The Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh, better known for snow leopards and its ancient Buddhist culture, is a land of high passes and one of the most remote regions in India. It lies entrenched at the edge of the Karakoram Range in the northwest and the Himalayan Range in the southwest with the trans-Himalaya at its core. The Indus River, originating from Tibet in the north, flows through the center of Ladakh and flows further on to Pakistan. Ladakh is a high-altitude desert and temperatures, which can reach as low as -45oC in winter, are the most extreme here.
The remote and inhospitable land of Ladakh has always fascinated city-dwellers with its images of a stark and barren landscape juxtaposed alongside lush green fields, monasteries that are perched precariously on mountain tops and an intriguing blend of cultures. Leh, the present capital of Ladakh, was once the central meeting-point for caravan traders from Central Asia and the plains of India. The region is widely known for its unique crafts such as metal work, paintings, weaving and wood carving. Archery and polo are the traditional sports here.
Ladakh is one of the last remaining places where Tibetan Buddhism is practiced in its original form. Its people are imbued with an ancient culture and survival skills in this cold desert land handed down the generations for thousands of years. And no matter how much pre-reading you might have done, a journey to this remote yet beautiful land more than fulfils all the expectations of the traveler to see it through his own eyes, to experience it through his own emotions and to comprehend it through his own sensibility.
Some of the more popular treks in Ladakh are the Markha Valley trek, and the Padum and Lama Yuru trek. The trek on the frozen Zanskar River, especially, is a truly adventurous one.