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Ladakh – The Beauty Within

May 26, 2016 | Matt Luchins

We all know that mixing two things you like doesn’t necessarily make them better. But sometimes you may be surprised.
 
Lying in the eastern half of Jammu & Kashmir, the Ladakh region is an extraordinary mix of desert and mountain, two beautiful but seemingly disparate terrains coming together to create breathtaking scenery. Craggy peaks frame swirling sandstorms and lush mountain rivers swerve through barren landscapes – it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen, in person or in pictures.
 

Photo Courtesy: Instagram (@shahbaz.patel)

 
The unusual weather leads to another unique phenomena. The rock of the Nubra Valley region – a 4-hour drive from Ladakh’s capital city of Leh – is often a light purple colour. The impeccably clear skies and so-cold-that-everything-dies winters lead to the deep blue hue of Pangong Lake, notorious as the site of the final scene of the Bollywood film Three Idiots.
 

Photo Courtesy: Amandeep Singh

 
The people of Ladakh could hardly be different than its cold, barren landscapes. Many of the areas’ residents are Tibetan Buddhist refugees, and they exude the warmth and good humour of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. The tour guides, restaurateurs, and guesthouse owners care deeply about their guests and it shows in the quality of the food – mostly Tibetan delicacies like momos and thupka – and the thickness of the blankets.
 

Photo Courtesy: Instagram (@behzadlarryphoto)

 
India has much to offer to its explorers, from beaches, ruins, and cities to monkeys, tigers, and Lamas. The possibilities are nearly endless. But you’ll find few places on earth as unique as the beautiful desert mountains of Ladakh.
 

Photo Courtesy: Instagram (@behzadlarryphoto)

 
Where to eat: Gesmo Restaurant – right along the road leading out of the Main Market, serving the best Shakshouka outside of Israel.
 
Don’t miss: Nubra Valley and Pangong Lake. You’ll need to get an Inner Line Permit with your passport, and transport isn’t cheap, but this is the best that Leh has to offer.
 
What to bring: Warm clothes, Toilet Paper, and Hand Sanitizer.
 
How long to stay: At least 5 days, but trekkers might want several weeks to check out the more ambitious routes in the region.
 

Photo Courtesy: Amandeep Singh

 
For the average traveler – you’ll need a day of rest to acclimatize and at least two days to see Nubra Valley and Pangong Lake. Leh and its surroundings – most notably the Thiksey and Hemis monasteries – are worth a few more days to explore.
 
The best time to go to Ladakh is between June and September so don’t miss out and head to Ladakh with Offroads India this summer. Details here.
 

 

 

Matt Luchins

Born, raised and schooled in Chicago, it was time for somewhere new. Searched for Italy, but ended up in India – the alphabet works in mysterious ways.

 

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