Ladakh is probably the biggest tourist attraction in our country right now. But did you know that it is also the second-largest district in terms of area; second only to Bhuj in Gujarat. What this necessarily means that there is an endless list of places to visit and things to do in Ladakh. You can spend several days here, weeks even, and will still not be done with the list. Tourist attractions here are enough to keep every type of tourist interested; right from a group of adventure enthusiasts to a family visiting with kids and elders. If you were wondering what is there to see in Ladakh, then below is a grand list of 101 places to visit in Ladakh and things to do that you can pick from.
101 Places to see in Ladakh
How many places from the list below are you able to see will entirely depend on the time you have. But if you are able to run down the list in its entirety, you will truly know why Ladakh is so desired as a tourist destination in today’s date.
1. Pangong Tso
Pangong Lake needs no introduction anymore. It is the most famous lake not just in Ladakh but in entire India. A trip to Ladakh is definitely incomplete unless you have been to Pangong. See the beauty of the blue under a deep blue sky with brown mountains in the backdrop and prepare to be mesmerized. Read How to reach Pangong Lake from Leh for details on how you can plan a trip here. Pangong Tso is what you will count as the top item in the list of family places to visit in Ladakh.
2. Tso Moriri
Next in the list of main sightseeing in Ladakh is the enchanting lake of Tso Moriri. It may be a bit smaller in size than Pangong but is a giant in beauty. Unlike Pangong, this one is a freshwater lake so you will find plenty of green around it. If you were lucky, you may even spot some wildlife here. Please read How to plan a Trip to Tso Moriri for a complete travel guide on Tso Moriri Lake.
3. See the Wondrous Skies of Ladakh
When was the last time that you looked up and were greeted by sky like below? Probably never, right. Visit Ladakh and see a magical sight like this every night. If you have even slightest of interest in night photography or capturing star trails, you are in for a treat.
4. Khardung La
It was once famed as the highest motorable road in the world. That crown is now lost and the claim is no longer valid but Khardung La is still one of the must visit places in Ladakh. What still remains is its majestic beauty in all its glory. Khardung La was, still is and will always remain one of the greatest attractions of Leh Ladakh. You may also want to read Leh to Khardung La Travel Guide for more details on this beautiful pass.
5. The Nowhere
I think I do not have to really write anything to describe the picture below. When you are riding a bike or driving a car and see a view like the below in front of you, the feeling is heavenly. You will get to see several amazing sights like this at several places several times while driving to and in Ladakh.
6. Gurudwara Pathar Sahib
Gurudwara Pathar Sahib is located about 23 kilometers away from Leh, on the Srinagar – Leh highway. At an altitude of over 12,000 ft, it is considered one of the highest Gurudwaras in the world. It was built in 1517 in the memory of Guru Nanak Dev; to commemorate his visit to Ladakh. You can visit the Gurudwara while either traveling from Leh to Srinagar or vice versa. You can plan also plan a day tour on Srinagar Leh road and pay a visit at the Gurudwara while visiting some other tourist places like Magnetic Hill and Indus Zanskar Confluence. For a complete travel guide, please read How to Visit Gurudwara Pathar Sahib from Leh. Gurudwara Pathar Sahib is among the 8 best places to visit in Ladakh.
7. Visit the Leh Palace in Leh City
When you are in Leh, you must visit the Leh Palace. It was once the royal palace of the king of Ladakh and was constructed circa 1600 by Sengge Namgyal. The Palace Museum holds a rich collection of jewelry, ornaments, ceremonial dresses, crowns and thangkas which are more than 450 years old. It is nine floors high and was abandoned when Dogra forces took control of Ladakh. Visiting Leh Palace is what you will call as local sightseeing in Ladakh.
8. See the Shanti Stupa
After seeing the Leh Palace, you must next visit the Shanti Stupa. It is a Buddhist white-domed stupa located on a hilltop quite close to the Leh Palace. There is a motorable road that goes all the way to the monument but if you wanted to, you can also climb a couple hundred stairs to get here. It was built in 1991 by Japanese Buddhist Bhikshu, Gyomyo Nakamura and has become a tourist attraction not only due to its religious significance but also due to its location which provides panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. You must spend an evening getting an excellent view of the sunset in Leh town.
