Ladakh, one of the provinces of J&K state, is rightly called as “Lad of Endless Discoveries.” The region is
unique in terms of topography, including mystic and tranquil places, people, culture and traditions. J&K state, the northern most state of India, is dividied in three main sub regions where environment as well as local populations observe varied differences. The southern most part that comprises of winter capital Jammu and nearby districts resemble north Indian localities. The north of the state comprises of Kashmir Valley mostly, while as the east comprises of Kargil, Leh and Ladakh. Amongst the three regions, Leh-Ladakh is unqiue owing to its high altitude wilderness, breath taking views of landscapes, medley of cultures — Muslim, Buddhist mainly, snow capped peaks and awesome treks of Himalayas. High altitude passes and rugged mountains in addition to fresh water lakes are important features of Ladakh experience.
A number of Buddhist monasteries, ancient forts and beautiful valleys dot the Leh-Ladakh region. Travel in Leh-Ladakh is in iteself a great experience. Whether it is the road trip or trekking in the altitudes here, the place makes it full of adventure. Most regions here are isolated, perched among hills, where modernity still has not made any inroads. A number of monasteries and mosques are popular among travellers. Popular monasteries are Thicksey, Hemis, Stakna, Chemrey, Takthok, Spituk, Phyang. A religious centre, Lamayuru, is most popular among places known. The region is also dotted with meditation centres.
Ladakh also amuses travellers who are into collecting old artefacts. There are numerous places where these artefacts can be found. Monuments have been identified and protected by the Government of India, like Hemis Monastery, Leh Palace that was built by King Singe Namgyal in 17th century, Alchi Monastery, Sculpture at Drass, Sculpture and Mulbekh, Namgyal Castle.
One of the most beautiful valleys in Ladakh is the Nubra Valley, also called Ldumra. It is the valley of flowers. The valley at an altitude of above 10,000 feet from sea level lies in the north of Ladakh. It is here that highest motorable road called Nubra road is present. The two-humped bactrian camels are found here. The region has immense historic importance as it used to be an important trade centre when Silk Route connected Central Asia with the East (China).
Among the nature’s wonders, the high altitude lakes are well known here. Pangong Lake, which is approximately 150kms in length and some 8kms wide is a must watch. The lake lies at an average altitude of about 14,100 feet above sea level. Another lake called Tsomo riri is also very popular. This lake has a little higher altitude than Pangong. It lies at about 15,000 feet above sea level. The lake is popular among bird watchers as hundreds of migratory bird species can be found here.
Among the activities, trekking and adventure tours are the must do. The rugged mountains has some incredible trails with beautiful landscapes that are mostly unexplored. The trek from Zanskar to Leh is one of the most challenging in the world. It is an ice trek and movement is possible due to freezing of Zanskar river. More than a dozen treks in Ladakh make it a top trekking destination in India. From few days trek to almost three weeks trek, the adventure never ceases.
Ladkah is also visited by large number of foreign tourists from all parts of the world who are interested in unqiue culture. A number of festivals are celebrated where one can get glimspses of the unqiue traditions and culture of Ladakhi people. Amongst festivals organized by government, the Polo festival is popular.
Ladakh is connected by roads with Srinagar and Manali (Himachal Pradesh). The roads are open to traffic for 6-7 months. They are closed during winter time as heavy snow makes them impassable. The reason Ladakh is favourite among the Roadies is because of wilderness. For hundreds of kilometres you can’t find a fuel station or habitation. You are on your own, left with the nature. Also, the mountain roads are not easy highways. They are tricky and difficult to drive on. Light motors many a times do not make it and have to return. Rovers, Utility Vehciles, Mid and Heavy Trucks and among motorcycles Bullets (500 cc) are suitable. Roads in Ladakh test both the vehicle as well as the person driving.