Ladakh Tourism |Ladakh map |Hotels in Leh Ladakh
Ladakh is a region of Jammu and Kashmir, the northernmost state of the Republic of India. It lies between the Kunlun mountain range in the north and the main Great Himalayas to the south, inhabited by people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent.It is one of the most sparsely populated regions in Kashmir.
"Ladakh, the Persian transliteration of the Tibetan La-dvags, is warranted by the pronunciation of the word in several Tibetan districts.
Contemporary Ladakh borders Tibet to the east, the Lahaul and Spiti to the south, the Vale of Kashmir, Jammu and Baltiyul regions to the west, and the trans–Kunlun territory of Xinjiang to the far north. Ladakh is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and culture. It is sometimes called "Little Tibet" as it has been strongly influenced by Tibetan culture.
The largest town in Ladakh is Leh. It is one of the few remaining abodes of Buddhism in South Asia, including the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bhutan and Sri Lanka; a majority of Ladakhis are Tibetan Buddhists and the rest are mostly Shia Muslims.Some Ladakhi activists have in recent times called for Ladakh to be constituted as a union territory because of its religious and cultural differences with predominantly Muslim Kashmir.
weather and climate of Ladakh:
The weather and climate of Ladakh display great diversities. On one hand, you can get frostbite because of the extremely cold weather conditions while on the other the blaring sun can give you sunburn, if you're not well protected. The summers in Leh Ladakh experience an average temperature in the range of approximately -3° C to 30° C. Climate of Leh Ladakh experiences extremely cold winters with heavy snowfall. The average temperature in the winter season is somewhere around -20° C to 15° C. While packing for a trip, you should keep the weather and climate of Ladakh in mind. Some of the things that you should carry are windcheaters, woolen clothing, thick socks, gloves, scarves, a hat or woolen cap, boots or walking shoes, sunscreen, goggles, etc.
History of Ladakh:
Rock carvings found in many parts of Ladakh show that the area has been inhabited from Neolithic times. Ladakh's earliest inhabitants consisted of a mixed Indo-Aryan population of Mons and Dards, who find mention in the works of Herodotus, Nearchus, Megasthenes, Pliny, Ptolemy,and the geographical lists of the Puranas. Around the 1st century,Ladakh was a part of the Kushana empire. Buddhism spread into western Ladakh from Kashmir in the 2nd century when much of eastern Ladakh and western Tibet was still practising the Bon religion. The 7th century Buddhist traveler Xuanzang also describes the region in his accounts.
Faced with the Islamic conquest of South Asia in the 13th century, Ladakh chose to seek and accept guidance in religious matters from Tibet. For nearly two centuries till about 1600, Ladakh was subject to raids and invasions from neighbouring Muslim states, which led to the partial conversion of Ladakhis to Islam.
At the time of the partition of India in 1947, the Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh was undecided whether to accede to the Indian Union or Pakistan. Eventually, the ruler signed the Instrument of Accession to India. Pakistani raiders had reached Ladakh and military operations were initiated to evict them. The wartime conversion of the pony trail from Sonamarg to Zoji La by army engineers permitted tanks to move up and successfully capture the pass. The advance continued. Dras, Kargil and Leh were liberated and Ladakh cleared of the infiltrators.
The Kargil War of 1999, codenamed "Operation Vijay" by the Indian Army, saw infiltration by Pakistani troops into parts of Western Ladakh, namely Kargil, Dras, Mushkoh, Batalik and Chorbatla, overlooking key locations on the Srinagar-Leh highway. Extensive operations were launched in high altitudes by the Indian Army with considerable artillery and air force support. Pakistani troops were evicted from the Indian side of the Line of Control which the Indian Government ordered was to be respected and which was not crossed by Indian troops. The Indian Government was criticized by the Indian public because India respected geographical co-ordinates more than India's opponents, (Pakistan and China).
