LADAKH TOUR

LADAKH - the land of celebration

Ladakh the abode of Dalai Lama is set in a gigantic and extravagant environment. It is bordered by two of the world's monumental mountain ranges the Karakoram in the north and the Himalayas in the south.

Ladakh is a sight of tranquility, beauty and peace. A number of different festivals celebrated in ladakh add energy and excitement to its calm and serene environment. These traditions give a good contrast to its modern ambience.

The wintry weather, the beautiful environment and the dazzling physical features of the land make it closest to the nature and naturally scenic. Ladakh is traversed by parallel chains, the Ladakh range and the Zanskar range.

Ladakh was once covered by a massive lake system, the signs of which still exist in the south-east plateaus of Rupshu and Chushul and in the lakes of Tso-moriri, Tso-kar and Pangong-tso. The Himalayan range protects the region from the Indian monsoons making the winter snowfall their only source of water. Dras, Zanskar and Suru valley receive heavy snowfalls melting the glaciers and carrying the water in the form of streams in summers to irrigate the fields. For the rest of the region, the snow on the peaks is the only source of water.

Ladakh lies at an altitude ranging from about 2,750 meters at Kargil to 7,672 meters at Saser Kangri, in the Karakoram Range. The weather is so unique that a man can get both sunstroke and frostbite at the same time. The maximum temperature in summers can be around 25 degree Celsius while the minimum in winters can be around -25 degree Celsius.

Historical Background

For nearly 900 years, Ladakh was an independent kingdom, its ruling dynasties descending from the kings of old Tibet. The kingdom attained its greatest geographical extent in the early 17th century under King Singge Namgyal, whose territory extended across Spiti and western Tibet right up to the Mayum-la, beyond the sacred sites of Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar. Ladakh became recognized as the best trade route between Punjab and Central Asia. For centuries it was traversed by caravans carrying textiles, spices, raw silk, carpets, dyestuffs, narcotics, etc. Leh was a middle route for the tradesmen hence leading to the establishment of the markets over there.

The famous Pashmina (better known as cashmere) came down from eastern Ladakh and western Tibet to Srinagar through Leh. Pashmina was converted into shawls known for their softness and warmth. The trade attracted the attention of Gulab Singh, the ruler of Jammu in the early 19 th centrury who sent his general, Zorawar Singh to invade Ladakh. However, a decade of war ended in the supremacy of British power in north India incorporating Ladakh and Baltistan into Jammu and Kashmir . However, Ladakh and Baltistan were separated after the partition of India as Baltistan was made a part of Pakistan and Ladakh was in India.

The spoken languages in Ladakh are Balti, Shina, Dardic, Urdu and Hindi. Leh is connected by direct flights from Srinagar, Delhi and Jammu. It is also connected by road from Srinagar and Manali.

Vital Statistics

Area: 97,000 sq kms out of which nearly 38,000 sq. kms are under Chinese Occupation since 1962.

Altitude: Leh 3505 m, Kargil 2750 m

Temperature: Max Min

Summer: 25°C 10.6° C

Winter: (-) 5°C -20°C

Rainfall: 15cm, 6" (annual average)

Population: Approx. 2.40 lakh in the 2 districts of Leh & Kargil.

Best Season: Throughout the year, though the winter months can be quite cold.

Clothing: Cotton & light woollens in summer and heavy woollens including down-filled wind proof upper garments in winter.

Languages: Ladakhi including Balti / Purgi, Shina or Dardic, Urdu / Hindi.

How to reach Ladakh
Leh: is connected by direct flights operated by Indian Airlines / Jet Airways /Air Deccan, etc. There direct flights from Delhi / Jammu / Srinagar to Leh, Ladakh is connected by Road from Srinagar and Manali

Leh and around

Leh is an attractive tourist destination and offers a number of sightseeing options. Leh is famous for its nine-storey palace built by King Singge Namgyal in Tibetan architectural style. This inspired the building of Potala Palace in Lhasa about half a century later. Leh was the royal capital of the Old Kingdom.

The remains of the earliest royal residency of King Tashi Namgyal in the 16 th century can be seen on the Namgyal Tsemo hill. The Jo-khang, a Buddhist temple and opposite to it a mosque built in the late 17 th century are both of historic importance and attract tourist attention.

