Personalised picnics in landscapes that take your breath away. Journeys to discover quaint mountain villages and ancient monasteries. Hard riding the high passes on an Enfield 500 or soft cycling the hilly terrain. White water rafting on the mighty Indus or Zanskar rivers. Hiking through the Himalayas with an experienced guide to lead the way. At The Grand Dragon Ladakh, we offer you much more than just our luxurious hospitality. We promise you a holiday far above the ordinary.
SITES OF WORSHIP
A Buddhist monastery just 52 kms west of Leh, perched atop a little hill by the Indus River, Likir is a repository of ancient artifacts: manuscripts, a significant Thangka collection, costumes and earthen pots. And on its roof, is a 75 ft. high gilded statue of the Maitreya Buddha.
A beautiful Gurudwara built in 1517 to commemorate the visit of the founder of the Sikh faith, Guru Nanak to Ladakh.
This small monastery is a branch of Spituk Monastery, and prides itself on a collection of miniature statues with pure gold paintings.
Shanti Stupa was inaugurated by Dalai Lama in 1985 and completed in 1991 by the Japanese Buddhist Bhikshu Gyomyo Nakamura. A repository of the relics of the Buddha, it was established for world peace.
The Spituk monastery boasts of prized Thangkas paintings and enormous statues of Kali.
Famed for its impressive Potala-like location overlooking many picturesque villages.
Built in 1430 A.D., the monastery prides itself on statues of the Maitreya Buddha, Avalokiteshvara and Manjushree as well as ancient manuscripts and frescoes.
Located in the heart of Leh town, this is one of the major historical mosques in Ladakh, also featuring a memorial to the Sufi saint, Mir Syed Ali Hamdani.
One of the largest and oldest monasteries in Ladakh, Lamayuru is home to 150 resident monks, and hosts two annual masked dance festivals in the Tibetan lunar calendar, when all the monks from surrounding monasteries gather here to pray.
The largest and the most important of all monasteries in Ladakh, this Tibetan Buddhist monastery was re-established in 1672 by the Ladakhi king, Sengge Namgyal. The annual Hemis festival in early June is a landmark event in the Ladakhi calendar.
A monastic complex dating back to the 10th Century, famed for its gigantic clay statues of Buddha, and a painted ceiling of stupa from the 12th/13th Century.
Built in the 17th Century, this is Sengge Namgyal’s imposing nine-story palace, jutting out of the slopes of Tsemo Hill overlooking the town of Leh.
Shey Palace & Monastery
Once the summer capital of Ladakh, Shey dates back to the 17th Century. The Monastery, with its vibrant coloured murals and its giant gilded statue of a seated Shakyamuni Buddha is a major attraction of Ladakh.
Stok Palace & Museum
The summer palace of royal family of Ladakh, this wonderful little palace is more intimate and welcoming than the Leh Palace, with its own museum showcasing artefacts and memorabilia associated with the dynasty.
A gravity hill about 32 kms from Leh, believed to have magnetic properties strong enough to pull cars and force aircrafts to increase their altitude in order to escape magnetic interference.
This is the where the two mighty rivers, the Zanskar and Indus rivers meet and flow on as Indus, a popular spot for rafting. Amazingly the waters of the Indus are brown in the winters and blue in the summer, while Zanskar is blue-green in the winters and muddy brown ripples in the summer.
Cross the world’s highest motorable road at Khardongla at 18,380 feet into the Nubra, literally meaning the valley of flowers. Famously known as Treaty Road, this is the ancient caravan route to Central Asia where you can still see double humped Bactrian camels ride the sand dunes, and with their cute unruly mop of hair.
At an altitude of 4530 m, with a width of 5/6 kms and a length of 130 kms, the ethereal beauty of Pangong is breathtaking. It’s waters glistening in shades of deep blue, turquoise and azure form part of the border between India and China.
A peaceful ghat on the banks of one the seven most sacred rivers in India, the Sindhu (Indus) that originates near the Mansarovar Lake and Mt Kailash in Tibet, and enters India through the Leh Valley, before it flows through to Pakistan.
