Into the Wild | Leh in Winters

Near Khardungla : On the way to Nubra Valley Leh Ladakh in Winters
                            Near Khardungla : On the way to Nubra Valley
One needs to get completely out of one's head or physically very strong to visit Ladakh in Winters. I and Vijay certainly fall in the former category. I am not sure whether it was an attempt to get out of rut ? ..or deep-rooted escapist tendency that led us to Ladakh in the month of January. Delhi was already shivering with the cold breeze and yet we decided to take the early morning flight to Leh ( one can not reach Leh by road in winters as all the connecting passes get closed due to heavy snow fall )....Flight was sparsely occupied ... As Flight took off the initial apprehension disappeared though excitement still persisted. We were not sure for how long we are going stay there. Like Always it was precipitous trip. Random thoughts of demented mind were running through our head.
The Great Himalayan Wolf

                                           The Great Himalayan Wolf

Delhi to Leh was some 2 hours flight and we landed to the GOD's own abode. Ladakh was like ever before. Ecstatic terrain that mesmerized me at its very first glimpse. Thin air that i could feel from the very first breath I took in...Ethereal mountains and thrilling elevation... now we were walking into the Wild... During Winters, Leh turns into a lonesome city.. completely different than what you experience during summers..terrain becomes dry and haunting..... Most of the locals of the city recede to warmer plains of northern India....we reached to heart of the city,the market. all the shops were closed except the one at the T-point. Leh was freezing with negative 15 mercury. we ordered two cup of tea and asked that shopkeeper that we are looking for a place to stay and that too for a long time. I still remember the devious smile at his face. he looked at us weirdly with empty gaze and asked "Aap log yahan sardiyon main kya karne aaye hain ?".. and that's when it all started.. story of two footloose in India's most desolated terrain in the month of freezing winters and it certainly changed our lives

Snow Fall on the lanes of Leh Ladakh in Winters Himalayas
                                  Snow Fall on the lanes of Leh Ladakh
Later we talked about our previous experiences to high altitude places and told them that we had been to Ladakh in Summers couple of times and have a desire to experience the beauty of this place in a different season. Though none was convinced with that answer neither were we...
Ice Hockey Tournament
                                                    
Ice Hockey Tournament
After two cup of tea. we kept our luggage on that shop itself to start our hunt for an accommodation in Leh. Most of the hotels were closed. finally we were able to get a room in a hotel that was partially closed but owner was still staying there. She charged heavily but offered a room with plenty of duvets and blankets. Room heating equipment was also there on optional basis. There were couple of restriction too...
Leh city in Winters
                                                                    
Leh city in Winters
* Only 1 bucket water will be given for the day.....(though other forms of water(Ice and snow) were in surplus)
* Electricity will come only for an hour in a day so if you want to charge your camera etc. Get your schedule in order
* 2 hot water fabric pillows will be given at 8 'o clock in the night... Hot Water Fabric pillows were a delight...
* Drinking water will be available 24*7...
Thicksey Monastery in Ladakh near Leh in Winters
                                                                  A Monastery in Ladakh
After getting the accommodation,we roamed around in the partially desolated city of Leh where every one was looking at us with a suspicious gaze. Shortly after we head to the DM office to get the inner line permits for the border areas. again we had to justify our visit to Ladakh in winters. Thankfully,We got the permissions very easily...
Main Market in Leh
                                                                            Main Market of Leh
1st night : We denied to get a room heating equipment because we thought we can survive without it in that deplorable temperature. and it was a mistake. a huge one. Night was arctic. temperature went below -25 Celsius. we both could not sleep for the entire night..
In the morning we reached to landlady again and asked her to provide us room heating device (that runs on LPG)...We had to bargain a lot to cut down the charges. again we were supposed to run it in the night only. that too for 2 hours and if the cylinder will get empty. we will have to pay for the new cylinder...
Frozen Water Stream Ladakh
                                                                               
Frozen Water Stream Ladakh
Days were also very cold. temperature was always below -5 degree Celsius. Now it was time to find some place to find food on regular basis. though we carried significant amount of ready to eat stuff from Delhi but it started to shrink day by day. finally we figured out that there is just one restaurant where we can take dinner and that too we have to finish before 7 PM. Thin air already started showing its impact on our body. we were weary kind but getting acclimatize slowly slowly...

