Thursday, 2 May 2013
Posted by jinson on 13:38 No comments
The small town Leh is located in the Ladakh region of Jammu & Kashmir. Ladakh means “land of high passes”. It’s situated between Kulnun and the Great Himalayas mountain ranges. Leh is the second largest district in India after Kutch in Gujrat and the largest town in Ladakh. The people are of Indo Aryans and Tibetan descendants, though they are now either Tibetan Muslims or Shia Muslims. It’s also called ‘Little Tibet’ because of its strong influence of Tibetan culture. Over 1800 kms of motor able roads through beautiful mountains, make this an ideal destination for bikers and driving enthusiasts. It’s a little smaller than Scotland in terms of area. Other major parts of Ladakh region are Nubra valley, Pangong Lake and Zanskar. The region is gorgeous and is open only for a limited period time during the year, from May to September. It has one of the world’s highest airports and is the world’s highest motor able pass (Khardung-la, 5359m).
The colorful prayer flags over houses and monasteries, fluttering in the air look amazing in the scenic backdrop of Leh. Buddhist chants add to the captivating sunsets in the valley. The ancient Gompas, serene valleys and the quiet monasteries leave a deep impact on tourists. The most appreciated fact is the status of women in the region. Unlike other north Indian states, the women enjoy a highly elevated status in the society of Ladakh.
Shanti Stupa, Leh Palace, Hemis gompha , Leh Trekking Trails, War Museum,Chamba Temple, Jama Masjid, Gurdwara Pathar Sahib Jo Khang Gompa, Namgyal Tsemo Gompa, Sankar Gompa, Stok Palace, The Victory Tower, Zorawar Fort, Magnetic hill .
The famous Magnetic hill is believed to have magnetic properties. Cars seem to get pulled uphill and aircrafts fly above their normal altitude to avoid the magnetic effect . In reality, it’s just an optical illusion. Gurudwara Pathar Sahib is situated 25 kms from Leh town. Guru Nanak is said to have vanquish a demon here. The Indian army manages it and it is used for worship by Sikhs and Buddhists alike. The Leh palace or the Potala palace, was once used to be the residence of the royal family.. Bikes are available on rent from INR 400-1500 per day. Pangong Tso (Pangong lake) is around 180 kms from Leh and is a very beautiful lake. It has been used as a location for several national and international movies. Visitors to the lake sometimes spend a night or two by the side of the lake in tents. It is 134 km long and upto 5 km wide. It has no aquatic life and freezes in winters, despite the water being saline.
Though the town is small enough to be navigated by foot in less than an hour, there are several unique things to do there.
1. Visit the sanctuary established by a South African journalist to save the lives of mules and donkeys that had been abandoned or injured. Several westerners adopt an animal there and donate them for their conservation.
2. Pay a visit to one of the local weaving centers where the ‘pride of Ladakh’- The Pashmina wool, is used to make shawls and other woolen items. See how the animals are sheered and the rigorous process of making Cashmere. This is where Cashmere- the softest wool in the world, begins its journey into the world of International fashion. The tribal people who produce this from their animals, live in freezing cold, sometimes under -45 degree Celsius for a couple of months and have no contacts with the rest of the world.
3. Help out LOTI – Leh Old Town Initiative, an organization in association with UNESCO, working for the restoration of the old Leh town. Several foreigners live and work there voluntarily to help the cause.
4. Visit Changs Pa- the famous market area, where one can shop for souvenirs, rent a bike or trekking equipment.
5. The Tibetan Buddhist deity- Rinpoche is said to have been born time and again and this year, he is said to be born as a child in Nubra valley, brought to Leh by H.H. Dalai Lama. The Spituk Gompa, the place where he lives, studies and preaches, is a center of attraction for tourists and pilgrims alike due to the obvious curiosity.
6. Take a heritage walk across the Leh old town.
7. Treks and expeditions are organized in the tourist season to several nearby mountains and glaciers, both guided and non-guided.
8. Take a Yak ride for less than a hundred rupees, something which is not found anywhere, other than Leh.
Climate: Long harsh winters from Oct to early March. Temperatures usually go below freezing points during these months. Other months are generally warm.
Height: The average elevation of the town is 11000 feet.
Wildlife: Includes black necked crane, snow leopards, Tibetan ass and yaks.
Currently only two highways lead to Leh.
a) Srinagar- Leh highway (434 km)
b) Manali-Leh highway (473 km)
Flights operate to Leh airport in season time. The prices can be quite high as compared to other Indian cities due to limited number of flights.