The Land Of Lamas – Leh and Ladakh

September 8, 2013

in Leh and Ladakh,Travel Experiences

I was 11 years old when I first visited the mysterious land of Leh, Ladakh. The breath taking beauty of this splendid place was nothing more than God’s true creation and of course the relentless diligence of our border road building forces. Ever since then, I have been fascinated by this unique terrain of both desert and water, land painted in shades of brown, grey and blue and a soil filled with spirituality, peace and serenity.

leh-ladakh

Leh, the capital city of Ladakh is also known as Little Tibet. Flanked by The Himalayas and Karakoram ranges on either side, Leh is essentially a desert and experiences harsh freezing winds and ultra violet rays. It is about 3500 meters above sea level and thus is a high altitude area.

Leh is a photographer’s delight and a painter’s love affair. It has a spectacular view of barren mountains covered with brightly painted spiritual gompas, prayer flags fluttering all day long, snow clad mountains teasing the rocky ridges, little settlements around these ridges, pure blue Indus River flowing through its course and the pristine surroundings with an underlying silence which has a calming effect on all its visitors.

The natives of Ladakh are from the Indo Aryan race. Simple and sweet by nature they mostly follow Buddhism and Islam. They would greet you with a big smile and the word “Juley” which is similar to our “Namaste”!

As a tourist one must not miss out on some of the most essential tourist hot spots that indeed speak a lot about the culture and history of this Land of Lamas.

The Sanchi Stupa of Leh is a beautiful monument built by the Japanese. It has an exceptional design and is white in colour which reflects purity and peace. One will find the relics of Lord Buddha on the inside and enjoy the beauty of the bare mountains at its periphery.

Sanchi Stupa of Leh

The eight story high Leh palace is situated behind the main market. It is similar to the Potala Palace of Lhasa and belongs to the royal family of Ladakh. In close proximity lies the famous Chamba Temple, a single roomed shrine with a huge icon of Maitreya, the Buddha to come.

Indus valley lies between the Zanaskar and the Ladakh range. You can visit this historically rich land for its Buddhist monasteries, old-world villages and natives of the Indo Aryan race. Zanaskar a 300 km long basin offers the best of the inner Himalayas and the exceptional beauty of the Nun Kun Mountains. It also comprises of the awe-inspiring landscape and captivating monasteries.

Pangong Tso Lake Situated on one end of the Changla Pass, is about 8.5 km in width and 134 km in length. A depth of around 100 meters makes this salt water lake one of the worlds most beautiful and awe- struck sights. One can see different hues of the shades of blue and green in the water. The water is so pure that one can see the round shaped stones right at the bottom of the lake absolutely clearly.

Pangong Tso Lake Situated on one end of the Changla Pass

Thikse Monastery is the largest structure in central Ladakh and is primarily known for its gigantic statue of Maitreya (future Buddha). This statue is about 15 meters high and is the largest statue in Ladakh.

The Buddha here is unusually portrayed as seated in the lotus position rather than his usual standing or sitting posture.

The Tibetan Refugee Market more popular for its metal-ware and artistic decorative items made of different metals such as brass and copper, unpolished dark silver jewellery shell bangles, turquoise jewellery and jewellery made of semi precious stones.  For home décor one can find Thangka paintings, Persian rugs and Kashmiri carpets, miniature prayer wheels and music bowls.

Tourists generally land up in Leh during the festive seasons and for those who enjoy and appreciate different ethnicities would be delighted to be a part of these festivals.

There is a two day Hemis festival in June/ July that celebrates the birth of Guru Padmasambhava, founder of Tantric Buddhism in Tibet. The Ladakh festival is celebrated during the first two weeks of September. It starts with a spectacular procession through the streets. Villagers dress up in their traditional costumes, dance and sing folk songs. One cannot afford to miss the musical concerts and dances performed by masked lamas.

For those who love to travel and explore new wonders of mother earth here are some tips to ensure that you travel smartly and safely. The best months to visit Leh lie between June to September. This is their summer season and can offer better prospects for avid travelers and trekkers. Once you land in Leh acclimatization is very essential as one can suffer from altitude sickness due to low levels of oxygen.

One must keep oneself well hydrated and avoid alcohol. As the temperature drops drastically during nights one must carry some protective woolen clothing. Laptops and hard drives have a high risk of crashing so be well prepared for it in advance.

Indeed there are no second thoughts in quoting Leh as one of the world’s most exotic travel destinations as Leh promises something alluring for everyone under the sun. Happy travelling.

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