Places to Visit in Ladakh: Mountains of Spirituality

Places to visit in Ladakh

India’s Land of high passes, Ladakh seems like a place lost in scenic mountains. There are tons of places to visit in Ladakh and it can be a momentum of your life. While exploring Ladakh, travellers often think, it is a place lost in mountains of spirituality. And in reality, it is the truth because of its old monasteries and spiritual significance.

Ladakh has also been a place of passage for many centuries. The Indus Valley is a link between India and the spiritual Tibet. Throughout a couple of centuries, people of this region transported their food, ideas, beliefs, and arts. Hundreds of thousands of people come to visit this place for pilgrimage. For the time being, it has made its profit from these contributions and is enriched by them. When you visit this scenic place, you see many monasteries that mark out the route of the trip. 

On the other hand, travellers are amazed by the apricot, apple, and almond orchards maintained by the villages along high valleys. The landscapes are ample, grandiose, but the details make their flavour. 

Highlights of the Ladakh Tour

Throughout your remarkable journey in the region, perhaps you may encounter the Himalayan blue sheep. You may meet yaks and many more. Furthermore, you will also see prayer flags, corten, and horn blow everywhere you go. Hey, don’t forget to enjoy Momos, which are one of the great pleasures of high valley cuisine. 

At 3500 meters above sea level, Leh Ladakh, even if you don’t live there, is the hub of your trip. In this journey, there are many places to visit in Ladakh including Stok, Nurla, Nimmu. In each zone, you will explore, its monasteries, meet its monks with red or yellow caps. Though Buddhism is a school of life for Tibetans, but also Kashmiri is its artistic expression. It is a place with friendly people and an open personality. In the Ladakh valley, people appreciate motorcycles as much as sutras. 

It is one of those places in India where you get a better atmosphere, comfort, and services. Your nights are enchanted with the fresh feeling and smell of the mountains. In Ladakh, there is no shortage of air-conditioned private cars, with English-speaking drivers. The distances are not very long and the journeys, in these conditions are done well. This is appreciable because the exchanges are more precise and denser. A nap in any shade after lunch on the grass on the banks of the Indus is unforgettable. Since all these places are of high altitude, you need to maintain all the necessary caution. However, good physical condition is enough. 

12 Best Places to Visit in Ladakh

As we have told you earlier, there is no shortage of places to visit in Ladakh. Yet you must choose some of the best places to visit. Otherwise, you may not be able to complete the destination list of Ladakh in months. We are going to talk about few destinations to visit in Ladakh to make your travel memorable.

1. Stok: Village of Beauty

Stok is on the left bank of the Indus River. It is a village with a palace of the sovereigns of the Namgyal dynasty. Stok Palace was built in 1820 and remains one of the most important attractions of Ladakh. Since its establishment, it has been maintained in an exceptional state of conservation. The fortress is a splendid example of the architecture of the high valleys of the western Himalayas. 

Stok Palace Heritage Hotel

With remarkable virtuoso woodworking and a vibrant palette of colours, the building’s stern approach hides intricate interior arrangements, The palace is now a museum and a hotel. It has kept all the old cachet, adding only the essential contemporary amenities, including high-performance bathrooms. In the hotel part, the rooms are a real change of scenery with authentic Ladakhi decorative art. The views from the heights of Zanskar leave you meditative. To keep the traditions of Ladakh, the house chefs, make delicious traditional cuisines with the ingredients of surrounding markets. The delicacies are of Indian and Tibetan origins. While dining in this palace with traditional local cuisines, it just feels royal.

2. Old Leh: Once the Capital of the Himalayan Kingdom of Ladakh

Old Leh is the joint capital town of the Leh district. The Silk Road passed through this historic place. The historic centre of Leh is also one of the few remaining Tibetan relays. Architecture, mountains, adobe clay houses, and lifestyle are some of the reasons, this town is one of the best places to visit in Ladakh.

When you walk in the Ocher streets, lined with adobe clay houses, it feels historic.  Don’t forget to explore the gompa (fortified religious establishment) of Sankar, the offering to the Buddha, the bazaar, and the Jama Masjid Mosque (Built-in the 17th century).

3. Thiksey Monastery- One of the Mesmerizing Places to Visit in Ladakh  

Resembling the Potala of Lhassa, Thiksey Monastery is a Gelugpa gompa (Belongs to the spiritual school of yellow cap). It is the largest monastery in Ladakh which shelters monks, and nuns. Don’t forget to attend the morning service. 

The Thiksey is not only renowned for its vastness but for its murals and thankas (paintings on canvas). This monumental architecture also offers an exceptional panorama over the Indus valley. While visiting Thiksey monastery, sneak into the Café Cloud, and enjoy a coffee time with the natural beauty of the place. 

4. Hemis Gompa: Famous for Hemis Festivals

Hemis Gompa or monastery is a beautiful tourist destination at Hemis, Ladakh. The tourists, longing for a Ladakh tour, should not miss visiting this monastery surrounded by mountains. The Hemis Gompa is 45 kilometres to the south of Leh Ladakh, built in the 17th century. It is the main gompa of the Kagyüpa Drukpa school of Buddhism (school of oral tradition, red cap) in Ladakh. 

Hemis Gompa

Its buildings formed an inner courtyard with splendid galleries and painted wood frames. The paintings represent the Mahasiddhas, unconventional Buddhist ascetics. Additionally, you will also see principles and symbols of Tantric Buddhism.

