It can be easy to forget that India is home to some of the most impressive peaks in the Himalaya range, as its neighbour Nepal is often in the spotlight due to its various trekking routes. However, travellers should not discount heading to northern India to discover the delights of its mountains too.
In fact, there’s one particular region that should be at the top of the list for an adventurous and cultural walking holiday – Ladakh. Before it became part of India, Ladakh was an independent kingdom and you can still see remnants of this time in the form of the monasteries and palaces that are hidden among the hills.
Should you decide to go trekking in this area of India, you can find more information here, or read on for a few of the highlights you should not miss.
Leh was the capital of Ladakh and is where you will begin your tour of the region. There are numerous sights to discover in the town, so allow at least one day to fully explore. Among the monuments you should take the time to view are the Leh Monastery, which houses a golden statue of Buddha, the Leh Mosque that is located in the middle of the main bazaar and the Leh Khar Palace.
This last building stands on a hill overlooking the town. If you have the time, it is worth heading inside, as there are old wall paintings detailing scenes from the life of Buddha adorning its interior.
Zanskar is another ancient kingdom that has now become part of India. It is close to Ladakh and is therefore often included on tours of the region as well. There is plenty of interest in the area, including its many Buddhist monasteries and chortens (places of worship for the religion).
The walk from Padum, the biggest town in the valley, to the village of Karsha is particularly stunning, with a 15th century monastery awaiting you when you reach your destination. En route, you’ll cross the Doda River, which runs through the valley, and walk across plains surrounded by mountains, eventually climbing to the village and its monastery, which is perched on a hill above the settlement.
Trek to the Singe-la Pass
At over 5,000 m above sea level, the Singe-la Pass is the highest point you’ll reach on your trekking adventure in India. The day before you ascend to the pass, you’ll have amazing views across the Zanskar Valley as you reach Mugum La at 4,000 m and continue on towards the base camp of Singe-la in preparation for your climb on the following day.
When you reach the pass itself, you’ll be greeted by spectacular vistas of the mountains and glaciers that line the valleys before you descend into the Photang Valley and continue on towards your next challenge – the Sniugutse-la Pass, which is also around 5,000 m high.
You’ll already have caught glimpses of the Zanskar gorges earlier on in your walking holiday, although you will get the opportunity to fully appreciate this impressive entrance to the Zanskar Valley.
In places, the gorge is no more than 5 m wide and has almost vertical cliffs around 600 m tall towering over the river as it flows down from the mountains. As you can probably imagine, the views across this landscape are truly awe-inspiring.
If you’ve been trekking in India’s Himalayas, what were the best parts of your trip?