Since 1984 the Siachen glacier area in the north-east corner of Ladakh has been the venue of a continuing military standoff between India and Pakistan and the highest battleground in the world. The boundary was not demarcated in the 1972 Simla Agreement beyond a point, NJ 9842. There is a competition to occupy the heights of the Saltoro Ridge which borders the Siachen glacier. Since then strategic points on the glacier are occupied by both sides, with the Indians having a clear strategic advantage.
The Ladakh region was bifurcated into the Kargil and Leh districts in 1979. In 1989, there were violent riots between Buddhists and Muslims. Following demands for autonomy from the Kashmiri dominated state government, the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council was created in the 1990s. Leh and Kargil Districts now each have their own locally elected Hill Councils with some control over local policy and development funds.
Geography of Ladakh:
Ladakh is the highest plateau of the Indian state of Kashmir with much of it being over 3,000 m (9,800 ft). It spans the Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges and the upper Indus River valley.
Historically, the region included the Baltistan (Baltiyul) valleys, the Indus Valley, the remote Zangskar, Lahaul and Spiti to the south, Ngari including the Rudok region and Guge in the east, Aksai Chin in the east, and Nubra valley to the north over Khardung La in the Ladakh mountain range. Contemporary Ladakh borders Tibet to the east, the Lahaul and Spiti to the south, the Vale of Kashmir, Jammu and Baltiyul regions to the west, and the trans–Kunlun region of Xinjiang on the other side of the Kunlun range across the Karakoram Pass in the far north. Running southwest to northeast, the Altyn Tagh converges with the Kunlun range in Kashmir, which runs southeast to northwest forming a "V" shape to converge at Pulu. The geographical divide between Ladakh in the highlands of Kashmir and the Tibetan Plateau commences in the vicinity of Pulu. It continues southwards along the intricate maze of ridges situated east of Rudok, wherein are situated Aling Kangri and Mavang Kangri and culminates in the vicinity of Mayum La.
Before partition, Baltistan, now under Pakistani control, was a district in Ladakh. Skardu was the winter capital of Ladakh while Leh was the summer capital.
The Suru and Zangskar valleys form a great trough enclosed by the Himalayas and the Zangskar range. Rangdum is the highest inhabited region in the Suru valley, after which the valley rises to 4,400 m (14,436 ft) at Pensi-la, the gateway to Zangskar. Kargil, the only town in the Suru valley, is the second most important town in Ladakh. It was an important staging post on the routes of the trade caravans before 1947, being more or less equidistant, at about 230 kilometres from Srinagar, Leh, Skardu and Padum. The Zangskar valley lies in the troughs of the Stod and the Lungnak rivers. The region experiences heavy snowfall; the Pensi-la is open only between June and mid-October. Dras and the Mushkoh Valley form the western extremity of Ladakh.
The Indus river is the backbone of Ladakh. Most major historical and current towns — Shey, Leh, Basgo and Tingmosgang (but not Kargil), are situated close to the Indus River. After the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947, the stretch of the Indus flowing through Ladakh is the only part of this river, which is greatly venerated in the Hindu religion and culture, that still flows through India.
The Siachen Glacier is located in the eastern Karakoram range in the Himalaya Mountains along the disputed India-Pakistan border. The Karakoram range forms a great watershed that separates China from the Indian subcontinent and is sometimes called the "Third Pole." The glacier lies between the Saltoro Ridge immediately to the west and the main Karakoram range to the east. At 70 km long, it is the longest glacier in the Karakoram and second-longest in the world's non-polar areas. It falls from an altitude of 5,753 m (18,875 ft) above sea level at its source at Indira Col on the China border down to 3,620 m (11,875 ft) at its snout. The passes and some dominating heights on the Saltoro ridge, which has a crestline with heights from 5,450 to 7,720 m (17,880 to 25,330 feet), are occupied by troops on both sides.
Saser Kangri is the highest peak in the Saser Muztagh, the easternmost subrange of the Karakoram range in India, Saser Kangri I having an altitude of 7,672 m (25,171 ft).
