Ladakh, The Land of High Passes
Ladakh is the Land of High Passes, which were used for trade purposes. Zoji-La pass is the gateway of the Ladakh.
Taglang 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 road transport corporation. These buses normally halt at Kargil for an overnight stay. Chartered luxury buses are also operated by J&K 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 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.