Leh is also known for its main bazaar where one can see a line of women sitting on the edge of the footpath selling fresh vegetables. Leh has a number of jewelry shops. Behind the busy main bazaar, is the Chang Gali having small shops selling curios and jewelry. There are Tibetan markets where one can find beautiful semi-precious stones such as pearls, turquoise, coral, lapis lazuli, etc. These markets also sell carved yak-horn boxes, quaint brass locks, china or metal bowls and other curios. The bazaar area is also known for its restaurants serving local, Indian, Tibetan and Continental food.

The Ladakh Ecological Centre is near Zangsti and the Morovian Church and their work in applying folk technology to meet the demands of modern life in Ladakh should be appreciated. A half an hour walk away is the Sankar Gompa where one can enjoy the calmness and peace after a busy day. Changspa is another attractive suburb of Leh , lying below the hill on which stands the imposing Ladakh Shanti Stupa. The earthen fortifications of the Zorawar Singh's forts can be seen from the Fort Road to Skara, another suburb of Leh. This road continues to meet the main highway where the roads from Srinagar and Manali meet.

Leh offers beautiful sightseeing and walking destinations within a 10 kilometer radius. Sabu is a nearby village nestling between the two minor spurs of the Ladakh range. Choglamsar is a nearby town where one can see the Tibetan refugee settlement, a handicrafts centre and the Da.

Nubra Valley

Nubra 'the valley of flowers' is located in the north of Leh around 120 kms across Khardung La (18,380ft), the world's highest motorable road. Nubra used to be an important trade center on the famous silk route leading from Leh to Kashgar through the two passes of Saser and Karakoram.

Diskit, the administrative centre and Samstaling are the famous and busy monasteries of the region. The place is also famous for its hot springs at Panamik which are known to be healing and relaxing. The Bactrian i.e. the double humped camels and Khardung-La pass are other tourists attractions of the place. Hundar is the greenest of all Nubra villages. This is also the place where you can view the splendid beauty of a desert on a Bactrian in the white sand dunes.

Leh offers beautiful sightseeing and walking destinations within a 10 kilometer radius. Sabu is a nearby village nestling between the two minor spurs of the Ladakh range. Choglamsar is a nearby town where one can see the Tibetan refugee settlement, a handicrafts centre and the Da.

The Aryan Circle

Dha-Hanu, is an exquisite place of tourist attraction located around 163 kilometers to the South-West of Leh. Dha and Hanu, 'The Land of Aryans', are the only two villages in this area open for tourists. The distinct feature here is the existence of the Drok-pa community who are Buddhists by faith and ideology but ethically and racially diverse from rest of the Ladahkis. Their religious practices are similar to the pre-Buddhist animist religion, known as Bon-Chos unlike Buddhism practiced in the other parts of Ladakh.

The history behind it being called 'The Land of Aryans' is that thousands of years ago the Drok-pa community had migrated to this region from Central Asia via Gilgit. They are considered to be the last race of the Aryans and have pure Indo Aryan features distinct from the features of other Ladakhis.

Apart from physical, religious and cultural diversities from rest of Ladakh, the villages are also famous for fruits such as apples, grapes, walnuts and apricots.

Kargil

Kargil which is 204 km from Srinagar in the west and 234 km from Leh in the east is the second largest urban centre of Ladakh and headquarters for the district of same name. Kargil is one of the outlying areas of the Ladakh region. The western parts of Ladakh comprising the river valleys, which are drained and formed by the Himalayan tributaries of the high Indus, constitute Kargil district.Tourists who travel to Kargil realize that this area is very sparsely populated, as this region is extremely cold.

A quite town now, Kargil once served as important trade and transit centre in the Pan-Asian trade network. Numerous caravans carrying exotic merchandise comprising silk, brocade, carpets, felts, tea, poppy, ivory etc. transited in the town on their way to and from China , Tibet , Yarkand and Kashmir.

Being located at a great height in the center of the Himalayan region makes it the perfect venue for trekking, mountain climbing and other mountain related adventure sports. Kargil serves as an important base for adventure tours in the heart of Himalayas and one travelling to this place should not miss out on the opportunity to enjoy such adventurous activities. There are several popular trekking trails; some of these are the Padum-Phuktal trek, the Nun-Kun trek, the Hemis-Zangla-Padum trek and the Lamayuru-Leh trek. It is also the take off station for visitors to the erotic Zanskar Valley . Tourists travelling between Srinagar and Leh have to make a night halt here before starting the second leg of their journey.

