The cold desert of Ladakh can be brutal to the dilettante traveller, and you don’t want to be there at the wrong time. If visiting Leh is on your mind, it is advisable to first find out the best time to travel to Ladakh.
The quaint little town of Leh has some powerful magnetism. Despite being situated at a great altitude of 11562 feet in the furthest far flung corner of northern India, the town—made popular by adventure junkies and now, Bollywood movies,—continues to draw thousands to experience its eclectic charms. If you are among those planning to take a trip here, it’s time you delve into the details.
Ideal Time to Travel to Leh
The region has mostly-cold climate with long harsh winters that run from October to March, with minimum temperature well below the freezing for most of the winter. The best time to visit Leh is between May and September, when the weather is the warmest. However, even the warmest in this region is not warm. The bright sunshine may add some warmth to the days, but the nights are usually very cold.
The regional temperature ranges from -28 degree Celsius in winter to 33 degree Celsius in summer, and you must take along your best-quality woollens for this summer trip.
In summers, the skies are clear and offer panoramic views of the mountains. Leh, being in the rain-shadow area, doesn’t experience rain like elsewhere, so the monsoons are the perfect time to travel here.
About the Routes
Leh can be reached either by road or by air—there are regular flights from Delhi, Srinagar, and Jammu. By road, it can be reached either via Srinagar or via Manali. While the former route delights you with the amazing (and dangerous) Zoji-La pass (altitude -11500 feet), the latter route features Tanglang-La pass (altitude 17480 feet). The altitude may make you sick, and irrespective of when you travel, it is advisable to go slow to allow your body to acclimatize to the decreasing levels of Oxygen as you go higher. However, the visual pleasures offered by these beautiful valleys may prove therapeutic to your mountain sickness.
Both the road-routes boast of some sensational sand and rock formation and provide you a breathtaking view of nature. Many tourists prefer to take the road only to be able to enjoy the scenic views. Roads are open for a few months—from late May, when the Border Road Organization (BRO) begins clearing the snow, to October. Bus, jeep, and taxi service are all available.
This once-remote place has become a popular tourist destination. Bounded by two of the world’s largest mountain ranges and surrounded by alpine deserts, Leh’s dry barren landscape, which is full of historic Buddhist monasteries, is quite a desirable place to visit.
Travelling to Leh can be fun and fulfilling but it is also very, very tough.
As the Italian poet, Ceasare Pavese puts it—“Travelling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.”
A trip to Leh is sure to throw you off balance, and you will have to trust strangers at many places, but people in the region are known to be warm and amicable. The only thing that is harsh there is the nature that brings unpredictable weather changes and causes dangerous landslides many times even during the tourist season, but that is a risk one has to take to be able to experience the loveliness of Leh.
If you haven’t started planning your trip to Leh-Ladakh, do it now because few places in the world can match such scenic beauty and give to the thrill of a wonderful adventure.