9. Go to Magnetic Hill
This is another place that lies on Srinagar Leh Highway. You can visit here either while traveling between Srinagar and Leh or just make a short trip from Leh City. You can actually cover both Gurudwara Pathar Sahib and Magnetic Hill in the same visit. Why is it so famous? On this particular part of the Srinagar – Leh highway, you would clearly see the road ahead going uphill. Yet if you turned off the engine and let your vehicle stand in neutral, it will slowly start moving and can go up to a speed of 20 kilometers per hour on its own. Mysterious? I agree. Is it real? Read The truth of Magnetic Hill of Ladakh for an explanation. Magnetic Hill always gets listed among the 10 best places to visit in Ladakh.
10. Hall of Fame
While you are in Leh City, you just cannot miss visiting the famous Hall of fame. It honors the great Indian soldiers who laid their lives in service of the nation during the Kargil War.
11. Sangam Point
A little further from Magnetic Hill and slightly before the small village of Nimmu, you can see the confluence of Indus and Zanskar rivers, also known as Sangam Point. The two rivers merging into each other to form one, one with muddy waters and the other one with crystal clear waters, is quite a sight. It is a good spot for photography as well.
12. General Zorawar Fort
Zorawar Singh Kahluria was a general of the Sikh Empire and is often known as the “Conqueror of Ladakh”. His fort is located in Leh town a little further ahead of Namgyal Tsemo Monastery. Inside the fort, there is a mosque, a natural spring, and a Temple dedicated to Hindu Goddesses Kali and Durga.
13. Jama Masjid
The Jama Masjid of Leh was first built in 1666-67 and has been rebuilt several times since then. It is the biggest mosque in all of Ladakh. It is located in the town itself and getting here is not difficult at all.
14. Datun Sahib
Located right behind the Leh Jama Masjid in Main Bazaar, Datun Sahib is a Meswak tree that is believed to have been planted by Guru Nanak himself during his visit to Leh in 1516. It is said that Leh was devoid of greenery at the time, but Nanak blessed the city with greenery by planting a Meswak tree.
15. Sindhu Ghat
Sindhu Ghat, as the name suggests, is a beautiful riverbank located in Shey Village, about 13 kilometers from Leh. The Ghat is known for its excellent scenery comprising of barren mountains, rocky terrains, sparse greenery and the Indus River passing through. Sindhu Ghat is also the spot for the annual three day Sindhu Festival of Ladakh.
16. Mani Wall
Just near Nimmu village, you can see half a kilometer long Mani Wall, considered to be the longest in the world. To decode it for you, it is a wall built by stones known as “Mani stone”; a stone plate, rock or pebble, inscribed with Buddhist prayers.
High Mountain Passes to see in Ladakh
Listed below and further in the article are some of the other high altitude passes (other than Khardung La and Umling La) that you will be traveling across in Leh Ladakh.
17. Chang La
This may not be among the top 8 places to visit in Ladakh but is definitely among the most visited ones. Once considered to be the second-highest motorable road in the world, Chang La sits royally at a height of 5,360 meters. Located about 75 kilometers from Leh, it is one of the must-visit places in Ladakh and can be incorporated in your trip to Pangong.
18. Marsimik La
Marsimik La for a long time wore the crown of being the highest motorable pass in the world, that is before other higher passes like Umling La came into the picture. The thing about this pass is that it is hard to get a permit for it nowadays but if you were able to secure one, do make a note of riding to this mighty pass standing tall at an altitude of 5,582 meters (18,314 ft).
19. Wari La
There are three ways to reach Pangong Tso via Nubra Valley; or vice versa. One is via Leh, second via Shyok road and third via Wari La Pass. Which one is the most adventurous one now? It is definitely the Wari La road. At an altitude of 17,400 ft, the final 20 kilometers of the ascent to this Wari La is so steep that it can leave even a 4×4 vehicle struggling for breath.
20. Polo Kongka La
Polo Kongka La is one of the easier passes of Ladakh in terms of height but is tough in terms of the road condition. The pass lies on the direct route between Tso Kar and Tso Moriri, near Sumdo. There is no much of a driving up involved and if you didn’t know there was a pass in between, you wouldn’t even know that you crossed one.
