The Himalayas or the abode of snow as it translates to, is a journey within than a mere tourist destination. Ladakh, is the high altitude dessert region in the Himalayas known for the rich Tibetan influenced culture, distinctly unique natural landscape and diversity. . The vastness of the region that breathes culture and diversity beckons you with that sort of magnetism to travel deeper into its beauty.
While Ladakh has its must do’s as “tourist” would travel, it also has some very interesting experiences to offer for the curious traveller who wishes to explore more and truly understand the people, way of life and the natural diversity of the region. Centuries old Monasteries, green patches of vegetation amidst the vast cold deserts, the unwavering kindness and generosity of mountain people is bound to lure you if you just step away from the common “tourist traps”. Here are some unique insight into Ladakh that will take you on an off the beaten path journey through this land of many stories.
1OO Years of Darkness:
The making of La dwags – The mystical moonland
Ladakh also known as La dwags, between the fourth quarter of the 13th Century till the fourth quarter of the 14th Century had a rather mystical moment. It was time of obscurity with no literature about the then Sa Skya pa dynasty alliance or the mention of previous lineages. As you dwelve deeper into the villages of ladakh you will many legends and stories of this mystical time.
Lets talk trade:
The region’s economy has been a combination of settled agriculture in the valleys together with nomadic pastoralism. However, ladakh has lucratively produced Wool for long distance trade which was transported to Kashmir to be made into shawls. The control of this trade was often an important political objective for the Ladakhi Kings.
The land of the Buddha:
The Tibetans assumed control of Ladakh as early as 663. The ladakhis or rather the Dards who are known to have inhabited the region had already come into contact with Buddhism. As you travel through lesser known parts of Ladakh like Alchi and Lamayuru you will find many rock carvings that are recently under the UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The language of the Gods:
Let us tell you a story we heard from the locals, according to Tibetan tradition Emperor Sronbrtsan Sgampo sent his minister Thonmi Sambhota to India to study the art of writing. Thonmi introduced the Tibetan script and composed eight grammatical treatises, of which only two, the Sumcupa and the Rtagskyi hjugpa survived. The main reason for the introduction of the script was to translate and write down the sacred texts of Buddhism which was back then more as a oral history. Thonmi ofcourse invented 3 letters not found in the Indian alphabet ca, cha and Ja. You’ll get here many more such interesting anecdotes from monks who given the time will be willing share a story or two.
The Many Geographies:
To the south of the Indus valley and around the Zanskar and Karakoram ranges, ladakh has everything for the Nature lover. The grand Indus river, the mighty Himalayan ranges and not forget vast picturesque panoramas that are every photographer’s delight.
Wild Wild North:
Snow leopard anyone? These are the elusive ones and we know of people who have been visiting Ladakh over many years and still haven’t gotten a glimpse of it. We also know of people who embarked on that one trek and bam! They got their perfect shot. Don’t let the elusiveness of the snow leopard shy you away from discovering the beautiful black neck cranes, the ever grazing Yak or the sturdy Bharal. Another one that is unique is the kyang or the wild horse, that you can spot running wild and free in the grasslands. As a traveller in Ladakh you are likely to spot many marmots, mouse hares, stone martens and red foxes.
A region’s geography, natural resources, climatic conditions and trade routes dominate what the natives will eat. Now ladakh is not as rich with resoruces and trade routes as the harbours in the country are, but still the native people have ingeniously “cooked up” some delicious and mouthwatering cuisine beyond the momo’s and noodle soup. For the curious foodie in you there are ample homestays cooking up Tingmo (a layered bread) Skyu (Ladakhi Pasta of sorts) Khambir (whole wheat bread) and much much more, ladakh is right now at the curve of fusion food, so you never know what’s coming next.
There is so much for the expereince seeking traveller to discover in Ladakh, the heart whelming stories from the locals, their kindness and ofcourse the serenity of the monks is sure to lure you to stay awhile longer.
Let us show you ladakh through its many hues, come join us ona journey that brings you a Ladakh off the beatn part, truly local and insgihts into the region and its people. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll show you Ladakh like you have never seen before.