Leh Ladakh in Winters – 5 Reasons to visit and a 5 Day Itinerary
Leh Ladakh aka The Land of High Passes, a region in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, in the north of India, is not only a cold desert known for mesmerising views and a vibrant culture, but is literally a little corner of Tibet marooned in the farthest reaches of India.
The region of Leh Ladakh became extremely popular specially after the movie 3 Idiots was released back in 2009. Now Leh Ladakh is frequented by adventure junkies, specially from April – September when the roads are open and accessible, and in January – February for the famed Chadar Trek.
Most of you might have already been to Leh Ladakh or might be planning a trip in the coming summer. However, here I’m going to give you 5 reasons to visit Leh Ladakh in Winters as well.
5 Reasons to visit Leh Ladakh in Winters
Leh Ladakh under a white blanket
It’s easy to fall in love with the landscape of Leh Ladakh, but when its covered under a white blanket of snow, it literally transforms into a fairyland.
Appreciate the beauty of Leh Ladakh minus the touristy crowd
After the 3 Idiots movie release, Ladakh becomes overcrowded as hell during the summer months, which means, that no matter where you’ll go, there’ll be plenty of tourists taking selfies, playing loud music and spoiling the charm of the place.
However, in the winters, you won’t find tourists in Ladakh, rather you’ll find travellers who have chosen to take the offbeat path.
Walk on water
Yes, it’s possible to walk on water in the winters in Leh Ladakh.
Where, you may ask?
The lake Tso Moriri, is where you can walk on water which turns into a thick layer of Ice in the winters.
Get a droolworthy Insta feed
Who doesn’t like having an amazing Instagram feed?
And the chances of your images of Leh Ladakh in Winters going viral is quite high, provided you use the best possible hashtags, and get creative when capturing your shots.
The flights are probably the cheapest
Yes, you heard that right. You can get a Delhi – Leh – Delhi return for as less as INR 5000, if booked well in advance. It can’t get better than this, can it?
However, make sure to book, directly from the airlines, rather than an OTA such as MMT, GoIbibo etc. Because, if your flight were to be cancelled due to operational reasons, its easier to get a refund directly from the airline.
Now that you are convinced that you want to visit Leh Ladakh in winters, this 5 Day Leh Ladakh Winter Itinerary shared below might be quite helpful to you.
The 5 day Leh Ladakh in Winters Itinerary
Day 1 – Arrival in Leh
Arrive at Leh by flight, in the morning and settle into a guesthouse with a local Ladakhi family. Acclimatize and rest for the day. Have a nice sleep and head out to Shanti Stupa in the evening. The panoramic view of the city from here is just mid blowing.
Day 2 – Thiksey and Hemis Monastery
First stop for the day will be Thiksey Monastery which is located on a hillock overlooking the Indus Valley.
Later on, head to the largest and wealthiest of all monasteries in Ladakh region, the Hemis monastery.Situated some 45 kms from Leh City, Hemis monastery is tucked on a mountain on the west bank of the serene River Indus. The monastery belongs to Dugpa Kargyutpa order or Red Sect of Buddhism and is said to be enriched with a large number of Thangkas or paintings, which are exhibited during the one of the famous festivals in Ladakh, Hemis Festival.
Once you have visited the monastery, then head out 3 km, trekking away from Hemis monastery to a sacred hermitage which was founded by Gyalwa Kotsang. His footprint and handprint are known to be engraved on a rock in a nearby cave.
It is said that the hermitage was found several years prior to Hemis Monastery.
Trek back to your vehicle, and head back to your homestay in Leh Ladakh and recharge your batteries.
Day 3 – Road Trip to Tso Moriri
Check out of your homestay, and enjoy the beauty of Leh Ladakh in winters as you make your way to Tso Moriri.
Tso Moriri or “Mountain Lake”, is a beautiful lake in the Ladakhi part of the Changthang Plateau. The lake and surrounding area are protected as a part of the the Tso Moriri Wetland Conservation Reserve. The lake is at an altitude of 4,522 meters.
Spend the day exploring the lake and surrounding areas, getting those instaworthy shots and check into your local homestay near the lake.
Day 4 – Interact with the Nomadic Changpa Tribe
Check out of your homestay, and head back to your homestay in Leh Ladakh. Relax and enjoy the panoramic views on your drive back from Tso Moriri. On your way back, you will also get the chance of interacting with the Nomadic Changpa tribe.
Changpa are a nomadic community of pastorals living in the Changthang Plateau in Ladakh and Tibet. They raise yak, sheep and cows and shift their location with season depending on the availability of grass. Most of the places they camp in are situated well above 10,000 feet, sometime as high as 15,000 feet!
Despite the extreme altitude and severe weather, they have learnt to survive in these inhospitable places and have thrived here for many centuries. Their camping areas are usually located at about 5-8 hours driving distance from Leh, travelling towards east.
Once you reach back to your homestay in Leh, it will be time to savour some local Ladakhi delicacies.
Day 5 – Leh Ladakh Local Sightseeing
Make sure that your phone and camera is fully charged, as you will be visiting the local sights and attractions in Leh, like the Shanti Stupa, Hall of Fame, Alchi Monastery, Magnetic Hill and the Indus – Zanskar sangam.
The artistic and spiritual details of both Buddhism and the Hindu kings of that time in Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh are reflected in the wall paintings in the Alchi monastery. These are some of the oldest surviving paintings in Ladakh.
After the local sightseeing, check out the market area before returning back to your homestay in the evening.
To make life easier, here is the summary of the 5 day Leh Ladakh Winter Itinerary.
Day 1: Arrival at Leh and acclimatize your body
Day 2: Visit Thiksey Monastery and Hemis Monastery – Kotsang trek
Day 3: Drive to Tso Moriri
Day 4: Drive back to Leh from Tso Moriri – Interact with the nomadic Changpa tribe
Day 5: Local Sightseeing in Leh – Shanti Stupa, Hall of fame, Alchi Monastery.
Day 6: With loads of memories, bid adieu to Leh Ladakh and board your flight back.
PS – Please note that while this is a 5 day Leh Ladakh Winter Itinerary, I highly recommend you keep an extra 2 days at hand, and use them for properly acclimatising, before you are off step out to experience the winter wonderland that Leh Ladakh is.
I would personally recommend you to factor a minimum of 7 Days when planning a Trip to Ladakh, and this 7 Day Leh Ladakh Travel Guide and Itinerary, should also help you out.