Frozen Indus river in Leh Ladakh in Winters
                                 Frozen Indus river in Leh Ladakh
first couple of days were relaxing and we spent most of our time in hotel room and roaming around in the city,clearing snow,talking to locals, taking tea and kehwa, hiking smaller hills and enjoying the surrounding in leisure pace. For next couple of days, we took local buses to some villages those were completely shut down and frozen. There was no greenery in the entire valley due to heavy snowfall. all the rivers including Indus and Zanksar were partially frozen. we walked on those frozen rivers. spent days on the river's bank. staring at the great Himalayas peaks. getting lost in those oblivion villages in the magnificent cold desert of Ladakh. Ladakhi people are very gentle and Ladakh is free from any annoyance. you can roam around anywhere,do camping,visit monasteries,get completely desolated,do treks on those frozen rivers,society will not intrude at all...

For us, Time was running without relativity. it was just time. there was no Sunday,Monday. no date. no calendar, no watch. no cigarette...
Snow and the lost city
                                                  Snow and the lost city
We had a preconceived assumption in the mind that we can not reach to the border areas as snow might have blocked all the passes.. then we researched a bit,talked with locals and we found a driver who assured that he will take us to Nubra Valley and Pangong lake. Excitement again built up. we booked that car for next couple of days. woke up very early in the morning. and headed towards Khardungla pass to reach Nubra. After some distance we reached to a army check post and they stopped us from going ahead. road was blocked. We met to an army officer and tried to convince him but no help. we had to get down to the Leh again. though army person hinted us a bleak hope that we can get through tomorrow...

Snow covered Landscape near Khardungla on the way to Nubra Valley Ladakh Winters
            Snow Covered Landscape near Khardungla on the way to Nubra Valley
Next morning we again tried to head up. and luckily this time were through Khardungla. Khardungla was glorious like ever before. it was an amazing landscape covered with snow but the beauty of the desert was stupendous. Nubra valley is colder than Leh as its surrounded by high mountains. We reached to the village hundar in the evening and everything was closed. Some Ladakhi children were ice skiing. getting a place to stay for the night was a wild goose chase but finally we found a room to stay with a weird look from the owner. Nubra valley is a desert with sand dunes and wild life on extinction and luckily we were able to see camel with two humps. whole valley witnessed heavy snow fall in last couple of days so we experienced a distinctive beauty. A desert covered with snow. again we had a freezing night ahead. till now we were kind of acclimatized...

Frozen Nubra Valley near hundar : Ladakh Winters
                                      Frozen Nubra Valley near hundar : Ladakh
Sleepless in Ladakh :
Vijay could not sleep properly since the day we arrived at Ladakh. he started feeling sick. Chemists in Leh were not giving us any sleeping pills as they perceived me a drug addict. but we were still travelling in that freezing winter. finally the crash point arrived when we were in nubra valley. vijay was very sick and we had to find a hospital ASAP. and courtesy Indian army. we got one hospital and doctor prescribed some medicines for acute mountain sickness..

Frozen Nubra Valley near Hundar Ladakh Winters
                                          Frozen Nubra Valley near Hundar
we were back from Nubra valley and spending time in leh again. now we were very much comfortable with the surroundings. Pangong lake was on the top of the bucket list. after couple of days,we planned for pangong trip and decided to return back that day itself as there was no place to stay near pangong. we headed off very early in the morning. terrain was typical Ladakh. snow covered valley,thin air,dry mountains without flora and rare fauna. after some hours of drive crossing changla pass,we reached pangong lake. lake was partially frozen. temperature dipped drastically at that point and wind was gusting high on that flat terrain. a flock of migrated birds from Siberia was swimming in that freezing water. huge icebergs were colliding each other on the lake surface. weather was impossible to stand with. besides each of these actions,beauty of pangong was stunning even in this dreadful season. our driver did not dare to come out of the car. we came out. did some photography and then ran back to keep ourselves a bit warm. time to drive back to Leh before sunset...

