10 Interesting Facts About Ladakh

Ladakh is also fondly known as the ‘Land of High Passes’ by the Indo-Aryan people who reside in the area. It is located in the Jammu and Kashmir State of India between the Kunlun mountain range in the north and the main Great Himalayas to the south. It is a beautiful place to spend a vacation as shown by the following facts about the region.

10 Interesting facts about Ladakh

Ladakh is also fondly known as the ‘Land of High Passes’ by the Indo-Aryan people who reside in the area. It is located in the Jammu and Kashmir State of India between the Kunlun mountain range in the north and the main Great Himalayas to the south. It is a beautiful place to spend a vacation as shown by the following facts about the region.

1. Ladakh is a region of festivals, mostly due to being home to two of world major religions – Hindu and Buddhism. Among the most popular festivals include; Hemis Festival, Dosmoche Festival, Losar Festival, Sindhu Darshan Festival, Ladakh Festival, and Tak-Tok Festival.

2. Ladakh is a high altitude region ranging from 9000 feet (2,750 m) at Kargil to 25,170 feet (7,672 m) at Saser Kangri in the Karakoram.

3. It is the highest settlement in India and is served by River Indus.

4. Due to its high altitude, it is one of the last places in India that retains its natural beauty. It is sparsely populated unlike most of India.

5. It is home to Tsomoriri Lake which measures 28 km long with 7 – 8 km at the widest points. It is a paradise for wild animals and here you can spot cranes, wild ducks, and some other small birds and marmots.

6. The area is dotted with monasteries and Pagodas and tourist can commune with the monks in such monasteries as Hemis Gompa, Thiksey Gompa and Shey Palace.

7. Ladakh is the highest plateau of the Kashmir Valley, with much of it being more than 3,000 meters above the sea level.

8. Ladakh is arid but home to 225 species of birds such as finches, robins, redstarts and Hoopoe. It never ceases to amaze the tourists who venture this far up that the region could retain so much of its natural beauty.

9. The unimaginable happens in Ladakh…imagine how surprised you will be to see a lake at 4350 meters above the sea level. Well, Pangong Lake is the highest salt lake and it is situated high up in the Ladakh Mountains.

10. Due to its high altitude and clear skies, the region has emerged as an important astronomy center. The Udaipur Solar Observatory and 2-Meter Himalayan Chandra Optical and Infrared Telescope are some of the Indian Astronomy studying facilities that are situated in Ladakh.

If you visit the Kashmir Valley, make sure you complete your trip by venturing into the Ladakh hills and mountains for a day or two. You will find that high altitude is not as bad as some people will make you believe.

Source: www.nexioncanada.com

Ladakh in Winter: 11 Reasons why it is for travellers and not for tourists

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” ~ Marcel Proust

The true meaning of Marcel’s words were understood when I saw Ladakh in winter in a completely new light.  In it’sharshest but truest form. When the roof of the world was cut off from the rest of the world and was wrapped in a white blanket of snow and ice.

Ladakh in winter is a digital detoxification trip where time and space bear no relevance. A million emotions erupted as I stood admiring the Frozen Ladakh’s incredible beauty. Like hundreds, my initial plan was to do the glamorous Chadar Trek. However, the creator had a better plan in store for me. So as I alighted at the Leh Airport, got news that due to a landslide Chadar Trek has been called off. I was heartbroken but instead of whining about it, decided to do an alternate trek, Sham Valley. Though the trek was fairly easy and not as half renowned as Chadar Trek is but it brought me face to face with the real beauty of the land, which is hardly known or explored. Ladakh in winter is an intimidating yet overwhelming experience. Temperature in Ladakh in winter drop  up to -30 degree Celsius and the definition of basic amenities gets redefined here.

Why did I plan my Leh Ladakh trip in winter? Well I take pride in calling myself as a TRAVELLER over a TOURIST. I chose to explore Ladakh in it’s harshest times because I wanted to connect with the soul of the place and wanted to explore what is usually not seen. And I must say the reward was stupendous.

Leh Airport, Ladakh in winter

Top view of Leh Airstrip (photo by Archana Singh)

HERE ARE 11 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD PLAN A TRIP TO LADAKH IN WINTERS

1. EXPERIENCE THE REAL HOSPITALITY OF LADAKH IN WINTER:

Unlike west, Ladakh is not geared up with amenities to have comfortable winters. But it is the time when you get to see the genuine beauty of the roof of the world. The only way to enjoy this beauty is to acclimatize to the local culture and habits as fast as you can. Most of the hotels in Leh are closed during winters therefore you have to stay frugally in modest Home stays – traditional Ladakhi houses.

