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Travel

A Comprehensive Guide To Leh-Ladakh

By Architi Batra

Updated - Oct. 10, 2018 bookmark icon 11 min read

A few places in India are always on our bucket list to visit at least once in our lifetime and we are pretty sure, Leh Ladakh is one such beautiful place. It is one of the most cherished dreams we develop and when its finally time to fulfill that dream, all we want is for everything to be just perfect. The best time and the best weather conditions are all we hope for when visiting this pristine and untouched natural beauty. The place is a beautiful asset to India and the best time to visit Leh Ladakh and where to go when you are there require a handful of research.
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While some people suggest summer for obvious reasons because the weather is most pleasant and exciting when the snow has melted but there's still enough on the higher altitude to enjoy and there is a buzz of activity in the place. Whereas, on the other hand, according to some, winters have their own charm and although only a handful of travelers visit the place and the site is all covered with snow, the views are just breathtaking and out of the world. Some of the most magnetic spots of Ladakh are Thiksey Monastery, Shanti Stupa, Nubra Valley, Namgyal Tsemo Gompa, Pangong Tso Lake and others which you should not forget to include in your list. 

 

While the majority of us plan for a summer trip, courage is required for planning the trip in winters when the temperature is far below zero degree Celsius. The temperature can play a cruel game with you or be part of your best experience ever. The temperature of the place works its extremes as can be seen if we compare temperatures at different times of the year. Where it can drop to as low as - 14 degree Celsius in winters
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So, this is your ultimate guide to plan accordingly and to know what to expect when planning your trip to Leh Ladakh all year-round. The best time to visit Leh-Ladakh: What to do and Where to Go. Experience the unexpected!

 


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JUNE

TEMPERATURE: Maximum 21° C, Minimum 7° C

Yes, the temperature can be as low as 7° C in summer too. The nights are usually always cold. By early June, all road routes to Leh open and one can travel by any chosen path. It is advised for the best experience, choose different paths for going and coming back. Opt of Srinagar-Leh circuit through Kargil which is around 434 km on one way and the Manali-Leh circuit the other way round which is 473 km long and enjoy the beauty of both the places in a single trip. The roads are usually in an unstable condition because of snow slides and roadblocks because of them. If all the snow has still not melted away, chain your tires for safety. By mid-June, the snow starts melting and you'll sight beautiful water streams of crystal clear water which is also fresh and healthy enough to drink straight away. The colorful Yuru Kabgyat & Hemis Festivals are held in this month and are an absolute delight to be a part of. This time of the year sure embarks the beginning of the best time to visit Leh Ladakh.
laakh-june-festival_image
Ladakh-festival-june_image

 

JULY-AUGUST

TEMPERATURE: Maximum 25° C, Minimum 10°

Monsoon time doesn't leave you with many options to travel. While South and North-East India get out of the options, the best place is Leh-Ladakh. The temperature gets warmer when compared to the weather conditions in June. July-August could be well said as the best time to visit Leh-Ladakh. By this time, all passes and roads are opened and the land turns very inviting with spectacular views and the place for better becomes the bikers’ and photographers’ paradise. Whatever route you are choosing, leave early morning to reach on time to your destination and avoid unnecessary traffic. The cheerful and high on energy festivals of Stongday, Gustor, Karsha, Phyang, Sachukul, Karzok, Dakthok and Sani Nasjal Festivals are held during these two months. Don't miss being part of the local culture along with all the sight-seeing. Get the best out of the time you are visiting. 
Ladakh-festival-july_image
Ladakh-july-festival_image

Visit the Sankoo valley on your way from Kargil for lush-green grasslands rich flora. The sky stays clear, offering a splendid panorama. Which makes it the best time to visit Leh Ladakh.
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SEPTEMBER

TEMPERATURE: Maximum 21° C, Minimum 5° C

After 3 happy months of a summery weather, in September the temperature starts to cool down again but its a very pleasant weather. It's like spring in the month of September. The road conditions are much improved so it's a safe time to travel. The peak season of June to August are over so the hotel prices come down which is a win-win. Cheaper rates for all the facilities and pleasant weather. Sometimes it even snows at night or late in September and watching a snowfall ticks another thing off our bucket lists. The water bodies are aqua blue in color and absolutely clear and with gleaming sun rays falling over the surface, everything glistens. The land looks barren and brown with too many rocks which is a unique sight in itself in contrast to the crystal clear blue water. The Ladakh festival takes place at this time from 25TH SEPTEMBER to 28TH SEPTEMBER. Numerous cultural troupes from various parts from Ladakh participates in the inaugural ceremony in traditional Ladakhi outfits and display wonderful performances. The city is a lavish sight at this time.
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Before the snow starts setting again on the lake, you can experience the sight of changing hues of colors of the lake. It's just magnificent. Which altogether again makes it the best time to visit Leh Ladakh.
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OCTOBER

TEMPERATURE: Maximum 14° C, Minimum -1° C

Welcome back the chills of winter with October. Around this time usually, the majority of tourists head back and only the enthusiastic travelers stay back. Snowfall starts and cold wave sweeps over the areas of high altitudes. The businessmen who traveled during the peak seasons to open their hotels and campsites to head back. Only a little is left back and the place becomes quiet and peaceful again. Although Srinagar-Leh and Manali-Leh routes remain open, it is usually not advisable to travel through them due to extreme chill and the presence of black ice. Thiksey Gustor and Diskit Festival are held during this month. Usually starting from October, it's not considered as the best time to visit Leh Ladakh.
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leh-rohtang pass-black ice

