Pristine untouched beauty that stretches far and beyond what the eyes can behold, visiting Leh Ladakh is sure to unlock the gates to your inner soul, leaving you a changed person forever. The landscape is richly dotted with beautiful locations, not all of which can be covered in one short trip, which is why we have listed below the top 5 must see places in Leh Ladakh to ensure your first trip into this “lap of nature” leaves you with beautiful memories for a lifetime.

Pangong Tso

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Pangong Tso, has been aptly described by tourists as “paradise on earth”. Immortalized in the movie 3 idiots, its azure blue waters surrounded by peaks reaching out to the skies, Pangong Lake, located at a height of 4350 metres is the highest brackish water lake in the world and one of the largest in Asia. In summers, you can watch the play of colors on the surface of the lake caused by the sun’s rays while in winter the lake frrezes over completely even though the water is saline. You can even drive your vehicle over the frozen sheet of ice in winter, a thrill in itself. Tucked away in one corner of Ladakh, Pangong Tso lies within the Changthang region of Ladakh and can be reached only after a 5-6 hour drive from Leh past the highly steep and treacherous Chang La pass, the   second highest motorable pass in the world. However one glance at its pristine magical beauty is sure to take away all the stress and worry of travel and leave you with a new found appreciation of nature’s skilful craftsmanship.

Nubra Valley

Nubra

Famous for its panoramic vistas, orchards, monasteries and of course the Bactrian Camel, Nubra Valley was earlier referred to as Ldumra, meaning “valley of flowers” by the locals. The meeting place of the rivers Shyok and Siachen, Nubra Valley divides the Ladakh and Karakoram mountain range and lies on the border between India and Tibet. A visit to Ladakh is incomplete without visiting Nubra Valley, you not only get an opportunity to cross Khardung La Pass located at a height of 5359 metres, the highest motorable road in the world but also get to feast your eyes on a beautiful green orchards spread out all over the valley, no wonder Nubra Valley is also referred to as the “Orchard of Ladakh”. Diskit Monastery, one of the oldest and largest monasteries in Ladakh lies on the way and is a must see. But the best of the valley comes as you cross Diskit and move towards Hunder and the landscape transforms into a desert replete with sand dunes and the famous two humped Bactrian camel. Coming this far, a camel safari is a must leaving you with a sense of wonder at the mystical beauty of the Himalayas where beautiful valleys transform into barren sand deserts in what seems like the blink of an eye.

Razi Khar

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Razi Khar has been the site of the royal palace of Leh since the 17th century and is a must see destination both for its historical significance as well as the breath taking view of Leh and the surrounding mountains that awaits you from the top. With a breathtaking vista of lakes, mountains and other scenery laid bare before your eyes, Razi Khar captures the beauty of this ever changing landscape in one sweeping view.

Zanskar Valley

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Aptly described as “the virgin valley”, the Zanskar valley lies deep in the Zanskar mountain range and offers an uninterrupted view of both the magnificent Zanskar River as well as the beautiful mountain range that surrounds it. During winters the snow filled valley offers a very different vista that is nevertheless equally eye capturing. Rafting and Trekking is a popular attraction which draws many people to Zanskar River during the summer months although the water still remains treacherously cold. In winters the famous Chadar trek takes place over the Zanskar River.

Thiksey Monastery

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Nestled in the heart of the mountains, just above the Thiksey village, the Thiksey Monastery is as famed for its architectural beauty as it is for its beautiful and unparalleled 360 degree view of the Zansar mountain range and valley.

Shanti Stupa

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Built to commemorate 2500 years of Buddhism and enshrined by the 14th Dalai Lama in person, the Shanti Stupa located atop Chanspa hill is a magnificent symbol of Buddhist religion where one can hope to find answers to some of the most difficult and enduring questions of life and existence. A place to chant, meditate and above all seek inner peace, Shanti Stupa also offers a beautiful view of the vista around.