Leh And Ladakh

As you cross the high grounds of Sarcu in Himachal Pradesh, little will you realize that you have entered the pristine land of Ladakh. Rightly known as the roof of the earth, Ladakh is unique indeed. The splendour of high mountains is something unique which you would have never experienced in your lifetime.

As you reach Leh the biggest town of Ladakh, the cultural vibrancy of this mystique land will emerge in its totality. A unique fact about the region is that Buddhists and Muslims have been living in harmony in the region since ancient times. Leh which used to be the capital of Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh in earlier times is now the second largest district in India.

History of Ladakh

Ladakh was perhaps the only region that existed as an independent kingdom for over 900 years. However periodic attacks began in 1531 and Ladakh got annexed to Kashmir by 19th century. King Sengg Namgyal who ruled Ladakh during 17th century was perhaps the best rulers of the region. Under his leadership, the region earned recognition as best trading route between Punjab and Central Asia. 

However, it was the economic prosperity of the region that spelled doom for Ladakh. Inspired by tales of prosperity in the region, Gulab Singh attacked Ladakh and the region was annexed to Kashmir.

Presently the region is of military significance to India as Ladakh is surrounded by Pakistan on one end and China on the other.

People of Ladakh

Ladakhis bear much resemblance to their Tibetan counterparts and the region has a strong Buddhist influence. An exception can however be found in Kargil region where Baltis who are believed to have originated in Central Asia are found in dominance. Central and Eastern Ladakh is predominately occupied by people of Tibetan origin, which explains the distinct Buddhist culture in the entire district.

Places to See

Ladakh is a unique land in itself. However, the entire region boasts of some unique attractions that deserve a consideration.

Pangong Tso

The first view of Pangong Tso popularly known as Pangong Lake is breathtaking. Vast expanses of blue water are sure to refresh you after a five hour rugged journey from Leh. Enroute, you will pass through Changla pass and some small villages where you can get a reflection of the ethnic culture of Ladakh.

The lake is situated at a height of 14,270 feet and extends over 134 km with 60 percent of lake’s area falling in Tibet.

Nubra Valley

Nubra valley comprising of Upper Shayok and Nubra river valley is another must see destination in Ladakh. Deskit, the largest village in Nubra valley is one of the key attractions in the region. Hundar known for its vast sandy deserts is the last vintage point to which civilian traffic is allowed in the region.

Nubra valley is also known for its famous double hump cattle (Bactarian Cattle).

Khardung La

A real adventurous journey, Khardung La will take the breath out of you, virtually. Located at a height of 18380 feet, Khardung La is the highest motorable road in India. The pass is situated 39 km from Leh and offers great views of the valley beyond.

Magnetic Hill

Located in the vicinity of Leh town, Magnetic Hill deserves a visit. The hill is known for its magnetic powers which are strong enough to pull up the car uphill, even when the engine is turned off. When in Ladakh, head to Magnetic hill and experience the gravity defying moment for yourself.

Zanskar Valley

Zanskar valley is unique in the sense that the valley despite being densely populated is extremely remote. Zanskar valley is famous among the adventurous lot for being an ideal trekking destination. River rafting and trekking are the most popular activities in the valley and the region witnesses a heavy influx of tourists during the summer months.

Leh Palace

Built by King Sengge Namgyal in 17th century, Leh Palace overlooks the town of Leh. A nine storied high building, Leh Palace famously resembles the Potala Palace in Lhasa. The upper floors of this palace were occupied by the royal family while the lower ones had store houses. The Palace is currently with Archaeological Survey of India and has been declared as a protected monument.

Palace museum is worth a visit within the Leh Palace. The museum has a rich collection of ceremonial dresses, crowns and Chinese Thangka or paintings, some of which are 450 years old.

Best Time to Visit Ladakh

Though Ladakh is connected by the Air route throughout the year, summer months spanning from May to October are the best period to plan a visit to the region. Temperatures drop below freezing temperature during winters and movement is limited during this period.

How to Reach

By Air

Leh is connected to the outside world through air route, all around the year. Kushok Bakula Rimpochhe Airport in Leh is served by Air India, Go Air and Jet Airways. Flights operate daily to Leh, whenever the weather allows. Air India also operates flights from Jammu and Srinagar to Leh.

By Road

Two routes, one via Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir and other through Manali in Himachal Pradesh connect Ladakh with rest of India. State Road Transport Buses from Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir operate their service through the land route during the summer months.

Jeep safari and motorcycle ride are other means of reaching Ladakh. The journey is truly mesmerizing and as a traveller you will remember it for a lifetime.

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