HOW TO REACH LADAKH IN JANUARY?
Manali to Leh Highway in January
The Manali to Leh Highway is one of the most recommended by-road routes to reach Ladakh. Its criss-cross terrain, the spotless beauty of nature as you ride past its high-altitude mountains, its valleys, is an experience that will live with you forever. Covering a distance of approximately 473 kms,
the best time to plan the ride is between June and September. During winters the road remains closed due to heavy snow. The drive is exciting as the highway is considered to be the most challenging of all, making it highly adventurous for travellers. However, the Leh weather in January is such that the highway will be covered at least up to 50 ft in snow.
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Srinagar Leh Highway in January
The 434 Km Srinagar Leh Highway is renowned for being the only connecting point between Jammu and Kashmir and Leh Ladakh. The highway has the reputation of being the easiest to take on a Leh Ladakh trip in January. The highlight of the drive is invariably the Zoji La pass, and the breathtaking scenic view of snow-clad peaks touching the bright blue skies at Zoji La, as if they are whispering something to each other is an unforgettable feeling. This road remains open for most parts of the year,
although heavy snowfall at Zoji La pass is common and remains blocked much of the start of the year. However, Leh Ladakh in January by road might not be the best through this route.
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Leh Ladhak trip in January by flight
The flights to Leh from major Indian cities have been open since January. Tourists who aren’t road-trip enthusiasts can book a flight a couple of months in advance to the Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport in Leh and commence their trip to explore the destination.
However, be wary of a couple of cancellations due to the weather conditions. Nevertheless, a flight is the best for a Leh Ladakh trip in January.
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ESSENTIAL INFO ABOUT LADAKH IN JANUARY
Weather & temperature in Leh Ladakh in January
Leh in January gets icy, touching -15 degrees C and sometimes plunging to -30 degrees C. This gives rise to heavy snowfall which in turn blocks highways making it difficult for tourists to enter the destination.
Considering Leh temperature in January there are some essentials that if forgotten can make your life a bit unpleasant. Firstly and quite obviously, let's save you from the rough hands of winter by carrying woollen winter clothing.
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Things to carry in Leh Ladakh in January
Climate fluctuations are pretty normal at Leh Ladakh in January. So, you must carry a few woollen jackets, gloves, mufflers, a couple of thick woollen socks, monkey caps, and a couple of extra t-shirts and trousers that can give you a few layers of clothing. When it comes to t-shirts, carry only full-sleeve t-shirts to save yourself from the cold as well as the sunburn, which brings us to yet another essential being cold cream.
For bikers, a heavy windproof jacket is also a must-have for Ladakh in January. It is also advisable to carry sports shoes or riding boots as well as regular rubber sandals to protect your feet while you tour the destination. Sports shoes would help you as you trek and sandals would be your best friend when it comes to crossing streams. Carry your sunglasses as the winter sun can be harsh for your eyes. To save your lips from getting chapped, do carry a lip balm as well.
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Travel Tips for Leh Ladakh in January
Ladakh in January requires a fair bit of courage, precisely because the January winter can be extremely harsh. So if you are someone who loves cold weather and can enjoy yourself without getting frozen, then get set for your Leh Ladakh trip in January. Because the adventure is only going to get better!
Flying to Leh in January is a better option as the roads can be clogged in snow causing hindrance to your trip. However, make sure you are booking your flights in advance to avoid any kind of cancellation or delay. Due to the harsh temperature of Leh Ladakh in January, some regions might lower your oxygen levels indicating cautiousness and the need for necessary precautions to stay put through the tour.
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Snow in Ladakh in January
Yes, visiting Ladakh in January is safe. However, the snow is fierce at Leh Ladakh in January especially at high-altitude ranges often blocking the routes. It is also important to plan the trip well. Secure an itinerary with places to visit in Leh Ladakh in January,
so you aren’t surprised if any of the attractions are closed during winter. Don’t forget to do your homework well before you set off! To travel in and around Leh, cabs would be available. But be warned that it might be expensive due to the conditions.
