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Exploring Sham Valley in Ladakh the Offbeat Way

What comes to your mind when you hear the word Ladakh? A land of high passes, sure, but also monasteries, meandering rivers, barren landscapes and nature at its rustic best. The Srinagar-Leh highway snakes majorly through an area known as the Sham Valley. While travelling from Srinagar to Leh, we have the best itinerary to follow that takes you through some blissful monasteries and many mystic locales. Read through to know more. 

Ladakh village and landscape

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The road conditions all throughout the Sham valley are excellent with cotton candy clouds atop bare craggy hills. There are some brilliant joyous revels of nature all through this region from one end of the horizon to the other. If you talk about all the places to visit in Ladakh, then Sham valley is certainly at the top of it! Add this to your Ladakh itinerary and it is sure to give you an unparalleled experience.

How to Reach Sham Valley

Start driving towards Kargil on the Srinagar-Leh highway to reach the Sham Valley. 

Places to visit in sham Valley

Spituk Monastery

Prayer wheels at the Spituk Monastery in Ladakh

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At a close distance of 6 km from Leh, the Spituk monastery belongs to the yellow hat sect of Buddhism. There is a major statue of Kali- the goddess worshipped by Tibetan Buddhists and Hindus. Every year the monastery holds a 2-day religious festival called the Spituk Gustor and its highlight is the masked or Chham dance. 

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Gurudwara Pathar Sahib

The rock at Gurudwara Patthir Sahib

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Further on the Srinagar-Leh highway from the Spituk monastery lies Gurudwara Pathar Sahib which is a holy place of the Sikhs. Guru Nanak is also worshipped by Tibetan Buddhists and they address him as Nanak Lama. This has religious significance for the Sikhs as well as the Buddhists. 

Magnetic Hill

The road leading to the Magnetic Hill

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Located about 7 kilometres from the Gurudwara Patthar Sahib, Magnetic hill is a stretch of road going slightly uphill. The astounding part is that if you put your vehicle in neutral, it will automatically start moving at a speed of about 20 km per hour. This particular patch of road and the hill surrounding it is the Magnetic Hill, also called Gravity Hill. Intriguing, isn’t it? Well, we couldn’t agree more. 


Read more about the intriguing phenomena at Myth and Mystery Behind Magnetic Hill in Ladakh - Offbeat Tracks Blog (


Confluence or Sangam

Confluence of Indus and Zanskar rivers

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Sangam point or fusion or the confluence is a must-visit in the list of Ladakh tourist places on the Srinagar-Leh highway. The two rivers, Indus and Zanskar combine to flow as one river here. The beauty is that both of them have different colours, the Indus is more of a bluish-green texture whereas the Zanskar is brown. The Indus is brown with mud and silt in the summer and blue in the autumn and winter season. The sight is one to behold when they both meet and fuse into one! 


Basgo Fort


Basgo Fort in Ladakh

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Next stop on the Srinagar-Leh highway in the must-visit places in Sham valley is the Basgo Fort, situated about 40 km from Leh. It is among the best places to visit in Leh. It is known to be a site of castle ruins and royal temples adjoining them. The complex structure of buildings has original murals dating back to the 16th century and are a treat to watch.


Likir Monastery

The ancient Likir monastery 

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Another 17-odd kilometres on the Srinagar-Leh highway or NH1 will get you to the quaint Likir village. Located in the village and at a distance of 60 km from Leh city, Likir monastery is said to have been founded in the 11th century. The present structure was rebuilt in the 18th century. The highlight of the monastery is the Maitreya Buddha statue which stands 23 metres high and is visible from a fair distance. It sits right next to the monastery’s main building and was inaugurated in 1997. 

Alchi Monastery

Alchi monastery in Ladakh

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A quintessentially scenic sanctuary nestled in the lap of the Himalayas is the Alchi monastery or Alchi Gompa. The monastery complex has four separate settlements all over the Alchi village and the Sham valley region. There are a number of monuments that date back to different periods in history here. Alchi is famous and also one of the oldest monasteries in Ladakh. 

Get to know more about the oldest monastery in Ladakh Alchi- The Oldest Monastery of Ladakh  - Offbeat Tracks Blog (


Lamayuru Monastery

Lamayuru monastery 

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Known as the moonland in Ladakh, the Lamayuru monastery is, without a doubt, the most scenic gompa. Nestled atop a mountain, Lamayuru is also the oldest monastery of Ladakh, just like the Alchi monastery. Situated on the Leh-Srinagar highway off the main road, the monastery is at a distance of about 115 km from Leh. 

Hall of Fame

Artillery gun at the Hall of Fame

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The Hall of Fame is a museum dedicated to the martyrs of the Indo-Pakistan wars. Visiting the museum is certainly a very moving experience. Displays of weapons, letters from soldiers to their families and photographs too, the museum is also home to many Ladakhi souvenirs and artefacts. It is located very close to Leh city. 


Chilling Village

Chilling Village in Ladakh

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If you are someone who likes to riddle solo along lonely peaceful roads, then Chilling Village is the place for you. About 25 km from Sangam or Confluence, you will get myriad spots to soak your feet in the Zanskar river. There is also a chance for adventure enthusiasts to go in for some river rafting in the Zanskar river.


Kargil War memorial in Kargil 

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Take a day if not more to explore this hidden treasure of a destination which is way more than the Kargil War Memorial, for the uninitiated. Kargil has some welcoming and warm locals who do step out to offer you their Nun Chai and help out on your journey of exploration of this place. It sees a long brutal winter and therefore, a visit here is an adventure in itself. For those visiting for the first time, there is a lot that Kargil has to offer. Mother Nature has blessed this place in abundance. Kargil has a plethora of options to explore and capture with your camera lens. Mark our words, every 5 minutes, you’ll be taking a dozen pictures! 


Apricot bloom in Kargil

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Kargil also boasts of apricot bloom in the spring and it is a sight to watch for sure! 


CTA- Explore Kargil and Drass with us for the most rewarding nature and rustic experience in Ladakh



The picturesque Drass valley

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Drass is a fascinating town which is located in the Kargil and is one of the best places to visit in Ladakh. Hailed as the ‘Gateway to Ladakh’, Drass has a charm of its own, even with a lot of military presence in the area. Its close proximity to the LoC is the reason for a lot of army presence all throughout this village. Touted as one of the coldest places in the world, Drass welcomes several tourists from all over the world every year to witness its raw and mesmerising beauty. 


Ladakh is an emotion in itself. Needless to say, it is on the bucket list of every traveller and there is so much here to explore. We hope this account of the region gives you a fair idea of the places to visit in the Sham valley. Start your Ladakh exploration with this charming valley with myriad places to take you to an altogether different zenith of blissful experiences in Ladakh. See you there!