YOU CAN ALWAYS MAKE MONEY YOU CAN’T ALWAYS MAKE MEMORIES
Ladakh is a region administered by India as a union territory, and constitutes a part of the larger Kashmir region. Ladakh is a magnificent and an unexplored wonderland of the Himalayas. It is one place that is considered as a heaven by everyone who is on a lookout to satiate their indomitable love for adventure. Besides trekking in Ladakh, you can indulge in a series of adventure sports such as biking, water rafting, safaris, etc. Also known as the ‘Land of Passes, Ladakh forms an alluring part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in India.
The iconic Magnetic Hill, the turquoise coloured Pangong Lake, the confluence of two mystical rivers, ancient and awe inspiring monasteries and the highest passes are a few of the marvelous attractions of Leh and Ladakh in general. The wide array of trekking routes will satiate your soul and enrich the senses.
The magic of Leh will beckon you year after year and leave you still wanting more. The moon-like landscapes, desert mountains with splashes of green and snow peaks, monasteries and stupas make you feel far removed from this world. The drive on the mountain roads, along the mighty Indus and the Zanskar, with grazing Yaks, Martens, wild horses and sheep, apple and apricot trees is really like a dream come alive.
HOW TO REACH
By Air: The nearest airport in Ladakh is the Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport located in Leh. This airport is connected with many international airports so it becomes convinent for international travellers to travel.
It also receives flights from Srinagar, Jammu, Chandigarh and other common destinations in India.
By Road: The most common route to travel to Ladakh is by road. Especially by bike, many people take bike rides to the place and it is known to be the best route for a road trip.
Although there are bus services also available. There are government and private buses from Srinagar and Manali that take you to Ladakh.
By Rail: The nearest railway station to Ladakh is in Tawi. But the station is around 700 km away and is not a preferable route of travel. However, this railway station receives trains from many important destinations, namely; Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi. From the station, cabs are available to reach Ladakh.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
During the summer months, one can explore the beauty of Ladakh by visiting all its viewpoints. It is the best time to visit because the temperature in Ladakh remains moderate and the roads are clear to commute. Otherwise, most of the roads are blocked due to heavy snowfall during the winters.
FOODS & CUISINE IN LADAKH
· Sea Buckthorn Juice This drink is made from the berries which are found in Ladakh only.
· Saag Saag is made of spinach and in most part of north-India, this food is prepared.
· Cholak Cholak is another different dish in this area, it comprises of 3 elements- Tsampa, Chang and buttermilk.
· Phirni It is a delicious sweet dish to have in Ladakh. It is given in a kulhaad i.e a pot made of mud, which will make it taste tastier.
· Holkur Holkur is a biscuit or cookie of the Ladakhis.
· Cheese from Yak’s milk (Chhupri) Chhupri is one of the best food items in Leh Ladakh and this marvellous food is easily available in the main market area.
· Tigmo (pronounced Teemo It is a form of fermented and steamed bread, served with a veg/non-veg stew.
· Butter tea The butter helps keep lips from getting chapped in the harsh cold weather and the salt helps to stay away from altitude sickness.
· Momos The momos are available in various shapes.
· Thukpa It is a clear soup with lots of vegetables. Comfort food for cold temperatures of Leh.
· Kulcha This is a kind of bun, which is very unlike what we know as Kulcha in North India. It is a hard bun that the locals eat with qahwa or tea.
· Qahwa An essential drink in Leh.It contains saffron and cinnamon that help keep the body warm.
· Thenktuk This a version of the Thukpa. In addition to the vegetables this soup consists of noodles as well.
· Mokthuk Mokthuk is for you. It is a Tibetan soup consisting of momos and vegetables.
Yarkhandi Pulao This is a very popular food in Leh LadakhPaba
Paba is a kind of bread, and it is extremely nutritious since it is made of barley, peas, buckwheat, wheat, and local black beans.
Skew another kind of dumpling soup, although made in the same way as the chutagi it is shaped like really vtiny thumb sized chapattis.
