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Ladakh

Situated at the western edge of the Tibetan plateau, Ladakh is bound by the mighty Karokaram mountain range in the north and the Great Himalayas in the South. Landscape of Ladakh has been modified and sculpted into the spectacular shape by the wind and the erosion over the centuries. Its altitude ranges from 9000 to 25000 feet. And is traversed by other mountain chains, the Ladakh range and Zanaskar range. It is rightly called “the broken moonland” and “land of endless discovery”.

Today a high-altitude desert, shelter ed from the rain-bearing clouds of the Indian monsoon by the barrier of the Great Himalaya, Ladakh was once covered by an extensive lake system, the vestiges of which still exist on its south-east plateaux of Rupshu and Chushul, in the drainage basins or lakes of Tso-moriri, Tso-kar and Pangong-tso. But the main source of water is winter snowfall.

Dras, Zanskar and the Suru Valley on the Himalaya's northern flanks receive heavy snow in winter, this feeds the glaciers from which melt water, carried down by streams, irrigates the fields in summer. For the rest of the region, the snow on the peaks is virtually the only source of water. As the crops grow, the villagers pray not for rain, but for sun to melt the glaciers and liberate their water.

Sightseeing

Leh Town (3,505) has many historic monuments to visit, strating with 9-storey Leh Places built by King Singe Namgyal in the 17th century. Above the place are the ruins of the earliest royal residence and the Tsemo Gompa dating from the 15th century. Below in the bazaar, the main sites are newly built Jo-Khang, and the the 17th century Jamia Mosque. Leh Bazaar, by itself is a sightseeing attraction. Strolling along its lanes and by-lanes, observing the crowd and looking into the curio shops is an engaging experince. There is bargain shopping for semi-precious stones, jewellery, antiques and dazzling arrays of souvenirs. Many handicraft show rooms stock local handmade carpets, woolen shawls, dragon paintings, thangkas, lacquered tea-tables ideal as souvenirs.

Nubra Valley

North of Leh is the Nubra Valley (alt.3,200m) on the erstwile silk route nesting along the foothils of the Great Karakoram range. The road to Nubra runs across Khardung-la(5,578m), the highest motorable road in the world.Prominent places to visit here include the capital town of Deskit(118km) with its hilltop monastery and, just across the rolling sand dunes, Hunder(125km) whichh has a small population of double-humped Bactrian camels, a legacy from the central Asian trade caravans. North of Deskit, in the valley of the Nubra River, is Sumur(115km) where the hillside monastery is Panamik(140km) famous for its hot springs, used as a traditional spa by throngs of local people for curing various ailments further stream is the famous Saichen Glacier.

Dah-Hanu

A group of pretty villages nesting along the steep banks of the Indus,163 km west of Leh, is home to an exclusive tribal community called Brokpa, Who are beleived to be descendants of a lost Aryan tribe. The Brokpa have preserved their features and fair complexion, besides their colourful dresses and spectacular headgears.

High Altitude Lakes

Pangong Lake (150 km/4,267m), is about 130 km long and 5-6 km wide, stradding across the border between India and China. The ochre hills of the Chang-Chenmo range surrounding it from the north provide spectacular backdrop to the blue and green expanse of its brakish waters.

Tso-Moriri (220 km/4,572), set in the desolate landscape of Rupshu, is famous as the breeding ground of the rare bar-headed geese, and home to a number of other rare bird species. The small village of korzok, with its hilltop monastery, is the only habitation in the area, Which is otherwise inhabited by the nomadic Chang-pa tribe.

Adventure Tourism

Ladakh offers many challenging options for adventure tourism. Trekking is the most popular activity and is done during June through September. The 10-day Markha Valley trek is the most popular,While the 20-day trek from Lamayuru to Darcha is the longest and involves crossing of the Zanskar and the Great Himalayan range. The most challenging trek, however, is week-long winter walk between Leh and Zanaskar on the Chaddar route which is formed by the freezing of the Zanaskar River.

River Rafting options are aplenty in Ladakh. The stretch of Indus between Karu and Spituk offers half-day scenic floating amidst beautiful landscapes and rural scenery. For white water expeditions, River Zanskar provides the ultimate challenge, comparable to the course of the Colarado through the Grand Canyon.

Mountaineering is yet another activity for which Ladakh is very popular. The most popular site is Panamik, Saser Kangri, Saichen Glacier. In Leh arae, the nearest site is the Stok Khangri massif (6,150m), which has 5 known peaks. Mountaineering expeditions are required to obtain proper clearance from the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF), New Delhi or a branch office at Leh.