States of India
Places in Leh
LADAKH is situated between 30 degree to 36 degree east latitude and 76 degree to 79 degree north longitude. The region of Ladakh spread over to an area of 96,701 Sq.Kms and comprising a population of 2 Lakhs habitants and consists of two districts,Leh and Kargil. The region of Ladakh normally remains land locked between November to June every year as Srinagar-Ladakh and Ladakh-Monali highways,which connect Ladakh with the other parts of the country, remain closed during this period because of snow and rigorous winter.Ladakh is also the land of many lakes and springs. Among the springs,the famous are the sulphar springs of Panamic (Nobra), Chumathang and Puga of Changthang,which are famous for early curing of joints/ rheumatic diseases.Many mineral springs are also found in some remote parts of Ladakh. People of region use the spring water as medicine to prevent and cure themselves from many diseases.The important lakes which fall within the jurisdiction of Ladakh are Pangong lake (150 Kms.long,4 Kms.wide situated at a height of 14,000 ft.).Tsomoriri lake, (Tsokar means salty lake). Since ancient times till the end of 1959 salt was being extricated from this particular salty lake for human consumption.Ladakh has two districts namely Leh and Kargil which stand in contrast with each other in terms of geography and climate. The great Himalaya mountain, lying to the south ,forms a barrier to monsoon in this area.Due to this region Ladakh is an isolated cold desert region. Altitude in Ladakh varies from place to place and is the main factor affecting local climate. The winter temp.touches as low as minus 30 degree(Leh & Kargil) and minus 60 degree in (Drass) subzero temp.prevails from December to February throughout Ladakh, whereas,zero degree temp.is experienced during rest of winter months.This result in freezing of all conceivable water resources. During summer the maximum temp.increases from 20 degree C to 38 degree C in July and August. The relative humidity is low and ranges from 31 to 64 percent.Wind velocity in the afternoon and nights is of high order resulting in heavy soil errosion with dust storm and snow blizzards which make life very difficult.Due to longer winters, the agriculture season is short and spread over from April to September depending upon the climate.The main river of Ladakh is Indus,which flows in a north-west direction between Ladakh and Zanskar ranges.It is joined by several major rivers like Zanskar,Suru and Shayok before it reaches Pakistan.
Historical Places and Monuments :
The most attractive features of the landscape of Leh are the Buddhist Gompas (monoasteries).The Gompas are situated on the highest points of the mountain spurs or sprawl over cliffsides,located in vicinity of villages and provide focus for the faith of Buddhists.The famous religious places include:
Situated 40 Kms.from Leh,Hemis is the wealthiest,best known and biggest gompa of Ladakh.The annual festival of the gompa is held in summer in honour of Guru Padma Sambhav's birth anniversary. It also has the largest thanka(scroll painting on silk or brocade) in Ladakh which is unfurled once in 12 years.Hemis was built in 1630 A.D.during the reign of Sengge Namgyal and flourished under the Namgyal dynasty.
The gompa is situated on the banks of the Indus,70 Kms from Leh and dates a thousand years back.The gompa os no longer an active religious centre and is looked after by monks from the Likir monastery.
The gompa stands prominently on the top of a hillock,8 Kms.from Leh,and commands a panaoramic view of the Indus Valley for miles.Many icons of Buddha and five thankas are found in 15th century monastery.There is also a collection of ancient masks,antique arms,and an awe inspiring image of Mahakal.
The monastery is situated 17 Kms.from Leh on the Leh-Kargil road.It was built by Tashi Namgyal in the later half of the 16th century A.D.and looks like a place from a distance.The gompa belongs to the Red Cap sect of the Buddhists. Hundreds of icons of Budha are kept on wooden shelves.
15 Kms upstream from Leh.The palace is belived to have been the seat of power of the pre-Tibetan kings.A 7.5 metre high copper statue of Buddha,plated with gold,and the largest of its kind,is installed in the palace.
The Thikse monastery is spectacularly situated 19 Kms from Leh.It is one of the largest and architecturally most impressive gompas.The gompa has images,stupas and wall paintings of Buddha which are exquisite.
The historical mosque is situated in the heart of Leh town.It was built in 1666-67 A.D.consequent to an agreement between the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and then ruler of Ladakh,Deldan Namgyal.
