A land of pristine monasteries and crumbling ruins, snowy peaks and dust-buttered rocks, desert horizons and mountains whose melting snow gives life to the valley below. Ladakh is a land of magical contrasts. The gem in India's crown. At The Indus River Camp, we look forward to demonstrating this to anyone who has the fortune to visit.
CLOSE TO CAMP
The Shey Palace and Monastery complex is over 450 years old and is built into the hill face along with the rest of the village. A 12 metre copper and gilded Shakyumani Buddha statue dominates three floors of the monastery. The photo below is of Shey Palace from the grounds of the Indus River Camp.
Thiksey monastery is just 10km downstream from the Indus River Camp (20km from Leh) and is the largest monastery in central Ladakh with 12 storeys intricately decorated with Buddhist art and artefacts.
Towering over one side of the campsite is the spectacular Stok range of the Himalayas in the Hemis National Park. Stok Kangri summit is the peak of the range at 6,200 metres above sea level and can be accessed by a 4/5 day hike from the charming village of Stok which is just a few kilometres from The Indus River Camp.
Once a mansion belonging to Leh royalty, this palace perches above Leh, its crumbling facade camouflaged into the rock's face. It is currently being restored by the Archaelogical Survey of India and is a short ride from camp into town. It offers a spectacular view over Leh and the Indus valley
Shanti Stupa holds the opposite flank of Leh to the Palace. Built in 1991 by a Japanese Buddhist its view offers a similar but alternative perspective on the city. Aesthetically, however, it is the diametric opposite with its pristine white domed shape.
Srinagar to Leh
A bus journey that will stay in your mind long after you have left. Our partner sat through a 16 hour packed bus ride, in seats not designed for his gangly frame and found it to be the most rewarding bus ride of his life. The views are stunning.
Take an overnight stop in Kargil so that you can enjoy the entire drive between Srinagar and Leh in the light. Take a shared taxi or drive yourselves so that you can stop freely and have space for yourselves.
Pangong Tso is a 270 square kilometre lake at 4.3k sea level which is one of the major tourist attracctions in Leh. As the day progresses the colours on the lake and the mountains flicker according to the path of the sun. A 1 night stay is recommended so that you can appreciate this sight in its entirety.
Getting there either involves a 4 hour shared jeep from the bus stand, booking a personal driver or renting a Royal Enfield. Make sure to bring a jumper and/or windbreaker! Pangong can be extremely cold all year round.
120km to the north of Leh is Nubra Valley, its centre carved out by the Indus river. Witness the 32 metre statue of Maitreya buddha that overlooks the basin at Diskit monastery, come see double humped camels in all their odd glory, spend a day on the sand dunes in Hundar where sand buggies are available, go to Panamik for their near boiling hot springs or head beyond to the last possible stop at the border, the splendid village of Turtuk.
The journey to Nubra passes the Khardung La, the highest motorable road so make sure that you acclimatise in Leh a couple days before making this pass. If you have a week make sure that Nubra is at the back end of your journey. Altitude sickness frequently happens to the very healthy.