21. Namashang La
This is another of the easier passes that is also located on the way to Tso Moriri. From Sumdo, you drive uphill to reach the top of Namashang La and then it is all the way downhill to first the lake of Kiagar Tso and then Tso Moriri.
22. Tsaga La
The third entry in the list of easier passes is of Tsaga La. This pass is located on the way from Chushul to Hanle, or Tso Moriri. There are a few prayer flags that are actually the only thing that tells you that you are on top of a pass. Otherwise, it is just a vast ground and hard to tell that you just crossed a pass.
23. Rezang La
Rezang La is not much of a pass and doesn’t even feel like one when you drive to it. But did you know that it is this pass where the Indian Army made its last stand during the India-China war? India may have lost the war but Rezang La is where we fought back. It is at the top of this pass where the actual battle happened. Read The Battle and The Heroes of Rezang La for more details on it.
24. Umba La
Now, after the easier ones, let us take a look at some of the toughest and hard to reach passes in Ladakh. The first entry in the list is of Umba La. At an elevation of 4,496meters (14,750ft), this may not be the highest pass in Ladakh but the steep climb and the bad road does make it a challenge to cross. The road across this pass can be used to reach Zanskar Valley directly from Drass, without needing to go to Kargil first.
25. Shingo La
The road across this pass is not yet operational but once it is, it will cross the Padum town in Zanskar with Darcha in Lahaul valley. Shingo La is located at an altitude of 5,091 meters (16,703 ft)
26. Kaksang La
Kaksang La lies on the direct route between Chushul and Mahe. Traveling from Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri, you can either take the conventional Chushul – Tsaga – Loma – Nyoma – Mahe route or you can just straight from Chushul to Mahe via Kaksang La. Please note though that this pass is tough to climb and due to the bad road, may need a vehicle capable enough to handle the challenge. It lies at an altitude of 5.436 meters (17,834 ft).
I swear if this pass was in the western world, it would either have been a subject of jokes or they would have changed its name. But jokes apart, this pass too is one of the very challenging ones and is on the same road that Kaksang La is. Climbing from Chushul, you will first cross Kaksang La and then Hor La at an altitude of 4.908 meters (16,102 ft)
28. Salsal La
Now let us take a look at some passes that have rarely been ventured upon by people. Salsal La is on the route from Karzok to Chumur (or Hanle to Karzok) and is located way close to the border. This entire area around Chumur has been subject to too many Chinese incursions due to which tourist movement is no longer allowed here. Salsa La is located at an altitude of 17,200 ft. approximately.
29. Charchagan La
Charchagan La is another pass located in the Chumur region on the roads between Karzok, Hanle, and Chumur. Tourists are no longer permitted in this region.
30. Photi La
Photi La is located a little ahead of Hanle at an altitude of 5,524 meters 18,124 ft. Earlier, a lot of people traveled to this pass but after the whole issue regarding Umling La came into light, getting to Photi La too became a bit of a challenge.
31. Parkachik La
The only way to reach this pass is an easy trek from Panikhar in Suru Valley (Zanskar). If you are staying overnight at Panikhar, you can walk up to the pass and return by evening. Another way is to start from Panikhar, cross the pass and descend down to Parkachik on the other side.
32. Umasi La
Accessible only by a tough trek, this 5,342 meters high pass connects Zanskar to Lahaul valley. There is no road across this pass yet and getting atop this pass is a tough, several days long, trekking expedition.
Lakes to visit in Ladakh
After some of the unknown and lesser-visited passes of Ladakh, let us take a look at some lakes that you would not have heard about but are located in Ladakh. And I am not really talking about Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri but some other smaller lakes that are equally beautiful and deserve a visit.
33. Startsapuk Tso
This is a smaller but beautiful lake located right next to Tso Kar, towards Sumdo. Most people miss it because they mistake it for Tso Kar itself. It is really a very secluded kind of lake with hardly anyone around. The surrounding is a great spot for taking some great pictures.
