DISCLAIMER: We advise against feeding wild animals while interacting with them in their natural habitat. This picture has been clicked by us but neither of us fed the Marmot.
Diksit Monastery is one key tourist attraction people visit during their Ladakh visit. Located in the Nubra Valley, the monastery is the oldest and largest in the region. As pretty as the monastery is itself, we could not get over the impressive 32 feet colorful statue of the Maitreya Buddha nestled in the mountain landscape. This photograph was taken from the Diksit monastery.
The beauty of the enormous brightly colored Maitreya Buddha against the mountains is indescribable. For one we can see that however huge a man-made object is, it still appears tiny in front of nature’s creations. And as you look closer, we experience a serenity in the calm expressions of the Buddha coupled with the equally peaceful landscape.
No Ladakh trip album is complete without this picture-perfect postcard, we say!
Check out other postcards from our Ladakh trip:
As if the roads connecting Leh to nearby cities were not pretty and scenic enough, BRO (Border Roads Organization) added a dash of humor to it and gave a fun flavor to our journey. The BRO maintains the roads in this region and have planted some funny and quirky road signs along the roads.
These signs are pretty famous with travelers in this region and even a book has been published, which is sort of a collection of images of these road signs. We are sharing the shots we could get from our moving vehicle during our road trip to Nubra Valley from Leh.
Himank is a special project by BRO to specially maintain the roads for three passes: Khardungla, Tanglangla and Changla.
That is definitely some smart work by BRO! Ending this post with a quote that has become very popular in Leh (owing to Aamir Khan’s 3 IDIOTS) and seems to be omnipresent in the Leh scene today!
The Shanti Stupa has become synonymous to Leh, and we thought of posting one of our photographs of the popular landmark. The stupa provides 360 degree views of the Leh landscape. Even with numerous tourists visiting the Stupa, it is really quiet around other than the sound of the strong winds that seem to blow away your woolen scarves and hats.
We were actually pretty lucky to have no tourists around when taking our pictures. It was probably due to the strong gusts of winds that literally froze our fingers, and made it extremely challenging to take pictures.
Note: Look at the snow-capped mountains on to far right of the image. You can see the Khardung-La pass, arguably the highest motorable road in the world.
Read more about Leh on our blog.
Take a virtual tour into the peaceful Leh monasteries with us.
During our Leh visit, we were lucky enough to witness the Thiksey monastery prayers performed by the Yellow Hat monks. It was a vibrant feeling hearing the chants and the various instruments being played during the the prayers. Even though there were several tourists gazing upon the monks and clicking pictures, they were unfazed from their prayers and just smiled back.
Listening to the reverberating sounds inside the temple, was a heavenly feeling and you really feel one with a higher power.
Tip: We visited Thiksey monastery just before 3 pm. This is the time the monks complete their prayer and break for lunch. Hence the temples get closed too. Make sure to reach here before 2.30 pm so that you can see the monastery properly and also witness the prayers. There are other prayer timings too, for which you can check with your local guide.
Checkout interesting fact and postcard of Thiksey Monastery here.
Also take a tour of Leh monasteries with us.
The Thiksey Monastery (or Thiksey Gompa) of Leh is one of the most popular tourist attractions of the region. The Thikse monks are set apart as they wear a yellow head gear, and they are called the “Yellow Hat Monks”.
The monastery is famous for its resemblance with the “Potala Palace” of Lhasa. The Potala Palace was the residence of the Dalai Lama, until the 14th Dalai Lama had to move to India in 1959.
The locals tell a story that initially the Thikse Gompa was planned to look exactly like the Potala Palace. Monks painted the Potala Palace on a large piece of cloth and carried it to Leh, to use as reference for Thikse. But en route it started to rain, and parts of the painting got smudged. That is the reason, locals say, Thikse could not be made as an exact replica of Potala but only bears a resemblance.
The Tsemo Monastery is perched on top of a steep cliff, higher above the Leh Palace. This shot has been taken from the Shanti Stupa, which is right opposite the monastery. The day we shot this pic, it was extremely windy and cloudy. The clouds were constantly moving, providing patches of light and different shades on the mountain ranges.
We had to wait approximately 20 mins in the chilly windy open space outside Shanti Stupa to get the perfect shot! Here the clouds are covering the mountains at the back but sunlight falls directly on the mountains behind the monastery, creating this beautiful play of colors. The blue and numb fingers at the end of the shot were totally worth it! 🙂
Julley!! (Pronounced as – Joo-lay)The one word that works like magic anywhere in Ladakh. Add a warm smile along with it and it serves as an ice breaker with the locals.
It basically means Hi, Hello or Greetings in local language. So, if you are planning to visit Ladakh and wish to mingle with locals there, whether the hotels owners, bike rentals or even the monks at various monasteries, Julley would work like a charm! So, go ahead and enjoy the warmth of locals at Ladakh. That is the best way to know the place 🙂
And yes, while there, enjoy the beautiful landscapes! You cant miss them 🙂
We had planned our trip to Leh well in advance, for 30th May to 6th June, thinking that it would be the onset of Summer. Earlier weather patterns showed it would be closer to 25 degrees, which means pretty good weather. But what a shock we were in for!
Just a few days before leaving for Leh we checked the weather predictions and it showed snow and rain for our period of stay. Temperatures on Khardung-la and Pangong were predicted to go down to negatives at night. So we packed up on sweaters and jackets and gloves and scarves.. It’s a good thing that we did.
We took the early morning flight from Delhi to Leh. The sight from our flight window of the mountain peaks, varying from barren brown to snowy white, was wonderful. We had an amazing pilot too. When we entered the snowy peaks and started to approach lower altitudes, he tilted the flight a bit to the left and then to the right, for passengers on both sides to get good views of the peaks.
As we approached Leh city, he mentioned that the Leh airfield belongs to the army and they let civilian flights operate here till 2 pm. After 2 pm the weather becomes too unpredictable and it is not safe for civilian aircrafts. He also informed us that there is only one landing/taking off strip on the airfield. We then passed the landing strip and took a U-turn to make a landing. We could actually see the landing strip as we crossed over it.
When we got out of the craft, it was pretty chilly. The airport was very basic, with just two baggage claim stations. I went to the washroom to freshen up and water in the taps were ice cold! My hands actually got numb and blue! It was so cold, we had to take out our heavy jackets and gloves. But then when we went out and were waiting for fellow passengers from MakeMyTrip, it suddenly started to get warm, and we had to remove jackets again! And the weather was this fickle, all through our trip.
We stayed at Mir Villa – pretty much a home-stay. The owner lives in the ground floor and rents out rooms on first floor. The dining space is traditional Kashmiri style where guests are supposed to sit down on the floor to have their meals. There is wall-to-wall Kashmiri carpeting and you have to leave your shoes outside. We were served Qahwa as soon as we reached. The owner met with us and strongly suggested to take rest the whole day. He also told us to keep eating small meals at regular intervals and keep sipping on Qahwa.
Frankly, before leaving for Leh, though we were aware of all these precautions, we had thought these apply mainly to kids and elders. But when we reached our home-stay, realization actually hit us that we needed to take it easy. Just climbing one flight of stairs was making us out of breath! It was pretty uncomfortable for the first 5-6 hours, and we just keep lying down on our bed. An elderly gentleman immediately fell sick, although he had entered Leh hale and hearty with us on our flight. It took him one night of sound sleep to regain his strength and he was pretty ok the next day.
So anyone traveling to Leh.. First day, just relax and stay back on your bed. Breath and soak in the sights from your hotel window.
I will post experiences from the whole Leh trip in a series of blogs.
Things to remember before leaving for Leh: