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How to plan your trip to Ladakh

Most seasoned travelers would swear by a road trip to Ladakh via Rohtang or Kashmir as the ultimate in biking expedition in India. But for those suffering from back problems, time constraints or simply a less adventurous streak, there is an ultimate in flying experience too offered by most private and government airlines: This is a journey by air that takes you all the way from New Delhi to the remote valley of Leh in the far northern reaches.

A flight is actually a very good way of traveling to the ‘land of high passes’. The sudden ascent to the heart of the world’s highest mountains is sure to make you realize just why the geography teacher called them the “mighty wall of India.”

Leh, the capital of Ladakh, is the most favoured base for most people wishing to explore the region. Though the city itself has nothing more than just an old, dilapidated palace and a stupa with a panoramic view to offer, it is still your best bet when it comes to convenient staying options. If you are travelling from New Delhi, you should do make this your base and then travel to all the regions around. There are many tour operators working out of the capital and connectivity is thus easier. So, by all means, make Leh your first step into Ladakh.

Most people associate the Himalayas with snow-capped peaks. But once you are in Ladakh that perception changes fast. From sand-dunes to vast grassy stretches to little streams of water running through charming meadows to emerald lakes — you will be stunned at the drastic shift in landscape every 10 minutes. However, unless you have a month or two to spare, it is highly improbable that you will be able to experience all of these. Thus good planning is imperative for making the most of your trip to Ladakh.

The options are, of course, unlimited: A trek through the villages can prove to be great for those interested in experiencing local life and culture not to mention tasting the famous local beer ‘Chang’. Or, you can make a trip to the Nubra valley, famously known as the “Valley of Flowers”, that can be quite intoxicating.

For those interested in Buddhism and Buddhist mythology, Ladakh has hundreds of monasteries strewn all across. Bollywood bugs curious to know exactly where Shahrukh Khan crooned to Manisha Koirala in the song ‘Satrangi re’ can visit the beautiful Pangong Tso Lake (north-east of Leh). Three-fourth of this lake is in China. It is a marvel that keeps changing its colour from deep blue to deep green to a bland grey almost every hour — an entire day might fall short for admiring its magnificence.

If you are tired of tourist-packed Dharamshala or the oft-visited Manali, Ladakh can prove to be an ideal destination next summer for those looking for a little more out of their holiday.

Here are some more photos of the beautiful Ladakh:

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