The rise of tourism in Ladakh has been astronomical in the past decade. Ladakh went from being an isolated and barren ‘cold desert’ to being a popular tourist spot for those people who wanted to escape crowds. This, along with the popularisation of Ladakh in movies like 3 Idiots, is the reason why you will be met by large crowds of tourists in this once untouched land. If you want to experience this beautiful region without the disturbance of annoying people, here are 5 lesser-known places you must visit on your Ladakh tour.
A sparsely populated and quaint town that lies near the LOC, Turtuk is one of the hidden gems of the Nubra Valley. Turtuk was originally a part of Baltistan and was reclaimed by India from Pakistan following the war of 1971. Tourists were first allowed to visit this town in 2010 which is why it’s not very well known. The ride to this town is nothing short of magnificent. Throughout the journey, one has the company of the River Shyok, as well as the vistas that define the barrenness which is characteristic to Ladakh. The unbelievable turquoise blue Shyok amid sky high snow clad peaks is a sight that no one can ever forget. Since Turtuk is one of the lowest towns in the Nubra Valley, it has green pastures which grow apricots, apples, tomatoes, cauliflowers, and cabbages. The greenery here is in stark contrast to the arid and barren environs that are synonymous with Ladakh.
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Hanle is a remote village in the Changthang region which lies in the southernmost part of Ladakh. It’s the best place for those who want to experience the majesty and vastness of the mighty Himalayas un-marred by human presence. The Analy Gompa (a 17th-century monastery of Tibetan Buddhism) and the Indian Astronomical Observatory are the only large buildings in this town. Hanle is now being equipped with a Major Atmosphere Cherenkov Experiment (MACE) gamma-ray telescope which will be the largest of its kind and this altitude. The clear, pollution-free sky in this isolated region turns into the perfect canvas on which it appears as if all the stars of the galaxy are smaeared across during the night. It is one of the best places to go stargazing in India and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see the Milky Way in all its glory here as well.
When you think about lakes in Ladakh, Pangong Tso is the first one that comes to mind. After being featured in 3 Idiots and Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Pangong became even more popular and is now crowded with tourists all the time. A better alternative to this is the Tso Moriri. This lake is equally beautiful and is also part of the Tso Moriri Wetland Conservation Reserve. Apart from being mesmerised by the crystal blue waters of the lake, you can also observe unique and rare species of flora and fauna that are a part of this reserve. Tso Moriri is also the highest Wetland of International Importance as recognised by the Ramsar Convention.
Chilling is a village in the Hemis National Park that lies 66 kms from Leh. The route to reach here makes for one of the best small road trips you can undertake in the region. The views of the high mountains rushing past as you ride alongside the Zanskar River is an indescribable feeling. Chilling is also the starting point for a number of treks, the most popular of which is the Markha Valley trekking route. You can also set-off on the famed Chadar Trek on the frozen Zanskar river during the winter months from Chilling.
The Suru Valley is a picturesque location at the catchment area of the Suru River, which is an important tributary of the Indus. The beauty of the lush green surroundings of this region are heightened by comparison to the pale Himalayan glaciers. The multitude of apple, apricot and mulberry trees here are a sight to behold in an otherwise vegetation-starved region of the country. Suru Valley is a popular trekking destination with Sankoo, Panikhar, Rangdum and Padum in the Suru and Zanskar Valleys being bases for various trekking routes.
Do you know of any other off beat places to visit on a Ladakh tour? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll be happy to share them with our readers. If you’re planning a road trip to this magnificent place, you can rent a bike from Delhi at our special rates exclusively for those who are attempting this trip. Visit Wheelstreet to know more.