Tag : india
Tag : india
Stepping off the beaten track can often be harder than it might first seem – after all, it often feels like there are few places not crammed with tourists these days! Happily, there are still a few hidden gems out there, like Ladakh in India.
Ladakh – an overview
Ladakh is a region in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and it’s somewhere that’s only been open to tourists for a few years. As well as being off the radar of most travellers, it’s also one of the most sparsely populated regions in the state, meaning you can do a lot of travelling without bumping into a single soul.
Moreover, the landscapes you’ll discover here are seriously impressive – think towering, rugged mountains, the Indus River and age-old monasteries precariously teetering in improbable locations. It’s this quietness, paired with the wonderful mix of landscape and heritage, that makes exploring here such an adventure.
Places to visit during your trip
This website is a brilliant resource for finding out about all the different types of itineraries you can explore Ladakh on. But I’d really like to give you an impression of the kind of experiences you can have, so below you can read about some of the sights to see as you make your way to Leh, once the capital of the Ladakh region.
Presuming you’ll fly into Delhi and make your way to Ladakh from there, we recommend calling in at Dharamsala, which is the current home of the Dalai Lama. You can see some great things in this town, which sits on a spur of the Dhauladhar mountain range, including a sanctuary preserving Tibetan culture and art (the Norbulingka Institute) that’s built in the style of the Dalai Lama’s former summer residence in Tibet.
It’s also worth visiting Manali and exploring the beautiful Old Town. Additionally, I’d like to point out that these stopovers aren’t only a nice way to break up the journey and see that little bit more, but they also serve a practical purpose – namely acclimatising you to the high altitude.
Leh is a real treasure trove of things to see – think old monasteries and stupas, not to mention some incredibly unusual natural phenomena. Historically, Leh was a really important trading post between Tibet and India, and as I mentioned above was once the capital of the whole region.
If it’s historical buildings and monasteries that interest you most, make sure you take a trip to the Shanti Stupa, which is just outside the town. Situated at an incredible 4,267 m, this stupa isn’t just an attraction for its history – in fact, this is one of the very best places to get views over Ladakh. Plus, the sunrises and sunsets here are outstanding.
Should natural wonders be more your thing, check out Magnetic Hill. Eerily, cars here will be pulled uphill even with their ignition turned off – a unique sight well worth seeing.
The Ladakh region is also an amazing one in terms of wildlife, and I thoroughly recommend a trip to Hemis National Park. Often referred to as the snow leopard capital of the world, it offers visitors a 50/50 chance of spotting one – something that’s pretty impressive when you consider just how rare they are.
India may seem like a long way away, but it’s not that hard to find cheap flights to Delhi from London and in less than 9 hours you could be breathing in the wonderful chaos of India’s largest city. Use your American Express Card to book and benefit from their vast array of MEMBERSHIP REWARDS.
Delhi is said to be one of the oldest existing cities in history, with some accounts dating it back over 5000 years. It’s population is a diverse mix of Punjabis, Southern Indians and Bengalis. It’s high quality education attracts students from across the country and it’s variety of attractions bring in large numbers of tourists looking to get an authentic taste of India. Be sure to plan your trip well, Delhi has notoriously extreme weather, with 40C plus between April and June and Monsoons in July to September. The best time to go is after the monsoon period when the weather is milder.
Although the Taj Mahal in Agra gets most of the tourist attention, Delhi’s Red Fort (Lal Qila) is the jewel of the capital city built in the 1600s by the Mughal emperors. Make sure you go in the evening, when there’s an enchanting sound and light show, including a narration of the city’s history.
New Delhi is famed for it’s numerous festivals. Diwali, the festival of lights, runs for a month from mid October onwards and is a visual and audio treat for spectators and participants alike. Be sure to book your holiday at this time of year or around one of Delhi’s several festivals, they truly are a not to be missed experience.
If shopping is what you’re after then you are more than catered for in New Delhi. With dozens of markets and bazaars dotted across the city selling a diverse range of products you can lose days wandering around. Head to Connaught Place, the landmark shopping area of Delhi for your more conventional offerings. If you are looking for a more quirky experience then look no further than Janpath, situated close to Connaught Place, this is more of a huge flea market and is extremely popular with tourists and bargain hunters.