Partially Frozen Pangong Lake in Winters near Leh Ladakh India Himalayas
                                 Partially Frozen Pangong Lake in Winters
it had been a long break to this isolation and we started getting out of money. so we decided to get a flight back to Delhi. and we booked one but future still zipped some drama for us. we reached to the airport. whole valley witnessed heavy snowfall last night so runway was closed and there was no incoming/outgoing flight in Leh. we come back to the same hotel room in a hope of getting depart the next day. next morning we again reached to the airport and luckily flight from Delhi arrived but due to no outgoing flight since last couple of days, airport was packed with passengers and airlines asked us to wait for some more days. then came up the altercation(verbal) scene with airlines staff. and we won. we got 2 seats and landed back in Delhi. took bathe. did shaving. took good food in a restaurant. and hoped that nights won't be sleepless anymore...

Ladakh Landscape : On the way to Pangong Lake in Winters
                                Ladakh Landscape : On the way to Pangong Lake
but that fairy tale land incepted in my dreams and still makes me sleepless... It resides in a part of brain where sometimes i walk secretively and revisit sweet memories of winters in Ladakh.... and Every time i enjoy that limbo the fullest....

and if you ask us would we like to do it again. we'll surrender thinking...

Hi Vishnu, What about 1st or

Hi Vishnu,

What about 1st or 2nd Week of December. I am planning for 11 Days trip to leh. Is it possible to travel to Khardungla, Nubra, Pangong & Tso moriri during that period. What would be the cost incurred for 10 nights including shared taxis for sightseeing for the above given places and the rest of a guest house or hotel. We are 2 people travelling. 

Kindly provide me the feedback.

 

Regards,

Harshit

 

Yes. Mostly roads are

Yes. Mostly roads are accessible through out the winter barring period of heavy snow. you would not get shared taxis. you will have to hire private vehicle for these tours. homestays are available everywhere and during winters cost is high due to heating.

  Hi. Like many other i have

 

Hi. Like many other i have been planning to visit Laddakh. Well my prime motto is doing photography there . So according to you what would be a good time to be there ....Winters or summer...the better option as Laddakh is beatuiful throughout the year...Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think colors in Autumn and

I think colors in Autumn and Spring are really exquisite..go in March-April or October-November..

Dear Vishnu, Great job indeed

Dear Vishnu,

Great job indeed in that the  inspirational trip blog of  yours has almost acquired a travelogue dimension. I too, have to go there by some piece of work, mainly in Leh town, Just in about a week,s time from now. I wanted to know how bad or difficult acclimitization could be with my age at 55, as I know that in winters oxygen level are even more thinner as compared to winters. My stay would initially be about for one week.( I will visit again later in coming months also.)

2. What sort of shoes shall be required to stay warm, and how far is airport from the town(Leh)? 

Your line in reply would be of immense value. Thanks, all the same, and wishing you more adventures of such great memories in future life. It was great reading your interesting experiences. god bless you. (and is any vege food is available there, as I am a strict vegetarian?

warm regards

Bhupinder.

 

 

Dear Sir, Yes,

Dear Sir,

Yes, Acclimitization may take little longer during winters. take rest for first few days and then travel outside. I would suggest to buy good shoes from Quenchua or similar brand. It should also be good enough to deal with snow.

Airport is not very far from Leh town. I guess a taxi of 250-300 INR should do.

I am also vegeterian. there would not be many options available in winters but still you will definitely find vegeterian meals in all the restuarants.

+- Vishnu

Hi, we are planning to

Hi, we are planning to explore ladakh in Ist week of April with kids ( 5-7 yrs old) , Can you advise on below queries:

1. Is this the right time of visit with kids 

2. Can we expect   snowfall at that time

3. What shall be temperature limits 

4. The roads will be open from Sri Nagar 

5. How much the average  hotel cost for a family stay, Can you recommend few names of hotel.

6. Which places we can visit in 4 days stay

Will appreciate to recieve your reply 

Regards 

Ankur 

1) I do not think April is

1) I do not think April is that bad month to travel with kids. it will be little cold but rest is fine.

