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There was a Cloud Brust at Leh on 08-08-10. About 200 lost thier life and several injured and 80 persons are missing.We pay our condolences to departed souls and pray for the injured and missing
  

 

Ladakh- The Land of Mystic Lamas

The land is so barren and passes so high that only the best friends or fiercest enemies would want to visit us.

                         A Ladakhi saying


Little Tibet






      Generally as a policy matter personnel over 50 years are not posted to Ladakh region but at 55 years of age when I learnt about my transfer to Ladakh I was exited that my long cherished desire was going to fulfill. I was thrilled to visit the land of mysterious Lamas, Shangri-la and Lord Budhha. So on 18th August, 2002 I boarded the IAC flight at 0600 hrs from Delhi (Palam) Airport. After few minutes the plane was getting height leaving behind the toy like houses and colonies. We were floating above tender clouds at 30000 feet and below were hundreds of prince tine Himalayan snow clapped peaks glittering in morning sun rays. It was a celestial and divine sight as if hundreds of Yogies are meditating under the clear blue sky or as if Lord Siva had manifested Himself in hundreds of ice lingam. It was magnificent and  and divine view of nature and Himalayas. As we proceed further the mountains were becoming barren and there was snow in the gapes with melting lines  as downward streams. In between the barren hills there were tiny habitations with beautiful paddy fields and gazing cattle. The plane touched Leh tarmac  at 0715 hrs. As I came out,  a Gipsy  took me to the camp which is 7 Km from the Airport on the banks of Indus or Sindhu river near Choglamsar Bazaar. The house  ear-marked for me has a fascinating view of snow clapped peaks in the front. A shy brown dog greeted us which later on become my companion.  It was a new experience to be in the barren mountains, the endlessly stretching roads with dazzling snow clapped peaks set against a razor sharp blue sky. The rugged bareness of the landscape reminds us of the concept of 'emptiness' in Buddhism. I was advised to take rest for 3 days to acclimatize. As soon as we land at Leh airport we feel the symptoms of high altitude sickness such as dizziness, nausea, loss of appetite, headache, light headed feeling, rapid heart beat, breathlessness and sleepless nights. One should take complete rest at least for 36/24 hrs and drink plenty of water and fluids. During summer we don't need much clothing but a sunglass to protect the eyes from sun glare and a headgear to protect from strong winds are  must.

 

    I remained at Leh for 1 year and 4 months and enjoyed all the seasons, fair and festivals and visit to nearby monasteries and lakes. There was 'Sindhu Darshan' festival in  first week of June, Budh Purnima in May/June, Hemis fair in the month of July,  Ladakh Festival in first week of September and Losar (New Year) festival in the month of December. Months of June to September are hot. There is no rainy season. The sun beats down relentlessly, the  glare intensified by the thinness of high altitude air followed by dusty storms in the afternoon. The sharp crystal clear blue  sky line is so close that on  moonlit nights  it seems that the  moon and stars are studded in a  bowl  and one can touch them if  stretches his hand upward. We enjoyed the frozen Indus River during winter with local boys skiing on the surface using indigenous improvised equipment.

   

Majority of population follow Buddhism (Tantrik Mahayana Sect) with  a sizable number of Muslims. The Tibetan featured remarkable child like people of Ladakh are innocent, honest, simple, hardworking, extremity religious and friendly. It seems that their religion which preaches quiet endurance of sufferings and emphasis on asceticism   is their great refuse against the terrifying natural forces, hard life and constant pull by dry wind, grit and sun on daily basis in this inhospitable terrain. Buddhist practices are inextricable part of Ladakhi life. Every village has a Chorten, a big Prayer Wheel, and 'Mani Wall' (a chest high structure with 'Om mani padme hum' engraved stones). Most of the people are seen rotating a Prayer Wheel or Rosary and chanting the 'Om mani padme hum' mantra. Even strangers are greeted with 'Juley' the Ladakhi way of 'Namaskar'. There are huge Prayer Wheels in every village and markets. Spiritual leaders are called Lamas and have a great influence on the society as preachers, teachers, and priests.  Most of the businesses are run by ladies. The life style is slow and care free. On Sundays and holidays people may be seen enjoying, dancing and singing in the parks and open grounds on the banks of Indus River.   I regret that I lost my rare digital  photographs when hard disk  of my computer crashed. Alas I would have taken a backup.

 

 

Situated at an altitude of 9000'  and above,  Ladakh bounded by two of the word's highest  mountain ranges, the Karakoram and the Himalayas and numerous forbiddingly high    passes (La)  also known as 'Little Tibet', 'Broken Moon' and 'Land of Passes and Mystic Lamas'   was once a peaceful kingdom ruled by Namgyal dynasties descended  from Tibet and hub of old caravan silk  route. It was invaded by Dogra  ruler of Jammu led by Zorawar Singh  in 1834 and merged in J&K State. Ladakh consists of two districts namely Kargil and Leh. It is home of great Indus valley civilization. Indus or Sindhu (one of the longest river in the world about 2900 Kms and major part of it flows through Pakistan)   originating from Mansarover lake is the main river and Zansakar, Shayok, Suru, Dras are it's tributaries.  Lush green valleys  are situated on the banks of these rivers. Yaks, Sheep, Dogs, Mules, Asses and Zo/Zomo (hybrid of Yak and Cow) are main animals. Yak and Zo are representative animal which is used for transportation of goods, ploughing the fields.  Tail of Yak is considered holy and used as a fan over the holy  the Guru Granth Sahib of Sikhs.  Double hump  Camels (Bectarian Cammel) are found in Nubra valley. Ladakh is also home of some beautiful and rare birds such as black necked Crane, bar headed Geese, Wood pickers, Ducks, Partridges, Barbets, Kingfishers, Parakeets, Eagles and Owls. Wild animals Skyang (hill ass), Shu (Tibetan stag), Marmot, Antilopes, Tibetan Gazelle, Ibex, Snow Leopard, Red Fox are also found. The main crop of region is Barley. Other crops like millet, peas, beans, lentils, mustard are also grown in low lying valleys. Potatoes, onions, turnips and radish are main vegetables. Besides apricots and apples, grapes, mulberries and walnuts abound in warmer areas. Various verities of Apricot is the representative fruit of the region. Juice of Leh berries is extracted which is believed to have medicinal properties.  There are several Buddhist monasteries or gompas imparting training to hundreds of monks where thousands of monks are engaged in spiritual practices. These monasteries are endowments of land and locals also provide them all help.