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Mobile Connectivity in Ladakh in January
In terms of mobile connectivity at Leh, the trusted network is BSNL which can be relied on in remote areas as well. However, Airtel and Jio are also suggested to work in some prominent spots at Leh. Meanwhile, be warned that there are only postpaid phones in Ladakh,
so if you are carrying a prepaid connection, do not forget to change it before you set off on your adventure. Concerning data connectivity, 3G is the most you can get.
Inner Line Permit for Ladakh
Leh being a politically sensitive location due to the virtue of being close to international borders, you must secure an Inner line permit (ILP) from the Magistrate. ILP is an official travel document that is issued by the Indian authorities and is valid for 3 weeks for Indian citizens and 15 days if you are a foreign national.
This will permit you to enter and tour even the restricted areas in Leh, and it will only take a day to secure the permit.
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PLACES TO SEE AND THINGS TO DO IN LADAKH IN JANUARY
Nubra is derived from its Tibetan namesake “Dumra'' meaning “valley of flowers’. As magical as the name feels, Nubra is known for its scenic vistas, monasteries that exude tranquillity, orchids that add colour and life to the valley.
It is immersed in greenery in the summer with its mighty mountains that will urge you to hold your breath. To reach the valley, you have to pass the highest motorable pass in the world, Khardung La. When you visit the valley, make it a point to stay with the locals to soak in the culture.
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The journey to Leh in January is never complete without the Chadar trek .The trek over the Zanskar river where the water has frozen to a stable state will leave you in wonderment. The trekkers can choose to camp along the way inside its little ice caves on their way to the top.
Chadar must be explored in January and the fierce nature of the trek will bring you to a saturation point of fear. Chadar is one of the best places to visit in Leh Ladakh in January.
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Pangong Lake is love at first sight! As the lake freezes during January, it is a moment of magic. Clear blue skies kissing the snow capped mountains only add to the already stunning picture. The lake also changes colours which makes it one of the most popular attractions of Ladakh in January.
The Chang La Pass on the way to the lake might be a challenging journey, especially in the winters. While tourists aren’t allowed to camp during winters, there are villages nearby which makes for a good stay.
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they often set up their tents around the lake. Surrounded by snow-clad peaks, azure water, and a variety of migratory birds flying over it, the lake is a feast for your eyes.
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While Tso Kar is the smallest of the high-altitude lakes, do not undermine it, for you will be fascinated at its scenic beauty elevated by the lofty mountains, rich wildlife, and vegetation.
It is also home to snow leopards. Apart from sitting back and enjoying the sheer beauty of the lake, it is also famous among bird watchers who spot a variety of migratory birds. Tso Kar however is ideally not recommended for a visit to Ladakh in January.
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Built in the 17th century by King Namgyal, the Leh Palace is replete with history. It is an essential part of Leh’s heritage and boasts of Tibetan architecture. The long corridors, spacious rooms with large walls, wooden balconies that treat us with a stunning view of Namgyal Hill,
the valley of Leh, and the stunning murals will leave us enamoured at the royalty and magnificence of the palace. Over the years, it has also been considered a critical part of the Buddhist religion.
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Shanti means peace! And rightly as the name suggests, the stupa was built to encourage and promote peace and prosperity among people. It was inspired by Buddhism and its tenets and is one of the most popular attractions of Leh. Situated atop a mountain,
the place is fantastic for nature lovers who wish to enjoy the magic of the sunrise and sunset. The ideal time to visit the Shanti Stupa is during the summer when it’s warm and ideal for meditation.
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Local food in Leh
Leh is replete with restaurants and street food that take us to a food paradise with its scenic restaurants overlooking the Himalayas. Tibetan food especially is primal to the culture of Leh and tourists flock in here to savour some of the most popular Tibetan dishes. One among them is undoubtedly,
the momo, a dumpling filled with vegetables or meat. Yet another is Thukpa, which happens to be the staple food at Leh. Some of the other dishes you mustn’t miss are Skyu, Tingmo, Chhutagi, and Chhang. If you wish to warm yourself in the cold of Leh in January, take a sip of the butter tea as you envy the fascinating Leh!
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One of the richest monasteries in Leh, Hemis is simply a marvel! Located 45 Km away from the main city of Leh Ladakh, this might be the most serene place you will come across in your life. The monastery is significantly popular for the 2-day Hemis festival which has a ritual of spreading out a massive thangka which is a religious painting, in front of a large crowd.
