Ladakh, the abode of monks, lakes, high mountain passes and wildlife
A journey to Ladakh is as surreal as it is real. The heathen lifestyle of the Indo-Tibetans and their monasteries, the Zanskari culture and their lifestyle, amazing avalanches, Stupas, wildlife, unexplored canyons and crystal blue lakes and layers of magnificent ranges together make Ladakh a potpourri of beautiful trekking destinations.
Further, the region also dates back to the pre-historical era, to the Bronze Age, as it divulges traces of ancient civilization through the images inscribed on rocks. These images which reveal the lifestyle of ancient dwellers millions of years back and have now become one of the major attractions in Ladakh for explorers worldwide. Ladakh… at one breath is a hub of several adventure activities, which include trekking, river rafting, camping, mountaineering, mountain biking and more.
The region is also popular for being the home to several Tibetan monks… bejeweling the Indo-Tibetan culture right away from the pre historic era. Ladakh hosts a number of the ancient Buddhist monasteries that uncover the era of Lord Buddha and his teachings and several other journeys undertaken by many Buddhist prophets. The Ladakh pilgrimage tour that takes one from monasteries to monasteries is one of the most in-demand tours in Ladakh.
Glimpses of some of the notable destinations in the Ladakh region:
Cast in the wild while you envy the steep ranges, the pursuit of solitary trail, will hold you with surprises.” The rugged vale of Zanskar is a backbreaking seven days trail covering mystic passages, poudrin lakes, crystal clear streams and wildlife. Winter in the “land of white copper”, Zanskar, commits and unwraps the valley to its most beautiful state along the frozen Zanskar River. Remala, at an altitude of 3635 m, is the starting point of the rafting trip down the Stod River to Nimu, at an altitude of 3154 m en route to the Drung Durung glacier, Karsha Gompa, Pidmo, Nyerak and Lamaguru. Further, the major places to visit in Zanskarare Zangla, Zongkhul Monastery, Stongdey Monastery, Karsha Monastery, Panikhar, Padum and Penzella Pass.
The rich orchid valley and cultivated farmlands ripe with apple, apricots, barley and orange berries dotted around with ruined palaces and ancient Gompas, en route to the Khardung La Pass, Nubra Valley is yet another wallowing destination endued by the Nubra River and Shayok River and a close propinquity to the famous Siachen Glacier. The Diskit Gompa is also another major nearby attraction for tourists. The popular places to visit in Nubra Valley are Khardung La, Panamik, Yarab Tso, Diskit Monastery, Maitreya Buddha, Hunder Sand Dunes and Samstanling Monastery.
A rich valley that is dotted with plantations of willow and poplar trees and agricultural crops like wheat, millet and barley and blessed by the River Suru, which is one of the major tributaries of the River Indus, the Suru Valley is a potpourri of nature. It is a spectacle of stunning features – splendid mountain walls crowned by towering peaks, rugged alpine slopes draining into untamed mountain streams, glaciers descending along the mountain slopes to the river bed and quaint villages that houses the Dard and Tibetan descent. The beauty of this valley is further heightened by the contrast of the snow capped peaks of Kun at 7035 meters and Nun at 7135 meters. Two other major attractions in the Suru Valley are the Rangdum Monastery and Pensi La, which is the gateway to the Zanskar Valley. The Suru Valley is easily accessible from Sankoo, Panikhar and Parachik, which are all connected with Kargil.
Located at an altitude of 3500 m, Leh holds a vast history stretching from the Kushan period to the modern age. Once the trade track to Central Asia en route to Mt. Kailash and Manosrovar Lake, Leh now has become the etymon hub for the inhabiting Tibetans. The culture practiced by the Ladakhis is quite different from the rest of India. The settlement of Buddhists embossed beautiful shrines, Gompas and monasteries like Stock palace, Shey Palace, Thiksey, Hemis, Chimday, Takthok, Spituk, Likhir, Alchi and Lamayuru. Taking one back to the sixteenth century, the nine storied Leh Palace is a major attraction along with outstanding features of the Himalaya panorama. Some other places to visit in and around Leh are Chang La, Zorawar Fort, Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, Hall of Fame and Shanti Stupa.
Kargil a has a vast history from the ancient period of Dard and Lone to the modern age of Dogra conquest. Major part of Kargil has been shattered after the Indo-Pakistan war in 1999, but still the gore ground of Kargil upholds the beauty of nature and reverent culture, surrounded by Suru valley and Zanskar valley in north and Drass valley, Chiktan valley and Wakha-Mulbekh valley in south. Almost the entire region is of cultivated land and comprises Shia Muslims and the converted Muslims locally known as Agha. Kargil, also the off-ramp gateway to Ladakh is the of various explored and unexplored trails to Mushoo Valley, Wakha-Mulbek valley and Drass Valley. The major attractions in an around Kargil are the Drass War Memorial, Brigade War Gallery, Dropadi Kund and Sando Top.
Hemis National Park
One of the high altitude national parks in India, the Hemis National Park is the largest national park in India that covers an area of approximately 4400 square kilometers and stretches from an elevation of 3500 meters to 6000 meters. It is a home to several endangered Himalayan wildlife including snow leopards, Red Fox and Himalayan Black Bears. It also houses several species of migratory birds and predacious birds like eagles and vultures. The popular winter trek in the Ladakh region, the Snow Leopard Trek, trails you down into the wilderness of this Trans-Himalayan national park.
The enchanting drive through the Changla pass, at an altitude of 5270 m, from Leh to Pangong Tso, a sparkling blue lake against the deserted mountains attracts tourists every year. The changing hues against the escaping day light are another graceful feature of the lake. The lake stretches 134 km from India to Tibet though major part that lies in India.
The Tso Moriri Lake that is situated at an elevation of 4,595 meters is one of the high altitude lakes in India and the largest in the Trans-Himalayan region, which is accessible from Leh via Upshi. Tso Moriri is yet another brackish and blue water lake, which is a home to several migratory birds and species of Himalayan animals. This tranquil lake is secluded by peaks towering over a height of 6000 meters… completely shutting the lake from the outside world. One can visit the nearby Korzok village for an overnight stay.