GOAN GIRL ZINDAGI

A ORDINARY GIRL ON AN EXTRA ORDINARY JOURNEY

THE LAND OF HIGH PASSES – EXPLORING LEH

For someone who thrives on adventure and lives his life on the edge, Ladakh is their Mecca. In the local dialect, the name ‘Ladakh’ literally means, ‘Land of High Passes.” This mysterious yet beautiful destination is the perfect choice especially if you love the great outdoors and wide expansive vistas of blue skies and unending winding roads.

There’s nothing more satisfying than traversing such high peaks with nothing but daunting yet majestic snow-clad mountains in the backdrop. A land like no other with a superabundance of attractions to visit and fabulous landscapes, amazing people and culture, Ladakh is truly a heaven on Earth.

The isolated beauty of Ladakh beckons many a traveller who wants to revel in the joy of the open skies, the towering and looming mountains and the fantastical landscape that is spread out like a feast. Whether you’re looking to do some Ladakh sightseeing or you want to have the bike adventure of a lifetime, you won’t be disappointed when you visit. There are quite a few places to visit in Ladakh that will simply take your breath away.

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Leh is the most well-known city of Ladakh. Surrounded by towering mountain ranges and serene lakes, it offers a very different tourism experience to visitors. With its dry and barren landscape enlivened by the colourful Buddhist monasteries, Leh creates a magical travel experience.

Here’s a look at some of the places one can explore in and around Leh.

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HALL OF FAME

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ENTRY TIMINGS

APRIL – SEPTEMBER (9AM-1PM) & (2PM-7PM)

OCTOBER – MARCH (10AM-1PM) & (2PM-5PM)

ENTRY FEE

INDIANS – Rs.200/-

FOREIGNERS – Rs.400/-

DISTANCE FROM LEH – 4kms

HIGHLIGHT – Sound & Light show every evening where visitors can watch the screening of a detailed documentary on Operation Vijai or Kargil War.

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Located on the Leh-Kargil Road, the Hall of Fame is a museum established in 1986 to showcase the valour, sacrifice and achievements of Indian Army in various operations in Ladakh. Maintained by the Indian Army, the Hall of Fame showcases seized arms and amenities of Pakistani Army, pictures and biographies of brave soldiers. A section of the museum also displays Siachen area, exhibiting apparel and amenities used by the Indian Army in the region.

There are things which enhance every Indian’s patriotic feelings as well as they let us appreciate the bravery shown by every Indian soldier during the wars, from the heart. Different quotes, letters written by the soldiers, the tools, aircrafts, weapons, tents and what all the soldiers have used during the period are preserved which give every visitor a minute to think and pay tribute to those brave hearts who lost their lives fighting for India.

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INDUS SANGAM POINT

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ENTRY TIMINGS

BEFORE SUNSET

ENTRY FEE

NONE

DISTANCE FROM LEH 50kms

HIGHLIGHT Sangam is famous for being the point of confluence of the rivers Zanskar and Indus.

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The merging of Zanskar with the waters of Indus is an enchanting sight for all the travellers visiting Ladakh. Boasting of an immaculate landscape that is nature’s handiwork, Sangam Point is one of the most gorgeous places you will come across in this region. The Indus River drains the dry and deserted terrains of Ladakh’s landlocked valley and serves as its lifeline. Zanskar, on the other hand, is a tributary of this river and merges into it from the north-eastern direction. On its way to the meeting point, the river passes through the spectacular Zanskar Gorge.

The colours of the two rivers can be distinctly seen at the confluence. At times, at the Sangam, the Indus River can be seen as shiny blue while the Zanskar river is dirty green. In the summer season, Zanskar is swollen and rapid, while Indus is comparatively calmer. In the winters, it is quite the opposite. Zanskar slows down, its flow is light and is completely frozen at a lot of places, enabling the legendary Chadar Trek. While Indus flows fast, with ice floating on it.

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ALCHI CHHOSKHOR

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ENTRY TIMINGS

SUMMER – (10AM-1PM) & (2PM-6PM)

ENTRY FEE

INDIANS – Rs.25/-

FOREIGNERS – Rs.50/-

DISTANCE FROM LEH 70kms

HIGHLIGHT This Gompa is the only remaining specimen of Indian Buddhist Iconography. It is one of the oldest monasteries in Ladakh that is mainly known for its magnificent and beautiful 900-year-old paintings and murals

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Nestled in the lap of the mighty river Indus and surrounded by highly dramatic scenery, Alchi is a serene village comprising monuments dating to periods. This monastic complex (chos-‘khor) of temples dates back to the year 1000 AD and was built by translator, Rinchen Zangpo. The elaborate artwork along with wood carving and the amazing huge ancient statues of Buddha are the major attractions at Alchi monastery. The monuments and paintings here are unique in style and workmanship, the artistic and spiritual details of both Buddhism and the Hindu kings of the time in Kashmir are reflected in the wall paintings in the monastery.

Tucked away in the Himalayan region of Ladakh at an altitude of around 3,500 m above sea level this is the only monastery in Ladakh which is not located on a hilltop.The rambling structure has six main buildings the Dukhang or main assembly hall, the Sum-tsek or three-tiered temple; the adjoining Manjusri Lha-khang and Lotsawa Lha-Khang temples; the Lha-khang Soma and the Kanjur-Lha-khang. All these stunning architectures are adorned with minutely carved paintings, which are believed to be the oldest surviving in Ladakh.

