Ladakh is situated in the northernmost part of India. The scenic magnificence of entire Greater Himalayas here is unmatched and therefore the mystical sensation of the cold desert lends an ethereal charm to the mountain range ranges of Ladakh. The diverse landscape surrounding towering mountains and swelling valleys have no comparison. The immobility of the brownish gray mountains gives a mystic appeal to the environment that exceeds the visual grandeur of the most enchanting landscapes. In the past few years, Bollywood has fallen in love with this place and has immortalized Ladakh in Bollywood movies. Here I present the list of famous Bollywood movies that were shot in Ladakh:
Ladakh in Bollywood movies
1. 3 Idiots
With 3 idiot movie Ladakh becomes famous overnight. Ladakh which was one of the untouched destinations for many tourists got explored in Aamir’s film, making it a must visit place later. You can check various locations used to shoot movies and lots of celebrities are visiting Ladakh for same. It was planned to shot the climax scene at Lake Tsomoriri. But due to harsh weather the shooting has been cancelled and entire team came back after one year to shoot climax scene at Pangong Lake. The final climax of the movie, where Pia (Kareena Kapoor) finally meets Rancho (Aamir Khan) takes place on the banks of the Pangong Lake – a spectacular Himalayan Lake that situated between the boundaries of two countries, India and China. The lake is well-known for its ever-changing shades of vivacious blue waters and the surrounding scenic landscapes that result in some unbelievable photographs. The movie made Pangong Lake so famous that most of the local eateries, small restaurants, hotels, lodges, camp stay along the banks are named after the movie title ‘3 Idiots’. The lake also features movie mementos where travelers can pose and get their pictures clicked, for e.g. the eco-friendly yellow scooter or the funny chair from the popular song, ‘All is well’.
2. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Do you remember the training scene from the movie? Where the hero prepares himself for the Olympics? That scene was shot in the beautiful Nubra Valley. This valley is situated at a height of about 10,000 ft and is also a part of the ancient Silk Route that stretched all the way to Central Asia. Do you know that to shoot this single scene, the actor Farhan Akhtar had to undergo a month-long program to acclimatize himself to the environment of the Nubra Valley? This is one of the must places to visit in Leh- Ladakh.
3. Bunty Aur Babli
The song ‘Chup Chup Ke’ from the movie was shot at the captivating Basgo Gompa in Ladakh region. This Buddhist monastery dates back to 15th century and is famous for the breathtaking natural vista and the stunning view of the barren mountain ranges. Located atop a royal peak, this monastery also offers an alluring view of the ancient ruins of the town called Basgo.
4. Bard of Blood
A new venture by Netflix and Red Chillies Entertainment starring Emraan Hashmi and Sobhita Shulipala, Bard of Blood shows the journey of a former spy who embarks on a mission to rescue four Indian intelligence officers who were compromised and captured in Balochistan. While the story is set in Balochistan, shooting there was not possible. Thus, the creators of the show have transformed Ladakh into Balochistan, utilising the grey and brown landscape of the union territory to imitate the similar topography of Pakistan’s largest province. Skillfully done, the soothing views of Ladakh are masked by the packed action and drama of the show.
5. Dil Se
‘Dil Se’ is a 1998 Indian romantic thriller set in the background of the insurgency in Northeast India, written and directed by Mani Ratnam. The film stars Shahrukh Khan and Manisha Koirala in the lead roles, while Preity Zinta makes her film debut in a supportive role. The principal photography took place in Himachal Pradesh, Leh, Assam, New Delhi, Kerala, and Bhutan over a period of 55 days. The travelling scenes, other crucial scenes were shot between Manisha Koirala and Shah Rukh Khan near Alchi Monastery, during the Sindhu Darshan Festival in Leh. The longest song of the film “Satrangi Re” with the lead pair was shot near Thikse Monastery, the mystical Basgo Monastery ruins, and Pangong Lake in Ladakh.
Frozen is a 2007 black-and-white Indian film directed by Shivajee Chandrabhushan. The original script written by Shanker Raman, supported a story by Chandrabhushan and starring Danny Denzongpa, Gauri, and Skalzang Angchuk. The film was shot completely on location at Ladakh.
Haqeeqat may be a 1964 Hindi war-film directed by Chetan Anand. The film stars Dharmendra, Balraj Sahni, Priya Rajvansh, Sudhir, Sanjay Khan and Vijay Anand. Set against the Sino-Indian War of 1962, the film’s main plot concerns a small platoon of Indian soldiers in the mountainous terrain of Ladakh. Captain Bahadur Singh (Dharmendra) may be a young soldier who falls infatuated with a Ladakhi girl, Angmo (Priya Rajvansh), while posted in the region. Bahadur Singh takes Angmo’s brother Sonam under his wing because the boy dreams of becoming a soldier someday.
On a visit to Kashmir and Ladakh, Bahadur Singh’s father, Brigadier Singh (Jayant), gets news of creeping invasion by Chinese troops along the border and orders Major Ranjit Singh (Balraj Sahni) to send his officers to secure the posts. Thus begins the struggle of the soldiers, who await further instructions while facing a cunning opponent. Parts of the film were shot on location in Ladakh, thus becoming the first Bollywood film to be shot there.