There are numerous monastries in and around kargil and a visit to them is a must. Trespone and Sankhoo are two imambaras in Kargil that attract tourists with their Turkish style of architecture and are home to the Muslim 'Aghas'. The other place of worship for Muslims is Jama Masjid.

Some of the other important tourist destinations in Kargil are the Shargole monastery, the Pangong Lake and the holy site of Sani. Since a scenic drive through the mountain passes is the only way to get to this hilly district, therefore tours to Kargil usually include car rental and other travel-by-road options. There is no other way of reaching this mountainous region.

Dry apricots and apricot jam of the region are delicious and Pashmina shawls, local carpets and woolen handicrafts are some good options to buy from here. The woolens available here are of fine quality that owes itself to the long fleeced mountain goats in the area.

Zanskar

Zanskar a world above imagination
Travel excellence gives you the chance to explore and experience the adventurous and erotic valley of zanskar. Lying in the eastern half of Jammu and Kashmir , Zanskar is a small town. About 20 kms south-east of Rangdum stands the Panzila axis, across which lies Zanskar. It is spread over an estimated geographical area of 5000 sq kms of mountainous territory and is surrounded by high-rise mountains and deep gorges. The Penzila pass (4,401m) is a picturesque tableland surrounded by snow-covered peaks.

The Shingola pass is the most convenient way to reach Zanskar. During winters the best way to reach Zanskar is by the Zanskar River . The two rivers Stod and Lungnak flow through the valley, and meet to become the Zanskar River . The Stod Valley is the greener side of Zanskar with picturesque farms, and vast panoramas; while the Lungnak Valley is hostile and rugged with little habitation. The barren mountain landscape, dotted by little villages and stunning monasteries perched on high cliffs, and the towering snow peaks around it, make Zanskar a tourism destination wrapped in adventure and mystery.

Zanskar definitely is one of the remotest regions in the world to reach and the fact becomes more prominent as it remains virtually unreachable for 8 months due to bitter cold and heavy snowfall. Zanskar is a semi desert that is surrounded by mountains from all sides and is cut through by Zanskar river which is the reason many people come to Zanskar braving all the adversities. Zanskar River is one of the best places in the world where you can indulge in river rafting.

A trip to Zanskar will enable you to be a part of rafting, trekking and mountaineering. We help you in discovering the soul-stirring landscape; experience the exceptional, stunning natural environment; to become acquainted with the customs and lifestyles of the local people. Travel excellence lures tourists for pure magic and mystery of the land. Discover Zanskar as you tour its fascinating landscape of Jammu and Kashmir . Enroll yourself in the enticing adventurous sports like trekking and mountaineering and make your Zanskar travel a fascinating experience.

Ladakh Monasteries

The monasteries of Ladakh are the source of Buddhist religion and culture. They symbolize and preserve the centuries old cultural and artitistic heritage. It is important for a visitor to maintain and respect their sacredness. Shoes need to removed before entering the temple place and smoking in the monasteries is prohibited. Loud actions or improper dressing is also not accepted. Ladies are not allowed to enter the Gon-Khang (room dedicated to the guardian divinities). A small entrance fee might be charged and there is a caretaker lama for showing the visitors around.

Buddhist monasteries, also known as Gompas are largely concentrated in central Ladakh. Lamayuru is the oldest monastery of the 12 situated on the River Indus. It is a sacred place for the pre-Buddhist religion called Bon.

Alchi is the jewel of Ladakh's monastic foundations. It was abandoned centuries ago as a place of active worship and is now being well maintained by the monks of Likir, the nearest monastery. The assembly hall and the three storey Sumtsek of Alchi are the richest in paintings and images. The paintings depict the pre-existing Tibetan style of paintings. Some of them resemble the paintings in Ajanta Caves.

Tak-thok and Matho are other significant monasteries in the region. Tak-thok incorporates one of the many caves in the Himalayas where Indian Buddhist follower and promoter, Padmasambhava rested. Matho is famous for its yearly festival of the oracles, held in the month of March.

The monasteries of Phiyang, Hemis, Stakna and Chemrey were all founded under the direct patronage of members of the ruling Namgyal dynasty. they belong to the Red-Hat sect of the Buddhist monasticism.

The monasteries of Thiksey, Likir, Ri-dzong and Spituk in central Ladakh represent the Yellow-Hat sect of Buddhit monas.

