TREKKING IN LADAKH

Ladakh is one place which is considered as a heaven by those who search places to gain the thrill of adventure. Ladakh trekking tour is always a thrilling and a great experience for every tourist. While a lot has been written about Leh Ladakh but, people are still unaware of the hidden getaways in Ladakh. There are lots of interesting and exquisite offbeat destinations in Ladakh. The best way to thoroughly enjoy the place is to experience the adventurous and fun trek. There are many ‘must do’ treks in this paradise Ladakh. Trekking in Ladakh offers a vast diversity with its unique landscape and exquisite culture, from the green oasis of the hidden Valleys and Plateaus with abundance of wildlife, nomads, wetlands, pastureland, fresh water springs, streams, and the famous lakes such as Tsomoriri, Tsokar & The Pangong. Some of the treks are listed below:-


[one_third]Chadar Frozen River Trek

[tg_accordion title=”CHADAR TREK LADAKH” icon=”” close=”1″]Area: Zanskar (Ladakh)
Altitude: 3850 m/12628 ft
Grade: Moderate to tough
OPEN DURATION: 12 Nights/13 days
Season: Mid Jan – End Feb[/tg_accordion][/one_third]
[one_third]DARCHA LAMAYURU TREK

[tg_accordion title=”DARCHA LAMAYURU TREK” icon=”” close=”1″]Region: Ladakh Himalaya
Grade : Strenuous
Altitude : 5090 m
Season : Mid June- Mid Oct
OPEN DURATION : 24 Nights/ 25 Days[/tg_accordion][/one_third]

[one_third_last]LAMAYURU ALCHI TREK

[tg_accordion title=”LAMAYURU ALCHI TREK” icon=”” close=”1″]Area: Ladakh Himalayas
OPEN DURATION: 08 Nights & 09 Days
Grade: Moderate
Altitude: 4300 m/17220 ft
Season: July- Oct[/tg_accordion][/one_third_last]

[one_third]INDUS VALLEY TREK

[tg_accordion title=”INDUS VALLEY TREK” icon=”” close=”1″]Region: Ladakh Himalayas
OPEN DURATION: 07 Nights/ 08 Days.
Grade : Moderate
Altitude: 3,750 m
Season: Mid June- Oct[/tg_accordion][/one_third]

[one_third]LADAKH ZANSKAR TREK

[tg_accordion title=”LADAKH ZANSKAR TREK” icon=”” close=”1″]Region: Ladakh Himalaya
OPEN DURATION: 24 Night/ 25 Days
Grade: Moderate
Altitude: 4470 m
Season: June – Oct[/tg_accordion][/one_third]

[one_third_last]LAMAYURU CHILLING TREK

[tg_accordion title=”LAMAYURU CHILLING TREK” icon=”” close=”1″]Region: Ladakh Himalayas
OPEN DURATION: 09 Night/ 10 Days
Grade: Moderate
Altitude: 4430 m
Season: Mid June- Oct[/tg_accordion][/one_third_last]

[one_third]MARKHA VALLEY TREK

[tg_accordion title=”MARKHA VALLEY TREK” icon=”” close=”1″]Region: Ladakh Himalayas
OPEN DURATION: 9 Nights/ 10 days
Grade : Moderate
Altitude: 5135 m
Season: Mid June – Oct[/tg_accordion][/one_third]

[one_third]LADAKH

[tg_accordion title=”LADAKH MONASTERY TREK” icon=”” close=”1″]Area: Ladakh Himalayas
OPEN DURATION: 11 Nights/ 12 Days
Grade: Moderate
Altitude: 3700 m
Season: April- Nov[/tg_accordion][/one_third]

[one_third_last]RUMTSE TSOMORIRI TREK

[tg_accordion title=”RUMTSE TSOMORIRI TREK” icon=”” close=”1″]Area: Ladakh Himalayas
OPEN DURATION: 7 Night/ 8 Days
Grade: Medium-Strenuous
Altitude: 5016 m
Season: June-September[/tg_accordion][/one_third_last]


 


LADAKH – LAND OF HIGH PASSES

LADAKH – LAND OF HIGH PASSES

Ladakh – the land of many passes, of freezing high barren landscapes lying across the lofty Asian tableland – is among the highest of the world’s inhabited plateaus. Remote yet never isolated, this trans Himalayan land is a repository of a myriad cultural and religious influences from mainland India, Tibet and Central Asia.


