Ladakh has graduated from being called a ‘barren cold desert’ to a favorite tourist spot, especially since the release of the movie ‘Three Idiots’. The place is now frequented by tourists and in the peak season, it is hard to escape the crowds. So, if you want to explore the less frequented places to visit in Ladakh, this guide will help you to experience the best of ‘The Last Shangri-La’.
Here is a list of a few alluring offbeat places, that highlight the real charm of Ladakh
1. Turtuk, the Land of the Sweetest Apricots
Commonly referred to as a ‘village divided by a border’, Turtuk is located in the Shyok valley, approximately 220 km from Leh. It is one of the best places in Leh-Ladakh and is, without a doubt, the place to visit if you want to be away from the crowd. Surrounded by the Karakoram Mountains, a trek to the Turtuk village from the neighboring villages like Hundar will add to a great experience.
Turtuk is the northernmost village in the country which is dominated by Balti culture. The majority of the population here practice Islam and are incredibly generous towards visitors. Apricots and walnuts are harvested here in plenty. Located on the banks of Shyok River, this quaint village is cloaked in greenery, which is rarely visible anywhere else in Ladakh. Places of interest here include a waterfall, a monastery, a solitary bridge, and a 300-year-old mosque known as Jama Masjid.
2. Uleytokpo, a Beautiful Camping Ground
Uleytokpo is one of the beautiful camping bases in Ladakh on the banks of the Indus River. Known for its quietness, Uleytokpo is visited by people who want to stay from the city cacophony. The only sounds that break the silence here are the constant murmur of the river and the occasional chirping of birds.
Accommodation here is readily available both in cottages and tents. For sightseeing visit the nearby village called Lamayuru, which is well-known for its lunar-like landscapes. The Yundrung Monastery of Lamayuru is also an interesting place to visit. It is an 11th-century monastery and is famous for its outstanding wood carvings and wall paintings. Other places of interest in the area include Rizong Monastery, Chulichan Nunnery, Likir Monastery, and the murals of the Alchi monastery, which are believed to be from 1000 AD.
3. Basgo, a Land of Ancient Ruins
Located roughly 36 km from Leh, the village of Basgo was once an economically wealthy town that had served as the capital of the kings of Ladakh. Today, the only attraction of this place is a monastery and the ruins of a 15th century surreal palace, nestled on a steep hill. The site may look unapproachable, but you can easily reach the spot. The monastery here has three temples – Serzang Temple, Cham Chung Temple and Chamba Maitreya. Inside the monastery, there are wall paintings and copper statues- all portraying incidents from the life of Lord Buddha. Both the palace and the monastery offer sweeping views of the deserted village. There is a mysterious charm that fills the surrounding.
4. Sumur, a Place to Go Mountaineering
A remote village located on the banks of the Nubra River, Sumur offers several trails to smaller hamlets at higher altitudes and is a perfect spot if you are looking for a mountaineering expedition. Other than adventure treks, there is a 19th-century monastery, Samstanling Gompa, built-in 1841 by Lama Tsultims Nima. The monastery looks brand new. Inside, there are elaborate paintings on the walls, depicting the various teachings of the Dharmachakra by Lord Buddha. The picturesque village is located 120 km from Leh and is closer to Panamik.
5. Panamik, a Perfect Place to Take a Bath in the Hot Springs
This is a small hamlet in the Nubra Valley, about 55 km away from Diskit. The village is home to the hot sulphur springs, which help to fight the paralyzing cold weather of Siachen Glacier, located just a few kilometers away. The hot spring waters here are believed to have therapeutic properties and can cure many diseases. Separate pools have been maintained for men and women both at the shower cubicles and the bath complex. Take a dip in the springs to get rid of stress and feel rejuvenated.
Besides the places mentioned above, you can, go for a 9-day hike to Tso Moriri Lake (located at 4,500 m) from Rumtse, a tiny village on the Leh-Manali highway. Take our word for it, it is absolutely worth it. However, by road, the lake is at a distance of 165 km from Rumtse. The lush greenery along the river banks offers a stark contrast to the barrenness Ladakh is so popular for. Rumtse is a part of the Changthang valley which is characterized by high dry plains, beautiful blue lakes, snow-capped hills, and the beautiful Tsomoriri Lake. You must also visit the quaint village of Upshi while you traveling along the Leh-Manali highway. It is located roughly 47 km to the southeast of Leh along the Tanglang La.