Ladakh Road Trip

Hidden Places In Ladakh | Offbeat Locations to visit in Leh-Ladakh!

undiscovered gems in Ladakh
Written by Raima Raj

A journey in the high mountains of Ladakh presents to you a plethora of whirlpooling emotions – wonder, fear, accomplishment but most of all, gratitude. To see the extraordinary, one has to go beyond the roads, into the lands where wilderness thrives, and only then can you witness the undiscovered marvels the world has to offer. Leh-Ladakh encompasses the highest motorable roads, views of India’s biggest glaciers, mighty mountain passes, ancient monasteries, and landscapes that simply blow your mind away. However, being one of the highest and coldest regions in India, parts of the Union Territory still remain largely undiscovered presenting an opportunity for adventure enthusiasts to explore the hidden places in Ladakh.

To quench the wanderlust in every adventure-seeking traveler, we have picked out the following:    

10 Hidden Places in Ladakh that remain untouched.

  1. Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary
hidden places in ladakh
Horses grazing around on a Sumer evening.

Cradled by mountain deserts, magnanimous lakes, and home to the Changthangi nomads living in harmony with the rarest species of wildlife, this valley east of Leh remains to be the largest unexplored hidden place in Ladakh where only the brave-hearted can survive.

The Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary is perched at a minimum elevation of 14,600ft and is spread across the Tibetan Plateau boasting many species of endangered animals like The elusive Snow Leopard, Himalayan Red Fox, black-necked Cranes, and wild asses, Kiang.

There is a couple of arduous yet mind-boggling treks that course throughout the region giving you access to some of the most unusual views including the wetlands of Tso Moriri that bestow you with a splash of colors.

2. Sumur and Panamik

hidden places in ladakh
Gurgling Hot Water Spring at Panamik.

Another peaceful hamlet perched by the river Shyok in Nubra Valley, Sumur is famous for its verdant fields, berry bushes,  panoramic views of the trans-Himalayan region, and the very beautiful Samstanling Monastery.

It is comparatively a newer Gompa built in 1841 and the most notable resident of the monastery is the 7-year-old boy who is a great visionary and known to be the reincarnation of Bakula Rinpoche.

The interiors of the monastery are adorned with intricate carvings and colorful paintings of the deities and many other significant elements in Buddhism. Not too far from Sumur, on the way to the Siachen Glacier lies one of the most intriguing hidden places in Ladakh, Panamik, a place popular for its Sulphur Hot Water Springs that have many medicinal and healing properties.

One can visit the natural springs, however taking a bath is only allowed in the pools built by the locals as the water emerging from the earth directly is too hot. Panamik is also where you will find Pashmina sheep grazing around on the barren lands with a scenic backdrop of snow-covered mountain peaks.

Suggested Read: Travel Tips for a Ladakh Trip

3. PanikharSuru Valley

hidden places in Ladakh
Azure Sunsets by Suru River.

 In contrast to the golden brown mountains of Ladakh and the sight of vast stretches of mountain deserts, Panikhar feels like the first bloom after a harsh winter.

One of the most bewitching hidden places in Ladakh, this tiny village falls on the route to Suru Valley which is the base for many mountain climbers trekking to the higher regions. The sight of the Suru River flowing through the lush green lands and meadows as the horses graze by its fields truly makes the place look like a sight straight from paradise.

Suru Valley falls en-route Zanskar and one can easily spend a few hours rejoicing in the tiny hamlets of Sankoo, Rangdum, and Panikhar.

4. Tso Moriri

hidden places in ladakh
Pristine snowscapes at Tso Moriri.

There are some places on this earth that look absolutely unreal and Tso Moriri surely tops that list. A pristine blue lake embedded in the rustic red and brown mountains of Rupshu Valley, girdled by sprawling green fields and varieties of flora and fauna by the banks of the river also makes it home to rare wildlife like Himalayan red Fox, black-necked cranes, marmots and rarely the Tibetan Wolves.

Tso Moriri is also one of the largest high-altitude lakes that fall entirely in the Indian Territory. Being a part of the Ramsar Wetland Reserve, camping by the lake is prohibited, however, one can find lamps and homestays nearby.

What leaves travelers bewildered is the changing hues of the lake as the day passes and being secluded from civilization, the night sky lights up with a million stars and on clear days, you can witness the Milky Way which is what makes it one of the best-hidden places in Ladakh that one needs to unravel.

Standing by its banks, a sense of serenity consumes you in its warm embrace and imprints onto you a memory you shall carry for a lifetime. 

Check out: The Best Ladakh Itinerary with Tso Moriri

5. Puga Valley 

hidden places in Ladakh
Yaks grazing on Mud Lands at Puga Valley.

Apart from the Best Places to visit in Ladakh, here is yet another beguiling hidden place in Ladakh, Puga Valley has only recently started to gain popularity among travelers.

