Ladakh “land of the high passages,” sometimes called “Little Tibet” due to its geographic aspect and its native culture, is inhabited by a population of Indo-Tibetan and ancestry. Ladakh is renowned for the beauty of its remote mountains and its culture. It is sometimes called the “Little Tibet” as Tibetan culture has greatly influenced it.
The largest population of Ladakh is Leh. Majorities of the Ladakhis are Tibetan Buddhists, and the majority of the remaining group is Muslims. The culture of Ladakh is similar to the culture of Tibet. The territory of Ladakh is somewhat smaller than Scotland. Ladakh has a population of 275,000 that is a mixture of several races, the predominant being the Tibetan, Mons, and Darts.
How to reach Ladakh – By Road, By Air?
Some buses depart directly to Leh from Manali or Srinagar. On the way from Manali, there are places worth visiting before arriving in Leh. In fact, this is the choice made by most travelers, especially because of the security situation in Kashmir, although it should be noted that the road is only open from June to mid-October due to heavy snowfall.
There are shared taxis that leave Manali early in the morning and arrive in Leh at night. Zinchen in Ladakh, a small village at the foot of the Stok Mountains and part of the Hemis National Park
The buses, however, stop to spend the night in Sarchu. If you come to Leh from Srinagar, there are some interesting places to stop on the route like Lamayuru or Alchi, which offer accommodation.
There are daily flights from Delhi to Leh, Jet Airways or Air India that arrive in Leh from Delhi, Srinagar or Jammu. However, these flights depend on inclement weather and can be canceled at any time. Particular attention must be paid to altitude sickness due to altitude.
Discover the Surroundings and Move?
By Bus – Buses leave from Leh to the villages around it. Usually, these buses are quite saturated, their organization is not very good, and they are vehicles quite old. From Leh, some buses and minibusses arrive at Alchi, Basgo, Dha-Hanu, Likir, Nimmu, and Saspul. Two times a day you can go to Chemray, Hemis, Matho, Stok and Tak Tok. Buses run to Choglamsar, Phyang, Shey, Spituk, Stakna, and Thiksay every hour.
In Taxi – In Leh, there are taxis that can get you closer to the surrounding monasteries much faster and more comfortable than public transport. Rates are quite higher compared to prices in the rest of India.
By Truck – Trucks usually stop the backpackers, and it is expected that the vehicle owner will pay at least half the bus fare, and it is recommended to haggle and reach the agreement before riding. Keep in mind that trucks are slower than buses and sometimes stop for extended periods of time to unload their cargo.
On Motorcycle – In Leh many shops rent motorcycles, especially the world famous Royal Enfield model of 1948, which is still made in India (model 350 or 50 ccs). The rents of these bikes are quite economical, and if you have experience on bikes is a great way to move around in a more cost-effective way than taxis.
Make sure the bike works properly before you leave, so you do not stand in the middle of anywhere. The roads are mountain roads, which by their situation is normal to find vehicles of the Indian army. Details to be considered:
- Much of the road is in bad condition, and there are even areas where there is no road. It should be noted that few resources reach these remote areas, and we must think that they have been made accessible to traffic.
- Although many mechanics in Leh take care of their many bikes, spare parts availability is limited. Thus, make sure that the brakes work properly, or the chain sets, that they have enough oil, etc.
- Be sure to bring the original vehicle documentation.
- Glaciers tend to melt as daylight hours pass, so parts of the road may flood. Thus, we must plan well the passage through these places that are known like Nalas (for example Pagal Nala, Khooni Nala, Whiskey Nala, Brandy Nala, etc.) and do so in the early hours of the morning, when the flow is still low.
- When you encounter a military convoy, you have to stop and let them pass. It may be a good idea to ask the local people when they usually move those convoys and plan our day accordingly.
Walking in Ladakh?
For the traveler who has many months, it is possible to walk from one end of Ladakh to the other, or even from places of Himachal Pradesh. A large number of roads and the limited number of ways allow chains to be linked to roads where supplies can be replenished by avoiding roads.
What To See In Ladakh?
Ladakh is not only the home of the most beautiful and tranquil monasteries you will ever see, but it is also a land of great natural beauty. It is perhaps this great beauty that surprises us most since it is a sterile beauty. Many travelers fail to understand how something so sterile can be so beautiful. At all times you have to be respectful since there are many holy places with active monks.
One place not to be missed is “Moon-land-view” (the area around Lamayuru) on the Leh-Kargil road.
To be able to visit many places in Ladakh it is necessary to have a permit that is available for free in the DC office in Ladakh. A travel agent can also process this permit in just one hour. There are some regular tourist circuits from Ladakh that run between 200 and 400 kilometers.
Food and Drink of Ladakh!
The gastronomy of Ladakh has much in common with Tibetan food. The most important foods are Thukpa, noodle soup; And Tsumpa, known in Ladakh as Ngampe, toasted barley meal, which is edible without cooking which is part of the boring food of some trekkings.
A typical dish of Ladakh is the skiu, a pasta dish with vegetables. As Ladakh is less sustainable and is based on the monetary economy, the importation of Indian food has become more important. You can see rice served with vegetables even in villages where the road does not reach.
Tea: Tea is traditionally made with a strong black tea, butter, and salt mixed in a container known as “gugur cha” because of the sound that can be heard when mixed. Like the traditional tea that is drunk elsewhere in Central-Asia, it is more of soup than tea that we know. This tea is refreshing and invigorating, so if you can drink it can be very beneficial. Sweet tea (cha ngamo) is standard now and is made in the Indian style with a lot of milk and sugar.
Beer: Is traditionally made from barley and has a slight yeast flavor similar to sake.
Few Other Things to Know!
Ladakh is one of the safest places in India, and the most elementary precautions are sufficient for you and your belongings to be safe. It is recommended that you take all of the medication you need for specific health problems. Make sure you are in good shape, especially if you intend to do some trekking around this region.
Leh is at 3,500 meters above sea level, and other parts of Ladakh are even higher. There is a risk of altitude sickness and dehydration due to height.