The land of high passes, Ladakh, used to be a crucial stop on the ancient silk route connecting traders from China to Europe. Leh (3500 m) is built around the beautiful Leh Palace, the seat of the rulers of the kingdom of Ladakh historically. Today it is the capital city of the Union Territory Ladakh, and one of the most culturally and naturally rich cities in the world.
If you are planning your next trip to Leh, get ready for some raw majestic sights with high peaks, sloping valleys, colourful mountain sides, bright blue clear skies and the cascading Zanskar and Indus. Here are 5 tips to make sure you have the best trip ever in Leh!
1. Live Like a Local
One of the best ways to explore the actual culture, traditions and lifestyle of Leh is by living like a local. There are many homestays in Leh that offer such experiences, such as the curated local experiences offered by NotOnMap homestays.
Some of the things you can do include: Cook and eat a meal with the homestay owners, listen to local myths and stories, take a tour of the area with the locals, participate in their traditions and daily practices like farming, etc.
2. Look out for the Flora & Fauna
Leh is rich with rare flora and fauna due to its geographical location. There are numerous wildlife sanctuaries within Ladakh, and Leh too is a sensitive zone. Most of Leh is dry and arid, except for pockets of bushes and pine trees. Walnut and Apricot trees are seen here too.
Ladakh has a great diversity of birds, a total of 318 species have been recorded (Including 30 species not seen since 1960). Ladakh is also one of the best places in the world to spot some rare wildlife such as the snow leopard, Ibex, Blue sheep (gharal) and the Himalayan Wolf. More commonly seen animals include Marmot, Bactrian Camel (only double humped camels in India), Pashmina goats, etc.
3. Village Walk
A peaceful walk around the city not only through the tourist landmarks but also the local areas and small streets full of local culture, food, people and stories will tell you more about Leh than any book or website could. Indulge in the local lifestyle and make sure you interact with the locals and get to see Leh away from the tourist hustle-bustle.
4. Cultural Tourism
To really experience the culture of Leh, try to align your travel plans with a religious festival or event. Every year Sindhu Darshan Festival is held at Shey, 15 km away from town to promote religious harmony and glory of the Indus (Sindhu) river.
Buddhism is the predominant religion in the valley practised among Ladakhi people and several Tibetic people. Hinduism has the second largest number of followers after Buddhism. There are numerous beautiful monasteries in and around Leh, such as the Thiksey, Diskit, Alchi, etc
5. Travel Responsibly
Climate change is already showing its effects in the valley, and it is extremely crucial for the locals and the indegenous ecosystem that we as tourists and outsiders practise sustainable tourism.
Some of the things you can do include; carry all your waste back with you to the nearest city/facility, reuse instead of buying multiple plastic bottles, respect the religious and cultural beliefs of the locals, make sure your trip does not cause a negative impact on the environment, ecosystem and indigenous communities
Ar. Shivani Chaudhary
Architect | Writer| Traveler | Photographer