What do you do when you get an invite for a wedding in Leh? Of course, you immediately book the tickets and plan a fantastic trip before or after the wedding. And what do you do when after booking the tickets you get to know the wedding has been postponed? No, you definitely don’t postpone your trip. And that’s exactly what Chandni Mahajan and Maan Jalta did. Though the wedding will have to wait for a few more months, their trip couldn’t. In fact, they combined it with a trip to Kashmir and a made a vacation out of it. The duo shares tips and itinerary for Leh & Kashmir holiday…
Srinagar-Leh Tour Itinerary: We were in Leh for a total of 7 days & for 3 nights 4 days we were in Srinagar.
Day 1: Delhi to Leh: We took the morning flight around 8 from Delhi to Leh and reached by 10 am to our friend’s place in Phey Village, which is 7 km from the airport. Phey Village is famous for SECMOL School by Sonam Wangchuk (The character Phunsukh Wangdu in the movie ‘3 Idiots’ was inspired by Sonam Wangchuk).
We took rest for some time because acclimatization is very important in Leh. In the afternoon, we headed to Leh market to make our Inner Line Permits which can be made at permit office in Leh market or through an agent for Rs. 700 per person. Inner Line Permit is a travel document issued by the Government of India which allows Indian and foreigner travellers to travel-protected areas like Nubra valley, Khardung La, Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri etc.
In the afternoon, we explored the Local Leh Market followed by Shanti Stupa and Leh Palace (Don’t miss the sunset at Shanti Stupa and night view from Leh Palace)
Day 2: Local Sightseeing: on second day, you can visit Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, Magnetic Hill, Confluence of Zanskar (sangam), Secmol School at Phey village by Sonam Wangchuk, and Thiksey monastery.
Day 3: Leh to Nubra Valley: Enjoy the drive through Khardung La, the highest motorable pass (17,582 ft) in the world. Visit Diskit Monastery on route which is the largest and the oldest surviving monastery in Nubra Valley. After Diskit Monastery head to the sand dunes for camel safari. Hopping on for a ride on the Bactrian camels and exploring the sand dunes at Hunder is must do in Ladakh.
Overnight at Hunder… Nubra is approx 160 km from the Leh town and takes approx 5-6 hours via Khardung La
Day 4: Nubra to Pangong: Start your trip in the morning around 7 am and drive towards Panamik Hot spring for a hot shower and leave for Pangong Lake and overnight at Pangong. Hunder to Panamik Hot spring is 2 hours drive for 60km and from Panamik Hot spring to Pangong will be around 250 km & it will be 6-7 hours drive.
The sunrise & sunset at the Pangong Tso Lake should be on the top of your list for Ladakh trip. This is the perfect place to provide your soul the much needed peace and serenity.
Day 5: Pangong to Leh: After enjoying the sunrise & breakfast start your trip to Leh, you can visit Hemis Monastery, the biggest monastic institution in Ladakh which is famous for Hemis festival as well. After exploring Hemis Monastery you can visit Sindhu Darshan on the way to Leh.
Day 6: Leh to Tso Morriri: Situated at a distance of 220 km from Leh city (travel time can be anywhere between 6-7 hours). Tso Moriri is smaller than Pangong and fewer people come here (this was the best part as it was less crowded), it is more beautiful due to the fact that area surrounding Tso Moriri is a wild life reserve and one can spot Tibetan wild ass (Kiang), marmots, red foxes and migratory birds.
Day 7: Tso Morriri to Leh: After enjoying the sunrise & breakfast start your trip to Leh and spend quality time in local market.
Day 8: Leh to Srinagar: The journey by road from Leh to Srinagar is one of the most beautiful journeys in the world. The legendary 467-km Srinagar-Leh national highway traverses the lush valleys of Kashmir, the ridges of the Great Himalaya, and the rust-brown landscapes of Ladakh. The road is in a good condition for most of the way, except for a rough patch around Zoji La. Journey on this road from one heaven to another (Kashmir to Ladakh) and you will not regret it. Tourist attractions on Srinagar Leh highway along with a list of all the towns & villages en route: Nimmu, Lamayuru, Moon land, Fotu La, Namika La, Kargil, Drass, Tiger Hill, Kargil War Memorial, Zoji La, Sonamarg.
After the beautiful journey of 14 hour & 467-km with our superb driver Shameem we decided to stay at house boat in Dal Lake, just opposite Boulevard Road. Although, it is not something which we would like to recommend because Dal Lake is not that clean plus it was too crowded. Instead, one can check out houseboats at sparkling Nigeen Lake which is very peaceful and scenic and not crowded like Dal Lake.