2) Chances are low

3) Expect negative temperature at times

4) No

5) Depends on your preferences but i guess 1000 would do for a budget ones with heating.

6) Pangong, Tso-Moriri and Nubra valley would be possible in that time frame.

+- Vishnu

Hello Vishnu,   Me & my wife

Hello Vishnu,

 

Me & my wife planning to visit Leh in 1st week of April, 2016. Can you please advise me is this a good time to visit Leh. Also please advise me that, can we visit Khardungla pass and Pangong lake in this time?

 

Please inform me. 

First week of April is good

First week of April is good time to visit Ladakh. Spring is really beautiful. Yes, most probably those would be open.

+- Vishnu

Hi there, Love your blog post

Hi there,

Love your blog post Smile What an incredible adventure it must have been.

My husband and I are doing a trip to Ladakh in March. I have read on multiple blogs/forums that it will still be very cold and I understand from your comment as well that although it will be Spring and beautiful, it will still be very cold.

I just wanted to ask a few questions:

Does it snow at all during that time? (We are there from March 9-16)

Do you have any suggestions for the kind of jackets we should be taking? Does it need to be waterproof?

Do we need any special shoes/boots? Or can we use training shoes such as Nike?

Can we book our stay once we get there or do we have to book in advance?

Do you think we have to carry sleeping bags with us?

What essentials do you think we should carry?

Sorry, that's a lot of questions. Your time and patience is greatly appreciated Smile

Hi, My take on your

Hi, My take on your queries.

Does it snow at all during that time? (We are there from March 9-16) : Yes, it may snow in March.

Do you have any suggestions for the kind of jackets we should be taking? Does it need to be waterproof? : Chances of rain are not high but still carry something waterproof. for cold, carry the best which you have.

Do we need any special shoes/boots? Or can we use training shoes such as Nike?: Carry shoes which are good for snow.

Can we book our stay once we get there or do we have to book in advance?: You can get the accommodation once you arrive there.

Do you think we have to carry sleeping bags with us? : there is no need.

What essentials do you think we should carry: depends on your travel style but carry your regular medicines.

Have an awesome trip and we would love to hear about your experience.

+- Vishnu

 

I will be visiting Leh during

I will be visiting Leh during month of February. Is there any operational public transport during winters?

from Leh, there are shared

from Leh, there are shared taxis and buses to some of the nearby villages. you can also go to Nubra valley using a shared taxi.

Hello there! We are planning

Hello there!

We are planning to visit Ladakh on January. It shows here in your great blog that it is not advisable if you want to see the beauty of vast landscape and lakes in clear weather. It would be nice to see winter based on your pictures but i guess we'll move our schedule towards summer because i want to see the summer in Ledakh Wink

 

Jherson

 

Mabuhay!

Cool. Yes, Winter has its own

Cool. Yes, Winter has its own charm and so does Summer. Enjoy your stay.

+- Vishnu

Great write-up and photos,

Great write-up and photos, bringing back many memories from a very long way away! Thanks Vishnu. 

Thanks for your comment..

Thanks for your comment.. keep dropping by..

+- Vishnu

Hey, First of all a really

Hey,

First of all a really helpfull blog, it just pushes me more and more to discover leh in december. i'll be reaching leh by mid of december, have loads of informartion about gearing up, but landed up in just one question- is leh accessible at that time by any other transport other than flight. is there any bus or local taxi that take you to leh at this point of time, even trekking is fine by me( but flight is my no go option)?( As its only two hitchhickers trip.)

No... Only Flight.. All

No... Only Flight.. All passes will be closed with snow. Trekking is not possible at this time of the year and same goes for hitch-hiking..

