Quick Facts :
State : Jammu & Kashmir
Largest City : Leh
Population : 2, 70, 126 (2001)
Area : 86, 904 sq. km
Cities of Ladakh : Choglamsar, Kargil, Leh and Turtuk
Major Attractions : Hemis Monastery, Padmum Valley, Zanskar Valley, Parang La Trek and Kang Yatse
Religions : Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism
Official Languages : Urdu, Dogri and Kashmiri
Ladakh is located at an altitude of about 2759 m (9,000 ft) at Kargil to 7, 672 m (25, 170 ft) at Saser Kangiri in Karakoram. It is also called as “Little Tibet”, as the city is highly inclined by the culture of Tibetans. From the time when the Government encouraged tourism in the city, it has successfully held attraction from all over the country.
Ladakh is continuously pestered by periodical attack from the 16th century. One can easily view separate influences from diverse visitors related to Ladakhi culture. It is a mountainous region located in the state of Jammu & Kashmir to the northwestern part of India. It is also called as Trans- Himalaya, as it is stretched beyond Himalaya : Northern Pakistan, Tibet and Xinjiang. It is the most meager populated region of the state. This region includes Indus Valley, Baltisan valleys, remote Zangskar, Spiti and Lahaul to south, Ngari & Aksai Chin that again includes Guge and Rudok region to east and Nubra valleys to north. Ladakh is famous for its exquisite natural beauty and tranquil atmosphere.
Since Ladakh lies to the borders of India, it has gained strategic importance in terms of trade routes to different countries. Indian Military Army maintains strong securities to the borders of the cities. The largest town of the city is Leh. Majority of the people are Tibetians Buddhists and remained population of Shia Muslims. The water facilities to the city are well equipped by river Zanskar that flows just below the river Indus. The Leh town is bordered by Pakistan to the West, China to North as well as eastern regions and Lahul Spiti from Himachal Pradesh to South Eastern part. The town is gorgeous and this is the reason it is considered as a famous destination. It is a major centre of Tibeto Buddhist Culture from many years. The colorful Gompas of the town holds the tourist attractions for Buddha devotees from all over the world. If you are an adventure lover, then practicing activities such as river rafting, trekking, angling, cruising is fun.
The folks of Ladakh are in general pretty different from the people living in other parts of the country. They resemble the Central Asians and Tibetans with round faces, small eyes (Chinki) and stubby short noses. You will come across most of the population in central and eastern region of Ladakh . Moving to Kargil town, the people over here come from mixed origins. It was believed that Ladakhi in Kargil were inbaitated by Indo Aryan (Dards) who came somewhere from the Indus River and thus resulted in mixture of racial characteristics of Dards and Tibetians.
The important religion of Ladakhi folks is Buddhism. You will observe ancient rock engravings and Buddhist inscriptions all over Ladakh region. At present, the region is widely shrouded with Muslims. The city is separated with Buddhist and Muslim Ladakhi comes from Kargil Leh road and Rangdum & Parkachik villages of Suru Valley. The lifestyle and culture of the people is strongly influenced by Muslim and Buddhist religion.
The city has a shortage of water supply and hence small scale system for farming is adapted by the people. The major crop cultivated is barley. Previously, rice was a luxury symbol in diet but now it is the staple diet of the people. Apricots, Apple and Pashmina are few export items from the city.
Flora & Fauna :
The fauna of Ladakh is much similar to that of Central Asia and same with Tibetan culture. You will observe various species of migratory birds during the respective season. It is quite impossible to spot wildlife over here because of the callous climatic conditions such as poor shelter, bitter cold, minimal vegetation and rocky terrain. Most of the animals in Ladakh have thick fur to protect themselves from the harsh cold.
Most seen animals are Yak, also called as Wild Ox and are the largest animal inhabited in Ladakh. Besides these other animals such as Nyan (Largest Sheep across the globe), Bharal (Blue Sheep) and Urial (Smallest Sheep) are commonly found. Yaks of Ladakh have long and thick black fur with curved horns weighing almost tons. During winters they spend their life down the lower valleys and move upwards during summers. Nyan Sheep is also called as “Great Tibetan”, which is considred as one of the magnificent sheep from all over the world.
There are scarcely no vegetation and trees in the region, except few deep gorges which are fertile in nature. Due to the high altitude, one will come across fauna such as Pale arctic and Oriental type of vegetation. Near the river banks, you can see few patches of greenish grass. Besides these near the snow region you can see willow grooves, few herbs and wild roses. Vegetation thus becomes sparse and stunted because of the changing temperature.
Around Ladakh City :
The major attraction of the city is related to Buddhism and Tibetan culture. Ladakh is not only famous for its monastery but you will be amazed to see the exquisite natural beauty spread over the region. “Moon Land” near the Lamayuru located on Leh Kargil highway is must visit site for the tourists. Most of the places of Ladakh need special permission, as the region is strongly protected by the Indian Military Army.
Buddhist Monastries of the Ladakh are worth to visit, as they offer distinguishing characteristics and features of the city. Hemis Monastrey of Ladakh is largest in the city abounded with exquisite mural paintings of Buddha. Shrey Monastrey is another major attraction that has got the statue of Buddha covered with copper plate gold. Besides these there are Likir, Lamayuru, Spituk, Stakana, Thikse, Sankar and many more. Leh Palace is another major attraction of the city, which was built during the 17th century. Leh Mosque located in the Bazzar is a beautiful architecture built by King Deldan. Dal Lake of Ladakh is blessed with exotic scenic beauty of water bodies and landscape. Another major attraction of the city is Hemis High Altitude National Park.
Festivals Celebrated in Ladakh :
Singhu Darshan Festival