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“Where can we find moonland?” “It’s right behind this hillock.” That’s a normal conversation in Lamayuru!
Lamayuru is a small village in Ladakh, midway between Kargil and Leh on NH1-D, the Srinagar-Leh highway. Moonlike landscapes carved into the Greater Himalayas are its claim to fame.
Mountain pass of Fotu la or Foto la
Lamayuru is roughly 100 km before Leh, right after Fotu la, the highest pass on the Srinagar Leh highway. The roads on Fotu la are in an excellent condition and it is a pleasure to drive through this pass.
This is an army setup just at the end of Fotu la. If traveling by bus, the stop for Lamayuru is a few minutes ahead of this set up.
The best location to view the moonscapes of Lamayuru is to climb up what is known as a meditation hill.
Monks from the Lamayuru gompa stay here, on the top of this meditation hill. They have a medical laboratory up here where the monks churn out medicines from the local herbs.
We saw these stupas while climbing up the meditation hill. These were the most decorated stupas we saw in Ladakh.
These stones were strewn on the way up the meditation hill. These prayer rocks are an important part of the Buddhist culture, some of them being centuries old. Carved meticulously with the beautiful Tibetan script, these stones are a piece of art. Their colours are a glimpse into the stunning colours of the mountains of Ladakh.
As we climbed up the meditation hill we could see the entire village of Lamayuru. The winding roads of Fotu la slithered into the horizon.
We started to see the “absurdity” of the landforms surrounding Lamayuru. Even more striking were the white blocks of houses balanced precariously – but perfectly atop these landforms.
We crossed through the monks’ residential area (taking care we didn’t disturb anything or anyone around) to the other end of this hill.
That is where a surreal landscape awaited us – the famous Moonlands of Lamayuru!
Lamayuru and moonland have become so synonymous with each other that they even have guest houses named Moonland in Lamayuru!
There are many other homestays and guest houses in Lamayuru.
We stayed at Temple View homestay which is right by where the bus drops people.
This was the kitchen of our hosts at the Temple view homestay.
A severe stomach infection on the way to Leh forced us to spend a night at Lamayuru! And we are glad it did! The family we stayed with, are the kindest and the most generous family we have ever come across.
They made us feel at home, so far away from home. It is the most precious gift we have ever received in our travels!
For its otherworldly moon-like landscapes and the kindness we came across, Lamayuru holds a special place in our hearts.
Top tips for Lamayuru
- Lamayuru is an easily accessible village of Ladakh where one can experience the local life of the Ladakhis.
- It is a sufficiently offbeat place in Ladakh, without having to get too adventurous – suitable for a family holiday.
- Homestays in Ladakh are inexpensive. It is a convenient location if you are looking to spend some peaceful time in the mountains. A couple we met at our homestay had spent a month in Lamayuru, practising yoga and meditation!
- Lamayuru has decent bus connectivity with Leh.
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