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LIKIR GOMPA

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ENTRY TIMINGS

SUMMER – (6AM-1PM) & (1.30PM-6PM)

ENTRY FEE Rs.30/-

DISTANCE FROM LEH 55kms

HIGHLIGHT Likir, literally meaning ‘the naga encircled’, is believed to be guarded by two sacred serpents – Nanda and Taksako.

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Near the village of Saspol, perched on a hillock is the Likir Gompa – the venue of the annual Dosmochey festival. Recognizable from afar by the large seated statue of Maitreya Buddha, gilded in gold and 75 feet tall, which is a much recent addition having been built in 1999, Likir monastery itself was built in 1065 by the fifth monarch of Ladakh, Lhachen Gyalpo. Belonging to the Gelugpa sect of Buddhism, known by their Yellow Hat, it is the official seat of Ngari Ringpoche, the youngest brother of Dalai Lama.

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The verandah at Likir monastery is adorned with exquisite Thangka paintings of the Four Heavenly Gods and Dharamchakra. Replete with paintings, murals and stone reliefs, the monastery is a repository of Buddhist heritage, its founding principles, history, legends and teachings. In addition to the imposing idols of Buddhist deities, the gompa has an impressive collection of ancient manuscripts, costumes, earthen pots and paintings, which speak of the region’s rich heritage. There’s a school inside the monastery run by the Central Institute of Buddhist studies and a library where old manuscripts, volumes and books on Buddhism and the teachings of Tsong Khapa are housed.

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MAGNETIC HILL

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ENTRY TIMINGS

BEFORE SUNSET

ENTRY FEE

NONE

DISTANCE FROM LEH 30kms

HIGHLIGHT It is a cyclops hill where vehicles defy the force of gravity and move upwards on the hill when parked at the marked location.

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Sitting pretty at an altitude of 14,000 feet, Magnetic Hill is located on the Leh-Kargil-Baltic National Highway in the Trans-Himalayan region. Blessed with amazing natural beauty and mysterious magnetic abilities, this small stretch of road in Ladakh is where travelers stop by to experience the strange, gravity-defying phenomenon. It is marked by a yellow signboard which reads “The Phenomenon That Defies Gravity”. When parked at the indicated spot, vehicles begin moving forward at a speed of almost 20km/h.

Sindhu river flows to the east of Magnetic Hill and makes the surrounding a picture perfect frame.
It is one of the major tourist attractions and an almost essential stopover for all those who travel to Ladakh. Even though there are some myths regarding the mysterious magnetic hill, the fact is that the layout of the area and the surrounding hills give it an optical illusion. The downhill road appears to be an uphill road which leads to the car slowly gaining momentum which appears to be going uphill against gravity when infact it is rolling downhill.

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SHANTI STUPA

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ENTRY TIMINGS

ALL DAYS (5AM-9PM)

ENTRY FEE

NONE

DISTANCE FROM LEH 5kms

HIGHLIGHT The white-domed Shanti Stupa was built in 1991 by Japanese Buddhist Bhikshu, Gyomyo Nakamura as a part of the Peace Pagoda mission. The stupa is a symbol of the ties between the people of Japan and Ladakh.

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One of the seven Buddhist Shanti Stupas across the world, the Shanti Stupa in Leh, Ladakh is an abode of peace and serenity. Located atop a steep hilltop at a dizzying height of 11,841 feet, this gigantic pure white dome shaped structure was built between 1983 and 1991. This peace pillar was built by a Japanese Buddhist organization to celebrate the completion of 2500 years of Buddhism and for the promotion of world peace. It was inaugurated by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama in 1985. It is known for its gilt panels depicting the life stories of Lord Buddha.

Situated in Chandspa, just 5 kms away from the main city of Leh, Shanti Stupa is surrounded by the traditionally built houses of the locals and snow-covered mountains. Although the beautifully pristine architecture of the structure makes it a marvel during the daytime, the beauty of the Stupa is further compounded during the evening hours when it is lit up from the inside. Set against the backdrop of the surrounding mountains of Ladakh, the Stupa commands excellent views of the scenic locale.

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SPITUK GOMPA

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ENTRY TIMINGS

SUMMER – (6AM-1PM) & (1.30PM-6PM)

ENTRY FEE

NONE

DISTANCE FROM LEH 18kms

HIGHLIGHT One of the most dazzling monasteries in India, it houses 100 monks and a giant statue of Kali, which is unveiled during the annual Gustor Festival

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The word ‘Spituk’ means exemplary. Known as Pethup Gompa among the locals, the Spituk Monastery was founded somewhere between 1040-1050 by monarch Ol-de of Guge, belonging to the Kadampa Buddhist tradition, a Tibetan Mahayana Buddhist school. However, gradually, the order lost its cultural stronghold and eventually the Gelugpa order was introduced in the 15th century, possibly around 1430, and ever since then the Yellow Hat sect has continued in the monastery. When Lotsewa Rinchen Zangpo (Translator) came to that place he said that an exemplary religious community would arise there and so the monastery was called Spituk.

One of the most dazzling monasteries in India, it houses 100 monks and a giant statue of Kali, which is unveiled during the annual Gustor Festival held on the 17th and 19th day of the Bodhi month every year. It is famous for its collection of Buddhist objects of antique arms, icon, ancient masks and numerous Thangka paintings. While the huge statue of Kali, situated in the Paldon Lamo temple on the highest level, draws visitors to the highest level of Spituk Monastery, it is the incredible sight of Leh’s landscape stretching for eternity with river Indus rolling by that meets them there as a pleasant surprise.

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