Are you planning a trip to Sham Valley in Ladakh when you are discovering other nearby places? Well, this travel guide will help you with everything you want to know about this day trip place from Leh.
A lot of people visit Sham Valley unknowingly when they visit Ladakh, but I felt there was a need to formally introduce this beautiful place near Leh to all of you. Continuing my efforts to build up the most comprehensive travel guide of Leh Ladakh, in this very article, I will try to explain the places of interest in Sham Valley Ladakh.
In the last article, we have already covered the places to see or visit nearby Leh.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Sham Valley Ladakh – Travel Guide
Sham Valley includes Alchi, Likir, Basgo, Zanskar and Indus River Confluence at Nimmu, Magnetic Hills, Gurudwara Pather Sahib… Gosh, a long list but they all are very much close to each other and require about 165 km of the drive for the complete tour and back to Leh in a day.
Let’s look at all these places one by one in this complete guide to Sham Valley in Ladakh. You can make the trip in any order like reaching the farthest point/place that is Alchi first and then visiting all while backtracking or starting from the first place which comes that is Gurudwara Pather Sahib and keep on visiting one by one to explore all these places.
If you are short on time and do not have a dedicated day to visit Sham Valley, you can also plan a trip in the second half after traveling back to Leh from Nubra Valley.
Gurudwara Pather Sahib
The first of the list of places to visit in Sham Valley near Leh is Gurudwara Pather Sahib. It is about 22 km from Leh and, at an altitude of 3600 meters, was constructed in memory of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. This holy place is right on the Srinagar Leh Highway. It is believed that this sacred stone/boulder refused to move in road construction operations even by huge machines/bulldozers etc. due to holy blessings/touch of Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
When traveling from Leh to Srinagar, it is the first point in the Sham Valley tour. You can read here to know the complete story about Gurudwara Pather Sahib. After offering the prayers, and taking Prasad you can move ahead to Magnetic Hill in Ladakh as the next stop on your day tour of Sham Valley.
You may read the complete travel guide of Pathar Sahib.
Magnetic Hills near Leh
Magnetic Hill in Ladakh, is located about 30 km from Leh at an altitude of 11000 Feet approximately, on Srinagar Leh Highway. Magnetic Hill is a phenomenon that defies gravity. It is believed that this Magnetic Hill near Leh has magnetic properties so strong to pull cars towards it. We put the car in the marked box and placed it in neutral gear and voila!! the car started climbing.
People say it is nothing but an optical illusion, we could not judge it because the car was going upwards in the direction of Magnetic hills. Maybe a ball will be useful to judge the situation. If the ball also goes towards the hills then certainly there is nothing but an illusion that projects a descending road as ascending road 🙂 …
Well, you can read more at the wiki link which calls it Gravity Hill and states “The slope of gravity hills is an optical illusion, although sites are often accompanied by claims that magnetic or even supernatural forces are at work. The most important factor contributing to the illusion is a completely or mostly obstructed horizon; without a horizon, judging the slope of a surface is difficult as a reliable reference is missing.”
The confluence of Zanskar and Indus Rivers
As you move ahead from Magnetic Hill in Sham Valley, just before Nimmu Village, there comes a famous confluence of two rivers, Indus River coming from Tibet (left) and Zanskar River coming from Zanskar Valley (right). Zanskar River is known for its famous Chadar Trek.
Chadar Trek is done in peak winters when the Zanskar river freezes and people trek over it to reach Padum Village in Zanskar Valley from Leh because of heavy snowfall. Now, there is a tourist spot that authorities have created along the shores of the confluence where you can spend some relaxing time along the two rivers.
You may read the complete travel guide of Zanskar – Indus River Confluence.
There is a beautiful road that runs just along the Zanskar River, which you can ride up to Chilling Village if you have some time and love riding lonely and peaceful roads. Chilling is about 25 odd km from the Confluence and a nice place to visit, plus you will have ample of spots where you can lay aside river shore and feel the raw nature all for yourself.
Generally, a lot of people go rafting in Zanskar River from Chilling to Nimmu. There is also a road that is under construction that will eventually lead to Padum Village from chilling running along the Zanskar river. Once the road is completed, it will render full-year connectivity of Zanskar Valley to Leh Ladakh, and the Chadar trek might become obsolete in such a case. However, as of now the only way to travel to Zanskar Valley from Leh is by Chadar trek in winters.
When you head towards Basgo, on the way you can also see the longest Mani Wall (about 600 Mtrs) just at the exit of Nimmu Village.
Basgo Palace rather ruins of Basgo Palace is about 40 km from Leh and is approximately 500 years old, built for Namgyal rulers. Basgo Palace now houses a monastery as well and is a nice place to visit. Some shots of the movie “Dil Se” were also shot here.
As you go towards Likir diversion from Basgo Palace, there comes a stretch straight as an arrow, which looks beautiful, and many advertisements have been shot around this place. We also could not stop and decided to shoot some pictures and enjoy the place. It was complete fun with running around, sitting on the road, lying on it, and whatnot.
I got some amazing shots of the trip to this place. I bet this is the most famous place in Sham Valley 🙂 🙂
It is time to head to Likir Monastery As you go Move towards Sasapol, about 10 km before you will see a diversion towards the right going to Likir Monastery. About 52 km from Leh, Likir Monastery was built in the 11th century and was again rebuilt in the 18th century and houses a 25-foot Lord gold-covered Buddha Statue.
It is a bit tough to climb the stairs with an un-acclimatized body for me. Views from the terrace are every penny worth the effort. You will be amused to see the models created with butter, which do not melt. Locales say those who have created it had powers in their hands; that is why these models do not melt. Amazing Art!! Time to leave for Alchi Monastery.
You may read the complete travel guide of Likir monastery.
As you come back to Srinagar – Leh Highway from Likir Monastery, you need to take a right and go towards Sasapol about 10-12 km ahead. At Sasapol, there comes a bridge named Alchi Bridge from where you take a left and go towards Alchi village. About 65 km west of Leh and about 3100 Mtrs of altitude, Alchi Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries of Leh and has monuments and scriptures dated as old as the 10th century.
You can buy a bottle of oil and light to be offered in the monastery and head down to the monastery, which is so calm and peaceful. The time spent will bring you close to Buddhism if you are into it and the sense of peace it offers to one’s soul is remarkable!! You can walk down to the Indus River as well from the back of the monastery and spend some time along the river.
There are camps “Sumtseg Camps” run by the Alchi monastery where you can stay as well. A lot of people flying directly to Leh prefer staying at Alchi to get their body acclimatized and then move to Leh the next day while going through the Sham Valley tour.
You may read the complete travel guide of Alchi monastery.
You should always carry your water bottle and refill it as many times as you need water. It will not only keep you hydrated always, but you will also help in saving the Himalayas from plastic garbage. Remember, every tiny step counts and your step in this direction can help save the Himalayas too !! 🙂 🙂
A day visit to Sham Valley from Leh will be a mixture of lovely religious experience and natural sightseeing for you, and I feel if you are in Leh – Ladakh, then probably you do not want to miss a tour to Sham Valley. If you still have some questions, I will be happy to answer them in the comments section of this article.
In case you have been to these places and have more information to be shared with fellow travelers please do share it with all of us in the comments section of the article.
If you know your friends or family are planning a trip to Ladakh, do share this article with them to help them make a memorable Ladakh trip.