If you can handle subzero temperatures, then Ladakh in winters should be your holiday destination. Devoid of heavy tourist traffic like in the summer, the region radiates a different kind of beauty when there’s snow on the mountains and a chill in the air. Here’s what to expect in Ladakh in winters…
The cold winter in Ladakh is a time of warm celebrations. The region sees one big party after another where locals participate with much fanfare. The monasteries in Ladakh like play host to several festivals including the Stok Guru Tsechu, which is marked by the traditional mask dance, Spituk Gustor where lamas perform a dance that symbolizes the destruction of evil spirits and Dosmoche, which is known to be the annual prayer festival. Of course the biggest celebration of them all is the Losar Festival or the Tibetan New Year.
Ladakh boasts of a bounty of wildlife that descend from the upper reaches of the mountains to lower altitude in the winter. Indigenous to the region are blue sheep, Tibetan gazelle, Tibetan antelope or chiru and Tibetan sand fox. The most elusive inhabitants are the snow leopard and lynx, once found in large numbers in Ladakh, are now endangered species.
If you’re visiting Ladakh in winters, expect most of the tourist venues like hotels, restaurants and markets to be closed. However, the bright side is that Ladakhis typically open up their hearts and homes to welcome you. Extending their overwhelming hospitality, stay with a local family to understand the local culture rooted in family and tradition.
While Ladakh has many scenic bodies of water, the Zanskar River is one of its biggest attractions. In the summer, it’s a favourite with whitewater rafting enthusiasts but in the winter, it takes on a whole different avatar when it freezes over and the icy landscape gives way to the famous Chadar Trek. Literally translated to mean ‘ice sheet’, it’s one of most challenging treks in the world but also the most rewarding with only a 30-45 day window of opportunity.
Tourists go to Ladakh in the summer but travelers go to Ladakh in the winter. For an awe-inspiring experience filled with plenty of wide-eyed moments, Ladakh in winters is when you can truly soak in both the scenery and serenity without the cacophony of crowds.
Keep in Mind…
If you’re inspired to visit Ladakh in winters, you won’t regret it by any measure. However, do keep in mind that the cold can be daunting. In addition to the obvious travel tip wearing relevant layered clothing to keep warm , make sure you give yourself enough time to acclimatize to the altitude and keep yourself hydrated to avoid any health issues. Always plan for contingencies especially bad weather where you can be snowed in at a location for days.
Author: Devika Khosla
With the inability to sit still, she’s always going ‘somewhere’. Foodie, spa junkie, animal lover and traveler. That’s Devika’s story.