+- Vishnu

Hi I am Ankith, we 5 friends

Hi I am Ankith, we 5 friends are planning a road trip from Bangalore to Leh ladak in Mid December in a Innova car.
Our plan is for 9 days road trip. Can anyone suggest the places in Leh ladak which we can cover in this span.

As we are planning for this trip on Mid December this year, whether it will be a right time to visit?
9 days include travel from bangalore to Leh and back to bangalore by car. We may get not more than 4.5 days to see all the paces. So please suggest some places in this span and information about permits at this season

Sorry to say but the trip is

Sorry to say but the trip is not feasible since the roads to leh are closed during December due to heavy snowfall. The roads again opens at around mid june.

Hi Ankit.. During winters,

Hi Ankit.. During winters, Leh is only reachable by Flight.

+- Vishnu

Beautiful blog ! me and my

Beautiful blog ! me and my friends are planning to hit leh during mid january. is that a good plan?

Its a good plan but Leh in

Its a good plan but Leh in winters is not for faint hearted. It will be very cold.

+- Vishnu

Hi Vishnu, Very good blog

Hi Vishnu,

Very good blog man,doing great job!!

Myself and two of my friends are planning ladakh on dec 9th via flight(the only way). I know the temperatre and other factors.

Could you tell me if it is possible to ride bike in Leh during that climate ? I have been to Leh in summer and we will be equipped with all winter gears.

Will be get any bike rentel shop in dec? 

thanks

Akbar

If there is no snow then i

If there is no snow then i think you can ride a bike in Leh and to the nearby villages..May be you get those shops open but chances are less.

+- Vishnu

Hi Vishnu Really its a

Hi Vishnu

Really its a terrible inspiring blog.

We r three friend planning for leh at end of december.

Will we able to find snowfalls in Leh at daytime.

Actually we r planning from Bangladesh..

 

Thanking

Reaz

 

 

Chances are bright. Its

Chances are bright. Its beginning of snow-fall season and you may witness snow-fall in and around Leh.

Good luck with your trip.

+- Vishnu

Hey Vishnu, It was indeed a

Hey Vishnu,

It was indeed a great blog giving a pretty detail insight on your winter expedition.

I do frequet trekking with a group of friends couple of times in a year. As of now, we (4 of us) have booked for Chadar trek in last week of Jan 2016.

The trek would be for around 8 days; post which we would like to do sight seeing in and around Leh. Most importantly, we would like to visit Nubra valley and Pangong lake. Also if there are some nice monastries.

I went through your itenary but could not find the appoximate number of days it took to cover the places.

Could you please provide me your experienced comments which would help us immensely Smile

Also would appreciate if you can give us some names of hotels to stay in Leh and what would be the cost of hotels and booking a drive for visting places.

 

Thank you!

 

Regards,

Tharun

 

Hi Tharun, Pangong and Nubra

Hi Tharun,

Pangong and Nubra remains accessible through-out winter barring few days when heavy snow blocks the road so it should be possible to visit Nubra and Pangong. Also you can include Tso moriri.

Most of the hotels in Ladakh gets closed during winters but still you can find some hotels open. Winter charges are little higher than Summer time. Get a hotel with room equipped with room heating. Vehicles charges are fixed by Taxi union. you can negotiate but can not get much discount.

+- Vishnu

Hi Tharun, I too am planing

Hi Tharun,

I too am planing for Chadar in january with my couple of friends. would love to know your dates for the chadar

Hi Tharun.. I do not run

Hi Tharun.. I do not run Chadar trek.. You can find dates in some trek agencies.. January to mid feb is the window for Chadar

Hi Vishnu,   I amplanning to

Hi Vishnu,

 

I amplanning to visit laddakh coming Januray that too solo and minimum possible Budget and i got a hope when i read 'Public Bus' for nearby villages Laughing out loud.

Ok so here i want to know what all are cheapest way of transportaion in Laddakh during winter and if in any case i have to Hire taxi will it cost hefty on pocket?

About stay i guess i can manage so that's not a problem.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

Taxis are really expensive in

Taxis are really expensive in Ladakh. For solo travelers, its really pocket-smearing. During winters, you can find other travelers as well so if posssible you can club with them.

