Tuesday, 20 May 2014


Ladakh a word which means "land of high passes", is a region in the state of Jammu and Kashmir of Northern India sandwiched between the Karakoram mountain range to the north and the Himalayas to the south. The Indian portion of Ladakh is composed of the Leh and Kargil districts. The Leh district is the largest district of India, covering more than half the area of Jammu and Kashmir, of which it is the eastern part.

The only two roads into the area from outside are the Zoji-La Pass and Kargil route from Srinagar in the Kashmir Valley, and the high altitude Manali-Leh Highway from Himachal Pradesh. The Manali-Leh road is open only from May or June to October or November, when snow is cleared from several passes. The Srinagar-Leh road is open from April or May to November or December, and is generally blocked by snow through the winter only at Zoji-La Pass.
Kushok Bakula Rinpoche Airport at Leh has flights from Delhi year-round on Jet Airways, GoAir and Air India. Air India also operates weekly flights to Jammu and Srinagar. Cancellations and delays for two or three days are not uncommon and can happen at any time of year, so travellers must plan for that possibility when scheduling their onward travel.
A vehicle on the Leh-Kargil highway
Roads within Ladakh, except to Zangskar, are open all year round. Khardong-La Pass to Nubra has an alternate day schedule, is closed Mondays, and can get closed by snow for several days in winter and spring. Chang-La pass to Panggong Lake rarely closes, and if it does, rarely for more than one day.
Busses serve the whole area from Leh and Kargil towns. Taxis are available in Leh and Kargil as well as in block headquarters like Trangtse, Diskit and Khaltse. Shared taxis to Nubra, Kargil, Srinagar and Zangskar leave Leh in the early morning.
If planning one direction by air and the other by the Manali-Leh highway, the option closest to safety guidelines is to fly into Ladakh and go out by road to Manali. All Manali-Leh runs involve the risk of having to sleep up to one thousand meters higher than Leh, with a high risk for severe altitude sickness. Travellers already acclimatised to the altitude of Ladakh, however, should suffer less and be able to enjoy the scenery.
The Leh Palace, which is situated behind the main market has eight stories and is similar to the Potala Palace of Lhasa and still belongs to the royal family of Ladakh. Just ahead of the palace is the famous Chamba Temple, which is a one roomed shrine that has a huge icon of Maitreya, the Buddha to come. Since this temple cannot be found easily, it is essential to enquire about it in the second row of shops.
Also in the bazaar, at the top of the street, one can see the Jama Masjid. This has been painted in green and white colour. Another place must to visit is the Sankar Gompa, which is situated within the city and is one of the oldest structures here. At one time, this monastery only welcomes maximum twenty monks and is a fairly active one. Also the monks here are extremely hospitable and always offer yak butter tea to those visiting the monastery.
Also a visit to the famous Thikse Monastery is a must. This monastery is the largest such structure in central Ladakh and is primarily known for its magnanimous statue of Maitreya (future Buddha) in its Maitreya Temple. This statue is 15 meters (49 ft) high and the largest such statue in Ladakh. The Buddha here is unusually portrayed as seated in the lotus position rather than his usual representations as standing or in a sitting posture on a high throne.

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