Situated on the western end of the Himalayas, Ladakh has four major mountain ranges – the Great Himalayan, Zanskar, Ladakh and the Karakoram – passing through it. A maze of enormously high snow capped peaks and the largest glaciers outside the polar region, dominate the terrain where valley heights range from a mere 8,000 feet to 15,000 feet while passes of up to 20,000 feet and peaks reaching above 25,000 feet can be seen all around. The world’s largest glacier outside the polar region, Siachen is here. Such daunting heights no wonder determine the land’s temperature where Leh and Kargil experience temperatures as low as – 30° C and Dras -50°C.


Three months of sub zero temperatures (Dec-Feb) and the, rest of the months facing zero degree temperatures, it is a long and hard winter here. Waterways, waterfalls and lakes freeze, and the water vapour freezes to break into the most intricate and attractive crystal patterns. But on clear sunny days, when the average temperature goes over 20° C, the sun can be scorching hot in its intensity and its ultra violet rays cause deep sun burn. Rainfall is a mere 2 inches and it is the melting snow in summer which sustains life in this arctic zone. High aridity and low temperatures lead to sparse vegetation as a result of which the landscape is desert-like with sand dunes and even occasional sand storms occur.


The major waterway of Ladakh is the Indus which enters India from Tibet at Demchok. Starting near Mt. Kailash, the Indus, according to mythology, sprouts from the mouth of a lion, and is therefore known as Sengge Chhu. Sengge (Sinh in Sanskrit) means lion and Chhu is Tibetan for a flowing water body.As it flows down, Sengge Chhu is joined by its other tributaries, the Zanskar, the Shingo and the Shyok, and these river valleys form the main area of human habitation.


Ladakh also has one of the largest and most beautiful natural lakes in the country. Pangong Tso, 150 km long and 4 km wide, is nearly an inland sea at a height of 14,000 feet, with intensely clear water of an incredible range of hues of blue. Having no outlet the water in the lake is highly brackish and the lake’s basin houses a large wealth of minerals deposited by the melting snows every year. Tso Moriri, a pearl shaped lake, and Tso Kar, both contain large mineral deposits. Among the fresh water lakes Yaye Tso, Kiun Tso and Amtitla offer great scenic attraction.


Ladakh, though a remote border land with virtually no surface communication for more than six months a year, has surprisingly never been isolated. Continuous cultural and commercial contact existed with the surrounding regions of Tibet, Himachal, Kashmir, Central Asia and Sinkiang. This interaction helped maintain trade ties between the places. Pashm, salt, borax, sulphur, spices, brocade, pearls, metals, carpets, tea and apricots were the merchandise exchanged in their marts.


Covering an area of approximately 98,000 sq km, Ladakh has a sparse population of about 1,35,000. All habitations are situated along water courses, where long distances are traversed by using animal transportation of mainly the yak and the pony, the broad backed hunia sheep and the Bactrian two-humped camel. Ethnically, the Ladakhis comprise an amalgam of four prominent strains, namely the Mons, Dards, Tibetans and Baltis. Mons belong to the Aryan race. They might be called professional entertainers, as they move from place to place playing their musical instruments and for the most part are denied the privilege of inter-marriage with the other groups. Dards are confined mainly to Dras and the Indus Valley. At Dras, they are Muslims and retain very little of their past. But those in the Indus valley below Khalsi display a distinctive identity, preserving their original Buddhist religion as well as their cultural entity.


