13 Shocking Truths About Leh-Ladakh Nobody Care to Tell You

Most people travel to Ladakh out of peer pressure. Because everyone goes there. It’s more like a ritual these days.

Suddenly it has become a dream trip for people. Reason? Most will have none. Biker? Oh, you MUST go to Leh-Ladakh on a bike.

But have you wondered what’s so good about it? I doubt you have.

It’s already shining bright on top of your bucket list. And why shouldn’t it? The posts praising the beauty of Leh are ‘omnipresent’. And rightly so.

But what most ignore to tell you is the flip side of the Leh-Ladakh saga.

Yes, there is one, and it’s dirtier than you’d imagine. Here are some important and unfiltered truths about Leh Ladakh you should know.

Shocking Truths About Leh-Ladakh No-one Told You

LehLadakh is an enchanting part of India that is exempt from the chaos that the country is so well known for.

This area gives you an opportunity to experience life outside of your own, where you can take in the lakes & mountains and enjoy the untouched beauty of the landscape.

Leh-Ladakh - Not Just A Destination, But A State Of Mind
Leh-Ladakh – Not just a Destination, But a State of Mind

Leh Ladakh can be described as “a paradise lost in time” and a “beguiling mystical land of stark contrasts”. With the highest point in the world, Mount Kailash lying on its doorstep, and the mighty Himalayas in its background, this is not just a destination, but a state of mind.

Saurabh K

Despite the fact that our beautiful and majestical Himalayan kingdom is appealing, it also has its own peculiarities, here are some bizarre facts about Leh-Ladakh you should know.

1. Staying in Tents

Staying In Tents
Staying in Tents – The “COOL” part is over-rated

We will be staying in tents at the lake? How exciting!

No, it’s not at all. Here is why…

Firstly, you are visiting a region that’s forever cold. The nighttime temperature there is around 3-4 degrees on normal days.

You just cannot attempt to visit it during winters. -20 °C is not really a normal tourist’s cup of tea right?

Further, you rarely find tents that supply you with hot water 24×7.

Beds are kind of comfortable in good tent resorts, but insects are the same everywhere.

And the bathrooms – well, sleeping under a blanket is still okay, but taking bath under a piece of cloth and on earth flooring is not really fun.

Finding it challenging? But this is what you have signed up for, right? Keep reading…

2. Unconventional Toilets

Unconventional Toilets - One Of The Many Strange Truths About Leh-Ladakh
Yes! Unconventional Toilets

The true meaning of toilets needs to be explained there. Or commodes.

Remember the movie slumdog millionaire? Remember the toilet scene? Yes, you will find only such public toilets everywhere.

All that it is, a good 5-10 ft hole, and the potty gets collected there.

Either pee in bushes or above everyone else’s potty. Those are your magnificent options.

It stinks within the 300-meter radius of the toilet so as soon as you are around one, you know it’s there. No need to find the sign.

Most of the time, your pressure disappears and you prefer to let your bladder blast than to go to one of those.

3. Limited Power Suppy

Limited Electricity
Limited Electricity

Power problems are worse than in Thane or Delhi. You get electricity for a few hours a day.

Tent accommodation has an even more limited power supply. There is barely any electricity at night. You don’t need any.

No fans anywhere, why would you need lights in the middle of the night when the stars can give you enough light?

Electric bag, you said, for keeping warm? Hah! What’s that!

4. Interrupted Mobile Network and Internet

Interrupted Mobile Network And Internet
Interrupted Mobile Network and Internet

Yes, you are kind of live network-free. Which is a blessing, no doubt.

But you live with zero networks for days. Some areas don’t even have landline phone connectivity.

So if something happens to you, and there’s a high probability of that, nobody will know or be able to come to your rescue.

Plus you are living near the border area where enemies keep invading at regular intervals.

China keeps doing that, just FYI.

Most of the good hotels offer Wi-Fi. But on most of the days, it’s down. And on the days when it’s working, you need to constantly pray about the electricity supply.

You may find yourself in a similar situation if you are on a budget. For bigshots! money can buy you most of the material things in city areas.

5. Sightseeing 

Mountains And Lakes
Mountains and Lakes
Pangong Tso (Lake) - Leh Ladakh
Pangong Tso (Lake) – Leh Ladakh

“How many points will we get to see there?” is not a valid question in Ladakh.

This region is all about road trips. Long ones.

It takes you an hour to cover 25 km in the hilly areas. And most of the areas are hilly.

Each of your itinerary locations is situated at least 150 km away from Leh.

Stakna Monastery Gompa Leh
Stakna Monastery Gompa Leh

No sunset points or fancy gardens or even waterfalls, for that matter. All you see are mountains and some monasteries here and there. And a museum.

Market? Sure. Fancy? Nope!