The Home Stays are basic and you’ll be sleeping in a sleeping bag on a mattress on the floor. The water pipes freeze and water (hot and cold) is provided by bucket. Bathing is a luxury, which no one dares to dream. No flush toilets. Only ‘compost toilets’— usually a hole in the floor on one level, where ‘excreta’ drop to ground level below, after which a liberal sprinkling of soil is deposited on top of the growing pile. Food is cooked by the local family and is mostly traditional Ladakhi meal – butter tea, kahwa, thukpa, noodles and soup served in common dining room with bukhari.

Travel tip: Stay in a kitchen instead of a room for a warm cosy night. Also, if you crave for Cholle Bhature then Neha snacks in Leh is your address.

Ladakh in December

Photo by Archana Singh

2. GET TRANSPORTED INTO THE ICE AGE SETUP:

Walking in the BongBong La Snow Valley was a setting straight out of ice age. Everything was frozen – mountains, valleys, waterfalls, river shores, and vegetation. With temperature plummeting to less than -35 degree and wind chill adding another -10 degree Celsius, it was nothing less than a dream. If you are suitably covered with at least four layers of warm clothing then there is no better sight than being in Frozen Ladakh.The Khaltse to Lamayru way is incredulously beautiful where you’ll come across moon land, frozen waterfalls and frozen Indus Shores.

 Travel tip: Explore this area in a small group with a good local guide. Don’t forget to capture the top view of Lamayaru town from the Lamayaru Gompa.

Ladakh in winter

Photo by Archana Singh

3. DO SOMERSAULT ON FROZEN PANGONG LAKE: 

In summers, Pangong Lake acts as a teaser of nature’s craftsmanship. The brackish water plays with sunlight to produce different shades of blue. Ladakh in winter, almost all the water bodies freeze, yet the effect that Pangong Tso creates is unrivaled. The tranquil, azure blue waters of lake become a thick layer of ice sheet on which you can play cricket, drive your car or even do a somersault. The temperature is around -30 degrees Celsius even during the day therefore nobody spends more than half an hour there.

Travel tip: Start your day trip before 7 am and try to cross the Changla pass as soon as possible. Diesel freezes at that point, there is no network coverage and seeking help becomes a nightmare.

pangong lake Leh Ladakh in December

Source

4. GET HIGH ON ADRENALINE RUSH:

Ladakh tests your mental and physical toughness in winters. Besides doing the world famous Chadar Trek, one can also do other fairly lesser known but more challenging treks like Stok base camp trek, Markha Valley Trek, Sham valley trek at a very cheap price like 10K. They are not at all monotonous and everyday presents a different kind of an experience. When in Leh, don’t forget to watch the Leh Ice Skating rink. From December until March, Ladakhlives and breathes ice hockey.

Travel tip: Don’t take trekking in Ladakh in winter casually, train hard, acclimatize well and stay away from heated rooms. Forclaz 500 is a good trekking shoe.

Ladakh in December

Photo by Archana Singh

5. BECOME FRIENDS WITH LOCALS WHO HAVE FREE TIME ONLY IN WINTERS:

Ladakh has very short but busy summers when most locals earn their yearly living from tourism. During summers, they are extremely busy making money out of tourism. Nobody has the time to have laid back conversations. Winter is a time when they are looking for company to talk. Soft spoken and polite, a smile is there to greet you no matter which part of Ladakh you travel. Kids have school holidays therefore are always on the lookout of playmates. Also, you get to meet very interesting and diverse variety of like-minded fellow travellers (not tourists) from across the world that inspire you in more ways than you can ever imagine.

Travel tip: Say Julley and strike a conversation with friendly strangers to peak into their local culture and make friends for life.

ladakh locals, Leh Ladakh in Winter

Source

6. EXPERIENCE LADAKHI FESTIVALS & KNOW THE COOL QUOTIENT OF LAMAS:

Winter in Ladakh is a celebration time. Locals have very little to do during winter months, so free time is turned into celebration time. Tourists and wannabe photographers usually dominate summer festivals. Winter festivals are of different league. Ladakhi Losar, Spituk Gustor, Thiksay Gustor, Stok Monastery Festival, Matho Monastery festival, Dosmoche all fall in Ladakh in winters. Many senior lamas visit key monasteries during winters. Locals come from far away lands to have heart-to-heart conversations with their spiritual gurus.

