01.15.2018

Another India

Set between the Himalayas and the Karakorum, Ladakh is a small Tibet in Indian territory, a land of arid plateaus, steep peaks and Buddhist monasteries

  • Another India
  • Another India
  • Another India
  • Another India
  • Another India
  • Another India
  • Another India

For those who are familiar with the classic Indian tourist routes - Rajasthan and the imperial cities, mystical Varanasi or the hectic big cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore - Ladakh is certainly bound to be a pleasant surprise. Enclosed by the Karakorum and Himalayas mountain ranges and crossed by the majestic Indus River, this corner of India in the far north of the country and on the border with China and Pakistan is a unique place, both from a naturalistic point of view and for its distinctive atmosphere.
 
Mainly a Buddhist region, as shown by the many monasteries (or gompas) scattered throughout its territory, Ladakh still attracts a discreet and respectful tourism and it mainly survives on a subsistence economy, based on the cultivation of small and sweet apricots yak farming.
 
At the heart of the region is Leh, the capital, which lies in the middle of a valley at almost 3,500 meters above sea level, and can be reached from Delhi by plane or with a long and fascinating journey by bus, a toy train and cross-country vehicles along breathtaking curves.
 
Once you reach Leh, it is advisable to spend a little time in the city for allowing your body to adapt to the altitude. Do not miss the seventeenth-century Palace of the Ladaki sovereigns; the Shanti Stupa, a spectacular white-domed building containing Buddha’s relics and built in 1991 to celebrate 2,500 years of Buddhism and promote peace; and the view of the valley from Tsemo Fort, a fortification that is 'the symbol of the city and can be reached with a 15-minute uphill walk.
 
The exploration may continue by exploring by visiting the gompas perched on rugged hilltops or venturing into a trek on the peaks that surround it. For those who decide to visit the monasteries, it is important to remember that these places of peace and meditation require a certain respect. In most cases, the monks will take you on a tour of the gompa, and you will be allowed to stop for a few hours and, on request, to take part in the puja, the traditional prayer which takes place at dawn and includes chants and meditation. Among the unmissable monasteries is Thiksey, a huge and spectacular complex dating back to the fifteenth century that stands on a rock spur about twenty miles east of Leh. Hemis, 40 km south-east of the capital, is one of the biggest and richest monasteries in Ladakh, famous for its impressive copper Buddha statue and paintings. The intimate and quiet atmosphere of the tiny Stakna monastery, on the left bank of the Indus and 25 kilometers away from Leh, is equally fascinating.
 
And speaking of hiking, trekking through surreal landscapes, under dark starry skies and surrounded by wild nature is one of the most exciting and adrenaline rushing experiences that you can have in Ladakh. The most popular route is the one that leads Markha Valley, a medium-difficulty trek that takes about six days and runs through monasteries, remote mountain villages, two passes, a river and rocky canyons to reach a cold and arid desert valley that looks very much like Tibet. The nights are spent in high-altitude campsites, and stopping along the way is a unique opportunity to discover the local culture and gastronomy and meet the locals.
 
Our advice is to adapt to the frugality of the local cuisine: the sweetness of the tiny Himalaya apricots (and their incredible jam), the pleasant acidity of yak cheese and the delicacy of Tibetan momos (steamed dumplings stuffed with vegetables) are the flavors that will accompany you in this unforgettable journey.
 

Author : The Slowear Journal

SlowearTags.

India  | Ladakh  | Himalaya  | travels  | monasteries  | buddhism  | gompa  | yak  | trekking  |

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