Its sprawling green fields, oddly shaped wetlands, and geothermal activities in the forms of hot water springs, mud pools, and sulfur deposits easily make it one of the most breathtaking valleys in all of Ladakh.

A recent study predicts that geothermal advancement in the region can produce about 40% of the energy needed. It is also a favorite spot for photography and wildlife enthusiasts and is the breeding ground for most migratory birds. Yaks, Horses, and Sheep can be found grazing around as the mountain deserts in the background reach out to cuddle the clear blue skies. Exploring this vast land, you feel tiny and truly humbled by the magnificence of nature.

6. Turtuk 

hidden places in Ladakh
Turtuk draped in Autumn shades.

Also known as ‘The Village Divided by a Border’, Turtuk was a part of Pakistan till 1971. After the many wars waged by the Pakistani Army and the triumph of India, Turtuk became one of the 4 Balistani villages that lie in the northernmost part of the country.

Apart from the intriguing culture and ways of lifestyle, Turtuk is famous for its Apricot laden orchards and scenic vistas of the Karakoram Range embracing the tiny village. 

Situated by the river Shyok, the gurgling water and mountain beaches at the banks add on to the beauty of the place. Traversing the mountain deserts, one almost starts to miss the sight of fauna and that is exactly when Turtuk presents itself as a breath of fresh air.

Bestowed with shades of amber, yellow, and green roaming its rolling green fields and cozy lanes, time seems to fly past.

7. Tso Kar 

unexplored places of ladakh
Herd of Kiangs captured by The Salt Lake.

Another gem that remains unexplored when we talk about the hidden places in Ladakh, ‘The White Lake’ is the smallest and most secluded high-altitude lake in the Changthang Region.

Unlike shades of blue and emerald green, Tso Kar is strikingly white because of its salt deposits and huge piles of salt crust can be found on its banks.

If you are someone who is looking for a quaint getaway far from the crowd, Tso Kar promises you uninterrupted time with yourself. Soaking in the marvelous sceneries, you might be able to capture wildlife in its truest form.

In the vicinity of the lake, you can spot Kiangs, different breeds of birds like – gerbes, black-necked cranes, ruddy shelduck, and Tibetan Gazelles along with Yaks and horses kept by the nomads.

8. Saspol Caves  

hidden places in ladakh
Ancient Paintings in the Caves of Saspol.

The saying, “It’s the people that make the place”, stands true when we talk about Ladakh, which is so much more than its high-altitude passes and adventure-laden roads. The Tibetan culture’s influence on Ladakh is palpable and reflected in their traditions, cuisine, and even age-old history.

Quite literally one of the hidden places in Ladakh, Saspol Village dating back to the 3rd century is a unique and intriguing place that has caves that house rock-cut sculptures and figurines. 4 of these caves are covered in colorful and intricate wall paintings of the Buddhist pantheon, depicting a fusion of Buddhist and Indian art. The main cave has paintings of Anuttara Yoga Tantra (also known as Yoganiruttaratantra) which are very rare for the period of execution.

Watch now : A virtual tour of Ladakh

9. Hanle 

unexplored places of ladakh
Window to the Universe.

 Home to the world’s 2nd highest Astronomical Observatory, Hanle is India’s first dark night reserve that offers you views of the night skies so magical, it automatically transports you to utopia. This little hamlet is situated about 260 kilometers southeast of Leh at a staggering height of 4500m in the Changthang region of Ladakh.

Its extremely harsh weather conditions with temperatures dipping down to about -20 degrees and barren lands in the region have actually presented themselves as a boon to scientists and astronomy enthusiasts, as the lack of moisture helps the light coming from far away sources reach us unattenuated.

There are only a handful of homestays in the region and one shall plan their trip with the right permits and spend a few nights sneaking a peek into the universe, literally.

10. Rumtse 

hidden places in ladakh
Trails laeding to Tso Moriri were captured at sundown.

As you traverse the Land Of High Passes, you come across startling views that you never thought existed. From High passes to pristine lakes and then, Rumtse.

This village sandwiched between Tibet, Ladakh, and Zanskar offers adventure seekers a unique opportunity to trek the trails set amidst mountain deserts that glow in a rustic glow, due to extremely cold temperatures the scope for vegetation is scarce and the mountains seem to appear red and maroon with snow almost always permanent on the peaks.

Trekking to Tso Moriri from Rumtse lets you experience the marvels of nature from up close, as you cross crooked trails you experience pasture lands on one side and a cascade of colors on the other. When we talk about hidden places in Ladakh, the Parangla Trek abridging Rumtek to Kibber is also an uncommon and unique Trek ideal for Wildlife and Mountain Climbing enthusiasts. 

Recommended : Treks to do in Ladakh

“Those who do not believe in magic will never find it.” A road trip to Ladakh will surpass your expectations, redefine your idea of beauty, and push you to believe that magic really does exist on this Earth. If you’re someone who seeks the thrill of exploring the places beyond the maps, let us know in the comments below what other places in Ladakh you would like to visit!

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Raima Raj

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