Travel tip: Have a meal with the lamas in a monastery. You’ll be blown away not just by the simplicity of the tasty food but also how tech savvy and well aware those monks are.

festivals in ladakh in winter

Source

Ladakh Travel Guide  Book Your Trip

7. PHOTOGRAPHER’S HEAVEN:

Winter is a great time for photography in Ladakh. With barren land completely covered with white sheet, frozen rivers, frozen waterfalls, frozen shores, wilted tress, blue skies, no tourists interfering in pictures, lots of local festivals, Ladakh in winter is a heaven for photographers. If you can brave cold at night then you can have star trail time-lapse videos that will make your peers go gaga over your photography skills.

Travel tip: With frequent power cuts and temperature getting below -20 degree c, batteries drain out too quickly therefore carry lot of spare batteries, 10000mAh power bank and keep them in your jackets or sleeping bags.

ladakh in December

Photo by Archana Singh

8. BEST TIME FOR RARE LADAKHI WILDLIFE SIGHTINGS:

As the harsh winters set in, most Himalayan animals tend to come down to lower altitudes, making it easier to spot them. Winters is the best time to spot the elusive “Ghost of the Mountains”, the Snow Leopard. While spotting a snow leopard is not easy, you will definitely spot lot of mountain fauna like Blue sheep, mountain wolf, wild hares, magpies etc.

Travel Tip: Look out for the flora fauna map in outskirts

wildlife ladakh in December

Source

9. GET BEST VALUE FOR MONEY:

Ladakh in winter is fairly cheap as compared to touristy summer season. Flight rates are at rock bottom – you can get a Delhi-Leh return flight for as little as INR 3000 if you book well in advance. Same flight costs as high as INR 35,000 in summers. You can get a heated home stay for Rupees 500 per bed per night. Shopping is cheap. Fake brands that you get in new market, moti market are as good as real brands.

Travel tip: Plan well in advance and do your winter shopping in Leh local market.

shopping in Ladakh in December

Source

10. WALK AND SKATE ON THE FROZEN ZANSKAR – THE CHADAR TREK:

Though it was my bad that because a natural calamity, Chadar Trek was called off but it is a great experience that one should have before it becomes a distant memory. Once the road from chilling to Padum will be constructed, there are chances that Chadar might not form and hence Chadar Trek won’t happen. Hence, do it before it’s too late. I am going to attempt it next year again. Will you?

Travel tip: Go via a local trek agent.Savvy marketers from plains having their operations in Ladakh are good for nothing.

Ladakh in winter

Chadar Trek (Source)

11. REKINDLE ROMANCE IN GOD’S DEN:

There is nothing like romancing in the coldest region of India. A kiss under a sky full of billion stars or a hug at 18,000 ft above sea level or making love in bone-chilling cold is something that you will not forget till the last breath of your life. You won’t need a chapstick or multiple layers of clothes when you’ll have your loved one around. So make the most of it. Go ahead and rekindle your romance.

Travel tip: Before expressing your love, make sure you are wrapped up in multiple layers otherwiss be prepared to get a severe cold and cough.

leh in winter

Photo by Archana Singh

Visiting Ladakhn in winter is like freezing time or existence itself. I discovered the undying spirit of Ladakh. I had relished every bit of the indescribable beauty of the coldest desert. No words or pictures can do justice to what I saw and experienced.

Still thinking to visit Ladakh in winter or sticking to a comfortable summer trip?

All I can say is – let go of the fear of cold and immerse yourself in the insurmountable beauty of God’s favourite masterpiece.

Ladakh in December
Submitted by: Archana Singh, Source: www.holidify.com

Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves

Every land holds its secrets in its hidden corners. The most stunning stories from Ladakh are still unheard secrets. Its culture is still an unsolved enigma for many. Here are 15 deepest secrets of the Himalayan wonderland that the locals would rather keep to themselves.

