5 reasons you should NEVER visit Ladakh
efore you read any further, please note that the opinions given below are personal.
Let me be honest with you at the very outset–I have never been to Ladakh. Neither am I planning to visit the place anytime soon. Surprised? Well, I don’t blame you for that. You have always known this place to be a traveller’s paradise. I mean, forget those with a passion for travelling; these days, whoever you see wants to go to Ladakh. Thanks to the social media and the numerous pictures you have seen, Ladakh has become the oh-so-beautiful destination.
Before you start judging me, let me assure you that I have also been through that phase. Who wouldn’t want to go to a place so beautiful? But at the same time, I have known far too many travellers and learnt about far too many experience before reaching the conclusion of not wanting to go. Here’s what I want to tell others–get over for the good. Reasons? Here are a few:
It’s way too far: Try reaching Ladakh from any part of the country, it can never be reached in a day. Unless you are planning to take the flight. But, what’s the use of going to Ladakh if you are not travelling by road? I have heard that the views that one gets on the Srinagar-Leh highway are more beautiful than the destination itself. Besides, you will need to take a leave of at least 10 to 15 days to cover the entire belt. If you think your boss is kind enough, go ahead. Just to get the facts in place, Leh is 1,262 km from New Delhi. That’s some journey!
It is expensive: Yes, you read that right. Ladakh is certainly expensive. This is one harsh truth very few people will tell you. After all, the so called “homestays” and hotels and local cafes of Leh won’t confess that they have increased the prices because of so many international tourists visiting the place. No doubt, it is great for the region’s tourism industry, but at the same time, it will certainly burn a hole in your pocket. Allow me to quote a person’s post on Quora: “If you are backpacking as a bachelor and book tickets to Leh well in advance and stay in homestays, used shared taxis it will be around 40K. If not budget for 60-70K. Keep in mind transportation is most expensive in Ladakh if you want dedicated taxi.” So, now you know what I am talking about.
There are better alternatives: For heaven’s sake, get over it! Ladakh is not the most beautiful place in this country. I can say this safely–there are much better alternatives to Ladakh within India itself. You can visit one of the offbeat places in the Kinnaur region of Himachal Pradesh. To name a few, there’s Sangla, Kalpa, Kaza, Spiti and many more. Trust me, you will thank me for these suggestions after you come back from a trip to these places. Besides, there’s hardly any place of Ladakh that you haven’t seen on the Internet. Meaning no offence, every Tom, Dick and Harry with a DSLR thinks he has become a travel photographer after coming back from Ladakh. Now, you are not one of those wannabes, are you?
It’s more crowded than you think: True that. Try travelling to Ladakh during the season. The whole world will be there. Of course the photographs don’t lie–there are enough empty barren lands around. And there are the stark mountains, and the lonely Pangong Lake, and the monasteries. You know about them already, don’t you? And there are so many like you who rush to the place every year for getting awed by these places. No doubt, they are beautiful. But why do you want to go to a place everyone else is going, and talking about, and posting 200-photograph albums with its pictures on Facebook? Grow up, become a real traveller and explore new places–places where people hardly go. Trust me, the town of Leh is filled with tourists. Oh, I had almost forgotten the Royal Enfield riders. Those bikers are everywhere! Including the ones who claim themselves to be. Are you sure you want to invest your valuable time and money in that circus?
It’s freaking cold: Don’t think I am one of those who shies away from travelling to a place just because it’s cold. And I know that you are also not one of them. But come on, there’s no point putting your life at stake for a place that has better alternatives within the country itself. First you save some money, then you plan the trip and beg your boss for the leaves, and what do you get in the end? The same old place you have seen in the pictures (not photoshopped) and always having the risk of getting the acute mountain sickness (AMS). Ladakh is too high for people like you and me. We are not used to sub-zero temperatures for so long. And then there’s so much strain involved in moving around the barren landscapes on long winding roads. I have heard of at least three people dying in that region while they were on a holiday–even after taking enough precaution. God bless the departed souls.
We are living in an age where time is an asset and money is really important. Just make the two things useful. Ladakh is good, but India is home to place that are great. Make your choice wisely. I wish you a happy journey in advance!