The largest high altitude lake within India, Tsomoriri is a 24 km long expanse of salty water, fed by springs and snow-melt, and has only recently been opened to foreign trekkers.
Liberated from Pakistan in 1971 war, this is the northern-most part of the Indian Territory, opened for tourism as recently as 2010. Explore its isolated landscape, the virgin culture of Baltistan and set your eyes on the famous K2 peak. Also get a delicious taste of natural apricots, Silajit, and shop for local art craft items such as Ibex horn stick, stone carved utensils, etc.
OUT AND ABOUT
Explore the terrain of Ladakh on your own terms as you pedal with the wind on German engineered Merida mountain bikes. Meander through quaint villages, with their little streetside shops. Buy homemade yak cheese, shawls and local varieties of tea. Stop to take in a stunning view. Breathe the fragrance of some wild flowers. Take a break to chat with the warm and wonderful people of Ladakh. And burn up some of those calories, while you’re having a great time.
TIME FOR A JEEP SAFARI
Take the high road on a spectacular jeep safari through the mighty Himayalas. Ride on the highest motorable roads in the world. Get an amazing off-road experience on rugged desert tracks. Feel the cool mountain air on your face. It’s a trip you’ll remember for a lifetime.
SAFARI ON A CAMEL
While in the valley of flowers, Nubra Valley, don’t miss out on a chance to take a ride back in history on the cute double humped Bactrian camel, who has walked these mountain paths and trade routes since the 17th Century!
SIGHT THE WILDLIFE
Ladakh in the winters is another kind of magic. Snow covered landscape, frozen lakes, arctic temperatures and a sense that it’s all your own because the tourists aren’t there. Perfect conditions to get a sighting of the Snow Leopard, Blue Sheep and Mountain Wolf. You can’t wait to get to Ladakh in the winter.
PLAY THE WINTER SPORTS
The freezing months of the Ladakhi winter, its cold desert extends a warm welcome to lovers of winter sports. Come, enjoy ice skating and hockey in frozen streams and high altitude lakes. Watch exciting exhibition matches in Leh. Are you game?
Shop without a stop
What’s a holiday without time spent browsing the charming bazaars of Leh, curious little stores and community enterprises? You’ll be hard pressed to choose between gorgeous Pashmina shawls, dramatic Buddhist masks, beautiful thangka paintings, silver and turquoise jewellery, Ladakhi hand-woven carpets and rugs, and Tibetan prayer wheels and intricately carved low tables, the choktse. And don’t forget to carry home some apricots – they grow abundantly in Ladakh and are a delicious reminder of your time spent in Ladakh. Else of course, you stay within the comfort of The Grand Dragon Ladakh and choose from the handpicked selection at the Souvenir Gallery.
WATCH Polo & Archery
Polo and archery are two favourite sports of the people of Ladakh. And in the summer months, viewing these sports is a great tourist attraction. Witness the fun and fanfare of archery competitions and polo matches. Listen to the accompanying sounds of the Surna and Daman (the oboe and the drum). Enjoy the sight of men and women in their colourful traditional gear. And get a taste of chang, the local barley beer that’s flowing all around!
ENJOY THE FESTIVITIES
The cultural experience of Ladakh is perhaps as amazing as its geography. Across the year, in festivals such as the Hemis Festival, Stongday Gustor Festival, Ladakh Festival, Sindhu Darshan (Visit Indus) Festival, etc., you will see the land come alive as people from different corners of Ladakh converge to celebrate. So come, be a part of the festive spirit of Ladakh. For Tibetan lunar calendar of festivals, check here.
Whether you’re a family on vacation, a group of colleagues on a business trip or a honeymooning couple, at The Grand Dragon Ladakh, we love to make your experience of the outdoors even more special by packing special picnic hampers for the day, and taking you to scenic locations where you can relax, chat, read, play and even wander around together.