5. Stakna Monastery

We have been talking about the Indus River a lot since the beginning and this gompa is just beside it. Indus river is flowing down the beautiful Stakna Monastery built in the 16th century. It is an admirable site blending into nature, tight at the top of its rocky mound. This beautiful Drukpa monastery is just around 25 kilometres away from Leh standing on the rocky left bank of Indus. It also has one of the richest libraries in Ladakh.

Stakna Monastery

Standing on the monastery, you get to enjoy the archipelago like Indus along with the mountain range. The mountain itself looks like a tiger’s nose. Stakna was built by the Bhutanese saint, Chosje Modjin and it is the only Bhutanese Drukpa sect monastery in Ladakh.   

6. Spituk Monastery or Pethup Gompa

The Leh district itself has many places to visit in Ladakh and Spituk is another to pay a visit. It has been a monastic site since the 11th century and, it became a Gelugpa settlement in the 15th. Spituk Gompa houses an important statue of Palden Lhamo, a tutelary goddess of Tibet. She is a dharmapâla, a figure of fury, and the protector of Buddhism and Buddhists. Visiting this place, you find a pale grey and green panorama of the Indus valley. On the foot of this monastery explore the village, taking the logging roads. 

Spituk Monastery
Spituk Monastery

7. Nurla Village: Stay a Night for Peace

Having a road to Nurla is a thrilling experience. As we discussed in the beginning you get to see apricot trees in this village. Though the village is very small your hotel experience will be decent. Rooms are simple and clean, comfortable, well equipped. The architecture in the village brings the regional heritage up to date. Like other places, you can enjoy the Ladakhi cuisine here. A night’s stay in the Nurla village can make you feel utmost peace. It is literally a peaceful moment you pass.

8. Lamayuru Monastery 

The Kagyüpa Drikung establishment dates back to the 11th century. The sanctity of the site had made it a place of grace. Lamayuru is like Jerusalem for Buddhists and Hindus which creates tension between Hindus and Buddhists. They got several negotiations for pacts. Besides, the Muslims of Kashmir have always respected its integrity. 

Lamayuru Monastery

The current buildings date back to the 11th century and still standing in fantastic shape. It is a big Gompa where two hundred monks reside. On the way to Lamayuru, you can also visit Temisgam village in the valley of Sham. In this beautiful village, you will find Tingmosgang Castle and monastery.

9. Nimmu Village: Best Place for River Rafting Groups

Are you interested in staying in a hotel that looks like all those monasteries we have discussed? Nimmu House is a majestic hotel where you can rest your journey through Ladakh. The noble residence was built at the beginning of the 20th century. Rustic elegance, authenticity, aristocratic charm, everything is fair, harmonious, and comfortable. The house is surrounded by a huge orchard with different trees. If you like to spend some moments of peace and thoughtfulness enjoy the grassy terrace sitting on the deckchairs. More interestingly, you have options to stay in a room in the house, or set up your tent outside. 

Nimmu village is one of the best places to visit in Ladakh if you love river rafting. Because eventually, all the river rafting groups start from this village. Moreover, Indus in the Nimmu is the starting point for the annual all-India river rafting expedition.

10. The Likir Gompa

Likir Gompa is one of the oldest gompas in Ladakh founded in the 11th century. This monastery illustrates the old Kadampa tradition, in which the Gelugpa and Kagyüpa schools are heirs. Currently, the Gelugpa is the current custodian of the monastery who greets the visitors. 

When visiting the Gompa you will encounter, the next generation of monks reading the sacred texts by collective reading aloud. At the museum, a fine collection of old Thankas. Another monastery, The Alchi is near and administered by Likir Gompa. It was also founded in the 11th century. The Kashmiri influence is clear in the three main buildings in Likir, the Dukhang (great hall), the Sumsteg (whose function is doubtful), and the temple of the bodhisattva Manjushri. 

If you want to explore old paintings, Likir is a wonderful place to visit. The walls or the Gompa are decorated with some of the oldest wall paintings in Ladakh. Surely, the works of those unknown artists will baffle and fascinate you like Flamboyant Gothic. 

11. RUMBAK Village in Hemis National Park

On your Ladakh tour, Rumbak should be one of the best places to visit in Ladakh. It is said that Rumbak is a hamlet of a few houses in the west of Stok. The village grows barley and vegetables, raises yaks and goats. Rumbak is an authentic Ladakh, shaped by the natural environment and Buddhism. 

Visitors explore the area, protected by Hemis National Park, the best in Ladakh for trekking. There is no better combination to approach the spirit of these high places. The paths here do not present any particular difficulties. Differences in grandiose landscapes are excellent. Make sure, after returning from a day out, spend the night with the locals. You can expect exceptional hospitality from the locals here.

12. Rupshu Lakes: Don’t Miss Trekking

Enough of monasteries and villages, it’s time to experience the beauty of the Ladakhi water body. In the southeast of Ladakh, Rupshu extends in the high plateau between 4500 and 5500 m of altitude. To the northwest side of the Rupshu lake comes Lake Tso Moriri. 

Tso Moriri Lake
Tso Moriri Lake

This place can be one of the peaceful places to visit in Ladakh. Besides, you find a refreshing site, Changpa pastors lead their flocks there. On the other hand, there are lakes Tso Kar and Startsapuk Tso, dominated by the peaks of Thugje at 6050 m and Gursan at 6370 m high. For trekking, you need to be in good physical shape to get to Rupshu.

If you are lucky enough, you may find a team that accompanies visitors and takes care of the logistics. The altitude and weather conditions her is a natural comfort. Far from crowded camps. You may see grebes, terns, Tibetan seagulls, maybe even black-necked cranes. The Kiang, the wild ass of Tibet, and the goa, the gazelle of Tibet, and many more.