A kingdom that sits snugly in the shadow of the mighty, snow-capped Himalayan, Zanskar and Karakoram ranges, accentuated by the shimmery waters of Indus and Zanskar, Ladakh is spellbinding, to say the least.
A landscape that is dotted with reminders of a rich and varied legacy, transport yourself back in time this summer and embark on a surreal journey like no other.
Beyond the typical circuit, here’s a list of our favourite lesser-known villages and experiences that allow you to experience Ladakh in all its glory through a humbling lens.
At a short distance from Leh, you’ll find undisturbed villages like Nimmoo, UleyTokpo and Basgo. Providing opportunities to be close enough to the main city, yet away from the bustle for an immersive experience, these villages are ideal if you’re looking to split your stay or just for some quiet time.
Just 45 minutes from Leh, the picturesque village of Nimmoo also goes by ‘Jannat’ of Ladakh. Standing at the confluence of the Indus and Zanskar rivers, bringing in greenery and beauty, there’s a particular charm about Nimmoo that must be experienced first-hand to be understood.
Experience Nimmoo at: Nimmu House and engage with the in-house Chef for an immersive apricot pie-making masterclass.
Under 30 minutes from Leh, Thiksey is frequented for its magnificent twelve-storey grand Thiksey monastery, but visits are generally brief. If you’re looking for a quiet but adventurous experience, this is the place to be. Ride with the wind at scenic Wari-La- the world’s fourth-highest motorable road. Whiz down the best cycle track the Ladakh Himalayas have to offer, with mountains stretching to one side and the rich green oasis of Sakti village to the other.
Experience Thiksey at: TUTC Chamba Camp Thiksey. Quieten yourself amidst the magnanimity of your surroundings as you hike to the Khaspang meditation centre from the remote village of Igoo.
An hour from Leh, a solitary monastery built in 1680 towers over the ruins of an ancient town. Ideal for history buffs, Basgo Monastery consists of Basgo Palace and Gompa which all hold an important space in Ladakhi history, tradition and culture. The approach to Basgo involves winding roads between huge cliffs which spell mystery at every turn.
Experience Basgo with: A guided walk through the Monastery and temples dedicated to Maitreya Buddha.
UleyTokpo sits close enough to Leh but is still far enough to start giving you an idea of just how vast and beautiful this terrain is. Frequently visited by those approaching Ladakh via the Leh-Srinagar highway, it’s a foretaste of what is yet to come. The village of Likir is not too far away and is home to the last potter of Ladakh, carrying forward a 1000-year-old legacy of clay pottery. Saunter over for an immersive workshop and end with a hot cup of butter tea.
Experience UleyTokpo at: Uley Eco Resort, nestled amidst apple, almond and apricot trees. Brave Grade 5 rapids with the Indus at your doorstep.
As you slowly move away from the main city and its surroundings, the roads open up to uniquely weathered mountains, snaking rivers and streams that feed small patches of green adding bursts of colour to the otherwise rugged landscape. Whether in the charming valley of Nubra or the Changthang Plateau region, there’s a list of places that paint an authentic picture of Ladakh. Here is our list.
Visit Kharnak village in Changthang, located in the Tibetan Plateau of Ladakh in pursuit of Ladakh’s ‘soft gold’ or prized pashmina wool.
Stay in Sumur village at Kyagar and take a dip at the Panamik hot springs.
Take the long drive out to Merak, instead of Spangmik and Man for a crowd-free experience of beautiful Pangong-Tso
Admire the multicoloured rugged mountains from Rumtse in the Rupshu Valley- starting point for an arduous, yet rewarding trek to beautiful Tso Moriri.
Drive to the stark and secluded Hanle- India’s first Dark Sky Reserve and home to the Indian Astronomical Observatory.
Try Ladakh beyond the typical — If you’re looking to make these experiences a part of your summer journey to the land of high passes, our team of travel advisors will be happy to assist.