Ladakh: The Roof of the Wood

WorldhistopediaFamous by various names [the lunar landscape,the last Shangrila,the Little Tibbet] ,Ladakh lies beyond the Kasmir Valley, in the inhospitable remote and arid terrain of karakoram Mountains .Ladakh occupies the 70% of the tatal area of the state of Jammu and Kashmir .For centuries it remained closed to the outside world .It was in mid 70’s that it was made accessible to tourists,and only since 1979 it has been on the air map of India : This stark,sun backed barren wind –swept,forbodding, rugged yet exciting land is the abode of lamsaries ,yaks,hoary palaces perched on pinnacles, and time –defying Buddist art and culture.Its isolation coupled with elevation mark it an unusal place,a lend for those who love real temperature and very low rainfall and inhospitable environs,it is a fascinating place indeed for those who have a taste for unspoilted virgin nature.

The ancient capital city Leh at an attitude of 3,500 metres,lies off the banks of the River Indus (Sindh) and at the trijunction of famous Chinese Sikh Route from Sinhiang to West Asia and the Indian plains.Leh is connected with Srinagar by a road mostly open from May through November.The highway passes through panoramic landscapes and beautiful tiny villages and high passes along the river Sindh. There is a regular bus service between Srinagar and Leh.Indian Airlines operates flight from Delhi via Chandigrh to Srinagar. The flight from Srinagar-Leh is both short and breath taking as the plane passes over spectacular Himalayan mountains and valleys.The journey even by road is more than a good value for all the trouble involved,but it is not a destination for all and sundry.

Enroute Leh one comes across Kargil (famous for Zanskar Valley,Mublekh ,famous for 24 feet high carved out statue of Maitreya or future Buddha),Lamaru (famous for the oldest monastery dating beack to the tenth century),Alchi, Lekir & Bagso (famous for various shrines dedicated to the Buddhism) and Spitok Monastery (famous for Kali statue whose face is unveiled only once every year around puja days).

Leh has a few places of tourist interest mostly dedicated to Buddhism.They are the Khar Palace,Leh Gompa (Gompa is the local term for monastery ),Shankar Gompa,Shey Palace & Gompa and Zanskar (mainly attractive for trekkers with an adventurous spirit). There are typically Ladakhian buildings for stay where one can stay after paying reasonable rent .Both private and government agencies run these staying places and rest houses.