34. Mirpal Tso
As you start driving up from Chushul towards Nyoma, the first lake you will come across is Mirpal Tso (also known as Mitpal Tso). It is located at a distance of above 28 kilometers from Chushul. The entire drive from Chushul to this lake will be a nightmare and it will only get worse as you drive further. This lake is just before the Kakasang La Pass which is a few kilometers after you cross Mirpal Tso.
35. Yaye Tso
After Mirpal Tso, you will drive further up to Kakasang La pass. The road will continue to get worse and about 35 kilometers later; you will reach the Hor La. This pass is at an altitude of 4,908 meters (or 5,017 meters) and right next to it is the beautiful Yaye Tso.
36. Spanggur Tso
A common belief is that Pangong Tso is the only lake that is shared by India and China. What if I told you there was another one that crosses over the border of the two countries and is equally stunning? This lake is called Spanggur Tso or Maindung Co or Mandong Cuo. It is at an elevation of 4,305 meters and has an area of 61.6 square kilometers. It was completely under Indian control before the war of 1962 when Chinese troops attacked and overcame four Indian posts in the area.
37. Kiagar Tso
Kiagar Tso is a small lake located between the pass of Namshang La and Karzok. It falls on your left a few kilometers after you cross the pass. Most people just rush towards Karzok and ignore it but I would highly recommend spending some time on its banks and click a few pictures.
38. Ta Tso and the Lang Tso lakes
These twin lakes are located at the top of Pensi La Pass, as you travel from Kargil to Padum. Both the lakes are located right next to each other and quite close to Pensi La top. You can leave your vehicle on the road and walk to the lake.
39. Yarab Tso
This is a small lake located in Nubra Valley, near Sumur Village. It is considered as a sacred lake and can only be reached after a short trek of 20 to 30 minutes. Camping near the lake and taking a dip in its waters is forbidden.
40. Chagar Tso
Much like the way Tso Moriri overshadows Kiagar Tso, there is another lake that gets overshadowed by its sibling. I am talking about the Chagar or Chaghar Tso that falls on the way to Pangong Tso. But since most people are in a hurry to reach Pangong, no one cares to stop and admire the beauty of Chagar Tso which I would really recommend you to. It is a great spot to click some amazing pictures.
41. Tso Ltak
This is another lake which is practically invisible to tourists because everyone is rushing towards Pangong Tso. This is a small lake located right at the foot of Chang La Pass as you drive down towards Pangong. There is a lot of greenery around this lake and you will also find ducks swimming in it.
42. Ryul Lake and Chilling Tso
These lakes are located in an extremely restricted zone quite close to the border. To get here, you will have to take the road towards Chumur from either Karzok or Nyoma. Permits for this area are not easily issued and not many people have been in this direction. These lakes are located just before you start climbing up Salsal La at an altitude of 5,242 meters (17,200 Feet). Both of these lakes are located right next to each other on both sides of the road. As a matter of fact, both Ryul and Chilling lakes are called as twin lakes and sometimes referred to as Kyun Tso 1 and Kyun Tso 2.
43. Panamik Hot Water Springs
One of the best places to visit in Nubra Valley is its hot water spring located in the sleepy town of Panamik. Villagers have a bath-like facility created around the spring where you can even take a dip in the naturally warm and refreshing waters.
If you want to experience a difference in culture in Ladakh, then you should drive to the village of Turtuk. It is the last village on the border and home to Balti people. While the rest of the Ladakh is majorly Buddhist, this small village is all Muslims. This village was under the control of Pakistan until the 1970s. For more information, please read How to Plan a Trip to Turtuk Village in Ladakh.
45. Bactrian Camels
Also known as a two-humped camel, it is a very rare animal with their population estimated only two million all over the world. In India, a Bactrian camel can only be seen in Nubra valley. These are found at Hunder and a camel safari in the sand dunes is one of the most popular tourist activities in Nubra valley.
46. See the Sand Dunes in Hunder
Presenting an amazing site of white sands, the sand dunes between Hunder and Diskit villages are of Nubra’s primary attractions and Ladakh’s best camping site. Camel Safari and riding a Quad bike in these sand dunes is a fun thing to do in Nubra Valley.