                                      Leh Town

Located on the north of Indus river at an altitude of 11500 feet, Leh is the headquarters of Leh district and largest town of Ladakh region and once a hub off Silk Route. Leh provides medium and lower class accommodation with hundreds of guest houses and hotels suiting every budget. There are number of tour operators, adventure organizers and travel agents who look after visitor's needs on reasonable rates. It was opened for foreign tourist in 1974. However, they have to register themselves with the concerned authorities. Foreign tourist coming by road may register themselves at Sarchu (if coming from Manali) and Drass (if coming from Srinagar). Those traveling by air are registered at Leh airport.

All tourists are required permits to visit restricted areas like Tsomoriri, Tsokar, Pangong lake, Dhahanu and Nubra valley etc. Please check with your tour operator who will arrange the permit for some service charges. There are lot of items of handicrafts like woolen goods, pearls, munga, various Buddhist religious items like prayer wheels and tangkas. Tangka paintings are highly evolved form of art. There are  lot of private and co-operative emporium selling these items.  Tibetan Bazaar selling mostly electronic goods is also there.

 

Accommodation for all budgets is available at Leh Town.

 

How to reach

Regular daily flights of IAC and Jet Airways are available to and fro Delhi (75 minutes) through out the year (subject to weather conditions). IAC also have  flights to and fro Chandigarh (60 minutes), Jammu (60 minutes) and Srinagar (45 Minutes). There are two surface routes which  remain open during June-September.

I have had an opportunity to travel through Leh - Manali route once in the month of August but could not travel via Srinagar route as it is not allowed for Force personnel to travel through this route due to security reasons.

 

Leh-Manali route.

It is the shortest route to Delhi (about 1100 Km). Delhi Transport Corporation, Himanchal Transport Corporation, J&K Transport Corporation and private Bus Operators runs daily Bus services from Delhi, Chandigarh and Manali  with night halt at Keylong or Sarchu. We preferred  Taxi with the intention to reach Manali by the evening and to Delhi by next morning taking a night bus. We started at 0230 am from Leh and after passing beautiful lush green valley along Indus river and   villages of Choglamsar, Shey, Thiksey, Gya and Rumtse. After leaving Indus on the left and ascending road we reached Tang-Tang-La pass (17,469 feet) at about 0600 hrs. It is the second highest motor able road in the word after Khar-dung-La. A few Km before the la a road to the right leads to Tsomoriri and Tsokar lakes. After descending for a few Km we passed through a vast plateau of about 60 Km. We reached a place called Pang at about 1000 hrs and had our breakfast in tented restaurants. We reached Sarchu at about 1230 hrs after crossing the Lahulung La (16600 feet).  Having crossed the Baralachala pass we reached at about 1500 hrs a place called Darcha on the confluence of Chandra and Bhaga rivers which is the first village of Himanchal Pradesh and had our lunch. The area between these rivers   is called Lahual. Till now the landscape was barren and consist of inhabited hills and fields.  At about 1600 hrs we reached  the District headquarters of Lahaul and Spiti called Kaylong. Our Tata Sumo got defective and took about 2 hrs to be roadworthy and by now it  became clear that we would not be able to board the night bus for Delhi. It started raining heavily and it was very difficult to negotiate the jig jag hilly road by the time it become dark. At about 2100 hrs we crossed Rohtang Pass. Due to rain, fog and dark nothing was visible out side . Any how we reached Manali at about 2300 hrs and stayed for night in a hotel. Early next morning we boarded a bus and reached Delhi by evening.

 

Srinagar-Leh Route

Before opening of Manali route in 1989 this was the only surface route to reach Leh. It passes along the Indus river and through Zozila Pass (11500 feet). Drass the second coldest  inhabited place in the world is the first village accross Zozila Pass. Tiger Hill is located in this valley. Buddhist manuscripts are engraved on the rocks along the road side. Kargil town is the District headquarters of same named district and has tiny  hotels and eating joints for the tourist. Mulbek is the next place where a monastery is located on a hill top. Lamayuru and Spituk are the another famous monastery on the way before Leh.


 

 


Sweetest water flows from hardest rocks


 


 


 


 


Distances in Km
Delhi 1045
Chandigarh 730
Simla 878
Manali 472
Kargil 230
Darass 230
Zozila 307
Srinagar 434
Jammu 735

Important Telephone Numbers
S T D Code 01982
Indian Airlines 52076
Police 52018
Air Port 52255
Tourist Centre 52297
Taxi Stand 52723
District Magistrate 52210
SNM Hospital 52360
Spots around Leh
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