Ladakh ("land of high passes") is a region in Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir that currently extends from the Kunlun mountain range to the main Great Himalayas to the south, inhabited by people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent. It is one of the most sparsely populated regions in Jammu and Kashmir and its culture and history are closely related to that of Tibet. Ladakh is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and culture.
Historically, the region included the Baltistan (Baltiyul) valleys (now mostly in Pakistan), the entire upper Indus Valley, the remote Zanskar, Lahaul and Spiti to the south, much of Ngari including the Rudok region and Guge in the east, Aksai Chin in the northeast (extending to the Kun Lun Mountains), and the Nubra Valley to the north over Khardong La in the Ladakh Range. Contemporary Ladakh borders Tibet to the east, the Lahaul and Spiti regions to the south, the Vale of Kashmir, Jammu and Baltiyul regions to the west, and the southwest corner of Xinjiang across the Karakoram Pass in the far north.
Aksai Chin is one of the disputed border areas between China and India. It is administered by China as part of Hotan County but is also claimed by India as a part of the Ladakh region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. In 1962, China and India fought a brief war over Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, but in 1993 and 1996 the two countries signed agreements to respect the Line of Actual Control.
Ladakh Tourist Place
- HISTORY OF LADAKH
- Flora and fauna
Rock carvings found in many parts of Ladakh indicate that the area has been inhabited from Neolithic times. Ladakh's earliest inhabitants consisted of a mixed Indo-Aryan population of Mons and Dards, who find mention in the works of Herodotus, Nearchus, Megasthenes, Pliny, Ptolemy, and the geographical lists of the Puranas. Around the 1st century, Ladakh was a part of the Kushana empire. Buddhism spread into western Ladakh from Kashmir in the 2nd century when much of eastern Ladakh and western Tibet was still practising the Bon religion. The 7th century Buddhist traveler Xuanzang describes the region in his accounts.
In the 8th century, Ladakh was involved in the clash between Tibetan expansion pressing from the East and Chinese influence exerted from Central Asia through the passes. Suzerainty over Ladakh frequently changed hands between China and Tibet. In 842 Nyima-Gon, a Tibetan royal prince annexed Ladakh for himself after the break-up of the Tibetan empire, and founded a separate Ladakhi dynasty. During this period, Ladakh acquired a predominantly Tibetan population. The dynasty spearheaded the second spreading of Buddhism, importing religious ideas from north-west India, particularly from Kashmir. The first spreading of Buddhism was the one in Tibet proper.
The land is irrigated by a system of channels which funnel water from the ice and snow of the mountains. The principal crops are barley and wheat. Rice was previously a luxury in the Ladakhi diet, but, subsidised by the government, has now become a cheap staple.
Naked barley (Ladakhi: nas, Urdu: grim) was traditionally a staple crop all over Ladakh. Growing times vary considerably with altitude. The extreme limit of cultivation is at Korzok, on the Tso-moriri lake, at 4,600 m (15,100 ft), which has what are widely considered to be the highest fields in the world.
A minority of Ladakhi people were also employed as merchants and caravan traders, facilitating trade in textiles, carpets, dyestuffs and narcotics between Punjab and Xinjiang. However, since the Chinese Government closed the borders with Tibet and Central Asia, this international trade has completely dried up.
Vegetation is extremely sparse in Ladakh except along streambeds and wetlands, on high slopes, and in irrigated places. The first European to study the wildlife of this region was Ferdinand Stoliczka, an Austrian-Czech palaeontologist, who carried out a massive expedition there in the 1870s.
The fauna of Ladakh has much in common with that of Central Asia in general and that of the Tibetan Plateau in particular. Exceptions to this are the birds, many of which migrate from the warmer parts of India to spend the summer in Ladakh. For such an arid area, Ladakh has a great diversity of birds — a total of 225 species have been recorded. Many species of finches, robins, redstarts (like the black redstart), and the hoopoe are common in summer. The brown-headed gull is seen in summer on the river Indus and on some lakes of the Changthang. Resident water-birds include the brahminy duck also known as the ruddy sheldrake and the bar-headed goose. The black-necked crane, a rare species found scattered in the Tibetan plateau, is also found in parts of Ladakh. Other birds include the raven, Eurasian magpie, red-billed chough, Tibetan snowcock, and chukar. The lammergeier and the golden eagle are common raptors here specially in Changthang region.
Ladakh celebrates many famous festivals. One of the biggest and most popular is the Hemis festival. It is celebrated in June to commemorate the birth of Guru Padmasambhava.
In September, the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department with the help of local authorities organize the Ladakh Festival. The Government of Jammu and Kashmir organizes the Sindhu Darshan festival at Leh in May–June. It is celebrated on the full moon day (Guru Poornima).
There are about 1,800 km (1,100 mi) of roads in Ladakh of which 800 km (500 mi) are surfaced. The majority of roads in Ladakh are looked after by the Border Roads Organisation.
Ladakh was the connection point between Central Asia and South Asia when the Silk Road was in use. The sixty-day journey on the Ladakh route connecting Amritsar and Yarkand through eleven passes was frequently undertaken by traders till the third quarter of the 19th century. Another common route in regular use was the Kalimpong route between Leh and Lhasa via Gartok, the administrative centre of western Tibet. Gartok could be reached either straight up the Indus in winter or through either the Taglang la or the Chang la. Beyond Gartok, the Cherko la brought travelers to the Manasarovar and Rakshastal lakes, and then to Barka, which is connected to the main Lhasa road. These traditional routes have been closed since the Ladakh-Tibet border was sealed by the Chinese government. Other routes connected Ladakh to Hunza and Chitral but, as in the previous case, there is no border crossing between Ladakh and Pakistan.
