Do you ever fantasize sleeping on the grass, slowly drinking wine as you gently fall asleep counting the stars? Can you imagine being on a hilly terrain and traveling further to land in lots of snow? This dream doesn't end here; you go even further to fall on lush greenery. Can you form a picture of how amazing will it be to experience all these things on the same land? That is what Ladakh does to you. The word, “Ladakh”, is the Farsi translation of the Tibetan word, “La-dvags”, which literally means the land of Passes high.
It bewitches you with its beauty which is so hard to handle; you will melt like the snow. Blue waters that make you never want to look away, colorful Tibetan prayer flags, prayer bells, monasteries that will fascinate you with their architecture, lots and lots of beauty that you can't get enough of; and not to forget, the out-of-the-world starry nights. I wonder if pictures can ever do justice to how beautiful Ladakh looks. This place is going to take you on a spin of so many things at once, that you will not get over it anytime soon. It is just like alcohol, you drink some of it and want more as you keep gulping, and then you're suddenly out of your senses.
People from all over the world throng to Leh each year. Ladakh is known as known the land of the high passes. It’s a region in the state of India called the Jammu and Kashmir that extends from The Mountain Range of Kunlun to that of the main parts of the Great Himalayas to the southern parts which are occupied with the descendants of the Tibetan and Indo-Aryan Origin people. The ancient Silkroute, a popular trade route of the history era passes through Ladakh before culminating in China.
It is one of the regions which is very sparsely populated in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Its history and culture are related extremely closely to the history and culture of Tibet. The place is famous for the pristine and untouched natural beauty and for its overwhelming mountain peaks, often covered in snow for major parts of the year.
Currency: Indian Rupee (Rs.)
Population: 274,289 (2011)
Time Zone: UTC +5:30
Area: 86,904 sq. km
Official Language: Ladakhi or Bhoti
Capital'scallingcode: +91 (01982)
In the times before today, Ladakh enjoyed a lot of importance as it was a part of the prominent trade route. But from the time when China closed off borders with the Tibet and Central Asian countries sometime around the 1960s, trade taking place internationally has decreased considerably. Since 1974, India’s Government has successfully encouraged tourism in this region. The very strong Indian Military presence in this region is because of the Ladakh is because of its strategic importance to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Tourism in Ladakh is one of the important sources of revenue for the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The towns of Leh and Kargil are the largest in Ladkah. A good 50 percent of the population of Ladakh is made up of Shia Muslims with Tibetan Buddhists coming a close second.
The mountainous region of the disputed northwestern part of Jammu and Kashmir, in an area also known as Trans- Himalayan region, or the lands that lay beyond the Himalayas, Tibet, northern Pakistan, and Xinjiang, is known as the Ladakh. The region is smaller in size than Scotland and the population which is settled live at a height of 2700m to 4500m, while the encampments made of the nomads are at a larger height. The Buddhists who live here stay mostly on the eastern edge, near the China Border, the Muslims occupying the northern and the western areas. The Buddhists are spotted more commonly as the major attractions lie to the east.
Ladakh is the land of jagged peaks and landscapes which intrigue you with their barren and alluring nature. The entire locale is as picturesque as it gets. The ancient civilizations, captivating people, the beautiful landscape are hidden behind the harsh and scary, almost forbidding façade of the region. If you look beyond the frontiers of old, you will see a land of the wild, the character of which is still unaltered and overwhelmingly natural. Its beauty beckons the more adventure-prone, and intense type of visitors.
Many rock carvings have been found in the Ladakh region which suggest that the area has been inhabited since the Neolithic times. To talk about recent history, this region used to be included in the Baltiyul valleys of Pakistan. This fact played a major role in shaping Ladakh’s History. In addition to that, traders coming in from all the neighboring Muslim lands such as Kashmir and areas of Xinjiang province in China were commonly seen doting the Leh Bazaars till late 20th Century. The folk music of Ladakh is based completely on Muslim styles of the predominantly Islamic kingdoms in the western Himalayas. Polo, a popular game played on horseback was also a gift of the neighboring lands to Ladakh tour packages. The game is popular among many locals even today.
Modern-day Ladakh is enclosed by Tibet on the eastern side, Spiti-Lahaul regions in the south, while Kashmir Valley, Jammu, and the Baltiyul region are in the west. The Xinjiang province meets Ladakh at the extreme southwest, across the Karakoram-pass.
Ladakh is the largest of all the provinces that make up the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Karakoram Range borders Ladakh on the Northern Edge, the Himalayas are in the south. The region has 10 major regions, the prominent ones include Leh, Nubra, Rupshu, and Zanskar. The annual rainfall received here is quite low at 55m which makes this reason relatively dry. Winters might turn out to be long, cold and bitter with snow covering almost everything that you can see while summers here are known to make the region very photogenic for nature lovers.
The Ladakhi heartland is located in the Indus Valley. The population here is higher compared to the other areas and the primary occupation is agriculture as the land here is very fertile. This region runs parallel to the Ladakh Mountain Range on the Northeast while the Shayak and Nubra Valleys are in the southwest. The Stok Valley is in the south and can be seen clearly from Leh while the popular trekking destination, the Markha Valley lies in the north. On the eastern side of Ladakh is the Changtang Plateau, home to many nomadic tribes and towards the West is a place called Kharnak.
With a population of about 274,289, as per the 2011 census, Ladakh is a vast area which is sparsely populated due to its arid and extremely cold conditions. The population in Ladakh is mainly comprised of people from the Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent. Ladakh’s population can be said to be divided between Leh and Kargil.
Buddhism is the primary religion in Ladakh with 77% of the Ladakhi population being Buddhist. In the past few years, the areas around Kashmir got influenced by Islam as well, hence the religion percolated in Ladakh as well, with the current percentage of 14% Muslim population in the region. Hinduism which was the second most prevalent religion in the past, has come down to 8% today. The rest 1% of the population also follow Christianity and Sikhism.
Ladakhi or Bhoti is the language primarily spoken in Ladakh. It is a Tibetan Language, with many dialects indigenous to different regions of the place. Since education and government work is also carried out in English, a few educated Ladakhi people also understand this language, with some even knowing Urdu and Hindi.
Hello: Jullay (informal), ChatselJullay (formal and respectful- only to a monk)
ThankYou: Jullay (informal), Toook Jay Shay (formal)
How are you? : Khamzanginalay?
I am fine:Khamzang
How much is this? : Eebowazrinsam in lay?
Indian Rupee (Rs.) is the only currency accepted in Ladakh.
Cost and Money
The staying options in Ladakh are generally family owned and cheap. An accommodation in a budget hotel or homestay can cost you approximatelyRs. 400-Rs. 1000 for a single or double bedroom. There are some deluxe hotels too which can be opted for anywhere between Rs.1000-Rs. 4000 and luxury hotels at a priceabove Rs. 4000approximately.
It is advisable to carry a good amount of cash at all times as transactions here happen mostly in Cash and cards are not widely accepted. While you will find plenty of ATM’s in Ladakh’s main markets and on the Leh-Manali Highway, there are only a few of them in the other regions. Moreover, in the Nubra, Tso Moriri and Pangong regions, only cash is accepted.