In Ladakh- the population is completely the Descendents of Indo-Aryan tribe and Tibetans, this part of the earth known as the land of high passes. This piece of land stretches from Siachen to the great Himalayas in the South.
Ladakh is culturally and traditionally very rich. Diversified beauty of everything around sums up this place simply as WOW.
Due to the Land disputes between India, Pakistan and China, the region is not what it had been in the 1960s.
Counted as a division by the Jammu and Kashmir Government, most important towns in the region are Leh and Kargil. Administrative departments are situated in Kargil for the summer period and in Leh for the winter period. Religious diversity can be found among people with all being peace-loving and living in harmony. Majority of population being of Muslims(49 %) followed by Buddhists. Hindus and Sikhs can be found in the division too.
Political issues that surround the Kashmir division has overshadowed the importance of Division Ladakh. However, after Bollywood made its way here with amir khan’s 3 idiots and Shahrukh Khan’s Jab Tak Hai Jaan Ladakh has got immense popularity in the hearts of wanderlust.
History of Ladakh can be dated back to neolithic times (New Stone Age). Religional history can be dated back to the 1st century AD when Buddhist monks did the job and spread the message of Mahatma Sidharta Gautama Buddha. And Islam spread to this place in the period between the 1300s and 1500s.
Ladakh includes Indus river valley, extending from the Himalaya to Kunlun mountains of Tibet. These plateaus are highest in Jammu and Kashmir at an elevation of 3000m. The terrific mountain ranges that Ladakh falls in makes this place the adventurers’ abode. The mountain altitudes are restricted only to 16000 to 18000 ft.
Leading from a narrow pass to the most serene and beautified vales, rangdum that falls in Suru village is the highest inhabitable place there. Never heard of the place? Well, the only town and one of the most important places in Ladakh other than its main town is Kargil- which falls in the Suru valley too.
The great Himalayas lead to the creation of rain shadow in the Ladakh region. This led to its creation as a desert. However, winters support snowfall, and this serves as the water source to this area. Dras, Suru Valley and Zanskar are cut off for the whole winter period.
However, summers are pleasant with temperatures ranging from 3 to 35 degree Celsius.
Best Places To Visit In Ladakh:
- Shanti Stupa: White-domed Buddhist stupa is located in Leh. This holds relics of Buddha at its base. Sunrise and sunsets from this very place appear to be extremely beautiful. The whole village of Changspa is visible from here.
- Magnetic hill: Cyclops hill present in this part of the world is a downhill which appears to be otherwise.
- Hemis Monastery: located in Hemis Ladakh this monastery is of Drukpa lineage. There is an annual festival occurring by ending June to honour Padmasambhava.
- Nubra Valley: one of the most beautiful places to head to. Nubra valley originally known as the valley of flowers is formed because of the Siachen and Shyok rivers meet. To get an entry to this village Indian locals to need to have an inner line permit from the administration. This moreover, is a cold desert and it is here where you can enjoy your camel rides. Siachen that forms the most terrific border between India and Pakistan is located towards the north of this valley.
- Pangong Tsu: situated at an altitude of 4350m it extends from India to Tibet. The lake has a little weird chemistry. Where its eastern part is fresh the western part is saline. The magnificent view is presented by the blue-watered lake with mountains in the background. Ducks may be present in the lake.
- Hemis National Park: Wildlife park situated at the eastern part of the Ladakh is an abode to animals like snow leopard and other endangered animals like Tibetian wolf, red fox, brown bear etc.
- Tso Moriri: this mountain lake lies in Changtang Plateau of Ladakh region. This is the largest high altitude lake located in India with 26km in length and 5km in width at an altitude of 4522m. The source of the water to this lake is springs and the snow that melts down to this lake- thus healthy to be consumed. You can visit this lake only in summers as the way to the place is not accesible in winters. Moreover, the lake is frozen throughout the winter season.
- Tso Kar: situated in Rupshu Plateau in Ladakh, this is a saltwater lake. Salt was extracted from this lake and exported to Tibet by Chagpa tribes. In Winter lake is frozen as the temperature falls -40-degrees celsius or below. However, summers are pleasant with not so humid climate. Gulls, geese, cranes and terns can be seen here. It can be easily accessed via Leh-Manali road as it is just 30km away from it.
- Khardung la: To get into the Nubra Valley one needs to cross Khardung la pass. Not only that it is a pass to Shyok valley too. This lies at an elevation of 5352m and is the highest motorable pass. One needs to take care of travelling via this route as he can experience altitude sickness.
- Leh Palace: overlooking the leh town this is a former palace. One can visualise paintings, art pieces which are half a century old approximately. The palace holds a museum where we can see jewellery, dresses etc. may be belonging to the royal family from whom the Dogra Rajas won.
- Hall of Fame: this is a museum constructed by the Indian Army in memory of soldiers who laid down their lives for the protection of their nation. There lies a gallery that hold the war artifacts used in Indo-Kargil war that took place in 1999.
- Stakna Monastery: situated on the left bank of Indus River, this monastery of Drugpa dates back to the 16th century.
- Alchi Monastery: locally known as chos-khor this is situated in alchi village. This is a part of monastic complex. It has the paintings that depict the ruling period of both Buddhists as well as hindu people. Statues are present here and have wood cravings and other art around them.
