Fort Road¬†(3rd floor, next to Dreamlands).¬†lunch and dinner.¬†delicious Kashmiri (Wazwan) food¬†reasonable
Buy
Main Bazaar and the surrounding streets have numerous shops selling souvenirs, mostly Tibetan antiques or replicas. The Tibetan market is a good place to buy little jewelery, souvenirs, and various other goodies.
There are half a dozen good book shops with an excellent range of books on the Himalayas, including guidebooks, phrase-books, books on history, and on Buddhism, as well as novels.
People needing to pick up some warm clothing shouldn’t miss out on the¬†second hand clothing bazaar¬†near the jeep stand. Quality used clothing from first world countries goes for next to nothing here, especially handy if you are only in the cooler climate for a little while.
Leh also has the best selection of¬†food for trekking¬†albeit not all that different from normal instant noodles, biscuits, powdered milk and chocolate that’s available in any village with a shop, but with the addition of fresh and dry fruit and veggies, and a few other luxury foods.
Leh is a good place to pick up Pashmina shawls, a good price for one is about Rs. 4500/- to 7000/-
Hazara Arts on changspa road and on Fort road (the 2 shops with same name and owner) is one of the best shops in leh where you can get 100% pashmina with good smiling face this shop also have a big collection of carpets.
Do
  • Leh is the place to prepare for a¬†trekking in Ladakh, which offers a huge number of possible trekking routes.
  • White-water rafting¬†: on the Zaskar and Indus rivers is also organised from Leh. Please be advised that the Indus rafting route from Nimmu towards the Pakistani border has rapids of increasing severity which run along the grades of 4, 4+, and 5; the latter two grades being not for the very faint of heart.
  • Camping¬†is possible at Pangong Lake and on the sand dunes of Nubra Valley. Several mid and high end camps are available at both these places in the peak season from mid May to mid September.
  • Home Stays¬†are possible at various locations in Ladakh and can be arranged by a travel agent. It is a great way to explore local culture and interact with the villagers. A good pace to do home-stays is Turtuk in Nubra Valley which has been recently opened to tourists.
  • Cycling¬†– Various cycling tours are organised by travel agents and you can also hire a bicycle and go cycling individual
  • Carpet Workshop¬†– A free carpet and pashmina workshop is offered daily at 6pm at Hazara Arts, Shanti Stupe Road near KC Restaurant, a few minutes from the center of town, walking towards Shanti Stupa, in the first right bend of Changspa road and on Fort Road near hotel Grand willow opposite Munshi Continental. We discuss history of carpets, analyze different traditional designs and techniques of production and learn how to differentiate various qualities of carpets and other textiles. Free tea may also be offered to participants.

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