POPULAR ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES IN LADAKH
· Trekking & Hikking
· Mountain Biking
· River Rafting
· Peak Climbing
· Jeep Safari
· Horse Riding Camel Safari
· Wildlife & Bird Watching
PLACES TO VISIT IN LADAKH
PANGONG TSO LAKE
Pangong lake known as pangong tso is a beautiful endorheic lake situated in the Himalayas, extending from india to china.
The one factor that makes this Lake so popular is the fact that it keeps changing colors. Situated in the Himalayan range it is approximately 140 km from Leh in Jammu and Kashmir. The name of the lake Pangong was got from a Tibetan word Banggong Co that means a narrow and enchanted lake. And now you know that the lake has got its name rightfully. You will know this when you visit the beautiful lake of Pangong. You are sure to be enchanted by the charm. And because the lake is a long stretch, one third area of the lake lies within our country and the other two third portion lies with Tibet and is controlled by China.
It is one of the most isolated regions of Ladakh. Famous for the Zanskar river frozen trek, remote cave monasteries and of course the river rafting with its bizarre landscape and unusal rock formations.
The snow covered steep terrians of Zanskar valley beckon trevellers to trek on while they are overlooked with the clear blue sky.
Zanskar Valley, nestled in the remote corner of Ladakh, is one of the most enchanting places to visit in the Himalayas. Located on the eastern corner of Jammu & Kashmir state, it is separated from Ladakh by the Zanskar mountain range. Planning a trip to Zanskar Valley can get tricky. The best time to visit Zanskar Valley is only between June to September/October.
What makes the Chadar trek so famous is thefact that you can walk up the frozen Zanskar river while the rugged Himalayan range envelopes you. It certainly is a thrilling experience to walk on frozen river, rather trek and camp at Nerak, which gives a soothing setting for the heart.
If you haven’t visited Kargil while in Ladakh, then your trip is considered incomplete. It is the second largest town in Ladakh and is situated on the banks of Indus River.
Kargil lies near the Line of Control facing Pakistan-administered Kashmir's Baltistan to the west, and Kashmir valley to the south. Zanskar is part of Kargil district along with Suru, Wakha and Dras valleys. Kargil was at the center of a conflict between India and Pakistan in 1999.
As a tribute to the martyrs of the kargil war, the war memorial was built at the same place where the actual war was fought
between India and Pakistan and India defeated the enemies. it is the only memorial in the world which has been constructed at the actual war site. the Indian jawans posted at the memorial are very courteous and willingly explain the details of the war and how they very courageously fought the enemies. the site would make every indian proud.
Gurudwara Pathar Sahib
Located in the periphery of Leh, on the Leh-Kargil road, is the Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, which was constructed in memory and honour of Guru Nanak. This place of worship is associated with a very important event in the history of the Sikh religion. It is popularly believed that during 1515-18 when Guru Nanak was returning to Punjab via Srinagar, after travelling to Sikkim, Nepal and Tibet, he had rested at this place. When he reached Leh he sat here to meditate. While here, One day, when Guru ji was immersed deep in the worship of God, the demon took the opportunity and throw a huge stone (Pathar) on Guru ji so that Guru ji would die under the huge stone. But 'When the almighty protects, none can kill him' and at that time an unusual incident happened. As the huge stone touched Guju ji, it became like wax and Guru ji's body got struck in the wax but it did no effect the worship of Guru ji. The demon was pleased assuring that Guru ji was killed and came down near the stone. Seeing Guru ji alive, the demon was surprised and in a fit of rage, he kicked the stone with his right leg but the demon's leg also get struck in the wax. The, the demon realized that he in his foolishness had tried to kill a Lord's devotee and he fell at Guru ji's feet to apologize for this mistake.
Lamayuru is popular for its ‘lunar’ landscape and monastery. Interestingly, this quaint little village is promoted as ‘moonscape’ for tourists; reason being its incredible yet odd geographical formations.
It’s a small village in Ladakh, but an ideal place to take a break from the journey from Kargil to Leh. Home of one of the oldest monasteries in Ladakh, legends believe that this place was once a lake that dried up. Remains on top of the Leh tourism charts, this tiny village has more to offer than it meets your eyes.
