UBC Day 22 : A Memorable Trip to Ladakh

Ambi Pur Perfect Road Trip - Runner-up

Holiday means going to some place, where one can relax and rejuvenate, spend quality time with family and discover a new place, its culture and history and enjoy its beauty.

The Plan

Jammu & Kashmir offers amazing tourist destinations. Hence, it was apt and wise to discover the beauty of this land while we were stationed there! And Ladakh was the unanimous choice.


KG, AG and me along with good friends RT, AP and ST went for a 10 day excursion to Leh at Ladakh

Route Map

While we took a flight from Jammu to Srinagar, we explored the valley by road in our Innova.

ladakh-map After a day’s rest at Srinagar (Alas, we couldn’t revisit some of the places again at Srinagar, because it was a ‘Bandh’ that day! ), our Innovas, started the next day, and via Sonmarg (it’s actually Sona Marg) we reached the Zoji La Pass (which is at 11,578 feet). Most of the Zoji La Pass has NO road. So, you have mountains of rock and rubble on one side and a deep valley on the other side, with a river or stream gushing with water and flowing unevenly through rocky stretch of the river. While it was exhilarating to explore such terrains, there were times when we wondered, if we were sane to undertake this trip. The traffic rules were followed to the hilt by the truck drivers, which was a relief and heartening.


Next, came the Drass. This place has a large military camp. It is said that Drass is the second coldest inhabited place in the world after Siberia, with a minimum recorded winter temperature of -40 degrees C. Many log and rope bridges lead to Kargil.

Kargil was our first break journey point, as we had travelled 204 kms from Srinagar to reach here. A nice sumptuous meal at the hotel and we retired early for an early start, the next morning. It’s kind of an amazing feeling to be at a place, which has been on our minds for more than 10 years now!

Day 3 saw us seeing the villages of Shergol, Mulbekh, Gel, Lamayuru, Khalsi and finally Uletokpo.

At 13,432 feet, we reached the Fatu La Pass which is always cool and windy and is the highest pass on the Srinagar-Leh road.

Lamayuru has an old Tibetan monastery of Yungdrung on a crumbling mountain. Throughout the journey fascinating different colored and types of mountains (stone, sand, rocky, granite, soil, black, grey, green, red , purple and orange, one can see them all.) and clear watered lakes or rivers were a constant feature.

After travelling 160 kms from Kargil, we settled for the day at West Ladakh’s Tent Camps at Uletokpo.DSC_0519

Staying in a camping tent was one exhilarating moment! The Indus River flowed wildly between our camp and the big rocky mountain! It was some view!! Behind our tent, a stream of water was flowing and one morning, we (the women, of course!) couldn’t resist the temptation of washing clothes by the stream, despite having clothes which could last us for a month!!

A small trek, meeting a Jompa (it’s a cross between an Ox and a Yak) and eating apricots and apples fresh and ripe from the trees, tasting a new Laddakhi dish Thenthup, reading in the serene environment and in general having a great wonderful time, were the highlights of the 2 days camping at Uletokpo.

An accident made us a bit reflective and sad! Near our camping site a tourist cab fell in the raging Indus River killing 3 Malaysian tourists and seriously injuring the driver and another tourist, while one of the tourist went missing, probably the water torrent must have engulfed her!

Day 5, we traveled 70 kms to reach Leh via Alchi, Lekir, Basgo, and Nimmu. Just before Leh, there is this mysterious ‘Magnetic Hill’. It’s a place where the layout of the surrounding land produces the optical illusion that a very slight downhill slope appears to be an uphill slope. Thus, a car left out of gear will appear to be rolling uphill!!


Shopping in the Leh market is fun. The market is flooded with clothes for the winter season and of course for the summers too, gems and jewelry, brass artifacts, Ladakhi, Tibetan and Chinese traditional decorative and curios, Kashmiri carpets and pashmina shawls. And all are exorbitantly priced. Even the road side sellers have artefacts for which they’d quote amount (in Indian Rupees!) in 5 digits!! And the key word is BARGAINING!! I guess, I honed my bargaining skills some more, in Leh!