47. See the Drang Drung Glacier
Ever seen a glacier up close? No? Well, then you should be headed to Zanskar Valley. From the top of the Pensi La Pass, you will get a view that you won’t forget for the rest of your life. A massive river of ice and snow flowing down forming what is known as the Drang Drung Glacier.
48. Shafat Glacier
Shafat is a 14 kilometers long glacier in Suru valley which gives rise to the peaks of Nun and Kun and also provides a base to climb these two mountains. Water from this glacier forms a stream known as “Shafat Nala” which adds to the flow of Suru River.
49. Parkachik Glacier
Located at a little distance from the village of Parkachik, it is a majestic mass of ice moving slowly down the slopes of Nun and Kun peaks. You can walk up to the glacier via a suspension footbridge over the Suru River.
50. Thajiwas Glacier
Thajiwas Glacier may not be called among the tourist attractions of Ladakh but you can visit here if you were planning to stay in Sonamarg for a day. The glacier is located about 7 kilometers from Sonamarg town and can only be approached by a short trek. You can either walk on your own or hire a pony in Sonamarg.
51. Nun-Kun Massif
The twin peaks of Nun and Kun are truly a breath-taking sight. One of the peaks remains white, covered in snow whereas the other one is barren black. You will get to see these two mountains wile traveling from Kargil to Srinagar. These mountains are one of the greatest tourist attractions in Zanskar Valley.
52. Umling La
At an altitude of 19,300 feet, Umling La is the new highest motorable road and pass in the world. The pass is located further ahead of the village of Hanle and the road connects the villages of Chisumle and Demchok in southern Ladakh. For more information, please read How to plan a Trip to Umling La.
53. Phuktal Monastery
Also known as the cave gompa, this monastery is an almost 4 to 5 hours walk from the village of Anmu and a full day from Padum. It is a 14th-century monastery carved into a rock and hence the name cave gompa. This monastery offers rooms for rent so you may go trek there, stay at the monastery for the night and return to Padum the next day. For more information, please read How to reach Phuktal Monastery from Leh & Padum.
54. See the Frozen Lakes
If you were visiting in the months of January and February, you will find all the lakes in Ladakh completely frozen, so much that even a car can be driven on it. The blue of Pangong and Moriri turns completely white at this time and presents a beautiful sight.
55. Rohtang La
For those who are traveling by road from Manali, Rohtang La will be the first pass that you will cross while traveling to Leh. Open and accessible for only 5 months a year, this pass is a giant not only by its altitude by also in natural beauty. Water crossing, lush green valleys, waterfalls, mesmerizing scenery, mighty snow-covered peaks; Rohtang Pass has it all and this is what makes it one of the greatest tourist attraction of India. Take a look at my post on How to Plan a Trip to Rohtang La for more information.
The small town of Jispa is one of the most scenic villages on Manali Leh Highway. It is just a group of few houses, a couple of hotels and few campsites but the whole setting of the place, the landscape and the drive is superb.
57. Deepak Taal
Just after Jispa and right before the climb of Baralacha La is the beautiful lake of the Lamp, Deepak Tal. It may be small in size but is a giant in scenic beauty. Take a break, click some pictures and have something to eat at the Dhabas near the lake.
58. Baralacha La
At an altitude of 4,890 meters (16,043 ft) Baralacha La is definitely not the highest pass in either India or the world but is definitely one of the most notorious ones. This pass receives the highest amount of snow in the region, way more than Rohtang or any other pass. Sometimes, the snowfall here can be as high as 50 ft or even more. There is a high chance that even while traveling in June, you will find snow here at the pass.
59. Suraj Taal
This is the second lake on Manali Leh route and it is even smaller than Deepak Tal. But it has a trick up its sleeve. This lake remains frozen for most of the year. Even in the months of July and August, there is a great chance that you will find this lake partially frozen. See the pic below. Yes, there is a lake there under all that ice in the month of July.
60. Shaheed Sainik Bhawan
I am not sure what this building was once upon a time but now it is just a deserted and damaged structure standing in ruins. The interesting factor about this building is that it is thought to be haunted. You do not believe me? Well, read this ghost story and know what the fuss is all about, The Haunting Story and The Ghost of Baralacha La.