There is also a museum inside the monastery which equips you with the history and legends of the place.
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Thiksey is the largest gompa, located in central Ladakh. It was built in the 15th century and is perched over a hilltop to the north of the Indus River. One of the most prominent attractions at the monastery is the Maitreya temple which consists of a life-size statue of Maitreya Buddha which covers almost two levels of the building.
However, people flock to Thiksey to attend the annual Gustor festival which takes place in October or November. The trade fair at the festival is the most popular among tourists.
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Shop, so you can relive the trip and walk down memory lane long after the trip is done!
Handicrafts at Leh are one of the favourites among shoppers. Beautiful and rustic Buddha statues, trinkets, prayer bells, thangka paintings are some of the things you can spend on. However, you cannot leave Leh without a beautiful Pashmina shawl made of original wool, worn by the local folks.
Rugs and carpet weaving are an important vocation among the locals and are considered to be the best in Leh. Some of the prominent shopping spots are Leh Main Bazaar, Tibetan Market, Zanskar Arts, Dalai Lama Charitable Trust Handicraft Emporium, etc.
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The Hall of Fame
The Hall of Fame is nothing but pride! It walks us down the memory lane of valiant Indian soldiers who defended us by sacrificing their lives in Indo-Pak wars. It is constructed by the Indian army and is located at the Leh-Kargil road.
The OP Vijay Gallery takes us through some of the weapons and equipment used during the war and elaborates the gory details of the war. Outside is a museum where you can shop for souvenirs.
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Diskit is a monastery built in the 14th century and has a reputation of being the oldest and the largest monasteries in Nubra valley. Tourists visit the gompa to see the tall statue of Maitreya Buddha, the river below the monastery, and to see the scenic brilliance of the Nubra valley from atop the Gompa.
One of the renowned festivals at the monastery is called Dosmoche which translates to “the festival of the scapegoat” takes place in January. If Diskit is in your itinerary, your trip to Leh Ladakh in January is complete.
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Leh to Pangong route in January
The Leh to Pangong route is well connected by road and passes through the Paagal Naala and the famous Chang La pass. The entire route is about 223 km. Due to the weather in January, the trip that can be completed in 5 hours may take 2 to 3 hours extra because of thick snow.
One of the main challenges of this route in January was to get past the Chang La Pass.
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Leh to Nubra Valley in January
Buried in snow, the Leh to Nubra Valley route is treacherous upon reaching the Khardung La Pass. The route is about 160 km and can be covered in 5 hours, however there may be a delay by a couple of hours due to harsh weather conditions in January.
However, the Khardung La is one of the highest motorable roads making the journey a rather thrilling one. Be warned that you will have to depend on private vehicles as the bus services may be disconnected across this route in January.
Leh to Tso Moriri in January
Leh to the amazing Tso Moriri is about 220 km and requires about 5 to 6 hours of drive. Tourists can rely on local transport as well. There are, however, a variety of routes you can take to reach the lake ranging from directly travelling from Leh to Moriri, or via Pangong Lake,
or via Tso Kar whichever is more convenient after considering the weather. The first route is the shortest, and the second is ideal because it crosses the Tanglang La and the amazing Tso Kar. The third is a rather long route which is seldom recommended.
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Nubra Valley to Pangong Lake direct route
Nubra to Pangong is a prominent route taken by travellers to save some time and space in their travel log. Ideally, the route is divided into two, one that passes through the Agham-Shyok village, and the other is the Agham-Wari La route. The former is shorter however sometimes the road might be blocked due to the overflow of the river with water submerging the roads.
The latter is generally closed during winter however the route significantly covers two of the popular high-altitude passes Wari La and Chang La and is not a rough one.
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Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri direct route
The route is replete with attractions and therefore for tourists on a quick trip to Leh, this route moves along the Tsanga La Pass, Loma-Nyoma, and the Mahe Bridge.
These are historical sites where the Indian army battled Chinese forces, and it is around 365 Km and takes up to 9 hours. However, be warned that although the route is popular, the drive is rough as most of the routes won't even have a road.