Breathtaking Landscapes from the Hinterland  of Ladakh

Sindhu Murthy

Ladakh, the land of high passes never ceases to mesmerize you with its breathtaking landscapes and beauteous vistas. The topography in Ladakh dramatically changes every few kilometers and the same place can never look the same when you return. From green valleys to rocky mountains, snow-clad peaks to mighty glaciers, geothermal hot springs to gurgling rivers, turquoise blue lakes to the rainbow mountains- Ladakh has every element to intrigue your curiosity.  Read on as we present you with some of the best views we encountered during our interlude at Ladakh.

Our love affair with Ladakh started the very moment we got the first glimpse of the mystic peaks from the window seats of our flight. The aerial view of the mosaic of the white snow and the brown of the dusty peaks along with meandering rivers make a sight to behold.

Aerial view of the city of Leh and its surroundings in Ladakh

The confluence of the two mighty rivers of Ladakh-  Indus and Zanskar located close to a village named Nimmo is a view you should not miss. Standing at a beautiful vantage point, you can see the different colors of the two rivers merge in a picturesque backdrop. The adventurous few can also try their hand at rafting in the rapids of Zanskar.

The confluence of Indus and Zanskar rivers at Nimmo in Ladakh.

Located at a distance of 40 km from Leh is Kardung La, famed as the highest motorable road in the world which is at an altitude of  18380 ft above the sea level. As you gain altitude while driving from Leh to KardungLa, the landscape dramatically changes from being barren dust land to snow covered peaks. The colorful prayer flags strung across high masts form an excellent view in the contrasting background of the white snow and clear blue sky.

Kardung La, claimed to be the highest motorable road in the world

After crossing the Kardung La pass, you enter the area encompassing the valley formed by Nubra and Shyok rivers. The patchwork fields form a perfect contrast against the dusty moonscapes as you drive along the meandering rivers in the valley.  Multiple glacial streams cross paths nurturing an oasis of greenery along their course. The Nubra valley is also famous for its beautiful wild roses which are mostly seen along the glacial streams and in moist lands.

patchwork fields of the Nubra Valley in Ladakh

Ladakh is highly influenced by Buddhism and you can find many monasteries built across the region at beautiful vantage points.  The Diskit monastery is one such monastery located in the Nubra valley. The huge and ornate statue of Maitreya Buddha located on a hill overseeing the vast expanse of Nubra valley is a major attraction in the region.

The statue of Maitreya Buddha at Diskit village of Nubra Valley

Located at a distance of about 10 Km from Disket are the sand dunes of Hunder which are home to the double-humped Bactrian camels. It is a pleasure to see the braided Shyok river spread its branches across the high altitude sand dunes in the backdrop of the towering mountains.

Sand dunes of Hunder in Nubra valley

Turtuk, the last Balti village in the Indian territory located very close to  Gilgit Baltistan of the PoK is a paradox in itself. quite contrasting with the rest of the regions in Ladakh, Turtuk is much greener and well cultivated. The endless fields of buckwheat and the apricot trees dotting the landscape of Turtuk are sure to steal your heart.

Turtuk, the last Balti village of India

Mountains of red, green, blue, brown, yellow, purple and white colors formed as a result of rich minerals deposits are an enigma in Ladakh.  As you drive from Nyoma to Tso Moriri, endless ranges of the colorful mountains welcome you in all grandeur. These mountains add color to the landscape which is otherwise devoid of any features.

Mineral rich mountains on the way to Tso Moriri Lake

Pangong, the highest brackish lake in the world is something that has been fantasized by many people – thanks for the popular movies shot in this location. On a clear day, the color of the water dramatically changes to every shade of blue as the sun rays caress the water at different angles. Pangong is also one of the biodiversity hotspots because of the various migratory birds which flock there for breeding.

Pangong Lake beyond Spangmik village

Another picturesque lake in the hinterland of Ladakh is the TsoMoriri. The mineral rich mountains and the green pastures surrounding the turquoise blue lake conspire to treat you with the rarest of sights. This 30km long and 8 km wide lake has been declared as a wetland diversity reserve because of rare species of migratory birds and wildlife it attracts.

Tsomoriri Lake in Ladakh

Tsokar, a saltwater lake located in the Changtang region of southeastern Ladakh is quite often referred to as the white lake because of the excessive white salt deposits surrounding the lake which add to its charm. The white marshlands along with the naked mountains in the background make a perfect location for photography.

Salty marshlands of Tsokar lake

Sarchu is a wonderland located on the border between Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh on Leh-Manali Highway.  As you drive along the Tsarap river, you are treated with some of nature’s breathtaking sculptures formed because of the erosion caused by the river.

Along the Tsarap river near Sarchu

 

The topography of Ladakh is such that every curve in the road mesmerizes you with a unique view. While we presented here just the tip of an iceberg,  you should know that there is an entire world out there waiting to be explored.  Have you been to Ladakh yet? What has been your favorite destination in Ladakh? If you happen to visit Ladakh, which one of the above locations would you love to visit?

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