This region is popular for two annual festivals, and both are celebrated on a grand scale. Yuru Kab Gyat and Hemis Tse Chu are celebrated in the 2nd and 5th month of the Tibetan lunar calendar. Hemis Tse Chu is the biggest monastic festival in Ladakh and lasts for two days. Yuru Kab Gyat is also a two-day-long festival, in which sacred rituals and dances are performed by the monks.
KHARDUNG LA PASS
Famously known as the gateway to the Nubra and Shyok Valleys in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir. It is the highest motorable pass in the world. It is filled with tourists crossing over from Leh and stopping long enough to click some photographs. Adventure bikers from all parts of our country and across the world visit this mountain pass on their motorcycles for an adventure soaked experience. Khardung La Pass is positioned on the Ladakh range, which is 40 km from Leh, at an altitude of 18,379 ft (5602 m).
Known for its orchards, scenic vistas, Bactrian camels and monasteries; Nubra Valley is the northernmost part of Jammu and Kashmir. Situated about 150 km from Leh, Nubra Valley is known as the Orchard of Ladakh and was originally called Ldumra which meant the valley of flowers.
Surrounded by snowcapped Himalayan ranges, Nubra valley lies sandwiched between Tibet and Kashmir. The view of the valley is picturesque and breathtaking. During winter, the whole valley looks like landscape of the moon (reason for calling Moonland) and in summer full of greenery.
To reach Nubra valley, you will have to cross the awe-inspiring Khardung La, the highest motorable pass in the world. Winding channels of the Shyok and Nubra Rivers crisscross the wide and flat Nubra valley. From a distance, the valley seems parched and dry. However, the valley mainly consists of prime farm land. No wonder then that the valley has earned the sobriquet Orchard of Ladakh.
It is not just scenic natural beauty of Nubra which attracts tourists. The valley is predominantly Buddhist and boasts of several centres of Buddhist learning. Ensa, Samstemling, Diskit and Hunder monastery are famous Buddhist monasteries.
Besides the famed Khardung La, Nubra Valley, and Pangong Tso, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ladakh is the Magnetic Hill, where gravity seems to take the backseat – 27 km from the town of Leh.
Nestled between the Himalayan and the Karakoram mountain ranges, Ladakh is a cold desert literally meaning ‘the land of high passes.’ Known for its pristine lakes, barren mountains that change color at every turn of the road, and for clearest of night skies in all of the world, Ladakh has been called the heaven on earth, for more than one reason.
At the start of the stretch of the Magnetic Hill, there is a yellow box demarcated by BRO (Border Roads Organization), where you can park your car in neutral gear and witness the mysterious magnetic abilities in full swing pulling the car uphill.
This strange natural wonder is supported by many versions of theories and beliefs.
Spituk Gompa is situated on the hilltop; it was established in the 11th Century by Od-De. The word 'Spitok' means exemplary. Spituk Gompa belonged to the Kadampa School and with the passage of time it came under Dharmaraja Takspa Bum - Lde Lama Lhawang Lotus, who introduced the stainless order of Tsongkhapa there. Today it is the home of 100 monks and an awe inspiring image of Mahakaal, the face of this image is kept covered and is unveiled at the annual festival of Spituk in January. This Monastery's museum has a rich collection of ancient masks, antique arms, other icons and numerous Thangkas.
Spituk Gompa was founded in the 14th Century and is located at about 5 km from the Leh. On the top of the Gompa is a three-tiered shrine. The statues inside the Gompa are of Buddha and Tsongkhapa.
The best way to reach spituk gompa is by hiring car or renting a bike from Leh, which is around 8km away.
HEMIS NATIONAL PARK
Located in the eastern part of Ladakh district in Jammu and Kashmir in north India, Hemis National Park has the distinction of being the largest national park in South Asia.
Hemis National Park also has the distinction of being among the largest contiguous protected region, second only to Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve. Spread over 4400 sq km, the park is home to 16 species of mammals and 73 of birds. The park is protected home for endangered mammals like leopards, Asiatic ibex, Tibetan wolf, the Eurasian brown bear and the red fox.
The park boasts of 200 leopards and is the only habitat of Shapu or the Ladakhi Urial in India. It is also home to small mammals like Himalayan marmot, mountain weasel and Himalayan mouse hare.