Dooars Places of Interest
Zanskar Valley is known for its wide views and sceneries, cave monasteries and mostly travelled to for its trekking trails and river rafting experiences and the Suru Valley, the two valleys almost always visited together. Nestled between two tiny alpine lakes, most isolated of all Himalayan valleys, the valley has an area of about 5,000 sir. Kms. and is situated at an elevation of 13,154 above sea level.
This valley seem to be cut off from the rest of the world for over 9 months of the year. Adventure is the main cause as to why people like Zanskar. River rafting and other sports are very famous here, and Zanskar is known for it clear waters.
Pangong Lake is also known by the name of Hollow Lake and appears as a clear symbol of nature craftsmanship. The brackish water plays with sunlight to produce different effects of light. One-third part of the lake lies in India while the remaining two-third lies in Tibet, a region controlled by China. A large chunk of streams that fill the lake are located on the Tibetan part. The lake is located just 5 hours drive from Leh in the Ladakh region of Jammu & Kashmir.
Situated at a height of 4,250 meters, far away in barren land in Ladakh, Pangong Tso is one of the largest brackish lakes in Asia. The crystal clear blue lake sprawls over an area of 100 kilometers across the borders of two countries in India and China. It is one of the charismatic lakes situated on the Changtang plateau in eastern Ladakh region.
Kargil is a city in the Kargil district of Ladakh region, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is the second largest town in Ladakh after Leh. It is located 60 km and 204 km from Drass and Srinagar to the west respectively, 234 km from Leh to the east, 240 km from Padum to the southeast and 1,047 km from Delhi to the south.
Buses operate on a regular basis between Srinagar and Kargil. These buses are operated by J&K SRTC. One can also hire taxis including four wheel drive vehicles from Srinagar to Leh.
Diskit town is the headquarters of the Nubra valley which offers almost all kinds of facilities. It has bazaar which has a single line of shops as well as a Gompa that is located on a rocky drive above the village offering an excellent view to the tourists. The floor of the Nubra valley is covered with extremely thick thorny shrubs, that are used by the locals for the purpose of fuel as well as fencing. The villages that are situated around the valley are huge and flourishing, which have thick plantations of poplar and willow.
Located on the periphery of a desert in the Shok Valley, Diksit Village is an administrative center of the Nubra Valley, comprising of various government offices in it. The village is located at a height of 10,310 feet above sea level and witness tourists both in winters as well as summers. The village is particularly famous Diskit monastery, although it has a bus/taxi stand, a market, a tourist reception center and the Leh’s only petrol pump (1 kilometers toward North). The Diskit monastery is around 350 years old and houses a Maitreya Buddha statue, drums, paintings and Tibetan colored-patterned silk. The monastery is home to around 100 monks. There is an Internet Café which charges Rs. 100 per hour.
Spituk Monastery, also better as Spituk Gompa or Pethup Gompa, is a Buddhist monastery in Leh district, Ladakh, northern India. 8 kilometres from Leh. The site of Spituk was blessed by the Arhat Nyimagung. It was founded by Od-de, the elder brother of Lha Lama Changchub Od when he came to Maryul in the 11th Century. He introduced the monastic community. When Lotsewa Rinchen Zangpo (Translator) came to that place he said that an exemplary religious community would arise there and so the monastery was called spituk (exemplary). During the time of Dharma raja Gragspa Bum-Ide the monastery was restored by Lama Lhawang Lodos and the stainless order of Tsonkhapa was introduced and it has remained intact as such till present. Founded as a Red Hat institution, the monastery was taken over by the Yellow Hat sect in the 15th century.
Phugtal Monastery or Phugtal Gompa that is also known as Phuktal monastery, is located in the southeastern of Zanskar, in the Ladakhi region. It was founded by Gangsem Sherap Sampo during the early 12th century. This building is a distinctive construction has it is built onto a cliffside in the form of a honeycomb. Situated on the mouth of a cave, over the cliff top, it is close to a major tributary of the river Lungnak (Lingti-Tsarap). This monastery which has a library as well as prayer rooms, houses around 70 monks. This one of the most isolated monasteries of the region is made up of wood and mud.
Located 150 kilometers North of Leh, Hunder, sitting at an average altitude of 10, 000 feet, is a small village where the Shyok River meets Nubra River. Hunder lies on the ancient silk route, once an important international trade route. Today it is one of the most strategic points located close as it is to the Siachen Glacier, the world highest battle ground between India and Pakistan.
A trip to Hunder from Leh requires the visitors to cross the Khardung La, which according to the claim of Indian Army plaque at the top, is "World's Highest Motorable Pass" however modern readings using GPS devices refute the claim. From Khardung La it's a 130 kilometer of rough drive to reach Hunder Village.
This area represents India's Tran Himalaya region due to its cold desert environment and harsh climatic conditions in winters. The ecosystem has suffered a lot due to harsh weather conditions and thus many wildlife animals migrate to lower regions in winters. The Changthang region is home to more than 3500 Tibetan refugees who primarily depends upon livestock for their food.
Stongdey monastery, located in Zanskar, is its second largest monastery. It plays host the Gustor festival, which is held annually, during which you can view the real culture of the region. Built during 1052 CE by Naropa’s disciple, this monastery is home to 60 Gelupa monks. This Gompa has a total of seven temples wherein the walls of the Tshogs-Khang adorn beautiful paintings were some of the paintings of the deities made with a black background are outlined with gold. Today the monastery is managed by the successors of Nari Tulku. This monastery is also a favorite in the list of mountaineering enthusiasts.