61. Gata Loops
Gata Loops is a series of twenty-one hairpin bends that takes you to the top of the 3rd high altitude pass on this highway, Nakeela; at a height of 15,547 ft. As a matter of fact, this steep and winding section of the road is considered as one of the tourist attractions of Manali to Leh road. There is also an interesting ghost story related to this place. Please read The Ghost and Hauntings of Gata Loops.
Once you drive up the Gata Loops, you will be standing at the top of the third high altitude pass on the route from Manali to Leh. This is the pass of Nakeela, magnificent, beautiful and standing tall. Take a break, spend some time, relax and click tons of pictures.
63. Lachulung La
As you drive further from Nakee La, you will drive down a little and then immediately drive up to the 4th pass on Manali Leh Highway, the Lachulung La Pass at an altitude of 5,059 meters or 16,600 ft.
64. More Plains
One of the biggest attractions as you travel from Manali to Leh is the plains of Moore or More. It is a plateau that occupies 40 km of the highway between Leh and Sarchu. You just see stunning sights as far as the eye goes and a stretch of beautiful black tarmac taking you through it.
65. Tso Kar
Tso Kar is a lake that I call as the most ignored one in Ladakh. Thousands of tourists travel from Manali to Leh by road and the majority of them just ignore it. I would, however, urge you to take a small turn near Debring and pay this gem of a lake a short visit. There are a few dhabas next to the lake where you can even get something to eat.
66. Tanglang La
This will be the last pass before you finally make it to Leh after a 2 or 3 days journey covering almost 500 kilometers. Standing tall at a height of 5,328 meters (17,480 ft), it was once considered as the second highest motorable road in the world.
67. Zoji La
At an altitude of 3,528 meters, Zoji La may not be the highest mountain pass on Srinagar Leh Highway or in Kashmir or Ladakh, but it is definitely is the most dreaded point of Srinagar to Leh route. It is Zojila that keeps this entire road closed for the entire winter season.
68. Namika La
Namika La is what I call as one of the humble passes of Leh Ladakh. It is located between Kargil and Leh at a height of 3,700 m or 12,139 ft. Correctly spelled as Namika La, the name of this pass literally means ‘Pillar of the Sky Pass’.
69. Fotu La
Fotu La is the highest point on the road between Srinagar and Leh. At an elevation of 4,108 metres (13,478 ft), it is the highest point on the highway, surpassing the famed Zoji La. The views that you get standing at the top of this pass are really enchanting. There is also a Prasar Bharati television relay station located at the top of this pass.
70. Lunar Landscape
It is a famous spot on the Srinagar Leh Highway and the reason why it is known as Lunar Landscape is that it resembles the landscape of the moon. It is located near Lamayuru and is one of the must visit places in and around Ladakh.
71. Tiger Hill
Tiger Hill is a relatively unknown name and not many people would know of this spot. It can be seen from Drass and came to highlight during the 1999 Kargil War. Pakistan Army made their bunkers at the top of this mountain and then was defeated by the Indian Army.
72. Hangro Loops
Hangro Loops is a series of 18 hairpin bends/loops after Lamayuru. Driving up on these bends is quite an experience. These are much similar to the Gata Loops of Manali Leh Highway.
73. Kargil War Memorial
I do not think this name needs any introduction at all. It is a memorial dedicated to the soldiers and officers of the Indian Army who were martyred during the 1999 conflict between India and Pakistan. It is also known as Dras War Memorial and is located in Dras, about 5 km from the city center across the Tiger Hill.
Sonamarg is probably the most scenic town on the entire Srinagar to Leh Highway. A paradise on Earth, the name “Sonamarg” itself signifies its beauty, translating as ‘The Golden Meadow’. The lush green valleys with snow-capped in the backdrop are sure to mesmerize you. For a complete list of places you can visit in Sonamarg, please read Places to Visit in Sonamarg | Things to do in Sonamarg. This small town is among the best places to visit near Ladakh.
The town of Dras is often called as the second coldest inhabited place in the world. I am not sure whether it is true or not but what I do know is that it is one of the most beautiful places all over the world. While in Dras, do not forget to visit the Kargil War Memorial.