Ladakh is a high altitude desert as the Himalayas create a rain shadow, denying entry to monsoon clouds. The main source of water is the winter snowfall on the mountains. Recent flooding in the region has been attributed to abnormal rain patterns and retreating glaciers, both of which might be linked to global warming.The Leh Nutrition Project, headed by Chewang Norphel, also known as the 'Glacier Man', currently creates artificial glaciers as one solution for retreating glaciers.
The regions on the north flank of the Himalayas — Dras, the Suru valley and Zangskar — experience heavy snowfall and remain cut off from the rest of the region for several months in the year, as the whole region remains cut off by road from the rest of the country. Summers are short, though they are long enough to grow crops. The summer weather is dry and pleasant. Temperature ranges are from -3 to 30 °C in summer and from -20 to -35 °C in winter.
Culture of Ladakh:
Ladakhi culture is similar to Tibetan culture. Ladakhi food has much in common with Tibetan food, the most prominent foods being thukpa (noodle soup) and tsampa, known in Ladakhi as ngampe (roasted barley flour). Edible without cooking, tsampa makes useful trekking food. A dish that is strictly Ladakhi is skyu, a heavy pasta dish with root vegetables. As Ladakh moves toward a cash-based economy, foods from the plains of India are becoming more common. As in other parts of Central Asia, tea in Ladakh is traditionally made with strong green tea, butter, and salt. It is mixed in a large churn and known as gurgur cha, after the sound it makes when mixed. Sweet tea (cha ngarmo) is common now, made in the Indian style with milk and sugar. Most of the surplus barley that is produced is fermented into chang, an alcoholic beverage drunk especially on festive occasions.
The architecture of Ladakh contains Tibetan and Indian influences and monastic architecture reflects a deeply Buddhist approach. The Buddhist wheel, along with two dragons, is a common feature on every gompa, including the likes of Lamayuru, Likir, Thikse, Hemis, Alchi and Ridzong Gompas. Many houses and monasteries are built on elevated, sunny sites facing south, and in the past were made of rocks, earth and wood but are now more often concrete frames filled in with stones or adobes.
The most popular sport in Ladakh now is ice hockey, which is played only on natural ice in January. Cricket is also very popular. Archery is a traditional sport in Ladakh, and many villages still hold archery festivals, which are as much about traditional dancing, drinking and gambling as about the sport. The sport is conducted with strict etiquette, to the accompaniment of the music of surna and daman (shenai and drum). Polo, the other traditional sport of Ladakh is indigenous to Baltistan and Gilgit, and was probably introduced into Ladakh in the mid-17th century by King Singge Namgyal, whose mother was a Balti princess.
Our Christian evangelist at Khalatse had become a father a few weeks before, and the people of the village had made presents of "flour-ibex" to him and his wife. He gave me one of those figures, which are made of flour and butter, and told me that it was a custom in Tibet and Ladakh, to make presents of "flour-ibex" on the occasion of the birth of a child. This is quite interesting information. I had often wondered why there were so many rock carvings of ibex at places connected with the pre-Buddhist religion of Ladakh. Now it appears probable that they are thank offerings after the birth of children. As I have tried to show in my previous article, people used to go to the pre-Buddhist places of worship, in particular, to pray to be blessed with children.
Tibetan medicine has been the traditional health system of Ladakh for over a thousand years. This school of traditional healing contains elements of Ayurveda and Chinese medicine, combined with the philosophy and cosmology of Tibetan Buddhism. For centuries, the only medical system which was accessible to the people have been the amchi who are traditional doctors following the Tibetan medical tradition. Amchi medicine is still an important component of public health to this day, especially in remote areas.
A number of programmes by the government, local and international organisations are underway to develop and rejuvenate this traditional system of healing. Efforts are underway to preserve the intellectual property rights of amchi medicine for the people of Ladakh. The government has also been trying to promote the seabuckthorn in the form of juice and jam, as it is believed to possess many medicinal properties. This is also seen as a means of providing employment to the various self help groups in rural Ladakh.
