I was in Leh for a month, volunteering with an NGO dedicated towards rehabilitating people who had lost their homes in the Flash floods of 2010.
It was the most satisfying, humbling and emotional month of my life. Though I didn't have time to do too many touristy things, we visited the nooks and corners untouched by tourism. One word - Fantabulous !
Planning a trip in 2014 to do the same...fingers crossed ! (because you can just never have too much of Ladakh)
I was fortunate enough to be in Ladakh during the Hemis Festival. The richest monastery in the area, the festival is dedicated to Lord Padmasambhava (Guru Rimpoche) with masked dances and puppet shows and the works.
It's spectacular because of the sheer grandeur of the performances, but kudos to those who can stand through the entire thing in the piercing heat.
True, the school shot to fame with Amir Khan's 3 idiots, but there is so much more to this fascinating school. For starters, this school is the vision of His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa, a spiritual leader of Ladakh. The whole school is solar powered...the kids are from far away places where there are no decent schools nearby...there is no fee... and volunteers are always welcome.
Beautiful and serene, it's a popular tourist place just 20 mins away from Leh city. Just opposite is a beautiful lake where you can feed the ducks.
Climb up to the top for a gorgeous view.
Far from the hype created at Pangong Tso by Amir Khan and his movie the 3 Idiots, this lake is shared by India and Tibet. As serene as ever, the sheer vastness and pureness is overwhelming.
It is 6 hours away from Leh city and a must visit place.
Be sure to take warm woolens and grab a tent for the night. The night sky above the chilly lake is a sight you'll never forget in your life. And the blueness of the water increases and decreases, depending on the sun.
While you're there, be sure to catch site of yaks, Pashmina goats and a couple of monasteries on the way.
I guarantee a magnificent and unforgettable experience.