Ladakh Monuments

The main attractions of ladakh are its Buddhist monasteries and the historic monuments. From Upshi to Khalatse, the valley has numerous sites which are connected with the former kingdoms dynastic history, starting with Leh, the capital. This is the historic heartland of ladakh.

The nine storey leh palace, the shey Palace, Tingmosgang and Basgo both of which served as the royal capitals when the Old Kingdom was temporarily divided into two parts in the 15th century are just a few places that make up the historic heartland of ladakh. Stok Palace, where the royal family now lives, houses a museum of artefacts associated with the dynasty.

ladakh tour packages

The historic monuments and the Buddhist Gompas (monasteries) are the main attractions of Ladakh. The region from Upshi to Khalatse, on the Indus Valley is the historic heartland is dotted with all the major sites connected with the former kingdom's dynastic history.

The nine-storey Leh Palace in ladakhs capital, leh was built in the early 17 th century and is a sight of historic value. A few kilometers up the Indus is the Shey Palace famous for the structure of the palace and its temples. Basgo and Tingmosgang, royal capitals in the 15 th century have beautiful forts and temples depicting the architecture of that period. The Stok Palace , in the village of Stok has a museum of artifacts of the dynasty. The Royal family now lives in the Stok Palace.

Lakes of Ladakh

The lakes in Ladakh are the highest altitude lakes in the Himalayan range. The Pangong Tso and Tsomoriri are the most beautiful lakes of the region.

Pangong Tso

Bounded by the mountains and over viewing spectacular scenic beauty, the Pangong Lake , changes its hues throughout the day. It is situated on the India-China border at a distance of 160 kilometers from Leh. It is 5 kilometers wide and more than 144 kilometers long but majority of the lake falls in the Chinese territory. Spangmik is the farthest point to which visitors are allowed. It is 7 kilometers from the head of the lake and vividly exposes the Changchenmo range, their reflections gleaming in the ever-changing blues and greens of the lake's brackish waters.

Tsomoriri

The lake Tsomoriri , located at 14,000 ft. near the Korzok village is around 240 kilometers from Leh. The lake is smaller than the Pangong Tso but is equally spectacular as it witnesses many migratory birds including the endangered, black necked crane, the bar-headed goose, the great crested grebe, the Brahmini duck and the bar-headed gull. The area is also inhabited by Kyang, the wild ass, marmots, hares and the unusual tail-less rats.

Sports of Ladakh

Apart from the scenic beauty, Ladakh offers adventure activities in the midst of magnificent and spectacular landscapes. Ladakh is known for its river rafting, mountaineering and trekking activities.

RIVER RAFTING

River rafting in Ladakh is unique and considered to be one of the best experiences in the world. It overviews the gorgeous valleys, the exquisite wildlife, the snow covered peaks and the hillside monastries and villages. These activities are prominent on the River Indus and its tributaries. The stretch between Spituk and Nimu on the River Indus is best for professional river rafting and rates between 2 to 3 on the international river grading scale of 1 to 6. The stretch from upstream of Spituk to Karu is the easiest and perfect for basic training or even "scenic floating". The Indus has become idyllic not only for scenic beauty but also sightseeing and other interesting activities for tourists.

The white water expedition in the Zanskar River is renowned for professional river rafting. It is extremely difficult and requires the participants to be well trained to face the gorges in the Zanskar Mountains between Padum and Nimu. There is a professional team and a back up rescue team as a prerequisite to the expedition.

MOUNTAIN CLIMBING

The Nun-Kun mountain chains in the Great Himalayan Range are prominent for mountaineering due to their easy accessibility from the Kargil-Padum road. Its closeness to the base camps makes it an appealing experience for mountain climbing. Nun ( 7,135 m) and Kun (7,087 m) are the highest peaks of the six known peaks accessible from the Suru Valley.

The Zanskar Mountains are also famous for mountaineering. The Stok-Khangri range in the Zanskar Mountains lie towards the south of Leh, making the base camp a two day trek from the Stok Village. Stok-Khangri (6,150 m) is the highest peak over viewing the central region of the Indus Valley. Other peaks in the region are Gulap Khangri (5,900 m), Matho West (5,950 m) and Kantaka (5,275 m). There are many unnamed peaks ideal for mountaineering in the area. Towards the southwest of Leh is the Konglacha peak (6,700 m) which can be reached via Rumbak on the first leg of the Markha Valley trek from Stok.