8. Jab Tak hai Jaan
Major portions of the film were shot across various locations of Ladakh. Do you remember the scene where Anushka Sharma meets Shah Rukh Khan while shooting for Discovery Channel? If you have watched closely, then it’s impossible to ignore the stunning backdrop of that scene. That particular scene was shot at one of the most stunning lakes in the world, Pangong Lake. This movie created a dream in every boy with bike to go to Ladakh once in life time.
9. Jo Hum Chahein
Jo Hum Chahein is a 2011 Hindi romantic film directed by Pawan Gill, starring Sunny Gill, Simran Mundi, Alyy Khan and Achint Kaur. It is a first film for both the lead actors and the director. The movie was shot from May to October 2011 in Pune, Goa, Mumbai and Ladakh.
Lahore is a 2010 Indian Hindi sports film that was directed by Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan and produced by Vivek Khatkar. The movie is loosely supported the American martial arts movie ‘Best of the Best’.
Do you remember the scene from the movie where the actor hoists the national flag in a peak? That scene was shot in Taglang La pass of Ladakh. Located at a towering height of 17,000 feet, Taglang La is considered as the second highest motorable road in India. The Manali-Leh highway passes through Taglang La and is often frequented by adventure seeking souls from across the globe.
Lakshya is a 2004 Indian romantic war-drama film directed by Farhan Akhtar and produced by Ritesh Sidhwani, starring Hrithik Roshan, Amitabh Bachchan and Preity Zinta in the lead roles. Hrithik Roshan plays the role of Lieutenant (later acting Captain) Karan Shergill, who develops from an aimless young man into a military officer. It is a coming-of-age story set against a fictionalized backdrop of the 1999 Kargil War. The scenes in Kargil were shot in Ladakh.
12. LOC Kargil
A collaborative cast with well-renowned actors in Bollywood, LOC Kargil is a representation of individual lives of soldiers based on the 1999 Operation Vijay at the Line of Control. While the movie highlights personal relationships and the distance of armed officers from their loved ones at fragile times of war, it also shows the companionship and patriotic spirit of the army. It is only understandable considering the geological features of Ladakh, that it is often used as the backdrop to depict war movies (frequently as Kargil). The final war scenes are shot in Leh, Ladakh and evoke very strong emotions with the plotline.
13. Race 3
Race 3 is a 2018 Indian Hindi action thriller film directed by Remo D’Souza and produced under Tips Films and Salman Khan Films. The film features Anil Kapoor, Salman Khan, Bobby Deol, Jacqueline Fernandez, Daisy Shah, Saqib Saleem and Freddy Daruwala. With many places this film was also shooted in Ladakh where Salman Khan and Jacqueline Fernandez filmed a romantic song.
14. Road to Ladakh
A 50 minute short film, Road to Ladakh is a story of a mysterious drug smuggler (played by Irrfan Khan) and a reckless woman Sharon who gets charmed by the dangerous life led by him. When they both are spotted by an officer of the Indian Army, Sharon effortlessly adapts to a fictitious story claiming to be a married couple. The short film tends to focus on the intimate growing relationship between the two characters. However, it is obvious even in the trailer that the brown sands of Ladakh are highlighted as compared to the rest of the picturesque views in order to complement the thrilling story.
15. Sanam Re
Sanam Re is a 2016 Indian Hindi romantic film directed by Divya Khosla Kumar and produced by Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar and co-produced by Ajay Kapoor. The film features Pulkit Samrat and Yami Gautam as the lead roles while Urvashi Rautela and Rishi Kapoor appears in a vital supporting role.
The famous song “Falak tak chal” from the Saif-Kareena starrer was shot exclusively in the Thiksey Monastery in Ladakh region. This monastery is the largest one in Central Ladakh and is located at a sprawling height of 11,800 feet. The monastery is a 12 storeyed building that showcases ancient Buddhist art.
While the movie is not considered to be a masterpiece of any sorts, Tubelight still maintains well-done frames, often highlighting the background along with the story. The plot revolves around a dim-witted individual and his brother’s relationship in the time of the 1962 Indo-China war. It also has a parallel romantic story mixed into it. The entire shoot was split between Manali, Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh. Scenes showing the army involvement have been shot in Ladakh. In fact, a scene from the movie has been located at the same bridge where the 3 idiots climax is shot.
Tubelight is a 2017 Indian Hindi war film written and directed by Kabir Khan. The film is produced by Salman Khan and Kabir Khan. Set in the 1962 Sino-Indian War, it stars Salman Khan, Sohail Khan, Zhu Zhu, Matin Rey Tangu, and Om Puri.
With so many amazing movie location inspirations that encourage us to travel, it is difficult to sit still and settle down in one place! If you are waiting for that one day when you can set off to explore Ladakh, these Bollywood movies will surely give you the push that you need to travel and explore Ladakh!
Also consult Ladakh tourism