Leh is a much talked about aspirational vacation destination for many from bikers to trekking enthusiasts to those who merely like to discover the farthest corners of the world. But so vast is this destination that one can only hope to make the most of the time that they can afford to spend there. There’s no doing justice to this place, however long one stays. But here’s a brief attempt at covering as much as was possible of this amazing land in a 15 day holiday by a solo traveller from Bangalore to Leh and back.
Day 1: Bangalore to Delhi to Manali
Departure from Bangalore 8 am, land in Delhi by 10 am. Spend the day in Delhi sightseeing – Rashtrapati Bhawan, India Gate, Connaught Place. Board bus to Manali in the night by 9 pm.
Day 2: Stay in Manali
Arrive in Manali by 7.30 am in the morning. Stay at Zostel Manali along with a day-long trip exploring this tourist-packed hill station was an adventure in itself.
Day 3: Stay at Keylong
Board the bus to Leh from Manali via HPTDC at 10 am – one of the safest road transport routes one can take to take you through the rocky terrain that the path to Leh is. Travel by bus is also highly recommended if you want to get a chance to view the breathtaking canvas that the mountains on the way to Leh are. However, the route can take a toll on some people through altitude sickness, hence, it’s best to be sure of your fitness level before taking on this mode of transport. Arrive at Keylong in the evening by 4.30 pm, stay the night at Keylong at a HPTDC given hotel accommodation. The stay is part of the journey to help the travellers get acclimatized to the higher altitude before going higher.
Day 4: Departure from Keylong
Depart from Keylong early in the morning at 4.30 am to Leh since it’s a long route which would go through one of the highest passes (Tanglang La – 17480 ft above sea level) on the way to Leh, arrive at Leh City at 6 pm. Check into an already booked hotel/ guest house and rest for the day. It’s always well-advised to pre-book a guest house before arriving at Leh because it gets dark early in the region and you would be hard-pressed to find decent accommodation which is available during season time. You can always change your accommodation over the next few days if you don’t find the place up to your standards.
Day 5: Getting around Leh
Spend the day getting acclimatized to the higher altitude that Leh is at (13000 ft above sea level), exploring Leh market, its various cafes and restaurants, and making arrangements for travel for the next few days. One can easily find share taxis for day trip/ overnight trip to places outside of Leh. Being a solo traveller, its best advised to take on one of these shared taxi agents as it’s the safest and you get a chance to meet a lot many fellow travellers.
Day 6: Day trip to Pangong Lake
Leave in the morning by 6 am and get back by 6 pm in the evening. It’s a 4.5-hour journey to Pangong filled with more of breathtaking views. Pangong Lake itself is one of the most scenic and serene places one can ever come across. Even with a tourist crowd there, one can easily find places of solitude in this large lake.
Day 7: Overnight trip to Nubra Valley
The next day visit to Nubra Valley which would be an overnight stay. You can leave a little later in the day around 8 am since there’s no return travel involved the very same day. You would reach Nubra by afternoon post lunch with a visit to Diksit Monastery on the way. You also get to cross through Khardung La pass which is the world’s highest motorable pass available. After a little bit of rest, you can visit the garden area where there are camel rides, lakeside sitting area and local folk dance shows. You can also join the lovely ladies in a dance or two if you’re up for it. They’re always willing to share their attires with you for a local Hundar experience.
Day 8: Back to Leh City
Leave from Nubra after breakfast so you can reach Leh city back before sunset. You can grab a relaxed dinner at one of the lovely cafes in the city before heading back to your guest house to catch on some rest for the next day.
Day 9: Meeting with His Holiness Dalai Lama
During the time of this visit, His Holiness Dalai Lama was in the city hence a visit to his last sermon was made in the morning hours post which the rest of the day was spent walking around Leh and exploring more cafes and bookstores.
Day 10: Places to visit in Leh city
Day to visit the beautiful monasteries around Leh – Thiksey and a visit to the Leh Palace which still looks hauntingly beautiful even in its current ruins.
Day 11: Day trip to monasteries further away from Leh main city
A walk to Shanti Stupa a little outside of the city followed by a visit to the mesmerising Hemis, Shey and Namgyal monasteries.
Day 12: Day trip to tourist points surrounding Leh
A day-long visit to Lamayuru monastery, Hall of Fame, Magnetic Hill, Indus & Zanskar river Sangam followed by a final dinner at Leh market and one last cup of butter tea at Gesmo’s.
Day 13: Departure from Leh & day trip in Srinagar, Kashmir
Departure from Leh by flight in the morning at 7 am to Srinagar. Spend the day in Srinagar sightseeing with a houseboat at Dal Lake, a visit to Nishat and Shalimar Bagh followed by a late lunch at Lalit Ashok with its splendid garden views before taking the flight to Delhi. Arrive at Delhi by 9 pm.
Day 14: Explore Delhi
Spend the day in Delhi sightseeing the remaining places of the city – Chandni Chowk, Red Fort, Qutab Minar, Jama Masjid, Bangla Sahib, Humayun tomb, followed by dinner at Karim’s – Delhi’s evergreen place known for classic Mughlai food.
Day 15: Back to Bangalore
Early morning flight back to Bangalore by 10 am. Take rest the remaining day so you can recover from the high that Leh was and slowly ease yourself back into the daily city life away from the splendour of Leh.
Overall, the warmth shown by Ladakhians along with the stunning backdrops that you start to get used to through the stay, Leh can easily be rated as of the most exotic and memorable holiday destinations of all time.