The Tibetans are the dominant racial strain in eastern and central Ladakh, but over the years have merged with other groups to form a homogeneous Ladakhi entity. Two ethnically and culturally distinctive groups are the Tibetans proper living at Choglamsar and the nomadic Changpas with their herds of pashm bearing goats in the eastern plains. Baltis are mainly found in western Ladakh in the Kargil region, but isolated pockets exist in the Nubra valley and near Leh. They are believed to be descendants of the Sakas, a Central Asian race.


All groups have together contributed their own perceptible share in the distinctive physiognomy, language and homogenised culture of Ladakh. The Ladakhis are a simple and hardy people with an immense capacity for work and the fortitude to not merely survive but remain cheerful under the most adverse physical conditions. Living as close to nature as they do, they have maintained a harmonious balance with their surroundings.


Some of the passes which you can explore while on the tour are:

Khardung La

Khardung La being one of the most popular destinations in Leh and the gateway to Nubra and Siachen glacier, one might encounter a lot of traffic and army convoys on the way and it is best to start off the journey early in the day to avoid as much traffic as you possibly can. The drive to Khardung La can get very bumpy as the weather and landslides that frequently happen here doesnt augor too well for well maintained roads! Having said that the drive to the summit of Khardung La is relatively easy compared to a few other rides in Leh. Road beyond South Pallu is in bad condition & gain in altitude is substantial and the elation of reaching the Khardurng la top is mind numbing!

Baralacha La

Located about 75 kms from Keylong, Baralacha La at an altitude of 16,040 feet across the Bhaga river  is the start point of several treks in Leh Ladakh region which include the famous Suraj Tal  trek and Chandra Tal trek. It is always advisable to cross Baralacha La pass before noon. The melting of snow on the higher altitudes of this pass makes it difficult to cross it as the day advances.

Tanglang La Pass

Tanglang La on the Manali – Leh highway at an altitude of 17582 ft is the highest point on the highway. Tanglang la is like the gateway to Leh on the Manali – Leh route. Gata Loops and Tanglang La are the highlights of the Manali – Leh highway. Like most of the mountain passes in Leh on Tanglang la also there is a small temple and a marker stone whith the altitude of the pass mentioned on it!

Chang La Pass

The gateway to Changthang, Chang La at 17,590 ft is the third highest motorable pass. At the pass there is a shrine dedicated to Chang La baba after who the pass is also named. Tangste is the nearest settlement. Indian army serves tea here free of cost to tourists visiting Chang La pass!

Zoji La Pass

Zoji la Pass is one of the highest mountain passes on Srinagar – Ladakh highway about 100 km from Srinagar ahead of Sonmarg. Zoji la pass remains closed to traffic for nearly six months in a year due to heavy snowfall in winter. (Opens by April end)

Marsimek-La

The Marsimek-La pass built by ITBP at 18634 ft also makes unsubstantiated claims of being the highest motorable pass in the world! Marsimek-La is on the northern-most tip of the Plateau 35 kms from Pangong Tso.

Fotu La Pass

Fotu La pass on the Srinagar-Leh highway of the Himalayan Zanskar Range stands at a height of of 13,478ft (4,108m) above the sea level. This mountain pass is referred to as the highest point on the highway, going beyond the well-known Zoji La. The drive through the pass is a beautiful journey where you can stop to get an amazing view  of the snow-clad mountain ranges.

Lachulung La Pass

Lachulung La, located in Ladakh separates the valleys of the Tsarap Chu Chu and the Tozay, where both are on the flow of the Zanskar and the Indus rivers. Situated on 16,600 feet above the sea level, the pass is quite close to the Sarchu and Pangong lake. The pass on the Leh-Manali Highway is around 8 kms from La Nakee that is around 24 kms towards the north of Pang. The road is visible from the narrow gap of the Lachulung Lungpa. While crossing the pass, the tourist buses and taxis take a halt here most of the times, to let the tourists admire the local natural beauty of the surrounding mountains. It is one of the favorite passes amongst the hikers as well as trekkers.