1. In 1971, the war with Pakistan was paused to celebrate Losar

Colonel Chewang Rinchen captured Turtok and suddenly decided to pause the war with Pakistan, keeping in mind local sentiments on Losar. Colonel Rinchen also received the Mahavir Chakra at the age of 17 and the army renamed Corps lecture Hall after him in 2006 as Rinchen Auditorium near Leh Airport.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 1/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: wikimedia

2. Kung Fu nuns of Ladakh

Every morning at the Drukpa nunnery in Ladakh the nuns dress up in pyjamas and yellow sashes and the voice of their hee-yaas echo across the serene hills. The kung fu nuns are figures of a new age in the 800 year old Drukpa buddhist sect.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 2/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: wikimedia

3. Shrine of OP baba

At the Siachen Basecamp, the shrine of OP Baba is a sacred corner to celebrate the well-being of the soldiers. Named after soldier OM Prakash who single-handedly fought the attack on Malaun, the shrine is a place where the soldiers pledge to give up alcohol and tobacco during their posting in Saichen.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 3/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: majorkalsiclasses

4. Magnetic Hill

If you turn off your car engine at the Magnetic Hill, it will still keep moving. 30km from Leh on the Kargil Highway, you can see the unbelievable happen for real.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 4/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: wikimedia

5. Rocks of Viagra

The magic drug which oozes out of the rocks in Ladakh is gold for your body if you know what Shilajit is. It burns fat, increases bone strength and is most importantly used for treating infertile couples.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 5/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: wikimedia

6. Entombed bodies of Mongols in temple foundation

The abode of the royal family of Ladakh, the Leh Palace, was built by Sengge Namgyal in 1600AD. It is believed that he entombed the bodies of Mongol invaders in the temple’s foundation to ward off future attacks.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 6/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: wikimedia

7. Druk White Lotus School

Around 200 pupils travel by bus to this school everyday and receive the best in class education maintaining rich cultural traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. With passive solar heating, gravity feed water system and seismic design and safety, the school passes all test of sustainability and has received international acclaim for its design.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 7/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: dwls

8. Lovers fleeing to Leh

In this silent corner of India, a religious conflict would be the last thing you would expect but often when a Buddhist falls in love with a Muslim, the two communities don’t take it well. There are numerous stories of couples from villages fleeing to Leh to find their love haven.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 8/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: Praveen

9. Indian army training people to build homestays

To promote rural entrepreneurship in Ladakh, the Indian Army is promoting the efforts of the locals to build comfortable homestays. To help the local economy, the army also sources their fruits and vegetables from the local farmers.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 9/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: Laura Blankenship

10. Find a Marmot to cuddle

Do you wish to find a pet midst this calm landscape? Around Khardung La and Tso Moriri you can trace Himalayan marmots from the road. These tiny things love to cuddle and are quite friendly.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 10/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: Wikipedia

11. The myth of Tso Kar

The locals believe that millions of years back a devil drank up from the overflowing Tso Kar. And when he drank more than he could, he spluttered the water all over and thus formed Regul Tso and Starspapukh.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 11/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: Wikimedia

12. Road across Khardungla

18 men lost their lives in building the highest motorable road at Khardung La. The construction of Bailey Bridge on this glaciated patch is unique in the sense that its ends rest on hard ice and it is also the highest bridge in the world.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 12/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: Ajay Panachickal

13. The tradition of the order

It’s a Ladakhi tradition to send the youngest child of the family to join the monastery. Though with dwindling tradition the practice is no longer common but teenagers voluntarily join the order.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 13/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: Sharada Prashad CS

14. Blow a conch to call 120 lamas for lunch at Karsha Monastery

Finding no other way to round them up, the lamas assemble at the sound of the conch during lunch and dinners. There can be no other way to signal the call to 120 resident lama in the 30 buildings spread all over the hill slope.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 14/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: Wikimedia

15. Where the snake king slept

Buddhists believe that the snake king Jokpo slept at the Likir Gompa. The word Likir is derived from lukhgil which means coiled snake. It is one of the richest and most influential gompas in Ladakh.

Photos of Secrets of Ladakh That Locals Keep To Themselves 15/15 by Disha Kapkoti

Image Credits: Fulvio Spada

There are beautiful stories waiting to sweep you off your feet. Explore, dream and say yes to great stories in life.

Share this with someone who is dreaming of a Ladakh trip and gift them new grounds to explore.

Source: www.tripoto.com – Disha Kapkoti