Day 6 saw us exploring the Tiksey monastery. DSC_0333It is some 500-year old monastery, perched on a hill high above the Indus River. The main attraction here is the 15 metre high seated Buddha. This monastery also has a rich and beautiful library with many handwritten and painted books. The highlight of a trip to Tiksey is the view from its lofty roof terrace. A patchwork of barley fields stretches across the floor of the valley, fringed by rippling snow flecked desert mountains and string of Tolkien-esque monasteries, palaces, and Ladakhi villages.


The souvenir shop at the monastery offers some very attractive articles and of course T-shirts with interesting designs, trekking map to Leh and quotes embroidered on them! The best T-shirt quote I liked… ‘Yak…Yak…Yak…Ladakh’, with embroidered Yaks!

Day 7…woke up at 5 am (!!) to start for the amazing Pangong Lake. Pangong Lake can be reached in a five-six hour drive from Leh, most of it on a rough and dramatic mountain road. And enroute, we passed through the Chang La Pass which is at 17,586 feet and is the third highest mountain pass in India. Here the Indian Army serves the amazing complimentary tea!!

Pangong Lake is a closed drainage basin lake in the Himalayas situated at a height of about 13,900 ft. It is 134 km long and extends from India to China. DSC_0655 Two thirds of the length of the lake lies in China. The lake is 5 km wide at its broadest point. During winter, the lake freezes completely, despite being saline water. Nature has showered its best colors on Pangong Lake. With the movement of the sun the water shows off various shades of blue in layers which is truly mesmerizing.

And this 12 hour journey had tired us immensely, so we decided to stay put in Leh for 2 more days and relax the remainder of the holidays. Of course, we shopped some more and returned back to Jammu via flight.

Travel Tips

Some tips for you, in case you decide to explore this part of the world some time:

1. You must travel one way by road to experience the scenic beauty of Ladakh.

2. Travelling by road sufficiently acclimatizes you to the low oxygen conditions there.

3. You MUST fly back, coz, so much of travelling on the treacherous mountain roads does take a toll on you!

4. You must stay in a camping site.

5. You must shop!

6. Apply loads of Sun block cream (Minimum SPF-35!), to avoid getting sun burnt or tanned!

We had some amazing time exploring Ladakh! And you must do so too!! So ready, with the packed bags!!

This post is written for Indiblogger’s “The Perfect Road Trip” contest in association with “AmbiPur“.

To keep your car smelling fresh as new, check out this page facebook.com/AmbiPurIndia

Map Courtesy : Google Images

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70 thoughts on “UBC Day 22 : A Memorable Trip to Ladakh

  1. Ever since I saw Ladakh in the movie “the 3 idiots” I have been looking forward to a trip to that part of the country. The camping site looks sooooooo tempting! And so does every other picture! U have given us every possible info we might need to go there, explore and do….so thanks for the lovely write-up! I hope we get to go there sometime soon!

    What’s the best time of the year to visit?

    • You must visit Leh and that too by road. You can either go via Srinagar or via Manali. Some people go via Srinagar and come back via Manali. So that they cover the entire route. The best time to go is between June and September. 🙂

  2. Love the new blog look Shilpa !
    I have been to Ladakh and your post rekindled such lovely memories. It is a beautiful place and as you say its best experienced as a road trip !

    • Thanks, Ruchira. Glad you liked the new look.
      I remember reading your travelogues and amazing clicks of your Ladakh trip.
      Ladakh is definitely a ‘Must Visit Destination’, at least once! 🙂

    • Thanks Vinita. 🙂
      Ladakh is an awesome place. With your friend staying there, she/he would be the perfect one to guide you around too! Go for this one, soon 🙂

  3. This template is so ur blog, Shilpa! Elegant, classy with just the right bit of colors!! Waa, u went to Ladakh.. me wants more pics babes 🙂

  4. I’ve been to Ladakh too. It’s a beautiful place. We also were not able to see some places in Srinagar due to a bandh. But it was a long time back, I was a teenager then, some 15 years old, would love to visit there again.

  5. I don’t think I can go to this place anytime. I can’t even handle the cold weather of Bangalore and Ooty! Himalayas is TOO MUCH for me. That makes me realize how much I like my city. Even though it is hot, it’s perfect for me 🙂

    Destination Infinity

    • LOL, Rajesh. 😀 The best time to visit Ladakh is between June and September. The weather is pleasant and you don’t even require woolens during this period! So, plan for your trip to Leh soon 😀

  6. It was good reading about your trip to Ladakh. Two years back we had booked to see it, but had to cancel during the last minute because of some office work of my husband. Don’t know when we can plan a trip again.
    Now a days I have given up my desire to see some places, and left it to destiny, if I am to see the places I want to see, I will see it somehow or other without getting all worked up about it. Sounds silly though.

