Also known as little Tibet, Ladakh is a land like no other. Bounded by two of the world's mightiest mountain ranges, the Great Himalayas and the Karakoram, it lies athwart two other, the Ladakh range and the Zanskar range.
In geological terms, this is a young land, formed only a few million years ago by the buckling and folding of the earth's crust as the Indian sub-continent pushed with irresistible force against the immovable mass of Asia. Its basic contours, uplifted by these unimaginable tectonic movements, have been modified over the millennia by the opposite process of erosion, sculpted into the form one sees today by wind and water.
History of Leh-Ladakh
From the middle of the 10th century, Ladakh was an independent kingdom, its dynasties descending from the King of Old Tibet. Its political fortunes abed and flowered over the centuries, and the kingdom, was at its greatest in the early 17th century under the famous king Sengge Namgyal whose rule extended across Spiti and Western Tibet up to the Mayumla beyond the sacred sites of Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar. It is recognized as the best trade route between Punjab and Central Asia. For centuries it was traversed by caravans carrying textiles and spices, raw silk and carpets, dyestuff and narcotics. Heedless of the landís rugged terrain and apparent remoteness, merchants entrusted their goods to relays of pony transporters who took about two months to carry them from Amritsar to the central Asia town of Yarkand and Khotan. On this long route, Leh was the half way house and developed into a bustling place, its bazaars thronged with merchants from far countries.
Geography of Leh-Ladakh
The valley of Ladakh is situated at quite a high altitude, which varies from one place to the other. Infact, the geographical location of Ladakh ranges from 9,000 ft high at Kargil to 25,170 ft high at Saser Kangri, in the Karakoram Range. Due to its high altitude, Ladakh experiences very cold climate, where even the summer temperatures rarely exceed 27įC. Due to the high altitude of Ladakh the air is very thin and makes the heat of the sun very severe.
The region abounds in physical beauty. Encircles by the Karakoram in the north and the Great Himalayas in the south, it presents a picturesque sight. Now a high altitude desert, Ladakh was covered by an extensive lake system, at on point of time. The remnants of this system are still found on its south east plateau of Rupshu and Chushul, in the drainage basins or lakes of Tsomoriri, Tso-kar and Pangong-Tso. However, snowfall still remains the main source of water in Ladakh.
Tourist attractions of Leh-Ladakh
Ladakh is a land like no other. Bounded by two of the world's mightiest mountain ranges, the Great Himalayas and the Karakoram, it lies athwart two other, the Ladakh range and the Zanskar range. In geological terms, this is a young land, formed only a few million years ago by the buckling and folding of the earth's crust as the Indian sub-continent pushed with irresistible force against the immovable mass of Asia. Its basic contours, uplifted by these unimaginable tectonic movements, have been modified over the millennia by the opposite process of erosion, sculpted into the form one sees today by wind and water.
Leh is one of the
popular destinations, which offers everything from adventure tourism
to spiritual healing. One is considered lucky if his or her trip
coincides with the colorful festival of Ladakh when they can witness
the traditional mask and peacock dances, which are part of the
enthralling festival procession. Located on the east of Srinagar,
Leh is the headquarters of Ladakh district.
The steep climb to the Stupa is worth the effort as it provides breathtaking views of the beautiful Leh valley. A visit the 17th century Leh Palace, is a must for all who love ancient history although it is in a dilapidated condition.
The Palace, which once housed the royalty, is now under the Archaeological Survey of India. Just above the palace on the Namgyal hill is the Victory Tower that was built in memory of Ladakh's victory over the Balti Kashmir armies in the 16th century.Namgyal Tsemo Gompa is a fascinating monastery that houses a three-story high Buddha image and ancient manuscripts.
For those interested in adventure tourism and sports in Leh, you have abundant options to have fun and exercise. Leh is one among the few trekking places in north India that offers wonderful trekking trails. The route to Markha Valley from Spituk, the Lamayuru gompa to Chilling trek along the Zanskar rive and the one from Likir to Temisgam. June to October is considered to be the ideal time for trekking in Leh Ladakh.
Among sports, Polo is popular in Leh. But if you are in Leh Ladakh during the Ladakh Festival, you can enjoy other sports as well. Archery competitions are held during the festival and it is exciting to watch archers from Ladakh and other parts to participate in the event. River rafting is another exciting sport that one can enjoy, especially down the Zanskar River.
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