Leh Ladakh Travel Information

Ladakh Tour and Travel Information by Unlimited India

About Ladakh, India

History of Ladakh
Earliest inhabitants of Ladakh, were the Khampas — nomads who grazed their yaks on the high, windswept pastures. Deldan Namgyal in circa 1620–60, enlisting the assistance of the Mughals,

and extended Ladakhi power. In 1834 Zorawar Singh, an Army General, conquered Ladakh and brought the area under the control of the Dogra Maharajah of Kashmir. The dethroned royal family, received the Stok Palace, where they still live today. Following independence of India and partition in 1947; Ladakh, like Kashmir, was divided. Indian and Chinese troops have been stationed on the eastern border, since the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1950–51. Since the 1962 war, the Indian army has maintained a very strong presence in Ladakh. The strategic requirements, of better links with the rest of India, were primarily responsible for Ladakh being opened up, to some influences from outside.

Culture of Ladakh

The high culture of Ladakh is Buddhist and this is particularly evident with its whitewashed gompas (monasteries) and forts ,perched on top of Sugarloaf Mountains. A miniature version of Tibet, the people are Tibetan in their culture and religion, and share a spiritual center in Tibet. This spiritual connection, coupled with the tremendous isolation of the area, has created a unique community within the vast democracy of India. The inhabitants are simple smiling people, who greet one and all with the all-encompassing jule, which could mean hello, bye, thank you and please! While Gompas (Buddhist monasteries), dot the landscape and are central to the life of the villages, many of their monastic festivals take the form of dance dramas.

Climate & Geogaphical Location

Summers are cold and chilly, while winters are snow bound. Ladakh is a high-altitude plateau, north of the Himalayas,situated geographically in Tibet, bordered to the southwest by the main Himalayan Range and in the North, parallel to the Himalayas is the Zanskar Range.

How to Reach

You can get to Ladakh by road or by air. By air, the airport is 7 Km from Leh and operates flights to Delhi, Jammu, Chandigarh and Srinagar during the season, usually from June to August. From airport bus service is available. By rail, the nearest railheads are at Chandigarh (280 Km) and at Jogindernagar (190 Km) to reach Manali, which is well connected to all the parts of the country. To reach Leh, take a taxi or bus to cover the stretch. By road, there are two overland routes to the region — one from Srinagar (open approximately from June to October) and the other from Manali (open approximately from July to September). It takes 2 days by the overland routes to reach Ladakh. A regular bus service operates on the routes; cabs can also be hired from both Srinagar and Manali for the journey. Remember that the overland trip will help you acclimatize to the high altitude.

Tourist Places of Interest

Likir Monastery
Founded in the 11th century AD and was rededicated to another monastic order (the yellow sect) in the 15th century, its earlier gompa was destroyed in fire. The present gompa dates back to the 18th century. It contains huge clay images of Buddhas (past, present & future) and various old manuscripts. It also houses an interesting collection of thangkas, old religious and domestic costumes and implements etc. If you want to visit the tourist places of Leh Ladakh region by a Guided tour then this would be the best option for you:

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Thiksey Gompa.
Spectacularly sited and one of the finest examples of Ladakhi architecture, Thiksey is one of the largest and most impressive gompas. There are several temples in this gompa containing images, stupas and exquisite wall paintings. The major attraction of this Buddhist monastery is the huge statue of Lord Buddha enshrined here. A two storeyed statue, it has the main prayer hall around its shoulder. It belongs to the Gelukpa order and has a fantastic library, beautiful thangkas and a Maitreya Temple.

According to the legend, during the time of Sakya Muni Buddha, there used to be a crystal clear lake, where the monastery today stands, with the blessing of the Lama, the water of the lake receded, leaving place for the monastery. The complex was founded in the 11th century and houses a library, thought to be the oldest in the region. The present monastery dates back to the 16th century and has the 11 headed image of the Avalokiteshwara Buddha, mainly in ruins, it also has some murals and thangkas. Considered the free zone of Ladakh, not even a criminal can be apprehended here.

Hemis Gompa.
Hemis is one of the richest, biggest and most famous gompa in Ladakh. Its popularity stems from the major annual festival held during summer, in honour of their Guru Padma Sambhavas birth anniversary. The Hemis Festival falls sometime in June-July every year. Built during 1630, the Hemis Gompa monastery, is home to the Brokpa order. It has numerous thangkas, silver chortens studded with precious/semi precious stones and various images of Buddha. Of its many frescoes, the most famous is the Wheel of Life. Close to the Hemis Gompa is the Hemis National Park. This is a high altitude park, which provides sanctuary to the Snow Leopard, Shapu, Bharal, the rare black-necked crane and the Ibex.

Alchi Gompa.
On the banks of the river Indus, is Alchi Gompa, dating back to a thousand years. This monastery dates back to early 10th century and has beautiful murals and wall paintings. One of its ,feature thousands of miniature-sized pictures of the Buddha. Three large sized images made of clay and painted brightly are its focal attraction.

Shey Palace and Gompa.
Shey was the former summer palace of the kings of Ladakh. The Shey Gompa has a good library, the best collection of thangkas (Buddhist scroll paintings), mani walls (walls with sacred inscriptions) and is famous for its 7.5 meter high gilded gold-plated copper statue of Sakyamuni Buddha.

Leh is a lovely town. Nestled along the Indus River, the town lies in a fertile valley surrounded by barren mountains. An important town in the region and the major hub for travellers coming into Ladakh, this high altitude desert is dominated by the imposing Leh Palace and the Namgyal Tsemo. Lying in the Himalaya watershed, the labyrinthine lanes and pathways of Leh snake around the parti-coloured streets of Leh Bazaar and wind on, to meet the pretty Sankar and Changspa Villages, that fringe the outskirts of Leh. While Changspa has important Buddhist carvings dating back to the 8th century, when Ladakh was converted to Buddhism, Lehs main Buddhist place of worship is the Soma Gompa, close to the mosque commissioned by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.


CHERNREY — Situated in a picturesque valley leading to Changia, this gompa was constructed as a funeral act of merit, on Sengge Namgyals death in 1645. A large collection of scriptures with title pages in sterling silver and the text in gold letters is kept here.

MATHO — Situated on the opposite bank of the Indus, across Thikse, Matho was established in the first half of the 16th century AD and has a valuable collection of very old and beautiful thangkas, some in the form of mandalas.

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