There are many NGOs which are actively working to improve the life in Ladakh like LEDeG, Leho, the Leh Nutrition project and Women's alliance. LEDeG has been working actively since 1971 to install hydraulic rams to improve the water supply in the region. It has also been successful in setting up hydro-power projects in the otherwise energy-starved region.
Transport|How to reach Ladakh:
The main corridors for accessing the area are the Zoji-La Pass and Kargil route from Srinagar in the Kashmir Valley, and the high altitude Manali-Leh Highway from Himachal Pradesh. The Manali-Leh road is open only from May to October or November, when snow is cleared from the several passes. The Srinagar-Leh road is open from April or May to November or December, and is generally only blocked by snow through the winter at Zoji-La Pass. There is one airport, situated at Leh, from which there are multiple daily flights to Delhi on Jet Airways and Indian, and weekly flights to Srinagar.
Tourism in Ladakh:
Ladakh a word which means "land of high passes", is a region in the state of Jammu and Kashmir of Northern India sandwiched between the Karakoram mountain range to the north and the Himalayas to the south. The Indian portion of Ladakh is composed of the Leh and Kargil districts. The Leh district is the largest district of India, covering more than half the area of Jammu and Kashmir, of which it is the eastern part.
Adventure tourism in Ladakh started in the 19th century. By the turn of the 20th century, it was not uncommon for British officials to undertake the 14 stage trek from Srinagar to Leh as part of their annual leave. Agencies were set up in Srinagar and Shimla to specialise sport related activities — hunting, fishing and trekking. A large retinue of porters would carry huge canvas tents and collapsible string beds. This era is recorded in Arthur Neves The Tourist's Guide to Kashmir, Ladakh and Skardo, first published in 1911. Today, about 18,000 tourists visit Ladakh every year. Bounded by two mighty mountain ranges, it is a popular place for adventure tourism. The well-preserved Tibetan-Buddhist culture makes it even more attractive.
Tourist places Ladakh:
Among the popular places of tourist interest include Leh, Drass valley, Suru valley, Kargil, Zangskar, Zangla, Rangdum, Padum, Phukthal, Sani Monastery, Stongdey, Shayok Valley, Sankoo, Salt Valley. Popular treks are Manali to Ladakh, the Nubra valley, the Indus valley, Markha valley, Ladakh monastery trek, South Zangskar, Trans-Zangskar Expedition, Spiti to Ladakh, Spiti to Pitok to Hemis, Rupshu, the Great Salt lakes, Chadar Ice trek, Padum-Phuktal, Padam to Darcha, Panikhar to Heniskot, Padum to Manali , Lamayuru-Martselang, Lamayuru - Alchi, Kala Pattar trek, Pahalgam to Suru valley, Kinnaur-Spiti-Ladakh, Tsomoriri-Lake Trek, and Manali-Leh trek.
Areas that were opened to tourists (with permits) in 2010 include Chiktan Valley and the Dard villages on the Indus River in Kargil District; the Balti villages of Bogdang and Turtuk; and two villages on the banks of PAngong Lake, Maan and Merak.
Best time to visit Ladakh:
The best time to visit Ladakh is from June until September, the region’s summer season. At this time, Ladakh is an unparalleled paradise, with clear, stunning views and warm and sunny weather – the average temperature range during the day is about 20–30°C. Keen trekkers usually head to Ladakh during July and August, when the Manali-Leh and Srinagar-Leh highways are open to vehicles. That said, Ladakh is a land bound by two of the world’s highest mountain ranges – the Himalayas and Karakoram – anyone visiting Ladakh, even in the middle of summer, should be prepared for the sharp drop in temperatures at night.
Hotels in Leh Ladakh:
Goldrop Camp Sarchu
The Grand Dragon Hotel
Grand Willow Hotel
The Kaal Hotel
Ladakh Sarai Saboo
Leh Chen Hotel
Pamir Holiday Home
Spic N Span Hotel
West Ladakh Camp Uletokpo