Ladakh is a beautiful place to visit in India and like the place; the people in Ladakh are also hospitable and kind-hearted. Their cheerful nature and humble living show their loyalty towards nature. And perhaps this is one well-grounded reason why Ladakh spikes with beauty and might. The people in Ladakh have a different appearance and the clothes they wear are likewise to those of Tibet and Central Asia. However, it is completely justified basing on their background. With a large number of immigrations that came from Tibet, probably this triggered the loosening of the Dards culture and also reduced their ethnic features.
Like the destination, the Ladakhis are strong and beautiful people. Their feature tends to be less of other parts of India and more akin to those of Tibet and Central Asia. Due to the altitude of the place, their skin tends to get rough patches around their cheeks and hands. It is believed that the original population came from an Indo-Aryan race - Dards. However, due to the overwhelming Tibetan culture, the majority of the Dards slowly lost their genetic characteristics and features. During your Ladakh tour, you will come across a mixed culture, while Buddhist Tibetans occupy eastern and central Ladakh; there are Muslims and people of mixed origin in places such as Kargil.There are four main groups of people in Ladakh region and they are Mongols, Dards, Tibetans and Baltis. The Mongols are said to have been the first to settle in the Indus valley followed by Dards. Dards, on the other hand, are a pure Aryan descendant. While many converted to Islam, some remained Buddhist followers. The Tibetans descended and settled in Central and Eastern Ladakh. The Baltis are said to have come from Central Asia and most of them live in the Kargil region. Nonetheless, the Ladakhis are cheerful people who enjoy their existence in the midst of nature.
The Ladakhis men wear the traditional'Goncha,' this is a thick voluminous robe. This dress consists of a colourful band known as Skerag that is tied at the waist, at the neck, under the armpit. The women wear similar kind of robe called 'Kuntop,' and unlike Goncha, Kuntop has a colourful shawl at the back called as 'Bok' where the ladies can carry their baby. The dress is brilliantly designed outside and it is fitted with a goatskin inside for warmth. If we speak of traditional accessoriesof Ladakh then the men and women both dress their hair in two long pigtails. And their head is crowned by a hat called as 'Perak.' The hat worn by women gives an appealing look to the entire dress with a number of turquoise stones placed on top of the Perak.
Even the numbering of turquoise stones names the status of the owner. The traditional Perak has three, five, seven and nine lines of turquoise stones and only the richest can wear nine lines of the coloured stones. Besides, the shoes worn by them are called as 'Papu' which are made from woven Yak hair neatly decorated with Yak leather.
Similar to the Indian version of wedding, the Ladakhistoo have a dowry system only it is called as 'Raqtqaq' in their language. During the auspicious wedding in Ladakh, the bride house blossom with merriment on the first day and the second day is followed by the same except this time at the groom’s house. After the wedding ceremony the bride is sent to the groom’s house. It so happens that, the arrangement is done from the very beginning of child’s age. And to make a proposal rings are exchanged along with togetherness with 'Chang' a Tibetan alcohol. The ceremony is then followed by gifts exchange known as a 'Raqtqaq.' However, when we speak of the inheritance, the eldest gets more power. After the father, it is the eldest son who takes over the family wealth followed by the second in line. Whenever, the family consists of only female, the property is handed over to the eldest daughter’s husband and further it passes to the son.
It is evident to wonder in such a solitary yet attractive land what the pass times the people of Ladakh partake are. Well, for the locals, two favourite past times they actively get into are Polo and Archery. In the villages of Leh, many archery festivals are held during summers. The festival especially archery is held during September month every year. This 6 days festival between 20th to 26th is celebrated joyously and merrily. During the festival, different teams from villages assemble and form groups to compete. Legend has it that, AzhangDaro or NonoGongma who was one of the heroes in GyamlamGesar could shoot a flying bird at one go. The festival not only experience archery but the festival also include polo and masked dance.However, when we speak of Polo, unlike the international game, it is quite different in LehLadakh. Each team is separated with six players and the game lasts for an hour. This sport was introduced in the mid-17th century by King SenggeNamgyal.