Nothing prepares you for the beauty that’s Leh – breathtaking lakes, majestic snow clad mountains, mesmerising sand dunes, stunning blue skies, magnificent gompas and luscious momos. After much deliberation I finally made it to Leh in May this year. And what a trip it was. From climbing mountains, frolicking in the snow, riding a camel to meditating in a gompa…I did it all. Here’s a list of the 8 things you must do in Leh
Attend the marriage of two rivers
I have seen many rivers but never the merging of two rivers – Indus and the Zanskar. The confluence of these two rivers is distinctive in the colours (dark brown of Zangsar and white of the Indus). They come together and flow towards Pakistan. If you are the adventurous sorts you could even go river rafting here.
Meditate at Diskit monastery
The 32 meters tall golden Buddha statue is both awe-inspiring and humbling. The other monasteries worth spending time are Hemis, Thikse, Spitok and Shey. Just close your eyes and sit at the Buddha feet. Peace comes naturally.
Ride a two-humped camel in the sand dunes of Nubra Valley
Riding a camel was a first for me (leave alone the double humped one). The gentle souls decorated with embroidered patches just glide across the dessert. While here don’t miss the wild horses, mountain dogs and goats.
Play in the snow
I had seen snow before but what I saw in Leh just amazed me – powdery, fluffy and pristine. As cheesy as it sounds I jumped out of the car to pluck icicles hanging off the mountains and face the snowflakes flying in the air. I learnt to speed down the mountain and attack unsuspecting tourists with snow bombs. For someone who spent her childhood throwing styrofoam bits in the air and pretending to be under a snowfall, this was magical.
Just chill by the lake at Pangong
Remember the postcards we collected as kids of blue lakes and brown mountains? Pangong is simply that. Sit by the river and you could even spot rare migratory birds like the Black necked Siberian. Sixty per cent of the lake lies in China and the rest in India. Lake freezes completely in the winter even though it is a salt water lake.
Traverse the Khardugla Pass
At an altitude of 5359 meters it truly feels like on top of the world. The drive itself to this second highest motorable road in the world is scenic with snow capped mountains and valleys. Don’t forget to get off the car to feel the chill breeze on your face and some steaming hot chai.
Gorge on momos and Thupka
Ladakhi food is blend of Tibetan, Indian and Continental. Summer Harvest at Leh market has the best momos. They also do a decent Chinese fare. Try the regional speciality – thupka a soup of vegetables and noodles.
Shop Shop Shop
I always wondered what the fuss about Pashmina Shawl was all about until I held it in my hand – beautiful, warm and soft enough to fit into a handbag. The Leh market is the best place to pick up a genuine pashmina along with semi precious stones and tribal jewellery. Bargain hard.
Have you been to Leh? Do write in with your experiences.