6. Bikers’ Paradise 

Bikers' Paradise - Yes! It Is Very Much
Bikers’ Paradise – Yes! it is very much

For sure! Those roads, landscapes, remote places – man, they are like a dream. But the journey is not so easy.

Going to the highest motorable road? Why not!

Provided there has not been any snowfall the previous night. or else you cannot ride your bike there, for the roads are too slippery.

Mechanic? Get trained to be one before dreaming about Leh-Ladakh on the bike.

Pillion? You need iron butts to sit on a bike for 8-9 hours a day for at least 10 days.

You also need good safety gear and winter clothes to cover you from head to toe.

Not everyone is made of the metal to pull this off. But if you are, then leave tomorrow itself. You will thank me for life.

PS: On some roads, the pillion has to get down and walk some distance as the roads are really bad. In hindsight, it gives rest to that butt of yours.

7. A lot of Permits

You need quite a few permits for visiting the Leh-Ladakh region.

Tourism companies arrange for most of the things for you. But they choose the most convenient ones for you.

If you are looking for a good traveling experience, then do the research yourself first.

Find out places to visit, borders to see, lakes to experience before booking your flight tickets.

8. Altitude Sickness

Altitude Sickness Is Real
Altitude Sickness is Real

Believe me, it’s real and can be quite challenging for heavy ones.

No matter how long you stay to acclimatize, you will find breathing slightly difficult.

Soldiers living there spend 10 days acclimatize when they travel 2000 ft above sea level.

We are talking about staying at 10k ft and visiting places located at 14-15k ft.

9. Landslides are Common

Landslides Are Common
Landslides are Common

It doesn’t see any season. It happens any time. Once it does, you are stuck in a place for 2-3-4 days.

Your entire trip goes for a toss. You come back without seeing anything.

The outside world knows that you were supposed to be in that region. But they can’t reach you as there may be no network and all the phone lines are dead because of the landslides.

10. Leh is Expensive

It Is Expensive - Another Truth About Leh Ladakh
Leh ladakh is Expensive

Yes, you read that right, Leh-Ladakh is definitely expensive.

The locals don’t want to confess that because they love tourism more than anything else and they see a lot of money coming into the region from foreigners.

But, at the same time, it is good for the region’s tourism industry and it will definitely burn a hole in your wallet.

11. Better Alternatives 

Ladakh is not the most beautiful place in this country.

There are so many other beautiful places that we have completely ignored because of Ladakh’s pictures all over.

I can safely say this–there are much better alternatives to Ladakh within India itself.

Visit the Kinnaur region (Himachal Pradesh), a place of beauty, where you’ll enjoy the picturesque views and beautiful landscapes.

Here are some great places on the list –

  • Har ki Doon (or Har ki Dun) mountain trek in Uttrakhand
  • Sangla, Kalpa, Kaza, Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh (tucked between India and Tibet)
  • Dzukou Valley in Nagaland
  • Yumthang Valley in North Sikkim
  • Doodhpathri or the Valley of Milk in Kashmir and
  • Ketti Valley in Ooty.

These are places I know you’ll love even though they haven’t made it onto the Internet. 

12. Ecologically Sensitive

Plastic Waste Pollution In Leh Ladakh
Plastic Waste Pollution in Leh Ladakh

The beautiful, yet the secluded state of Leh Ladakh is located high in the Himalayan Mountains. It has many natural wonders but also faces many ecological issues.

No one knows this better than the people who live there. For centuries they have relied on sustainable living practices to support their culture and community.

However, as more people are drawn to the area for its scenic beauty and natural resources, these techniques are becoming less viable.

In the last two decades, the population of Leh has risen from 10,000 to close to 30,000 people which has placed a strain on the local environment.

One of the most ecologically sensitive areas in the world is the Tibetan Plateau, which holds a massive amount of water. This water is what the people of Leh Ladakh depend on for their survival.

Pollution is another ecological issue the Leh city is struggling from, mainly due to plastic waste pollution. The everyday import of 95% of domestic essentials makes an increase in plastic use. These plastic wastes are piling up in the city outskirts and turning into nondecomposable plateaus.

13. Overly Crowded 

Overly Crowded
Overly Crowded

Leh is also dealing with its own version of the problem of overcrowding. Try to visit Ladakh during the season. The world will be there. It’s packed.

The town of Leh is full of tourists. Every year you rush to the place to get awed by these places, there are so many like you.

No doubt, they are beautiful.

Why do you want to go to a place that everyone else is talking about and posting 100s of pictures on Instagram? 

You’ve already seen most of the spectacular spots in Ladakh on the Internet. Grow up, become a real traveler and explore places no one else has ever been to, and you’ll discover some new gems. 

Am I a killjoy? I most definitely am!

What do you think? Did I miss any oddball about Leh Ladakh?

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Editorial Team at TerraTale is a group of individuals and experts, who write about their experiences and learnings on a variety of subjects that anyone can connect with and reflect upon.

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