- Thiksey Monastery: Gompa of tibetian style is named after the hill it is presided over. This is located in Indus valley at an elevation of 3600m. It holds swords, paintings and buddhists art pieces. It also holds a temple which has statue that is the tallest in Ladakh and is 15m high.
- Shey Monastery: located on a hillock in shey, was a palace in the 17th century, however now it is just the ruins. There lies a great copper statue coated with gold. Of buddha Shakyamuni.
- Chang La: high mountain pass that is second highest motorable pass in the world. Care needs to be taken while driving through this pass. Once you enter leh, Kharu and sakti village need to be crossed to reach here. It falls on the route to Pangong if travelling from leh. There lies a research station that is by all means functional.
- Diskit Monastery: the oldest and Largest Gompa of Nubra valley it dates back to the 1300s statue of crowned buddha lies in great prayer hall. Annually a festival occurs here every february. But due to the inaccessibility of roads only those who reside in Nubra Valley can join the celebrations or fest.
- Lamayuru Monastery: also known as yuru monastery is a place for annual dance fest which is basically a masquerade. Situated in Leh it lies at the height of 3510m.
- Namgyal Tsemo: this is again a monastery that dates back to 1430. Nearly 3 stories high building lies here.
- Likir Monastery: located at an elevation of 3700m is located near Indus river. In winters this area is covered with snow over all. It was established in 1075.
- Spituk Monastery: 8kms from leh this monastery was founded in the 11th century. It contains 10 monks and a great statue of Kali.
- Zanskar Valley: surrounded by Zanskar mountains, that are about 6000m high, Zanskar Valley is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Zanskar river flows through the area which is frozen in winter months. It might appear weird but yes this frozen lake sets as the communication link to other parts of the world in whole.
Best Season For Ladakh Trip:
April to October is the time when one can travel to this beautiful destination. However, most of the travellers leave to the place from may to august only. Manali road opens in the month of june so for experiencing the best of the trips in life, so that you may begin your journey in Sonmarg, Kashmir and end it in Manali, you need to wait till Manali road is thrown open.
After August the roads that lead to this destination may not be clear.
Best Duration ( Season ) To Stay:
Two week duration is the best to witness the whole of the Ladakh division. Your trip Plan should be as follows:
Day 1 leave Srinagar Airport for Journey to Sonmarg. Make a night’s stay here.
Day 2 leave for Kargil. You can ride through Sanko valley, Tiger hill, Panikhar. Stay at Kargil for a night.
Day 3 leave for Leh. On the Way falls what is known as Lamayuru- do see the Fotu La pass that preceeds Lamayuru- which is the MoonLand on Earth’s Himalayas. Also, don’t miss to experience and breathe in the magnetic hill ride. Alongside these, you can pave the visit to monasteries, stupas and Palaces.
Day 4 Continue your Journey and towards Leh. The things to begin with from here is to visit Hemis, Thiksey and Shey. Stay overnight.
Day 5 Leave for Pangong Tso set camp for a night’s time.
Day 6 Move ahead to reach Nubra valley. It is completely heart-throbbing and is going to take you 7 hours approximately. Set a camp there and next morning
Day 7 Ride to Turtuk. Old primitive Village has stones all over the place. Yet, the hearts of the people are as Sane and Warm as you can find throughout the Kashmir. Stay for a night.
Khardung La. and see the changla top Visit the monastery
Day 7 time to travel Back. yet, we have something more for you. Khardung La and Chang La pass. Don’t forget to visit the Monastery here.
Day 9 From Khardung La it is going to take you 9 hours to reach back to sonmarg. Make a night stay here.
Day 10 Pack your bag and leave for Srinagar. From where you will be seen off to Sheikh Ul Alam International Airport.
The Best Road To Travel For Ladakh Trip:
If you just want to sight see the whole place and are not interested in making a round trip from Sonmarg to Manali, I suggest to opt for Sonmarg-Leh Highway. Road conditions are better comparatively and on the way one can grab so much from the life around. Also, one can dive into the glorific beauty of the meadows of gold and the glaciers it holds.
Adventures To Look Up To in Leh Ladakh :
CHADAR TREK one of those things to include in the bucket lists for your Ladakh Trek. This is experienced when Zanskar is frozen completely thus can be experienced in winters.
To experience the adventure and the travel freak within you, travel Ladakh via bikes. It feels like flying when on both sides you have mountains or deserts with huge Karakoram and Himalayas lying ahead. Traveling at dawn gives you an awe-struck view when the sun is just like we used to draw in childhood paintings.
Another thing that you can enjoy about your Ladakh trip is to begin your journey from Sonmarg Kashmir and depart the place via leh-Manali highway.
Camel Riding through the desert, trekking, and rock climbing the peaks can be experienced here as well.
If you still have got that childish self within you, you can enjoy the ‘Pia’s Scooter ride’ by the shore of Pangong.
Moreover, you can enjoy your 3-idiots butt picture with your friends too.
If Ladakh wants you to call that child in you, why be tough?
Things to Purchase ( Famous ) In Ladakh :
Runui candies that are found here are my mere favorites from the sweets.
Culinary sets that are native to ladakh are unique with different patterns, resembling more like chinese art.
Shawls can be purchased from Ladakh that are warm and of pure material, whether it may simply be a woolen shawl or a tosa or Pashmina shawl.
Traditional Jewelry is a must buy from that place too.