Ladakh, beyond the obvious
The 'land of high passes', Ladakh, will never fail to surprise you. Adventurous and exotic at the same time, it is important that when here, you don't stick to the usual touristy places and take the road less travelled.
With mesmerising landscape for company, Ladakh promises not to give you a single dull moment.
WALK IN THE SAND DUNES OF HUNDER
If you think sand dunes are restricted only to Rajasthan, think twice. Everywhere in the Nubra Valley, you'll see them. Home to double hump or the Bactrian camels, the dunes at Nubra are located at an altitude of 4,000 meters.
The picturesque landscape against the snow-clad barren mountains make this place a delight for every photographer. The desert that is cut by two rivers -Nubra and Shyok meets at Hunder.
The shadow of the sun falling on the dunes creates a golden hue, offering a stunning visual delight. But remember, the weather can get tricky if you choose to stay till late evening.
STAY WITH BALTI PEOPLE AT TURTUK
Almost 140kms from Nubra lies Turtuk, the northernmost village of India, which is famous for being part of the historic Silk Route. Captured by the Indian army in the 1971 war, it's just 10 kms from the India-Pakistan border.
Opened to tourism only nine years ago, the king of Turtuk still stays there. Home to the Balti people, this village happens to be one of highest producers of Buckwheat and apricots.
Situated on a volatile border, this predominantly Muslim province sees a mix of cultures - Tibetan and Indo-Aryan - all the way from Baltistan. Don't expect to get a phone signals or Wifi here. Even electricity is restricted.
The locals welcome tourists and homestays are gaining immense popularity. This is the place you should be heading to if it is solace you are seeking.
LEARN METALWORKS, TEXTILES AND POTTERY
A region popular with nomads, one can be assured of getting a cultural high here. Whether it is food or art, one can easily experience the influences of tribes who came here through the Silk Route.
Stay with a local to see and experience the same at close quarters. One such fine example is the textile museum by Jigmat Couture. The place is a huge storehouse of rich Ladakhi culture and India's art history. It's important that these are preserved carefully.
VISIT THE HOT SPRINGS
The Changthang region, often referred to as the Cold Desert, also draws attention due to the hot springs here that merge into the Indus. The terrain is barren with mountains on both sides, and Indus in between.
The sleepy little town of Chumathang is famous for Pashm, an animal fibre from goats that's used to make Pashmina.
CAMP YOURSELF AT ULEYTOKPO
If camping excites you, Ulleytokpo happens to be one of the best-known camping bases along the banks of the Indus.Waking up to those larger than life mountains is an experience in itself.
Unlike other terrain, the greenery during summer gives Uleytokpo a facelift.
Surrounded by Lamayuru Monastery, Alchi Monastery, Rizdong Monastery, Likir Monastery, and Mangyu Temple, parking oneself here for a day or two is ideal. Discover Ladakh yourself, and not through a guide book.