Buses are possible to some of the villages and Kargil side is well-connected. There is also at least 1 shared sumo to Nubra every alternate day. you can try to book yourself in one of these shared jeeps for Nubra.

+- Vishnu

Dear Vishnu, One of the best

Dear Vishnu,

One of the best blog ever read....well done.

Brother we (me n my 4 friend) planning a leh laddakh trip from Feb 20 to 26.....as this is our first visit to laddakh...so is there any problem going there in feb..we all are adventure lover..so kindly let us know wether its advisable to go there by that time..please let us know about the weather condition..n place to be covered in our time frame.

 

Thanks

Khalid Badar

 

No problem going there in

No problem going there in Feb. For adventure seekers, February is a good time however be little bit careful about high altitude sickness. Weather will be freezing cold. prepare yourself for snow and cold.

What will be approx min n max

What will be approx min n max temp at that time?

The temperatue would normally

The temperatue would normally be in minus irrespective of day or night. The max temp could be in range of -5 to -2 and be prepared for min temerature which can get even upto -20 to -30 degrees during nights. Have been to Ladakh in Jan '15. Just to add proper gloves and woolen socks are must if u planning to spend time outside hotel room.

Regards,

Thanks for sharing your

Thanks for sharing your experience Ankit.. will be extremely valuable for other fellow travelers.

+- Vishnu

Any time Vishnu... I don't

Any time Vishnu... I don't know if u remember or not but while planning the trip to Ladakh in January, our group were confused whether its a correct time to visit Ladakh due to extreme climate and least tourism.

Then, i found this very inspirational and motivating post on internet and i posted few question which helped us making the decision to travel to Ladakh, which indeed turned out to be our best travel experience till date.

 

Just continuing the same, nothing can be better if I could help travelers to make the decision.

 

Cheers Ankit..

aaah.. Yes, i remember. good

aaah.. Yes, i remember. good to hear that you went to Ladakh in winters. It is indeed an exotic experience.. always happy to help fellow travelers.. Smile

Keep dropping by..

+- Vishnu

Is there any road on which we

Is there any road on which we can take a bike in january.i have been to ladakh in august when we rented bikes, planning to go again in winter.Also can we go to kargil war memorial in january??

 

No. there is no road open in

No. there is no road open in January.

Hi, Unfortunately no, most of

Hi,

Unfortunately no, most of the passes to reach ladakh are closed during January. And to be frank have been to ladakh in Jan, its spine chilling even inside a heated car, riding bike in these condations would be very challenging. Although seen some locals riding in Leh. But didn't found any bullerier during Jan.

As far as Kargil war memorial is considered, its very much open in Jan. Also khardung la, Pangong are also manageble during jan, depending on the current snowfall.

 

Regards,

Thanks for adding your

Thanks for adding your comments. truly appreciate it.

My husband and I are planning

My husband and I are planning a leh trip by flight for 2march next year. Do u think its a good time to travel? Will we be able to see pangong and other places of interest and food hotels will be available? Pls advise

Yes. March is indeed a good

Yes. March is indeed a good time. its Spring and Ladakh looks beautiful. It will be very cold but you can easily make it to Pangong lake which may be partially or fully frozen. Hotels and restaurants would not be a problem.

+- Vishnu

Dear Vishnu,   I was thinking

Dear Vishnu,

 

I was thinking of going to Leh in mid December along with my wife and 7 yr old son. I understand that the climate will be extremely cold and it will be snowing.  We have been to many hill stations, including Badrinath, Mussorie and Tawang but I thought it would be better to take some tips before I try out Leh, that too in winter.  Though my son has been to the hills before, it has never been in such a cold weather.  What would you advise?  Both wife and son are keen.

 

Regards

Sandipani

No problem visiting Ladakh in

No problem visiting Ladakh in December. Weather will be cold but easily manageable. carry warm cloths and rest is fine. most of the tourist attractions remain open so you can easily explore as well.

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