After the war of 1999, the town of Kargil needs to introduction. But it doesn’t serve just as a war memorial anymore. It also is a beautiful destination that is often termed as the Gateway to Ladakh.
77. Fort of Rangdum
5 Kilometers from Rangdum, located on a small but steep hill, is the Rangdum Gompa which was actually used as a fortress by Dogra armies of General Zorawar Singh.
78. Zangla Fort or Palace
In ancient times, Zanskar was under two different kings, one ruling Padum and other ruling Zangla. The ancient Zangla fort or palace was the residence of the king of Zangla.
79. Zanskar River
The Zanskar river is formed after Lungnak river merges into Doda river near gzhung khor, (Zanskar’s central valley). Zanskar river finally merges into Indus river near Nimmu. It remains your constant companion as you travel through the Zanskar valley.
80. Suru River & Valley
For most of your journey through Suru valley, you will be traveling on the banks of Suru river. This river, originating from Panzella glacier which lies at Pensi La pass near the Drang Drung Glacier, is a major tributary of Indus river and is also the sole reason behind the lush green of Suru valley. The Suru River has extensive possibilities for rafting which is practiced during the summer.
The wildlife of Ladakh is as unique as the place itself. From snow leopards to Kiangs to Marmots to Brahminy Ducks, there is plenty to see in Ladakh and click pictures of. For more details, please read A Detailed Overview of Wildlife in Ladakh. In this post, I have covered different kinds of wildlife in Ladakh and where.
Monasteries to visit in Ladakh
Ladakh is home to several beautiful and ancient monasteries. Some of these are thousands of years old and visiting them is quite an experience in itself. Listed below are some of the most known monasteries of Ladakh. How many you are able to cover will entirely depend on the time you have in hand.
82. Stok Palace and Monastery
Stok Palace and Monastery are located about 2 kilometers away from each other and 15 kilometers from Leh. The palace of Stok was the summer home of the kings of Ladakh. The monastery was founded in the 14th century is best known for a 71 feet (22 meters) high seated Gautama Buddha statue and the temple, constructed between 2012-2015.
83. Basgo Monastery / Basgo Palace
The Basgo Monastery and the ruins of Basgo Palace are located about 43 kilometers from Leh Town on Srinagar Leh Highway, in the village of Basgo, towards Lamayuru. The complex consists of the ruins of the castle and a monastery; and is noted for its Buddha statues and old Murals. This monastery was established in 1680 for the Namgyal rulers and is situated on top of the hill towering over the ruins of the ancient town.
84. Namgyal Tsemo Monastery and Tsemo Castle / Fort
The word Tsemo means victory and this 16th Century fort is visible from pretty much everywhere in Leh. Both the fort and the monastery are located right next to each other. You can get here on foot by 15 minutes uphill walk from Leh Palace. The Namgyal Monastery is best known for a three-story high gold statue of Maitreya Buddha and ancient manuscripts and frescoes. It is also a great spot to get an amazing view of Leh town.
85. Shey Palace and Monastery
Shey Monastery and Palace are both located on Manali Leh Highway, about 10 kilometers from Leh town. Built in 1655, the Shey Palace used to be the summer capital of Ladakh. It is mostly in ruins now but the monastery here is noted for its giant copper with gilded gold statue of a seated Shakyamuni Buddha, which is said to be the second largest such statue in Ladakh.
86. Diskit Monastery
Diskit Monastery was built in the 14th century. Apart from its religious importance, it is also a popular tourist destination offering a spectacular view of Nubra Valley from its roof. There are two other things of note in this monastery. First is the statue of a Deity holding a mummified human forearm and head [believed to be of a Mongol Warrior] in its hand. Second is the 32 meters tall statue of Buddha that was built in 1996.
87. See Mulbekh Monastery / Maitreya Buddha
This monastery is famous for a grand 9 meters high statue of Buddha, known as Mulbekh Maitreya, and is a must-see place to visit. Please note that taking pictures of the statue is not allowed.
88. Lamayuru Monastery
It is one of the largest and oldest gompas in Ladakh, with a population of around 150 permanent monk residents. The primary attraction of this monastery are the two annual masked dance festivals in the second and fifth months of the Tibetan lunar calendar when all the monks from these surrounding gompas gather together to pray. There is also a beautiful collection of wall paintings rich in color, murals, thangkas, and scriptures on display in the monastery.