    • Oh! Cancelling of a trip can be a bit dampener!
      I like the fact that you have traveled so much, already! Hope you get to visit this part of our country too, soon 🙂

    • May your plans for visiting Leh materialize soon 🙂
      It is an awesome feeling to stay amidst nature with just basic amenities. This camp had no electricity, so at night we used to have so much fun chatting or playing games, antakshri etc. We enjoyed the stay here, thoroughly!
      The accident was scary… the SUV was mangled completely! 😐

  7. I very much wanted to go to Ladakh for long… and scenes seen in lot of movies itself is so tempting… and your info about the place is just awesome…. very well written!

    P.S. Your template looks so beautiful too! 🙂

    • Ladakh is a destination which should be visited and experienced at least once. It is soooo beautiful. Thanks a lot, Sheethal. Glad you enjoyed this post and the new blog look too 🙂

  8. Thanks for the nice travelogue. I wanted to visit Leh for a long time. And, play in their Golf Course, maintained by the Indian Army. I think it is called The Fire and Fury Golf Course. Located at 11,500 feet above the sea level, it is the highest golf course in the world. At this high altitude, golf balls, when hit, will go way farther.

  9. I wish this post had come earlier than I took the vacation to Leh this time in June. Nevertheless, it brought back a lot of my memories I got from the place. It surely is a great place to be…and I wish to go there again…soon!

  10. Amazing Shilpa, when we went on a Kashmir Trip, the Leh Ladakh road was closed..so spent 8 days in Kashmir SOnamarg Pehelgam and two other places I cant recall..(m ashamed)

    U should do the following two things by the way:
    Write Travelogues and content for travel websites in your free time
    Write geography textbooks. Had U been the author, I wouldve actually studied geography than ending up geographically challenged in space and time!!!

    • Yeah, during the winters the Srinagar-Leh route is closed.
      The other places you must have visited must be Gulmarg, Betaab Valley and/or Yusmarg.
      LOL 😀 You are too cute! Thanks for the suggestions, D 😀

  11. Kashmir is indeed paradise on earth, loved your travelogue Shilpa:) I remember reading about you ladies washing by the stream in one of your older posts, irresistible pull I tell you 😀
    Maybe some day we’ll visit this heavenly destination 🙂

  12. Ladakh has been on my list of “must visit places”!!
    your trip sounds so much fun!!
    And thank you for the tips.. I’m bookmarking this post for future reference! 🙂

  13. A road trip to ladakh has always been there on my wishlist. you post already made me take a mini trip 🙂 lovely pic and lovely read, Shilpa!

  14. Am sure this must have been great fun as I too had done the same trip many years ago stopping at Kargil overnite! The landscape is amazing with not a patch of green! Lovely description Shilpa and best wishes for the contest!

    • Wow! That’s cool! True, wherever you look, it is a breathtakingly beautiful and a different view! Thanks, Mr Bhatia, glad you enjoyed this trip here 🙂

  15. Shilpa, thanks so much for replying to my message. So glad to see you in the comments on my work.

    This sounds like a wonderful trip. I hope to visit India one day; my aunt and uncle lived there for years. One thing I would add to the list is bottled water, to stay hydrated as much as possible (we Westerners dry out easily!).

    I developed a great respect for the power of the sun while entertaining (my former profession) in a jazz club in Bermuda. I jokingly call my suntan lotion “White Girl Number 825”!! Peace and thanks for sharing the journey, Amy

    • Oh yeah, water is a must considering Ladakh is called the roof top of the world and it gets very hot during the day time! Hope you get to visit our country soon 🙂

  16. Ohhhh so nice… you know I have always wanted to visit Ladakh…last time when in India we almost finalised a plan and then something else came up… Tcha!! now all your trip makes me want to go there 🙁 maybe next time we will surely go 🙂

    Nice trip Shilpa 🙂 and all the very best for the contest 🙂

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