Leh, the capital of Ladakh is situated at a height of 3505 meters and is towards the eastern parts of Jammu and Kashmir. Age-old monasteries, quaint lanes, colorful markets and stunning views of the Himalayas make Leh an exotic destination. Leh is where your adventure in Ladakh begins. You can go trekking through the mountainous terrain of Ladakh, enjoy a game of polo in a high altitude arena or watch an archery contest where local residents compete in a contest that remains unchanged by time.
Leh is a beautiful destination with so many attractions and is the center of Tibeto-Buddhist Culture for ages. Its colorful gompas have attracted the devout Buddhists from all over the globe. Besides, it is also a favorite hiking locale and is known for some of the best hikes in the country. Mountaineering, white water rafting and wildlife tours are other adventurous attractions of Leh Ladakh India. Though the weather can be freezing cold, the smiles on the faces of the Ladakhi people are sure to warm your heart. Feel on top of the world in Ladakh, on tours to Ladakh with Leh Ladakh India.
History of Leh
King Sengge Namgyal who ruled Ladakh during 17th century and during whose rule Ladakh was at its greatest shifted his court from Shey to Leh. Leh became the regional capital and very soon the town blossomed into one of the busiest markets on the Silk Route. During the 1920s and 1930s, the broad bazaar that still forms its heart received more than a dozen pony- and camel-trains each day.
Leh's prosperity, managed mainly by the Sunni Muslim merchants whose descendants live in its labyrinthine old quarter, came to an abrupt end with the closure of the Chinese border in the 1950's. However its fortunes begin to look up after India rediscovered the hitherto forgotten capital's strategic value after two wars in quick succession with Pakistan . Today, Khaki-clad Jawans (soldiers) and their families from the nearby military and air force bases are the mainstay of the local economy in winter, when foreign visitors are few and far between.
Across the Kashmir Valley and over the famous Zoji La pass lies Ladakh - the Land of High Passes. It is a magical land, completely different from the green landscape of many other parts of the Himalayas. It is nature at an extreme. A land of freezing winds and burning hot sunlight, Ladakh is a cold desert lying in the rain shadow of the Great Himalayas and other smaller ranges. Little rain and snow reaches this dry area, where natural forces have created a fantastic landscape.
Ladakh forms part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in India. Some areas of Ladakh are under the illegal occupation of Pakistan and China. The borders of Ladakh touch those of Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, the Kashmir Valley and Himachal Pradesh. Made up of two administrative districts - Leh and Kargil, Ladakh covers a total area of about 59,000 square kilometers.
History of Ladakh
This region once formed part of the erstwhile Kingdom of Ladakh. In fact, it is believed to have been the first region to be inhabited by the early colonizers of Ladakh - the Indo-Aryan Mons from across the Himalayan range, the Darads from the extreme western Himalayas, and the itinerant nomads from the Tibetan highlands. Also, its valleys, by virtue of their contiguity with Kashmir, Kishtwar and Kulu, served as the initial receptacles of successive ethnic and cultural waves emanating from across the Great Himalayan range.
Thus, while the Mons are believed to have carried north-Indian Buddhism to these highland valleys, the Darads and Baltis of the lower Indus Valley are credited with the introduction of farming and the Tibetans with the tradition of herding. The settlements that evolved as a result of intermixing of these elements-ethnic, occupational and cultural-now serve at home to a syncretic micro-society of J& K state.
The aridity of Ladakh is due to its location in the rain shadow area of the Great Himalayas, as well as because of its elevation and the radiation of heat from the bare soil. The most striking physical feature of Ladakh, however, is the parallelism of its mountain ranges. In Ladakh, large rivers and their tributaries have carved deep gorges far below their steep banks. However, their water is not of much use, as the terraced fields lie high above the gorges. The region is extremely dry, with rainfall as low as 10 cm each year. The Suru valley receives comparatively higher degree of humidity in the form of heavy winter snowfall due to the cohesion of the snow-covered wall of the Greater Himalayas, and vegetation here is more luxuriant than in Eastern Ladakh. The upper Suru Valley, in particular, has extensive alpine pastures, which attract large flocks of the Bakarwal herdsmen from the Jammu hills every summer.