89. Alchi Monastery
This monastery is home to some of the oldest surviving paintings in Ladakh. Other noted attractions are a huge statue of Buddha, wood carvings and artwork. Artistic and spiritual details of both Buddhism and Hindu Kings of Kashmir reflect in the wall paintings of the monastery.
90. Shey Monastery
Shey monastery is located about 15 kilometers from Leh. Apart from the monastery, the small town of Shey is also famous for Shey Palace which used to be the summer capital of Ladakh in ancient times. There is a grand 12-meter-high statue of Shakyamuni Buddha located in the premises.
91. Spituk Monastery
Also known as Spituk Gompa or Pethup Gompa, this Monastery is located around 8 kilometers from the town of Leh on Srinagar Leh Highway. It is noted for a giant statue of Kali that only gets unveiled during the annual Spitok festival. It was built in the early 11th century and sits at an elevation of 3,307 meters.
92. Hemis Monastery
Hemis Monastery is located about 40 kilometers away from Leh city in the town of Hemis and at an altitude of 3,524 meters (11,562 ft). The monastery has quite a bit of interesting history and also a controversial theory related to it. It is ranked as one of the wealthiest monasteries not only in Ladakh but in all of India. To know more, please read How to Plan a visit to Hemis Monastery.
93. Thiksey Monastery
This monastery is located on top of a hill in Thiksey village, approximately 19 kilometers from Leh town, at an altitude of 3,600 meters (11,800 ft). It is noted for many items of Buddhist art such as stupas, statues, thangkas, wall paintings, swords, and a 15 meters (49 ft) high statue of Maitreya.
94. Redzong / Rizong Monastery
Rizong Gompa, also known as or Rhizong or Redzong Monastery, is a monastery located west of Alchi towards Lamayuru at the top of a rocky side valley, on the north side of the River Indus. It was established in 1831 and is noted for its extremely strict rules and standards. The monastery is also known as a paradise for meditation.
95. Likir Monastery
Likir Monastery is located in Likir, a relatively isolated village of Ladakh, about 55 kilometers from Leh town. It is however located at a very scenic spot, on a little hill, at an altitude of 3,700 meters near Indus River. To get here, you need to take a diversion from Srinagar Leh Highway and drive about 10 kilometers to Likir Village.
96. Phyang Monastery
Phyang Monastery, also known as Phyang or Phiyang Gompa is located in the village of Fiang / Phyang about just 15 kilometers from Leh town on Srinagar Leh Highway.
97. Sankar Monastery
Sankar Monastery is located within Leh, a little above the town near the road towards Khardung La. This monastery, however, can only be visited during the morning and evening hours. The place is well lit, so an evening visit is worthwhile.
98. Stakna Monastery
Stanka Monastery, also known as Stanka Gompa, is located about 25 kilometers from Leh on an isolated rock of 60 meters in height. It was built in 1580 and is noted for a marble statue of Buddha.
99. Matho Monastery
Matho Monastery is located quite close to Stakna Monastery and right opposite Thikse Monastery so you can actually cover all these three places in the same visit. The village of Matho where this monastery is lies on Manali Leh highway at about 26 kilometers away from Leh.
100. Karsha Monastery
Karsha is the largest and the most important monastery in Zanskar. It is directly under the control of the younger brother of the Dalai Lama. There are ancient rock carvings at the site and the several wall paintings from 958-1055 AD.
101. Sani Monastery
Considered to be the oldest religious site in the whole region of Ladakh and Zanskar, this monastery is located at a distance of 6 kilometers from Padum in the village of Sani. It is said to be founded by the famous Kushan emperor, Kanishka.
That would be my list of 101 places to visit in Ladakh. Trust me, this list can probably go on for another 100 places more and will still not be done, that is what a trip to Ladakh means. How many of these places are you able to cover will entirely depend on how much time you have in hand but I hope the information above was of help. If you have any questions, or need any other details, please feel free to ask in the comments section below, or at our Community Forum, and I will be glad to answer.