We strongly recommend to include in your itinerary a stay at Wangnoo Sheraton houseboat. Their houseboat is beautiful, neat and clean rooms and very professional, humble staff with great service.
One can also go for an enjoyable Shikara ride at Nigeen Lake.
Day 9 Srinagar to Gulmarg to Srinagar:
Initially, we were supposed to visit Pahalgam but due to a strike on that day, we had to cancel it and change our plans. So,we went to Gulmarg, though we knew the best time to visit Gulmarg to have a spectacular skiing experience is during winter.
The distance is about 50 kms and best way to travel from Srinagar to Gulmarg is by road (bus/cab/car).
At an altitude of approx. 4,200 meters above the sea level, the Apharwat Peak is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Gulmarg. It lies in the second phase of the Gondola cable car ride from Gulmarg.
We reached to the phase 1 point on horseback and then took exhilarating Gondola cable car ride.
But we didn’t go for skiing due to less amount of snow. So, apt time to visit this place is from December to mid-March.
Day 10 Srinagar local Sightseeing: We went out to check out some local markets and areas.
Lal Chowk is one of the most popular shopping spots in Srinagar. One can also visit Nishat Market, Raghunath Bazar, Downtown and Zaina Kadal street to check out copperwares. In the evening, we checked in to houseboat Wangoo Sheraton at Nigeen Lake.
Day 11 Srinagar to Delhi: We took a flight from Srinagar to Delhi
How did you commute?
Delhi to Leh: By Air
Local sightseeing: By Cabs (easily available but little expensive)
Leh to Srinagar: By road
Srinagar to Delhi : By Air
What’s the temperature like at this time?
Leh: The temperature of Leh in mid June was quiet pleasant, It was around 21°C (day) in night around 7°C.
Tso Moriri and Pangong Lake: Nights will be cold at Tso Moriri and Pangong lake. So, must carry warm clothes.
Recommended hotels and restaurants
Leh: Summer Harvest & The Chili’s at Changspa
Hundar, Nubra Valley: Lotus Eco Resort
Pangong Lake: Woodland Cottage
Tsomoririri Lake: The Norling Camp
Srinagar: Wangnoo Sheraton House Boat, Nigeen Lake
Things to shop from Ladakh
Popular items with tourists are Pashmina shawls, stoles and other Pashmina wool garments. Locally handmade woolen socks, gloves, caps and sweaters are a favourite of tourists in Ladakh. Most of the things were quite expensive. But one can surely buy some dry apricots and wishing flags.
Packing tips for Ladakh
It is best to dress in layers, since majority of coldness is due to wind chill and temperatures can change rapidly depending on the place, time and weather. Hence dressing in layers will allow you to add/subtract layers as and when needed. So make sure apart from your regular clothes, you are also carrying a sweater, gloves, cap, warm inners. Also scarf, hat/cap for keeping yourself covered from sunlight.
- Holiday in Ladakh would be quite comfortable in summers and really harsh in winters. So, summer is the perfect season to travel to Ladakh.
- Travelling through cab/taxi can be expensive so you can take sharing taxi or rent the bike.
Best Time to Visit: Between late June and mid august
Tourists should take some precautions while planning a trip to Ladakh since it has low atmospheric pressure and low oxygen levels at higher altitudes. So, there are chances that you will encounter altitude sickness or acute mountain sickness.
As a general rule, rest for a day after reaching there. This will give your body plenty of time for acclimatization. In case you experience any symptoms of AMS, there are a few medicines like, Diamox, Dexamethasone, Aspirin or Disprin.
- Have plenty of water to combat dehydration.
- It is advisable to keep your cash in hand and don’t depend on ATM.
- Medicines – medicines for headache, fever, stomach ache, cold and cough syrup should necessarily be on your list.
- Sunscreen lotion and UV Glasses– UV rays at such high altitudes can be quite dangerous for one’s health and specially the eyes.
- Mustard Oil and Lip Balm– The cold dry winds of Ladakh will make your lips and nostrils dry (sometimes painful). Use mustard oil for moisturizing the skin.
- Glucose and Food items like biscuit, energy bars etc– As we reach high altitudes , the appetite seems to get reduced. So these things will be required for instant energy.
- Documents and Id’s– You will need all your id’s and documents for accessing various parts of the region. So do not forget to pick them up as you go.
- Power Banks
- Carry postpaid sim card of Airtel & BSNL