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.