Namikala Pass

Namikala pass, located at the Zanskar range that connects Srinagar- Leh highway. This pass located at the height of 12,139 feet above the sea level is also known as the pillar of the sky passes. Namikala pass is situated on the way to Mulbek valley. Tourists here can see the rock carvings of Maitreya Buddha as well as a Gompa. It is one of the most important passess in Ladakh and the last one too, before one enters the Kargil region. You will find a number of signboards giving important information. Although a barren  land, but once you cross the pass you can  admire the breathtaking view of the lush green surroundings and snow-covered peaks.


LIFESTYLE

Like the land itself, the people of Ladakh are generally quite different from those of the rest of India. The faces and physique of the Ladakhis, and the clothes they wear, are more akin to those of Tibet and Central Asia than of India. The Ladakh people are said to be the most simple and cheerful in nature. Even their lifestyle is very simple and they prefer to remain close to the nature. Dresses for Ladakh man and woman are totally different.  Women wear the Goncha, which is a loose thick woolen robe that is tied on waist by a colorful band and men wear loose pyjamas with a hat. The Buddhist people wear bright brick red color robe.


On special occasions, people wear bright and silk robes. The original population may have been Dards, an Indo-Aryan race down from the Indus and the Gilgit area. Besides the culture, religion also influences the lifestyle in Leh Ladakh. Monastic rituals and festival engage people throughout the year. The gompas and monasteries are venues for religious feasts. Buddhist festivals draw crowds of tourists as well. Women enjoy independence within and outside the household. They take part in social and religious ceremonies like childbirth, marriages and festivals.


The culture of Ladakh is rich with the Buddhism culture. The main culture of Ladakh is Buddhism with other bit part of religion of Hindu, Muslims and Christians. The land has many rocks engraving of Buddhist speaking even in areas like Drass and lower Suru valley. Most of the Muslim residents will be found at the Padum, Nubra valley and nearby places of Leh. The monasteries in Leh Ladakh display the culture of Buddhism. Even the women in Ladakh are fully affected by the religion of the place. Here, women of Buddhist and Muslim culture, works not only at home but also works outside the home. Some families also run their business in which women take the full participation. They are totally free to interact with the men outside their home.


The most appreciated fact of Leh Laddakh is the status of women in Laddakh. The women enjoy a highly elevated status compared to the conservative nature of the other northern states of India. Rugged and rough, lifestyle in Laddakh can really be challenging yet the people of Laddakh maintain that unique smile on their face.



CULTURE OF LADAKH

Leh Ladakh is an oasis of nature and serenity. Arid Leh features a unique Buddhist lifestyle. The Buddhist monasteries built centuries ago bring global tourists to Leh and Ladakh. The ancient rock carvings, large pillars and peace in the monasteries still leave a deep impact on the hearts of travellers. Apart from the sightseeing options, the culture and lifestyle of Leh Ladakh is one of the reasons why tourists love to flock here.


The culture of Leh Laddakh is quite similar to the Tibetan culture because of the region’s close proximity with Tibet. In Ladakkh the cuisines are mostly of Tibetan origin like thukpa and tsampo. Nowadays however it is also getting influenced by the cuisine styles of Central Asia and the rest of India. The architecture of Leh Laddakh also is influenced by the Tibetan style and has references to the existence of dragon. The religion of the state also follows Tibetan as well as Buddhist influences. Most of the chants are in Sanskrit or Tibetan.


Ladakhi culture is heavily influenced by Tibetan culture, in fact it is quite similar. There are more Buddhists than Muslims in certain areas and the ratio changes as we move towards Zanskar valley. Ladakhi food has much in common with Tibetan food, the most prominent foods being thukpa (noodle soup) and tsampa, known in Ladakhi as ngampe (roasted barley flour).