The Northern region of Leh, across the Ladakh Range and Nubra Valley lies the famous Karakoram Range. These are accessible by foreign climbers only after acquiring special permission from the Government of India. However, the most eminent summits in this range accessible from various parts of the Nubra Valley are Saser-I (7,415 m), Saser-II (7,513 m) and Saser-III (7,495 m).

The season for mountaineering in the Ladakh region is from mid-May to mid-October in which the ideal period is from June to September as during this period Ladakh remains unaffected by the monsoons unlike most of the Himalayan ranges.

TREKKING

In Ladakh, trekking involves either day long walks in the mountain slopes to visit the monasteries and monuments or long, trans-mountain treks which take weeks of camping and walking. The trek from Lamayuru in the Indus Valley to Darcha in Lahoul, across Zanskar Valley, takes nearly three weeks covering two major mountain ranges. There are treks through the Zanskar range which separates Indus Valley from Zanskar. The 10 day Markha Valley trek, the 11 day Lamayuru-Padum and the Stok-Khangri trek are the most popular ones.

The season for trekking is from June to mid-October. Short trekking trips can be undertaken even in the month of May. However, some routes such as the Hemis-Markha-Padum trek are suitable only during late autumn as in summers the tracks are submerged under water. The most beautiful, demanding and adventurous trekking route is to Zanskar across the frozen Zanskar River called Chaddar Route.

Ladakh Festival Dates

Names of the Festival Venue 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Spitok Gustor Spituk JAN 13,14 JAN 13,14 JAN 31, FEB 01 JAN 21,22 JAN 9,10 JAN 28,29
Dosmoche Leh ,Likir & Deskit Monasteries FEB 22,23 FEB 11,12 MAR 2,3 FEB 19,20 FEB 8,9 FEB 27,28
Stok Guru Tse-Cue Stok Monastery MAR 5,6 FEB 23,24 MAR 14,15 FEB 2,3 FEB 19,20 MAR 10,11
Matho Nagrang Matho Monastery MAR 10,11 FEB 27,28 MAR 18,19 FEB 7,8 FEB 24,25 MAR 15,16
Buddha Purnima Leh JUN 7 MAY 27 JUNE 15 MAY 4 MAY 25 JUNE 13
Hemis TSE-CHU Hemis Monastery JUL 2,3 JUN 21,22 JUL 10,11 JUN 29,30 JUN 18,19 JUL 7,8
Yuru Kabgyat (Lamayuru) Lamayuru Monastery JUN 20,21 JUN 10,11 JUN 28,29 JUNE 16,17 JUN 5,6 JUN 24,25
Zanskar Karsha Gustor Karsha Monastery JUL 19,20 JUL 8,9 JUL 27,28 JUL 16,17 JUL 6,7 JUL 24,25
Ph-Yang Tsedup (Phyang) Phyang Monastery JUL 20,21 JUL 9,10 JUL 28,29 JUL 16,17 JUL 6,7 JUL 24,25
Korzok Gustor ( Tsomoriri Lake ) Korzok Monastery JUL 24,25 JUL 14,15 AUG 2,3 JUL 22,23 JUL 11,12 JUL 30,31
Dak-Thok Tse- Chu Dakthok Monastery JUL 31, AUG 01 JUL 20,21 AUG 2,3 JUL 22,23 JUL 11,12 JUL 30,31
Sant Naro Nasjal (Zangskar) Sani Monastery, Zanskar AUG 4,5 JUL 24,25 AUG 12,13 AUG 1,2 JUL 21,22 AUG 9,10
Shachukul Gustor Shachukul Monastery JUL 9,10 JUN 28,29 JUL 17,18 JUL 5,6 JUN 25,26 JUL 14,15
Thiksay Gustor Thiksey Monastery NOV 5,6 OCT 25,26 NOV 13,14 NOV 1,2 NOV 20,21 NOV 9,10
Thiksay Gustor Thiksey Monastery NOV 5,6 OCT 25,26 NOV 13,14 NOV 1,2 NOV 20,21 NOV 9,10
Chemrey Angchok Chemrey Monastery NOV 14,15 NOV 4,5 NOV 23,24 NOV 11,12 NOV 30, DEC 01 NOV 20,21
Galdan Namchot All Over Ladakh DEC 11 NOV 30 DEC 20 DEC 8 DEC. 27 DEC 16
Losar All over Ladakh DEC 17 DEC 06 DEC 25 DEC 14 JAN 02 DEC 22
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