TIME TO TREK
What better way to explore the breathtaking beauty of the eternal landscape of Ladakh than to put on your trekking shoes and step out to discover it? There are several trekking tours that take you across rocky cliffs, lush grasslands, high altitude peaks, and freezing rivers. Always accompanied by the clear blue skies, you could, in one instant, feel that the snow kissed mountains are miles away, and yet as you round the corner, their majestic glory seems to within your reach! Trekking in Ladakh is quite something.
GO WHITE WATER RAFTING
It’s an experience quite unlike anywhere else in the world. Riding the rapids of the Indus and Zanskar rivers in Ladakh. Feeling the vitality of the water in the midst of the stark desert landscape. Enjoying the beauty of the deep gorges, the towering snowcapped peaks, hilltop monasteries and villages. And enjoying rare glimpses of the unique wildlife of the region.
GET BIKING POWER
Ride a state-of-the-art motorbike on the highest motorable roads in world that wind their way through the mighty Himalayas. Breathe in the crisp mountain air. Feel the race of your pulse on this adventurous ride. Carry back memories of a lifetime.
CLIMB A ROCK
On the roof of the world with its dramatic peaks and plateaus, climbing the rocks is an experience like no other. Explore the rocky outcrops with long sprouting strands of grass and wildflowers. Let experts guide you to natural footholds and handholds and help propel you upwards securely. While you will only be scaling a modest part of the mighty mountains, you’ll never forget the feeling from up there.
YOGA & MEDITATION
At The Grand Dragon Ladakh you have the rare opportunity to do yoga and meditate against the backdrop of the Himalayas with the fresh mountain air cleansing you inside, out. Conducted by Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre, these sessions are held in groups to maximise the flow of positive energy created when more people do ‘dhyana’ together. Their approach is two-fold approach: ‘samatha’ to help calm the mind and body, and ‘vipassana’ for elevation to a greater consciousness. Get ready to set yourself free: mind, body and soul.
BARBECUES & BONFIRES
Every evening as the sun and the temperatures drop in Leh, The Grand Dragon Ladakh comes alive with deliciously inviting barbeques and heart warming bonfire. Come, gather around and enjoy to your heart (and stomach’s) content!
You don’t have to leave The Grand Dragon Ladakh to get a taste of the local culture because there’s always something to inspire you within the hotel. Film screenings. Art showings. Exhibitions on local craft and textiles. Workshops on traditional calligraphy. You name it. And if you, your family or colleagues want something special, just ask and we will be happy to organise it for you.
When you feel like some action without getting out of the hotel, take the cue and head down to the game room. Pocket a few holes at the pool table. Or smash some aces at table tennis. It’s time to play.
SHOP FOR SOUVENIRS
At The Grand Dragon Ladakh, we have another real treat in store for you: the in-house Souvenir Gallery with its handpicked selection of Pashmina shawls, Buddhist masks, Thangka paintings, silver and turquoise jewellery, hand-woven carpets and rugs, Tibetan prayer wheels and intricately carved low tables, the Choktse. So come, discover their beauty and craftsmanship, and carry home a really special trove of gifts and memories.
WINTERS IN LADAKH
When it’s time for a holiday like no other, head to Ladakh in the winter. A time when the snow-capped mountains, frozen rivers, still mountain air and silence of the breathtaking vistas, all seem to be waiting just for you. A unique experience with very few other discerning tourists in the area, and yet so much to do: explore the landscape and the sites, or adventure out to trek or walk the solid rivers. And returning every day to the warmth and hospitality of The Grand Dragon Ladakh.
In January, temperatures in Ladakh range between - 8°C to -22°C (feels like -17°C to -35°C). So while The Grand Dragon Ladakh is cosily temperature controlled, please ensure you are well-equipped to brave the cold outside.
Your essentials should include:
Warm jackets, sweaters, trousers, gloves and caps (Please carry your jackets in your hand bag for easy access on arrival)
Adequate warmers/thermalwear and socks
Sunscreen (Min SPF 50)
You may ask your doctor if you should start a course of Diamox [Acetazolamide] two days prior to arrival in Ladakh.