For bird watchers, it’s a dream destination. Besides golden eagle, Lammergeier vulture and the Himalayan griffon vulture, the park is home to Brown Accentor, Robin Accentor, Tickell’s Leaf Warbler, Streaked Rosefinch, Tibetan Snowfinch, Chukar, Fork-tailed Swift, Red-billed Chough, Himalayan Snowcock, and the Fire-fronted Serin. Pollution free environment and noise free surroundings make birding a joyful experience.
Six villages exist within the confines of the park. The villages –Rumbak, Kaya, Sku, Shingo, Urutse and Chilling – are home to about 16oo people. Several gompas and chortens are also located within the park.
HEMIS MONASTERY The 400-year-old Hemis Monastery is located within the Hemis national park.
The most popular monastery, Hemis Gompa is also dubbed the richest monastery in Ladakh. Situated around 45 km away from the capital city, Leh, Hemis Monastery is known for its annual 2-day religious event, Hemis Festival. The major attraction during the festival is the unfurling of the giant thangka (religious painting). In fact, every 12 years, during the Hemis Festival, one of the largest thangkas in Ladakh is unfurled infront of a large crowd.
Hemis is a 17th century Buddhist shrine which was re-established in 1672. This famous monastery in Ladakh is of the Drukpa Lineage of Buddhism. The monastery of Hemis is connected with Naropa, the pupil of the yogi Tilopa, and teacher of the translator Marpa. It is believed that Naropa and yogi Tilopa met at Hemis and together from here they proceeded to the ancient kingdom of Magadha.
The architecture of Hemis Monastery is of Tibetan style. The main building of Hemis Monastery has white walls. The entrance to the Hemis Monastery complex is through a giant gate that opens to a large courtyard. On the northern side are two assembly halls, and the guardian deities and the Wheel of Life are situated here. The monastery also has a library on its premises.
Hemis Monastery is situated at a distance of 45 km from Leh. Hiring a cab or renting a bike are the best ways to reach here
Shanti Stupda is also known as the Vishwa Shanti Stupa. It is an important place of pilgrimage for Buddhists. The towering stupa is made of marble and there are brilliantly intricate statues of the Lord Buddha here. It is known primarily as being a destination for spirituality and photography.
Plans of constructing World peace stupa on Ratanagiri mountain is of Buddhist Association president Guruji Bichchu Nichi datsu fujt. Built in 1965 the height of the stupa is 120 fit and diameter is 103 fit. There are 4 Statures placed around Stupa which is extremely attractive and gorgeous.
The Shanti Stupa also houses a meditation hall in its premises. The best time to visit the Shanti Stupa is during the hours of dusk and dawn. During this time, the fantastic play of natural light on the white Stupa walls and the surrounding snow-capped mountains offers a majestic view.
TSO MORIRI LAKE
Tso Moriri lake in Changthang region of Ladakh is one of the most beautiful, calm and sacred (for ladakhis) high altitude lakes in India. In fact, it is the largest high altitude lake in India that is entirely in Indian Territory. This beautiful blue pallet lake is about 7 KM wide at its broadest point and about 19 KM long. Being part of the wetland reserve under Ramsar site, it is actual known as Tsomoriri Wetland Conservation Reserve and one cannot pitch any tents or construct anything near the banks of the lake. It is the highest Ramsar site in the world. A large number of flora and fauna is found in the region. Since, it is very near to the Line of Actual Control, one need to get Inner Line Permit to visit Tso Moriri.
In January to March, Tso Moriri remains mostly frozen, extremely cold conditions with no options to stay around the lake. In April types, it starts to melt and starts transforming into the beautiful multi shades of blue colors off the shores. Then May, June, July and August is the peak tourist season but as compared to Pangong Tso it gets less number of tourist
THINGS TO DO’S AND DON’T IN LEH
• Carry plenty of water to stay hydrated as this is very important at high altitudes.
• Remember to pack the right clothes when you are travelling to Ladakh.
• Pack extra batteries for your camera and mobile phone as electricity can be a problem.
• Wear appropriate clothes when you are visiting Buddhist monasteries.
• Avoid carrying plastic bags as these are banned in Ladakh.
• Don’t take photographs of monks without taking their permission first.