A dish that is strictly Ladakhi is skyu, a heavy pasta dish with root vegetables. As currency started making its place in the economy of Ladakh, food from the Indian plains gained popularity. Tea in Ladakh is traditionally made with strong green tea, butter, and salt. It is mixed in a large churn and known as gurgur cha(Butter Tea), after the sound it makes when mixed. The milk and sugar based sweet tea made in Indian style is also common now. Most of the surplus barley that is produced is fermented into chang, an alcoholic beverage drunk especially on festive occasions.


Ladakhis are very fond of ice hockey which is generally played in the month of January on natural ice. Archery is a traditional sport and many villages still conduct archery festivals, which also include drinking, dancing and gambling as a medium of celebrating the sport. Polo is another traditional sport of Ladakh.


The architecture in Ladakh draw heavy influences from Tibet and India. The monastic architecture reflects a deeply rooted Buddhist approach. The Buddhist wheel, along with two dragons, is a common feature on almost every gimp, including the likes of Hemis, Thiksey, Alchi etc. Ladakhi Buddhist festival music is much like its Tibetian counterpart and often involves religious chanting. These chants are complex, often recitations of sacred texts in celebration of various festivals.



HISTORY OF LADAKH

For nearly 900 years, from the middle of the 10th century, Ladakh was an independent kingdom, its ruling dynasties descending from the kings of old Tibet. The kingdom attained its greatest geographical extent and glory in the early 17th century under the famous king Singge Namgyal, whose domain extended across Spiti and western Tibet right up to the Mayum-la, beyond the sacred sites of Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar.


 Gradually, perhaps partly due to the fact that it was politically stable, Ladakh became recognized as the best trade route between the Punjab and Central Asia. For centuries it was traversed by caravans carrying textiles, spices, raw silk, carpets, dyestuffs, narcotics, etc. to the Central Asian towns of Yarkand and Khotan. On this long route, Leh was the midway stop, and developed into a bustling entrepot, its bazars thronged with merchants from distant countries.


The famous pashmina (better known as cashmere) also came down from the high-altitude plateaux of eastern Ladakh and western Tibet, through Leh, to Srinagar, where skilled artisans transformed it into shawls known the world over for their softness and warmth. Like the land itself, the people of Ladakh are generally quite different from those of the rest of India. The faces and physique of the Ladakhis, and the clothes they wear, are more akin to those of Tibet and Central Asia than of India. The original population may have been Dards, an Indo-Aryan race down from the Indus and the Gilgit area.


Ladakh’s earliest inhabitants were nomadic yak herders, but permanent settlements were established along the Indus by Buddhist pilgrims travelling from India to Mt Kailash in Tibet. Buddhism soon became the dominant religion, though the minority Brokpa tribe still follows Bonism: the religion that preceded Buddhism in Tibet.


By the 9th century, the Buddhist kings of Ladakh had established a kingdom extending all the way from Kashmir to Tibet, protected by forts and dotted with vast Buddhist gompas (monasteries). Different sects struggled for prominence, but the Gelukpa (Red Hat) order was introduced by the Tibetan pilgrim Tsongkhapa in the 14th century, and it soon became the major philosophy in the valley.


Simultaneously, Muslim armies began to invade Ladakh from the west. In the 16th century, the province fell briefly to Ali Mir of Balistan, but Buddhism bounced back under Singge Namgyal (1570–1642), who established a new capital at Leh. Ladakh was finally annexed into the kingdom of the Dogra Rajas of Jammu in 1846.


Since then, Ladakh has been ruled as a sub-district of Jammu and Kashmir. In response to anti-Buddhist discrimination, the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) was formed in 1996, lobbying for the creation of a Union Territory of Ladakh. Since then, candidates from the Ladakh Union Territory Front have lead the field at elections, but with the state government profiting heavily from Ladakh’s tourism industry, autonomy is likely to remain a distant dream.