Weekend Getaways from LehThe weekend trips from Leh promise a world of enchantment, mystery, adventure and culture all in one shot. Though the terrain around Leh is tough it offers a world of unparalleled beauty and the opportunity to live through a lifetime experience. Read on to know what all places you can target for a weekend trip from Leh.
Itinerary 1: Leh to Zanskar River and PadumYour first stop in Zanskar Valley should be the exquisitely beautiful Bardan Gompa which is an ancient 17th Century Monastery which belongs to the Durgpa Kargyud order. Check out the charming little figures depicting Buddha incarnations made up of different materials like clay, bronze, copper, wood and metal. Travel 20 km away by car to reach the Karsha Monastery which should be your second stop for the day. This Monastery is right beside the gleaming Doda river which originates from the Drang Drung glacier. 100 Lamas reside here and it is controlled by Dalai Lama’s older brother. A famous Cloth painting having pure gold work on orange cloth showing Buddha who is surrounded by his disciples is one of the primary attractions of the place.
Travel to Padum town now for refreshments and some rest before you set off on the second half of your weekend trip. Head off to the Tourist Complex in Padum for some delicious Thupka and Khambir (Local Ladakhi bread). After relaxing for a while head off to the Drang-Drung glacier which is supposedly the largest glacier in Ladakh. You should see this glacier in the late afternoon or evening when it acquires a hundred different hues. Take some excellent photographs and sip on some Ladakh butter tea from the stalls nearby. Return while it’s still evening to Padum town as night falls early in Ladakh.
Padum has an average population of 1000 people and it’s a charming piece of land which is shrouded in yarns of antiquity. The Padum has a gompa and a ruined palace known as Khar Palace which will hold special interest to anybody who is interested in architecture and history.
Many villages lie in Padum area and they are all centered on the Karsha Monastery. For dinner and overnight stay you have to go back to the Tourist Lodge where Momos, Sku and Thupka await you. Make sure you confirm your bookings at Tourist Complex well in advance as there is huge rush during tourist season.
How to Reach
It will take you about four hours to five hours to reach Zanskar Valley from Leh and it will not be a very comfortable ride. However the beautiful scenery makes it totally worth it.
Itinerary 2: Leh to Nubra ValleyAbout 6 hours from Leh town is enchantingly beautiful Nubra Valley. It’s one of the best places you can target for a weekend trip as it has an amazing combination of monasteries, green meadows. and beautiful villages. A visit to the Nubra Valley is one of the best decisions you could take about a weekend trip. Start off on Saturday early morning from Leh to Nubra Valley as it will take you a little more than five hours to reach. Your first stop should be Diskit which is the most commercial area of Nubra Valley. Obviously the first thing you should rush to see here is the Diskit Monastery which has epic legends associated with it. Pristine white Chortens, Mani walls and Buddhist carved chants make this Monastery a mesmerizing experience. After witnessing the prayer session in Diskit Monastery which is a magical experience in itself, head off to the tiny shops selling Ladakh artifacts at delightfully low prices.
For lunch you can go to the Diskit Inn which is famous for Thupka and Momos. It’s best if you stick to traditional food while you are on your Nubra Valley tour. Post lunch drive for half an hour more to reach the pretty Hunder Village which has the famous Shyok river flowing alongside it. The Hunder village has an unique mix of Muslims and Buddhists co-existing together in perfect harmony. There are rows and rows of apricot farms here and the delicious locally sold apricot jam here has to be tasted to be believed. Many local families in Hunder Village offer accommodation and food to tourists at very reasonable prices. The warm hospitality and warmth more than makes up for the modest facilities offered. After a good night’s sleep it’s again time for you to embark on your second day’s sightseeing in the Nubra Valley.
On Sunday you should drive on for 45 minutes to one hour in the northern direction to reach the biggest village in Nubra Valley; Sumur. The best part of Sumur Village is the Samastling Gompa which is said to be visited by Lord Buddha himself and a 19th century palace of great architectural value called Zamskhang. Surprisingly in Sumur you will find many café’s selling European style and Continental food which is a rarity in Ladakh. Have a sumptuous lunch here before moving off to your next destination; Baigdandu.
Now, Baigdandu is primarily famous because it is said to host the tomb of Jesus Christ. Once you enter the village you will be surprised to see villagers dressed up in Greek style costumes decorated with feathers and metal embellishments. The aquiline noses, azure eyes and clear complexion of the villagers in Baigdandu are unlike the typical Mongloid features of the average Ladakh citizen. The villagers are rumored to be direct descendants of Alexander the Great’s army soldiers.
Spend the evening here listening to the unique dance and drama plays presented by the members of Baigdandu tribe. Like other villages in Nubra Valley , here you will find local villagers offering accommodation and food with warmth and friendliness. Enjoy typically Greek and European food here as the cuisine of Baigdandu village is completely different from rest of Ladakh. Wake up after a restful sleep and gear up for a long, tiring yet scenic and beautiful 5 hour drive back to the capital town of Leh.
How to Reach
Deluxe buses run from Leh to Nubra Valley every day in the morning around 7.00 A.M. alternatively you could travel by car but make sure that the car is a sturdy one like a Jeep or a Sumo. It will take you 5 hours to reach Nubra Valley from Leh.
Itinerary 3: Leh to UleytokpoAbout 5 hours away (approximately 150 km) lies the picture perfect village of Uleytokpo in the Western part of Ladakh. This pretty village is a holiday destination in itself with many adventure and cultural camps being held here. However what makes this place a good weekend destination is the proximity of Ladakhs’s famous Monasteries; Alchi, Rizdong and Lamayaru.
Start off from Leh in a good sturdy car with some warm clothing, a thermos of coffee and an excellent camera. The car should be one which can tackle the tricky mountain terrain. Once you reach Uleyotokpo you will be amazed to see the thousands of varieties of flowers blooming amidst the rocky terrain. There are miles and miles of apricot fields offset by swaying poplar and willow trees. Some people rightfully call Uleyotokpo the prettiest village of Ladakh. Once you reach this village you can check in to Uley Eco Resort as it is the best luxury accommodation option over here.
On the first day of your trip you should check out the famous Alchi Monastery in the Alchi village which is at a distance of 5 km from the Uley Resort. The Alchi Monastery complex has 4 separate blocks of compounds all built under influence of Ringchen Zangpo. Dukhang, Manjushri Temple and Chortens are the most important part of the Alchi Monastery Complex. Your next stop should be the Mangyu Temple Complex which is again 5-7 km from Alchi Complex. There are two Buddhist temples here; Vairocana and Sakyamuni temples.
The image of Sakyamuni is beautiful and is said to be the most beautiful painting in Ladakh. All Monasteries close by 6.00 p.m. so it’s time for you to go back to the Uley Resort for delicious meal and some rest. You can also spend some time using the indoor games and library facility of the resort.
Get up early the next morning for checking out the Lamayaru Monastery which is one of the oldest Gompa’s in Ladakh. If you are lucky enough to visit in the appropriate time (5th month of the year) then you can also witness the famous Lamayaru masked festival. Don’t be too late in heading back to Leh as the journey will take you 5 years.
How to Reach
Deluxe buses run from Leh to Uleytokpo every day in the morning around 9.00 A.M. alternatively you could travel by car but make sure that the car is a sturdy one like a Jeep or a Sumo. It will take you 4 hours to reach Uleytokpo Village from Leh.
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