Ladakh Travel Guide

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Manali-Leh road

Manali-Leh road


Ladakh, a word which means "land of high passes", is an area of Northern India sandwiched in between the Karakoram in the north and the Himalaya in the south.    Ladakh, which is made up from 2 districts of the Jammu & Kashmir Province, is the highest region of I Ladakh travel guidendia with elevations rarely reaching below 3,000m. Leh, the capital, lies at an altitude of 3,521m and the nearby airport is the highest in the world!  

Ladakh is also called "Little Tibet", because culturally it has more in common with Tibet than the rest of India.   82% of the people in Ladakh are Buddhist and Buddhism occupies a central part of life.   Prayer wheels and chortens (the local Buddhist devotional towers) are dotted everywhere.   Many villages have a monastery nearby, usually built high up on a rocky outcrop or hill, and many members of society become Buddhist monks.  

Although Leh was formerly a major bazaar and stopping point on the famed Silk Road, Ladakh is a predominantly agricultural society. Each Ladakhi family typically owns about 2-4 acres of land which is irrigated by snow melt water through a complex network of irrigation ditches. Leh only receives 60 mm of rain per year, and the non-irrigated areas are completely arid. The farming all occurs in the four month-long hot summer, allowing a single barley crop to be grown which is used for bread, tsampa (roasted barley flour used to make dumplings and so on), animal fodder and chang (rough Tibetan beer; tastes rather like a weak scrumpy).  

Ladakh offers a rich set of itineraries for all sorts of travelers - travelers looking for adventure, culture, religious understanding or simple sight-seeing. The places worth visiting around Leh are Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso Lake, Tso Moriri Lake, Khardung La Pass (the highest motorable pass in the world), and a large number of old monastries - Hemis, Thiksey, Alchi, Likir and Lamayuru, to name a few. People also do Zanskar river rafting / snow walk.

One can get to Leh by road or air – both are equally spectaculour.    

The road from Manali to Leh was built as an access route for the Indian Army to the disputed Indian - Pakastani border area of Kasmir. Due to the severe weather conditions experienced, the road is only kept open for between 3 and 4 months of the year. Before the road was completed, these passes were traversed by traders who plied between Central Asia and India. This 500-kilometre journey is now one of the most amazing Himalayan routes. Crossing the Himalaya from south to north, the route high point is at over 5,300 metres (or 17,400 ft) above sea level.  

If you are traveling from Delhi to Leh by road, you should take the following precautions:

1. Carry lots of chocolates - 5 Star and BarOne - they are the best source of energy.
2. Drink lots of water on the trip - about 2 litres a day.
3. Carry medicine for nausea and motion sickness (avomine) and headache (saridon). AMS (acute mountain sickness) can be painful if you are not careful.
4. Ascend slowly. Take your time to acclimatise after each ascent of 1000m or 1500m.
5. Black-outs at high altitude are commom. Take baby steps and conserve your energy if you feel you will black-out. Make sure you have a companion with you.
6. Mark the petrol pumps on your map/ route and estimate your requirement. If you are driving in a hatch back, do not carry petrol in poor containers - the stench, clubbed with AMS, will drive you nuts.
7. Avoid food that you think will make your stomach churn. Stick to basics. Dal-Chawal is the best.
8. Try and arrange your night stays before you leave.

The alternative road into Leh is via Srinagar and Kargil. This road also crosses high passes and is open for a similar period to the Manali – Leh road. Kingfisher, Indian Airlines and Jet Airways do the early morning one hour flight from Delhi to Leh. From this unique flight one can see the snow-covered Himalayan peaks and glaciers.


March 08, 2006 change by cyclingken

November 04, 2009 change by arindamdas

July 26, 2005 change by oceanic

February 15, 2006 change by giorgio

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