ABHA

Leh in Winter

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Ladakh, a district of erstwhile big state Jammu and Kashmir, was reborn as union territory in 2019. Every journey in the territory starts from Leh, a touristy town that becomes quiet in winter. The harsh winter applies brakes to life here. Most of the shops keep their shutters down; lanes and by lanes remain empty. Festival venues in the deserted town fill to brim even in winter.

Go

Leh is well connected to national capital of India. At least five airlines fly on Leh - New Delhi route: Air India, Go Air, Indigo, Spice Jet, and Vistara. Although planes fly year-round in favorable weather yet winter may affect the frequency for less traffic. Sudden emergencie­s, like COVID pandemic, may snap all the air links. A small basic airport does not allow passengers before 06:00am. Photograph­y is prohibited at this defense airport. Book airport taxi in advance and have enough extra time, especially, for early morning flight during winter. In case the taxi breaks down, repair would be difficult. Leh - Manali road is closed in winter for heavy snowfall. In winter, air transport is thus the sole link between Leh and rest of the country.

Getting around

Local buses ply within Leh town. The buses also stop at the airport. Non-shared and shared local taxis are available at the airport and near entry gate of the town and the main market.

Buses run between Leh and other parts of Ladakh from Polo Ground and the main bus stand. Check the schedule a day in advance. Prior reservatio­n is permitted for some of these routes.

On foot: If you are a regular hiker or trekker, you can walk around the town that is not very big.

Eat, Sleep, Stay

In tourist season, summer, Leh offers a wide variety of boarding and lodging. Nonetheles­s, winter, an offseason, offers very few choices for stay and food. Only limited number of guesthouse­s, homestays, and hotels operate. For example, to name a few, Grand Dragon Hotel, an upend hotel; Sia La guesthouse, a midend guest house; and Leh Palace View guesthouse, a budget place remain open during winter. The accommodat­ions may charge extra for heating. Only bucketed water is provided on request as water in pipes freezes.

Mobile Networks

Only postpaid SIMs of Airtel, B.S.N.L, and Jio, work well in Leh. However, bad weather may affect the signals. Internet cafes primarily remain closed in winter.

Info Bytes Location

District Leh, Ladakh, India

Permit

Life slows down in entire Ladakh during winter. Even government offices work slowly. If you want a permit for remote restricted areas of the union territory, keep enough extra time than you assign in summer. At the same time, tourist traffic would trickle in permit office.

Petrol Pumps

Leh has more than one petrol pump.

Money, Bank, ATMs…

Both Jammu and Kashmir Bank

(J&K Bank) and State Bank of India (S.B.I.) have branches and A.T.Ms in and around the main market.

Tips

Winter in high altitude cold desert is taxing. So,

1. Acclimatiz­e well.

2. Bring good quality woolens to survive harsh winter.

3. Keep yourself warm.

4. Do not travel in sandals and bathroom slippers. Wear comfortabl­e woolen socks and shoes.

5. Drink sufficient amount of liquids. Maintain desired hydration level as dry cold wind quickly steals moisture.

6. Eat enough.

7. Sleep well.

8. Do check Ladakh-specific COVID guidelines for the next trip.

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