Traveling to Leh-Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir is one of the most cherished dreams for many. Enjoy the sights of the vast and desolate expanse of hills and valleys. This along with the thrilling experience of enduring the harsh climate is one of its kind adventures. While some people suggest summers to be the best time to visit the place as the weather is most exciting and amiable. The snow has melted and there is a buzz of activity with the colorful and vibrant Hemis Festival taking place.
On the other hand, according to some, winters have their own charm when only a handful of travelers visit the place. The site is all covered with snow and the views are most breathtaking. This is also the time when one of the most adventurous treks of the world, the Chadar-Trek starts. Adventure lovers find it bliss to walk over the majestic and frozen Zanskar River. But nevertheless, each time of the year has its own allure and deciding the best time to visit the place often becomes confusing.
If this seems to be the case with you then the information below will help you a lot. Check out following info for the best time to visit Leh - Ladakh and plan your trip accordingly.
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April marks the beginning of tourist season in Ladakh and the place starts to become alive with tourist activities. Restaurants open, hotels and guest houses get ready to welcome guest and various camps at sites such as Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri Lake commence to set up. Usually, by the second week of May, the crucial Srinagar-Leh highway opens up leading to a flurry of tourism energy into Ladakh.
By late April, all the lakes including the Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri begin to melt, uncovering the beautiful colors and fabulous sights. In order to welcome more guests, hotels and guesthouses offer heavy discounts. This benefits all the travelers who happen to be present here around this time. However, both Khardung La and Chang La still remain covered with snow and it’s a memorable experience in itself to pass through them.
During this time, only the Srinagar-Leh highway opens up and thus, this is just not the right occasion to visit. But during early June, Manali road opens up along with Rohtang Pass. However, the initial 7-10 days are really not suitable for traveling. The reason for the same is that the area experiences recurring blockages. Meanwhile, just before the monsoons, it is really cool and suitable to travel to Ladakh due to the amazing weather.
The roads are flanked by high snow walls around Rohtang and sometimes Baralacha Pass too. There are many other incredible views of pervading snow to enjoy. However, due to rapid melting, the roads and paths are wet with gushing waters, so much so that sometimes it becomes really hard to cross them.
At this time, the monsoons are in full swing. Rivers get a new life and flow with their full might. Traveling during this period can be risky and dangerous as landslides are common. However, the area beyond Zoji La Pass, in the direction of Leh from Srinagar and further from Baralacha Pass, towards Leh from Manali side is a rain shadow area. For this reason, these areas do not receive much rainfall. But definitely, the path won’t be easy up to Baralacha La from the side of Manali and Zojila Pass from the Srinagar side.
Nevertheless, even the climate of this rain-shadow area keeps on changing from time to time. Previously, there have been rains in Ladakh too or intermittent overcast conditions. But, nothing drastic has happened till now.
This is one of the best seasons of all for visiting the amazing and picturesque locations of Leh and Ladakh. The entire place is imbued in wonderful colors in all their glory right up through the Srinagar-Leh as well as Manali-Leh roads. After monsoons, the level of the flowing waters recede too much and the weather is dry with a beginning chill and occasional snowfall.
Moreover, the road conditions are better and the maintenance work is also settled by this time. Various water bodies surrounding the location turn aqua blue and the place starts exuding astonishing beauty. Raid-De Himalayas Rally opens up and can prove to be a bit disturbing for regular travelers. While some camps at the site have packed up and closed some continue to provide facilities still. Overall, to witness the real beauty of the place, this is just the right span to pay a visit.
By this time the cold has completely taken over the area. The place experiences sub-zero temperatures at all locations above 14,000 ft. Almost all the tourists leave the place with only a few ones remaining to brave the chill. Most of the hotels, guesthouses, restaurants get closed and even locals move back, abandoning the place till winters.
Although Srinagar-Leh and Manali-Leh highways remain open, it is usually not advisable to travel through them. this is advised in order to avoid the extreme chill. This is done also due to the presence of black-ice which begins to appear towards the end of October and continues till early winters. It gets completely vanished in the winter season.
This is the coldest seasons of all in Ladakh when the region gets completely cut-off from rest of India by road. Though roads to Pangong Tso and Nubra Valley are kept open even in winters. Passes like KhardungLa and Chang La Pass are prone to receive snow anytime. Mid-January to Mid-March is also the time when many adventure tourists arrive in Ladakh for the famous Chadar Trek, involving walking over the frozen Zanskar River.
Cold would have already settled in by this time and there is frequent snowfall which makes survival and acclimatization difficult. The temperature continues to dip further with each passing day. One of the major highlights of your visit is that you get to witness the changing colors of Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri which happens from November to December/mid-January. After this, the Lakes of Ladakh get completely frozen with solid ice and one can even easily walk on them.