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Ladakh, a unique blend of rivers, mountains, tradition and culture

New Delhi, Thu, 20 Sep 2007 Pallavi Sharma

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Sep 20: Reading about Ladakh I came across a poem about Ladakh which beautifully tucks up the various beads in the garland of Ladakh. Leh is my home town, Seeing its beauty you will frown, Siachen is the first of all, where usually the glaciers fall, Kargil is another place, love and harmony are in balance, Drass is next to fall, here icy water has their stall...........

What clicks first at the sound of this place? Sound evokes the picture o f conflict- ridden area but let me awake you to the fact of natural and cultural richness of Ladakh and Yes! Not to forget the attached adventure spread in the area.

Let me introduce you to Ladakh, the land of high passes.....I must say ‘Paradise’, a companion of two highest mountain ranges the Greater Himalaya and Karakoram, a part of the silk route, shelter to heavenly lakes, passes and Buddhism and different culture. There is lot to explore in the ancient centre of trade.

First thing which catches the eye is Leh one of the two administrative towns of Ladakh has been the capital of Ladakh since 17 th century. Leh is surrounded by the earlier capitals of the region, Shey, in the upper Indus valley called ‘the cultural heartland of Ladakh’. This piece of the land displays all the royalty over the periods kings had in their times. Sitting on the summit of a rock is the royal palace and temples decorated with colored murals. Bagso and Tingmosgang also have the same forts and palaces. Stok palace and the palace museum are other objects satisfying beauty searching eyes.

Buddhist Monasteriessketch all the grandeur and the bliss of the religion. Spituk monastery is famous for ‘thangkas’ while Thikse monastery is known for beautiful murals. Hemis monastery, on the west bank of Indus, is the biggest ‘gompa’ in Ladakh and is also known for the summer festival ‘Hemis festival’, mysterious Mask Dance. Then there is Drukpa monastery on the green hillside.

Other feasts for the eyes are the splendid Lamayuru, Likir, Phyang, Rizdong, Stakna etc.

A unique thing in Ladakh is the passes which seem God’s corridors leading to an abode of peace, ecstasy and bliss. Jojila pass is the gateway to Ladakh. Scene changes very frequently first one meets dense forests then rugged mountains then alpine meadows and then one encounters is the first village, Drass, located in the Drass valley, a base for trekking and makes it a mystic land of adventure for adventure enthusiasts.

Kargil, midpoint of journey invites to various adventures leading to suru and Zanskar valleys. Then one can’t help praising Namika and Fotu passes. Natural forces have carved beautiful landscape out of the crust of earth. Don’t mistake to look for greenery there as Ladakh is a cold desert with leeward side of Himalaya. Still the creator has sprinkled different colours in the geography of this highest inhabited region of the world.

Ladakh is also called as the land of lakes; it is also said that once it was submerged in water which receded when a monk from Kashmir prayed. Extensive system of lakes has been woven with russet and grey mountains of Ladakh range remains of which can be seen in rupshu and chushul plateau.

Suru Valley , the mainstay of Kargil presents view of splendid mountains, alpine slopes and awesome glaciers and divine streams.

Zanskar, table land gives a view of the biggest glacier of Ladakh, ‘Drang drung’. It is called tri-armed valley having offshoots in west north and south.

Apart from the green and white faces brown faces are equally attractive to you with their unique hospitality and smiling faces ingrained with the unique culture and tradition of the land. Population is predominantly Lamaist Buddhist belonging to either Red or Yellow Lamas sect but in the western Ladakh especially in Drass, Kargil and Suru valley people follow Shia faith. Village ‘Mani’ walls are said to be living Buddhist heritage. Favourite past times of the people are polo and archery in the summer. People are full of jest.

With so much written one will be prompted to have a firsthand experience of such a recipe of rivers, mountains, traditions and cultures which is ‘Ladakh’.

Read More: Leh

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shantanu kumar

October 1, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Ladakh is one of the best places to visit if anyone is interested in Buddhist tourism. For more information, check out

Emmanuelle Pancaldi-Flynn

September 21, 2007 at 12:00 AM

We LOVE Ladakh, and the Ladakhi people... thanks for sharing...

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