The palace is a distinguished monument and a historical building.The nine- storeyed palace was built by the 17th century illustrious ruler of Ladakh Sengge Namgyal.
Tourist Places :
Leh is having a airport which connects it to the rest of the country. Besides this there is regular bus service from Srinagar which operates during summer when the Zojila Pass remains open for traffic. One can also get there in Taxis and Jeeps via The Srinagar-Leh Highway or the Manali-Leh Highway. Leh offers a variety of accomodation to suit almost every pocket or preference The areas of tourist interest are varied and many. Some of them are as follows:
Cultural Tourism :
Visits to the major Buddhist Monastries and other cultural or heritage sites are the principal tourist attractions of central Ladakh and Zanaskar. Most of the region's principal Gompas are open throughout the day and a caretaker Lama is available to show visitors around. Some of the less visited establishments have special opening hours , as in the case of Namgyal Tsemo, Shey Palace, and the Stok Palace Museum.Most of the monstries charge a small enterance fee. The monastries constitute the fountain head of Ladakh's Buddhist religion and culture.
Fairs and Festivals of Ladakh also attract a large number of Tourists. Many of the annual festivals of Gumpas take place in winter as it is a relatively idle time. The dance dramas take place in the court yards of Gumpas and Lamas wearing colourful robes and startling masks perform mimes representing various heads of the religion. The biggest and the most famous monastic festivals is of Hemis which falls in late June-July and is dedicated to Padam Sambhava. Other festivals held in summer are of Lama-Yuru, in early July, Phiyang in late July, Tak-Thok after Phiyang and Karsha in Zanskar after Phiyang. Spituk, Stoke, Thiksey, Chemreay and Matho have their festivals in winter.
Adventure Tourism :
Ladakh offers great scope for adventure activities amidst landscapes of breathtaking beauty . The most popular and established among these are trekking,mountaineering, and river rafting.
Trekking includes short day long walks up and down mountain slopes to visit isolated villages or monastic settlements or across the ridge to enjoy landscape. Or long transmountain treks involving weeks of walking and camping in the wilderness. The most popular treks are:
Lamayuru in the Indus Valley to Darcha in the Lahoul across Zanaskar takes nearly 3 weeks.
The 10 day Markha valley trek and the 11 day Lamayuru-Padam trek and Stok Kangri round trek arer the most popular among the numerous options available.
Perhaps the most exciting trek in the world is Hemis-Markha-Padum Trek for 13 days and this calls for elaborate arrangements.
Various New Areas have also been opened in forms of circuits . The maximum time allowed on these circuits is 7 days and foreign groups are allowed to go only in groups and accompanied by a recognized tour operator. The detailed information regarding going to these circuits can be had from the offices of J & K Tourism located across the country. These circuits are:
The DROK-PA area circuit : Khaltase-Domkhar-Skurbuchan-Achinathang-Hanudo-Biama-Dah and return.
The Nubra Valley Circuits : Leh-Khardungla-Khalsar-Tirit-Tegar-Sumur-Panamik and return.
The Pangong Lake circuit : Leh-Karu-Changla-Durbuk-Tangse-Lukung-Spangmik and return.
Tso-moriri lake Circuits : Leh-Upshi-Debring-Puga-Tso-moriri-Korzok and return , Leh-Upshi- Chumathang-Mahe-Puga-Tso- moriri- Korzok and return.
Depending upon the time and budget you can afford, ask the Tourist offices at Leh, Kargil or Padum to design a trekking prgramme for you.
A range of rafting options are available on the Indus and its major tributaries. The best stretch for the professionally guided runs in white water is on the Indus between Spituk and Saspol.Beyond Saspol river becomes difficult. The most difficult and exciting option for river running is on the Zanskar along its spectacular course through the Gorge in the Zanskar mountains between Padam and Nimo.
The area most frequented by tourists is the Nun-Kun Massif in the great Himalayan range and is easily accesible from Kargil-Padum road. he area nearest to Leh is the Stok-Khangri Massif in the Zanskar mountains, south of Leh. North of Leh, across the Ladakh Range and the Nubra Valley, lies the Karakoram range. The climbing season extends from mid-May to mid-October, the ideal period being from June to September.