About Ladakh

About

Ladakh

INDIA - LADAKH

Ladakh, the land of high mountain passes, is one of the most unique and awesome areas of the world. It is part of the Trans-Himalaya, a vast complex of mountain ranges between the main Himalaya range and the Tibetan plateau.

Often referred to as Little Tibet, its topography is arid and lunar-like. Ladakh is dotted with centuries-old Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and forts perched high atop craggy mountain peaks. See the world's highest mountain ranges - the Himalaya and Karakorram. Explore ancient monasteries and experience one of the last places on earth where Tibetan Buddhist culture has not been disrupted.

Ladakh is the most western of Tibetan Buddhist lands. Although it is part of the Tibetan Buddhist world culturally and spiritually, it has never been subject to the Dalai Lama's government in Lhasa. For centuries Ladakh was an independent Buddhist kingdom. It became part of India in 1834 and, as a result, did not experience the violent destruction of its culture as happened in Tibet at the hands of Communist China.

The Buddhist culture in Ladakh has flourished untouched for centuries. It provides a rare opportunity to see one of the last remaining Tibetan Buddhist cultures. Ladakh is a treasure trove of sacred Buddhist art, especially Alchi, a great jewel of the Buddhist world. Alchi has one of the few remaining examples of Indian Buddhist art from the 11th century.

The Nubra Valley is one of the last treasures of our planet, living in sheer isolation for most of the year in the heart of the great Himalayas. A real Shangri La, with no 'Baywatch', no mobile phones and no Ray Ban sunglasses.

Come join us on this fantastic journey into the remarkable world of Ladakh - with its moonscape terrain, ancient monasteries, and one of the most astounding cultures in all of Asia.

Reaching Leh

Leh is well connected to New Delhi by a one-hour flight. The flights to Leh tend to be heavily booked and reservations should be made well in advance to get the best airfare package. Leh can be reached by road from two ways-Srinagar highway and Manali highway.

Road Journey from Kashmir - The Srinagar-Leh National Highway is the main overland approach into Ladakh from Kashmir. This 434-km long highway broadly follows the historic trade route between Central Asia / Tibet and India. It runs across the Zoji-La (11,500-ft. /3,505 m), the high pass in the Zanskar range of the Great Himalayas, which generally opens for vehicular traffic in May. This road journey provides the best possible introduction to the land and people of Ladakh region.

At one stage, as you cross the Zoji-la watershed, you suddenly leave the lushness of Kashmir and enter into the barren contours of a trans-Himalayan landscape. Drass, the first township over the pass, inhabited by a population of mainly Dard origin, has the popular reputation of being the second coldest inhabited place in the world. But in summer when the pass is open, the standing crops and clumps of willow give it a gentle and pleasant look. After Drass, the valley narrows down to almost a gorge, opening up here and there to allow small patches of terraced cultivation, till Kargil town, the second largest town of Ladakh and Headquarters of Kargil district. Here the journey has to be broken for an overnight stay.

On leaving Kargil, the road plunges into the ridges and valleys of the Zanskar range, passing through the valleys of Pashkyum and Mulbek. At Mulbek, you will be able to see and admire the gigantic rock carving of Maitreya Buddha, dating to the 7th or 8th Century. Two more passes, Namika-la (12,200 ft. /3,719 m) and Fotu-la (13,432 ft. /4,094 m), follow the exit of Mulbek valley. From Fotu la, the road descends in sweeps and turns, past the spectacularly sited monastery of Lamayuru and the wind-eroded towers and pinnacles of "Moonland" feature, down to the Indus at Khalatse. From here the road follows the river, passing villages with their terraced fields and neat whitewashed houses. At last Leh is visible from a ridge, dominated by the imposing 17th century Leh palace.

Road journey from Manali-The Manali- Leh road (473 km) is open from early June through September. For much of its length, this road passes through barren areas that are entirely devoid of any settled habitation. Lahaul district, through which the road passes, is a typically trans-Himalayan landscape. The first major pass in this road, the Rohtang pass (13,000 ft. /3,978m), cuts through the Pir Panjal range of the Great Himalayas. Lahauli houses are built in the Ladakhi pattern, out of sun-dried bricks. Whitewashed and flat-roofed, they stand among the irrigated fields of the villages, which cling to the mountain slopes. Beyond Keylong, headquarter of Lahaul district, the road follows the Bhaga River up towards its source, passing a few more villages, the last till the territory of Ladakh is entered. Now it ascends the Baralacha-la (16,050 ft. / 4,892m), which is a tri-junction, with a trail from Spiti also joining in from the southeast. This is the crossing of the Great Himalayan Range, the watershed between the Indus and the Chenab Rivers.

The Zanskar Range, which lies next on this road, is crossed through two more passes, the Lachulung - la (16,600 ft. / 5,059m) and the Taglang-la (17,469 ft. /5,325rn). Between these two passes, there is nothing but rock and sand, rolling hills and broad plains scoured by dust devils. In this area, seasonal camps are set up at Sarchu & Pang at various points along the road to cater to the needs of travellers. Once over the Taglang-la, the descent to the Indus starts, and soon one passes the first village. The road follows the Gya River down to the Indus at Upshi, from where it is smooth driving to Leh, past the Indus valley villages of Karu, Stakna, Thikse, Shey, and Choglamsar, before entering the town.

Climate

The climatic conditions of Ladakh are mainly dry with little or no rainfall. Summer temperatures rarely exceed 27°C in the shade while in winter they may even plunge to subzero temperatures. During winters, most parts of Ladakh are snow bound and all the land approaches out of the region are closed.

Altitude 3505 meters from sea level
Temperature
Maximum Minimum
Summer 33°C 10°C
Winter -5°C -20°C
Rainfall 6" average annual

Preparing for the Ladakh Trip

Ladakh experiences considerable fluctuations in the day and night temperatures, even during the summer. While the days are pretty warm, sometimes even hot due to the landscape's desert effect, the evenings can become chilly, requiring additional clothing. It is, therefore, advisable to keep a pullover and / or an anorak or jacket handy. A sturdy pair of walking shoes with strong rubber or synthetic soles for grip, thick cotton socks (woollen for late autumn treks or glacier walks) are other essential items for the trip.

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