India Now - page 58

breeze. Ladakh is also a popular destination for
skiing. So please pack your gear for a thrilling
run down the slopes! For nature enthusiasts
who just want a date with the elements, cycling
down the innumerable treks is a wonderful
option. You can stopover at villages and even stay
up with the local people, learning about Ladakh
first hand—an experiential and sensory journey.
Back in Leh, once you have had your fill of
adventures, do explore the capital of Ladakh
before you depart. The place dates back to 1st
century AD and is an explorer’s delight with its
rich monuments, stupas and monasteries. The
famous Shanti Stupa constructed by the Japa-
nese is a prime attraction here, Situated atop a
hill at a height of 4,267 metres, the Stupa offers
the best vantage point for a bird’s eye view of
Leh. Sunrise and sunset, viewed from the Shan-
ti Stupa are unforgettable panoramic vignettes
of nature’s cinematic artistry. Do also visit the
more than 800-year old Kali Mandir nearby that
has a rich collection of exotic masks. Another
stopover in Leh is the Royal Palace of Leh. The
nine-storied, 17th century structure has a rich
museum and also offers a picturesque view of
the valley.
If you have time on hand and feel inclined, do
visit Zanskar Valley. Inhabited by around a pop-
ulation of 14,000 that’s mainly Buddhist, this
isolated tip of Ladakh is closed to the world for
about eight months in a year! Our story is about
to end, but we have just covered the tip of Lada-
kh maybe. There much more to see like the
Magnetic Valley, Kargil, Drass, Stok Kangri,
Suru Valley…
Plan your trip today…a world of wonder awaits
you in Ladakh!
A visit to the nearby Shey, Thiksey and Hemis
monasteries is equally a compelling experience.
Shey monastery, the former summer palace of
the royal family, is 15 km from Leh. The 17.5
metres tall copper and brass statue of the blue
haired Maitreya Buddha is captivating as is the
pristine river Indus, on whose banks it is located.
Visit the other stupas and shrines strewn across
the banks. Hemis, the largest monastery in Lada-
kh, is one of the richest in India, housing a trea-
sure trove of ancient collections of stupas and
Thangkas, exquisitely carved and adorned and
made from precious metals. Combine this visit
with a trip to the wildlife park nearby and catch a
sight of rare and exotic animals including snow
leopards. The 12-storey Thiksey monastery is 18
km from Leh. The imposing architecture houses
10 temples and other buildings including a nun-
nery. Apart from the 40-foot high statue of Mai-
treya Buddha that the monastery possesses
which is the main attraction for visitors; for more
discerning travellers, the rare collection of arte-
facts, wall paintings, stupas, swords and murals,
helps deconstruct the ancient legacy of Tibetan
Buddhists. A little farther from Leh, at a distance
of 127 km, lies the oldest Tibetan Buddhist mon-
astery. Situated at a height of 3,510 meters above
sea level, Lamayuru monastery belongs to the
Red Hat sect of Buddhism. A must-stop stopover
on the Kargil-Leh circuit, Lamayuru’s landscape
is famous for its topographical resemblance to
lunar territory and is also known as moonland.
Spend a day browsing through the rich history of
the monastery which dates back to the 10th cen-
tury. It houses some of the rarest treasures that
are a delight to discover.
The outdoors beckon compellingly and yak
and camel safaris are not be missed experiences
when in Ladakh. Bothe, the double humped
camel and the 6 feet tall, 1000 kg strong yak are
unique to this region. The safari will take you at a
leisurely pace through the pristine valleys giving
an unhindered view of the snow-topped moun-
tains, green valleys, blue water bodies and breath-
taking views of nature at its best. The more
adventurous can opt for river rafting down the
rapids of the river Indus. It’s a thrilling ride
through gorges in the Ladakh and Zanskar rang-
es. Kayaking in the Zanskar river and motorbik-
ing across Ladakh are other thrilling options for
adventure seekers. Paragliding near Khardung La
pass is an out of the world experience as you soar
above the steep mountains in the calm cool
Up in
The captivating12-storey Thikseymonastery.
Nubra Valley offers
fascinating vistas,
unforgettable views of
sand dunes, sunrise,
sunset and camel rides.
The lush vegetation
stands in stark contrast to
the snowcapped peaks in
the backdrop.
A traditional ceremonial
welcome for a senior monk
at Lamayuru Gompa, a
popular village stopover
for tourists between the
Kargil-Leh route in Ladakh.
A trail of prayer flags
flutter atop Khardung La
pass, perhaps meant to
keep motorists safe on
this thrilling adventurous
snow-bound ride on top of
the world.
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