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A Solo Woman's Journey From Varanasi to Ladakh

Updated: Dec 30, 2022

Ladakh is a magical place in India, a kind of little Tibet but with an Indian influence. Best accessible in the summer, otherwise known as the season where it's 'hot with a dash of monsoon showers', Ladakh would make for a delightful pre- or post-cruise extension to our special Ganges river cruise to Varanasi 'City of Lights', which operates only in the months of August and September. Though these months are considered as 'low season' in India, they are also the months were the river runs wild, and the landscape turns a truly lush shade of green.

Combining Ladakh with our Ganges river cruise to Varanasi and all the way up to Chunar will mean witnessing a spectacular array of highlights – a contrast of sights, sounds, cultures and experiences – all in one phenomenal trip of a lifetime. Just ask Claire, our ABN guest, who shared a visual account of her summer holiday in India on our 'City of Lights' cruise on the Ganges and her privately organised tour to Ladakh.

Claire enjoyed a relaxing cruise with us last summer on the 'City of Light' Ganges river cruise before heading to the mountains of Ladakh for another few days. She describes her journey as "nothing short of an unique experience of a lifetime." Wanting to go on holiday to engage with a new culture, while also taking time out to relax, the Ganges river cruise to Varanasi meant that she could stroll along the ghats and participate in the evening aarti, but then also take the time to relax by watching the incredible sights of this holy city from the comfort of her bedroom window or the sundeck of ABN Rajmahal. This balance between cultural immersion and relaxation stood out to Claire as a highlight of the Ganges river cruise.

In Ladakh, the surreal beauty of the arid mountain landscapes that enfolds the magical ex-Buddhist kingdom, was utterly mesmerising. Scattered with picture-perfect Gompas (Tibetan Buddhist monasteries) and white-washed Stupas, Claire recounted feeling "completely blown away" with this part of India. Though a contrast from the plains of Varanasi – a city that's teeming with life, colour, and enchanting chaos – Ladakh and its subdued tones, gentle summer breezes and Buddhist way of life beautifully created a seamless journey from one Himalayan River to another –the Ganges in Varanasi to the Indus in the Ladakhi mountains.

Here's Claire's visual diary of her trip:

Contrasts: The pictures on the left are from Varanasi, and the ones on the right are from Ladakh.

From this sundeck/roof top views of Varanasi to roof top views of Leh

Exploring colourful river markets to mountain markets

Watching demonstration of artwork, of sculptures of Lord Ganesha to paintings of Lord Buddha

Meeting children of the Ganges River Valley to young monks of the Indus River Valley

Admiring the intricate details of Mughal Architecture to colourful woodwork of Tibetan Architecture

From the mainland of crumbling Palaces to the mountains scattered with Stupas and Pagodas.

The 'City of Light' river cruise on the Ganges + Ladakh extension makes for an ideal holiday for all types of travellers for all the above reasons. Solo travellers, in particular, may be interested to know that ABN Rajmahal operates the 'City of Light' cruise and offers single-bedded cabins.


We're currently taking bookings for our 'City of Light' Ganges river cruise to Varanasi (Bengal Despatch 9 and 10). View our itinerary here >

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