 

NOVEMBER

TEMPERATURE: Maximum 7° C, Minimum -6° C

The temperature is freezing cold now at this time. It starts dropping below the freezing point regularly, especially during nights. The only way to reach is Leh because all roads are covered in snow up to a few inches and thus are blocked. So, one drawback is definitely missing the scenic beauty on the routes to Leh-Ladakh. Lakes are completely frozen so camping beside Pangong lake is also not possible but, if you are courageous enough then ice-skating, ice-hokey etc. on the lake are always an option. The hardship doesn't end here. There's no water supply and electricity is available only for six hours, between 5 pm to 11 pm. Yes, it's super hard to survive in such conditions in the place at this time of the year. Padum Festival is celebrated in this month. 
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DECEMBER

TEMPERATURE: Maximum 2° C, Minimum -11° C

If we are talking about the best time to visit Leh-Ladakh, we know December is not that time for sure. With a minimum temperature of  -11° C, the winters are ferocious. Highways, roads, and all the passes are closed for obvious reasons. Ice sheets as thick as six inches can be found on lakes and rivers. Losar and Golden Namchot Festivals are held during this month. Definitely not making it anywhere near the best time to visit Leh Ladakh.
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If you are there, head to the Hemis National Park area to spot a snow leopard patrolling the area. You can spot them very easily in January too.
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JANUARY

TEMPERATURE: Maximum -2° C, Minimum -14° C

Irrespective of these harsh conditions, January is quite a popular month for all the adventure travelers for the Chadar - Trek on the frozen Zanskar river. It usually starts late-December, early January and batches go on till February. The trek is the hardest one in India and for all the hikers is a dream to achieve. The Chadar trek is a once in a lifetime opportunity which if you can, you should not miss. The temperature remains sub-zero almost the entire month. It is the best time to interact with locals as there are only a very few tourists. Spituk Gustor Festival is held during this month. Don't go if you can't handle extreme cold conditions.
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Leh-trekking-chadar_image

 

FEBRUARY

TEMPERATURE: Maximum 1° C, Minimum -11° C

February is less cold biting that January. So, if you want to do Chadar trek but can't handle January, February is an option too. The cold being a little better than that of January prompts a few locals to open their shops and stores which is definitely a plus. Dosmochey, Yargon Tungshak, Stok Guru Tsechu, Matho Nagrang festivals are held in this month. Ladakh sure does celebrate a lot of festivals and is very full of culture which is quite evident from all its festivities you can practically enjoy in any month you visit which makes it one of the best time to visit Leh Ladakh. 
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MARCH-APRIL

TEMPERATURE: Maximum 10° C, Minimum -5° C

The cold starts decreasing in March as compared to those freezing winter months but it is still too cold for most tourists. Days are sunny but at night the temperature does drop in minus up to -5° C. Both the highways are still closed and you can only fly in either from Delhi or Srinagar. The city sees some tourists coming in by this time and the business starts in the city-hotels and local guest houses open up. The maximum temperature is still around 10-15° C. Matho Nagrang, Stok Guru Tsechu, Yargon Tungshak Festivals are also held in this month. The army starts clearing the snow to make roads available for civilian traffic, but it takes time. Camping at the Pangong and Nubra is not possible at this time of the year.
leh-in-march-april

 

MAY

TEMPERATURE: Maximum 16° C, Minimum 3° C

May is when relief starts pouring in the city. The narrow city roads are filled with people but mostly the Indian Army preparing for storage of stocks. Icy winds still blow and the roads are still shut. Around late-may usually, Zoji La (Leh-Srinagar route) opens but not necessarily. The Rohtang Pass (Leh-Manali route) however is still closed in MaySaka Dawa Festival is celebrated in this month. The months of April-May are a good Time to Book Leh Ladakh Tour Packages because many companies offer good discount packages attracting tourists and business

Ladakh is perfect for seeking solace amidst nature. The place is hardly touched by the advancement of technology and ill hand of humans which makes it so pure and pristine. The place has several Buddhist monasteries and gompas showcasing its rich culture to opportunities of white water rafting in Zanskar or watching the river flow beside the sand dunes of Nubra or the most famous Pangong Lake, each corner of Ladakh always has something to keep you captivated no matter whenever you visit

 

Conclusion:

Clearly, summer from June to September is the best time to visit Leh-Ladakh, but for the adventurous spirit in you, you know what to do!


FAQ's

Q - Why is Leh called a cold dessert?
A - 
It is also known as Khapa-chan, which means snow land. Desert lands with extremely low temperatures are called cold deserts like Antarctica, which is the largest cold desert in the world. Ladakh in India is a cold desert that lies in the Great Himalayas on the eastern side of Jammu and Kashmir.

 

Q - What is the magnetic hill in Leh-Ladakh?
A - Magnetic Hill is a gravity hill located near Leh in Ladakh, India. The hill is alleged to have magnetic properties strong enough to pull cars uphill and force passing aircraft to increase their altitude in order to escape magnetic interference; in reality, the effect is an optical illusion created by the gravity hill.

 

Q- What is the altitude of Leh-Ladakh?
A - 3,500 m

 

Q - What is the difference between Leh and Ladakh?
A - Ladakh is a division in Jammu & Kashmir and Leh is the capital of Ladakh. Therefore, Ladakh refers to the whole region comprised of the districts of Leh and Kargil. Leh is just one of the two districts, along with Kargil, which can be further subdivided into tehsils.

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