By Akshita Agarwal:
Located at an altitude of 3500m, Leh, capital of Ladhak district of Jammu and Kashmir state, India, is a small town located in the Indus river valley at the crossroads of the old trading routes from Kashgar, Tibet, and Kashmir. The small town is compact in its settlement, with traditional mud houses and narrow lanes.
Since Leh is situated at such a high altitude that visitors do face the problem of acclimatization during the first few days. But the unique experience provided by Leh, should be motivation enough for the travel freak to make a visit to this place. Jammu And Kashmir is referred to as a paradise on earth, because every part of this state does justice to this appreciation, and Leh is no less. The city offers recreational activities, learning opportunities and delightful experiences.
Leh is well connected by roads from Manali (Himachal Pradesh) and Kashmir. These roads start from lower altitudes and gradually gain height hence helping the tourists get gradually accustomed to the change in altitude. These roads are generally open throughout the year but one recommends the time from June to October.Â Also, the town is well connected by rail and the nearest station is Udhampur (Jammu & Kashmir). Also direct flights connect the town from Delhi. Kingfisher airlines, Spice Jet and Jet Airways have one hour long flights between these two cities.
In the city, most places could be visited on foot, but one could always take local taxis.Â The main attractions of the city include the Palace of the King of Ladakh which is the most noticeable building in Leh. The city is dominated by Buddhist religion and there are a few beautiful Buddhist temples, including Namgyal Tsemo Gompa which is right above the Palace, Soma Gompa and Karma Dupgyud Choeling which is a monastery in the Karma Kagyu tradition. There is also a Shanti Stupa, which was built by a group of Japanese monks.
The main market of Leh, offers a wide variety of local articles to buy from. There are shops famous for jewelry and precious stones, bags, Pashmina shawls, and other items which could be gifted. The food joints of the town also serve a wide range of Chinese and local cuisines. It could be difficult to find pure vegetarian restaurants. No roaming networks work in this city except for Airtel Postpaid connections.
If one is going to Leh, it is recommended that the tour is planned for about 10 days and includes spots not only in Leh but also around the city. Local taxis need to be taken (private vehicles are not allowed) andÂ Chang La (the third highest motorable pass) and Khardung La (the highest motorable pass) must be visited. These ‘peaks’ are designed well to welcome tourists and a special herbal tea which is served here is worth mentioning. Another town is that of Hundur which is a cold desert. Here camel rides for about 20 minutes each are offered and are quite enjoyable. But perhaps the most interesting place that one must visit is theÂ Pengong So, which is a lake shared by India and China. The lake can be visited again by taking a taxi, and the lake offers opportunity for boat rides. The most enjoyable element of all these places is that since the journey requires about 6-7 hours by road, one can stop anytime anywhere, amidst the gardens, between the roads, and marvel at the beauty and architectural sense of God.
All of the above mentioned spots have decent and budgeted housing accommodations, but one does need to plan it beforehand. The town offers a beautiful getaway especially for those who enjoy scenic beauty, photography, trekking and travelling.
So just pack your bag, travel light, and of course, a camera is a must. Book your tickets and go enjoy the spectacular view of the town.
The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.