Ladakh, The Land of High Passes

Ladakh is region in the Jammu and Kashmir state of India. Ladakh is the Land of High Passes, which were used for trade purposes. Zoji-La pass is the gateway of the Ladakh.

LadakhTaglang La mountain pass in Ladakh. Photo Source : Creative commons .

Ladakh is a land with very limited population, largely with Tibetan culture, in the high ranges of Himalayan mountains. Ladakhi population consists of Buddhists from Tibet and Muslims in almost equal proportion.

Tibetan border is on the eastern side of Ladakh. Leh is the most populous and largest town in Ladakh. Kargil and Leh and the two districts in the region. The Kargil War was fought here in this region in 1999.

Many rock carvings dating back to the ‘New Stone Age’ were found found in Ladakh. This suggests that humans inhibited Ladakh, in around 10,200 BC (or earlier).

The Siachan glacier area in the north eastern corner of Ladakh is considered as one of the highest battlefields of the world, with constant conflict between Indian and Pakistani military.

The area is diverse in flora and fauna. Many migratory birds come to this area, when other parts of India experience summer. Yaks are found in large numbers in this region. Barley, wheat, peas, etc, are the main cultivation found in this region. Vegetables are also cultivated int he region. Funnel water from the ice and snow of the Himalayas irrigate the lands! Fruits, especially Apricot is a major exporting item from this region. The area is also famous for Kashmiri woolen fabric. Famous Cashmere shawls are made from this fabric.

Ladakh is famous a Indian tourism center and is known for its adventure tourism related activities. There are many who trek from Srinagar to Leh, which may take around a fortnight.

If Non-Indian citizens wish to visit the areas of Dah-Hanu, Nubra, Pangong Lakes, Tsomoriri, Tsokar, etc. (beyond Leh), it is mandatory to approach a recognized travel agent or District collector office and get the necessary inner line permit. This rule, which was applicable to Indian citizens also, was changed on 24 April 2014 (provided you are traveling with a valid Identity document) by the J&K state government.

How Do I Go to The Land of High Passes, Ladakh?

The conventional route is the Srinagar – Lak route. There are buses between Srinagar and Leh, operated by J&K state road transport corporation. These buses normally halt at Kargil for an overnight stay. Chartered luxury buses are also operated by J&K state road transport corporation. Cars and Jeeps for available for hire, at Srinagar (and at Lak for return journey). Tourist operators arrange deluxe luxury buses. The distance is around 435 kilometers. This route is open from early June to November end.

Manali-Leh road is a new road which connects the hill station Manali with Leh, which is open during mid June to early October. Taklang-La pass, world’s second highest motor-able pass is in this route, at an altitude of 5,235 meters or 17,469 feet. There are many other mountain passes also in the 473 km long Manali-Leh route. Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir state road transport corporations operate ordinary and deluxe bus services in this route. The journey takes around 2 days and passengers have to take an overnight stay at Serchu or Pang.

There are a few flights to Leh from New Delhi, Srinagar and Jammu.

Akshardham Temple,Swaminarayan Akshardham

Akshardham Temple a temple built with pink stones and pure white marbles (without use of steel) on the banks of Yamuna river in Eastern New Delhi near to Noida in India. Akshardham Temple or Swaminarayan Akshardham showcases 10,000 years of India’s glorious culture, heritage and its spirituality. Akshardham Temple is a must see place for a Delhi tourist.

Akshardham Temple, New DelhiAkshardham Temple, New Delhi. Photo Source : Creative commons Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

‘Akshardham’ means eternal and divine abode of God. Akshardham Temple was built by the followers of ‘Swaminarayan’ (3 April 1781 – 1 June 1830). He was named ‘Sahajanand Swami’, by his guru, Ramanand Swami.

Sahajanand Swami taught ‘Swaminarayan mantra’, a single mantra composed of six syllables, Swa-mi-na-ra-ya-n, which is chanted by Swaminarayan section of his followers. From that time on-wards, he is known as Swaminarayan and he is considered as the incarnation of God. He built six temples during his lifetime. He has also appointed 500 paramhansas (spiritual teachers who attained enlightenment) to spread his philosophy.

The fifth spiritual successor to Swaminarayan and the current guru Pramukh Swami Maharaj, constructed the Akshardham Temple and was inaugurated on 6 November 2005.

Apart from the huge statue of Swaminarayana, visitors can visit the ‘Hall of Values’ , which is an Audio Animatronics Show depicting the Indian culture, through the life of Swaminarayan. There is also a Giant Screen (six storey building height) which shows the epic period film featuring Swaminarayana, shot over the length and breadth of India, featuring almost all of India’s the holy places, its festivals and its spiritual traditions. One of its kind in the world and a ‘must watch’ for all visitors to Akshardham Temple, New Delhi. There is another exciting 12 minute boat ride , which showcases the 10,000 year old Indian heritage! Colorful musical fountain and the vast garden are some of the other attractions inside the temple.

Akshardham Temple is one of its kind in India and occupies its position as a leading Indian tourism center.

How do I go to Akshardham Temple, New Delhi?

“Akshardham” metro railway station on the blue line is at the entrance to the Akshardham Temple, New Delhi. Those travelling by car can go to the Akshardham Temple by taking National Highway No. 24 (which takes you to Noida). New Delhi I.G. International airport is the nearest airport to Akshardham Temple.

One of the seven wonders of world, Taj Mahal, is at around 204 kilometers or 127 miles from Akshardham Temple at New Delhi.

Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park

Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park is protected forests which are part of ‘Anamalai’, spread across Pollachi,Udumalpet, Valparai Taluks of Tirupur and Coimbatore Districts of Tamilnadu state in India. It is named after the former prime minister of India, Late Indira Gandhi, who visited the park in 1961.

Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park area was declared as part of Anamalai Wild life Sanctuary in 1974. UNESCO is considering this Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park, as a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park
Nilgiri Langur

Nilgiri Langur, a rare and endangered species of monkey that is endemic to the Western Ghats is found here. It is a leaf-eating monkey and is extremely shy, with a tail almost three feet in length.

Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park has Tigers, Elephants, etc. There are many threatened and endangered species of animals in the park area.

How Do I Go to Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary?

Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary which is part of Anamalai Wild life Sanctuary & Tiger Reserve, is accessible from nearby cities of Pollachi, Udumalpet, Valparai, etc. Tourists can go for trekking inside the park to explore the wildlife. Van Safari is also there inside the park.