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Adventure Activities in Leh

Leh

Leh, with its moon-like topography and desolate beauty, offers a sight of lucid-blue skies and the sound of Buddhist monks chanting in gompas (monasteries). Itís a place unlike any other, with buildings and houses made of mud or timber. The capital of Ladakh, Leh was a trading post on the fabled Silk Road. Today, itís a mix of the lively and the laid-back, spreading out from the foot of a palace built in the Tibetan style (now in ruins).
While it might have lost its small-town charm, Leh loses nothing in picturesque panoramas. That aside, the high-altitude desert here is a Mecca for adventure buffs seeking their dose of adrenaline rush. In this region, youíre truly spoilt for choice when it comes to trekking and rafting options.

History

Leh became the regional capital in the 17th century, following which its fortunes changed, as it developed into one of the busiest market towns on the Silk Road. After the shutting down of the Chinese border, however, Lehís days of affluence came to an end. But the town, close to Pakistan and China, is of immense strategic value to India, and a sizeable military presence in and around Leh, alongside droves of summer tourists, has seen the return of the old hustle and bustle.

Geography

Leh lies in a valley with snow-capped mountains to the north, and the Stok-Kangri massif to the south. Thereís a lunar-like desert to one side, and verdant farmland on the other (west).

Weather

Leh has an extreme climate. During winters (October to March), temperatures consistently dip below freezing (minus 20C and falling!), and there are occasional snow flurries. Summers are pleasantly warm, and often hot, with highs of 33C.

How to reach

The only way to get to Leh in the winter is by air. Two carriers (Indian Airlines and Jet Airways) have a minimum of once-daily flights to Leh (1hr 30mins; frequency less in winters).
The Leh-Manali highway (473km), via the Rohtang Pass, is open from mid-July to mid-September, though private buses do run into mid-October if the route is clear (as do Gypsies and Sumos). This is a two-day journey, with a night stop in Keylong. For Lahaul and Spiti, change at Grampoo. The HPTDC runs a Ďsuper deluxeí bus every other day. The Srinagar-Kargil-Leh highway (434km) is open from June to October
The closest railhead is Jammu, the only railhead in Jammu & Kashmir, approx. 700km away.

Getting Around

Buses for villages around Leh usually leave in the afternoon, and return the following morning. If youíd like to explore the area around Leh, motorbikes can be hired at a couple of places in the town. Taxis are also available for short trips out of town.
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