Five Things of Ladakh That You Should Experience as a Traveler!

Ladakh resembles a paradise, if ever there was one. How else can one account for its surreal beauty? Its dry and rugged terrain lends it a mystical beauty. Look upwards, and your squinty eyes meet the brilliant cerulean skies, with an occasional streak of clouds wafting leisurely by.

However, Ladakh, the Land of High Passes, is more than its natural beauty. Here, you find Buddhist monasteries which are as ancient as time, taste cuisines which are both delicious and comforting, and witness festivals which arouse your curiosity. In other words, there many sides to Ladakh which one should experience to absorb the complete beauty of the place. This blog brings you five things to experience while in Ladakh.

Topography

Image Source — Reurinkjan / Flickr

Ladakh belongs to the eastern-most part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It possesses one of the most breathtaking landscapes one can ever come across. Covering about 11, 7000 sq. km, it includes the Karakoram Range and the Upper Indus Valley. With an average altitude of 12,000 ft., it’s considered to be one of the highest tourist place on earth.

Ladakh is linked to the Kashmir Valley by the Zojila Pass, at an altitude of 10,098 ft. It possesses parallel mountain ranges along with a cold climate, with temperatures falling as low as -40 degree centigrade in winters. This region receives very little rainfall due to the colossal mountain ranges surrounding it.

Natural Beauty

Image Source — John Lorimer / Flickr

Ladakh, the “Land of High Passes,” is one of the most beautiful region in the whole of Jammu and Kashmir. Its beauty is incredible picturesque, with its pristine lakes, snowcapped peaks, jagged mountains and clear blue skies. This is one of the prime reasons to visit Leh Ladakh India. Of the many beautiful lakes in all of Ladakh, Tsomoriri Lake is perhaps the most enchanting of all. It’s the highest brackish water lake in India, seated at an elevation of 15,075ft. The other lake which appears quite surreal is Pangong Tso Lake.

Time stands still and one is simply lost in the captivating beauty of Zanskar Valley. The golden sands of the desert of the Nubra Valley deliver an Arabian Nights like experience. That apart, this region is also famous for its two-humped camels. This place is enchanting enough to warrant a visit, or several visits. A holiday to Ladakh allows you to experience all the charms that Ladakh has to offer.

The natural beauty which is found in Ladakh is embellished further by the presence of some fascinating fauna like the magnificent snow leopard. It’s hardly any wonder then that this place attracts a constant stream of visitors throughout the year, all eager to absorb the magical experience it provides and the inexpensive memories one gathers for a lifetime.

Ladakhi Culture

The people of Ladakh celebrate life in all aspects. The occasions for gatherings are mostly sociology-religious festivals, and annual celebrations held in monasteries. One of the favorite pastime of the Ladakh people is archery, which is accompanied by open-air parties, dancing and singing. Polo, another popular sport, is accompanied by the music of “surna” and “daman” (musical instruments). During these occasions, Chang, the local barley beer, is enjoyed by the people in large amounts, but no scenes of rowdiness are ever reported or experienced.

Oracles and astrologers play a significant role in Ladakhi society, with the Lamas acting as the mediators between humans and spirits. The most famous monk oracles are those belonging to Matho Gompa. They are selected every three years by a traditional procedure, one which involves them to undergo rigorous fasting and performing rites of exorcism.

Arts and crafts of Ladakh are quite simple in nature, and mainly involve items related to everyday use. There are several communities involved in the practice of metal making. One of them can be found in the village of Chiling, about 19km from the Zanskar River, where a community of metal workers practice their ancestral profession which mainly involves silver, brass and copper.

Adventure Tourism

Image Source — Karunakar Rayker / Flickr

The topography of Ladakh offers abundant scope for various kinds of adventure sports, ranging from trekking to river rafting to mountaineering. Of course, trekking in Ladakh is a favorite with the tourists. The high altitudes, combined with the marvelous landscapes that one encounters along the way, makes trekking an immensely thrilling experience. One of the most famous trekking trails is the Frozen River Trek, also known as the Chadar Trek. This requires one to cross the frozen Zanskar River.

River Rafting is best done on the Indus River, which originates from Kailash Mountain. Besides, there are several grades in river rafting in the Indus which are best suited for both amateurs and professionals alike. Some of the popular routes are, Saspol — Khaltsey, Phey — Nimmo route and Upshi — Kharu route, beside others.

If there is a “best” way of experiencing Ladakh, its motor biking. The spectacular sights presented along the ride, along with the thrill of the ride itself, is a memorable experience. If you fancy yourself as an expert biker, try biking on Khardung La, the highest motorable road in the world.

A unique “Bactrian Camel” safari awaits you in Nubra Valley. A bumpy ride on these shaggy two-humped camel can really be called the “ride of a lifetime.” Indeed, these fine beasts are the most preferred mode of transportation in this region here.

Religious Sites

Image Source — David Zeder / Flickr

The influence of Tibetan Buddhism in Ladakh is quite prominent, which is quite natural because it remained under the influence of Buddhist kings and dynasties for almost nearly 900 years. Monasteries in Ladakh are some of the most ancient ones in the world, and fascinate visitors for their architectural beauty. The king of all monasteries here is the Alchi Monastery. It’s also known as Chos-khor, and comprises of five temples, with the assembly hall adorned with the richest paintings.

Another such monastery is the Thiksey monastery, which is the largest in the central Ladakh district. Then there is the Takthok Monastery, which was founded in the 16th century. It houses the Kandshur, which contains the sacred teachings of Buddha in 108 volumes. The most famous monastery however is Hemis Monastery, which attracts tourists in large numbers during the summer festival. It is the richest monastery of Ladakh.