Image Courtesy: Omendra Singh (Unsplash)
Ladakh the word itself give goosebumps as it reminds us of the mesmerizing sights of Pangong Lake, Unique Landscape and the mighty Himalayas.
A cold desert with vegetation seems contradictory for the world but its a staunch reality proven by India’s union territory – Ladakh. It can be best described as Land of high passes. It is situated between the world’s 2 most powerful mountain ranges – Karakorum and Himalayas.
It amazes the travelers in many ways and every tourist visiting Ladakh ultimately becomes a Wanderer.
Galwan Valley important for both India & China
On the night of 15 June 2020, there was a violent clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers leading to 20 casualties on the Indian side and nearly 35 casualties on the Chinese side as stated by US intelligence.
- Surprisingly the same Galwan river valley was the main spark point for the 1962 India China war.
- It is strategically located in the Eastern Ladakh on the LAC (Line of Actual Control) bordering the Aksai Chin (Claimed by India but currently under China’s control).
- India is constructing a vital road link between Leh and Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) which can reduce the travel time to the northernmost part of Ladakh from the present 2 days to just 6 hours. It will lead to faster mobilization of units that China does not want near Aksai Chin.
- Hence China is claiming sovereignty over Galwan River Valley due to its proximity to DBO and they will have a strategic advantage with better intelligence reports for future clashes/action.
Image Courtesy: BBC
Image Courtesy: The Tribune
Similar to Moon Surface
- Often described as “Heaven / Little Tibet / or Blissful / Peaceful – but did you know that it has a monastery on the moon.
- Yes, the Lamayuru village has a breathtaking landscape which resembles exactly like the white surface on the moon.
- Also it is the oldest and largest existing gompa in Ladakh.
Image Courtesy: Devil On Wheels
Best Stargazing Experience in India
- Nubra Valley offers the best milky way view due to no light pollution, clear skies and high altitude.
- In India, Ladakh is undoubtedly the best place for stargazing lovers.
- Also at Hanle village, we have the 2nd highest optical telescope in the world.
Image Courtesy: Navaneeth Unnikrishnan
Growing Wildlife in the Cold Desert
- It is a cold desert with growing wildlife. Generally, we have seen one hump camel but did you know that Ladakh has a rare species of camels which has twin humps, known as Bactrian camels.
- It also offers 225 varieties of bird species flocking over the vast landscape. Some unique birds such as finches, robins, redstarts, and Hoopoe are found here in abundance.
- You can also sight Tibetan Wild Ass, Snow Leopards, Wild Yak, Ibex, Brown Bear, and Lynx in this Himalayan Kingdom.
‘Highest’ is normal for Ladakh
- Whether it is Korzok – India’s highest permanent settlement situated at the height of 14,990 feet.
- The majestic Pangong Lake which is world’s highest saltwater lake located at 14,270 ft
- Bailey Bridge which is at the highest elevation in the world. (18,372 ft)
- It has the highest natural ice hockey rink in the world as it freezes in the winter. Known as Karzoo ice hockey rink which is situated in Leh and it hosts a lot of international ice hockey events.
- Siachen Glacier is the highest battlefield in the world which is squeezed between borders of India, China, and Pakistan. India spends almost 5 – 7 crores per day to deploy its 3000 soldiers in extreme weather (can go below -60 degrees celsius).
- Katpana Desert (Skardu) is situated at an elevation of 7,300 ft stretching from Khaplu Valley (Gilgit Baltistan) to Nubra (Ladakh) becomes the highest again in the world.
- We cannot miss out on the infamous Umling La Pass for being the highest motorable pass in the world at 19,300 ft. (even higher than the famous Khardungla Pass). I am sure these facts are making us proud.
- We will soon have World’s Highest Railway bridge built over the Chenab river. Chenab bridge is 359 meters high and will be ready by 2021. The 1.315 km arch-shaped structure will connect Bakkal (Katra) and Kauri (Srinagar).
Korzok Image Courtesy: Wikipedia
Umling La Image Courtesy: Picasa (Rushlane)
The Land of Festivals
- Culturally rich – this Buddhist peaceful land has the maximum number of festivals than any other place in India.
- The Ladakhis celebrate a minimum of 2 festivals per month and majority of them happen in the Winter Season. They dance, sing, wear masks and perform mimes, etc.
- Famous ones are Losar, Dosmochey festival, Saka Dawa (Buddha Purnima), and Sindhu Darshan festival.
Losar Image Courtesy: Travelogy India
Dosmochey Image Courtesy: Leh Ladakh Tourism
Saka Dawa Image Courtesy: Leh Ladakh Tourism
The Mystery of Magnetic Hill
- It has a Magnetic Hill that pulls you upwards. This stretch is located on the Leh Kargil Highway. People experience their vehicle going upwards while actually going downhill!
- Some think if it’s because of magnetic force emerging out from the hill that pulls the vehicle and this is the most widespread theory.
- There is also an Optical Illusion theory which is an interpretation that contradicts objective “reality” and thus denies the above mentioned magnetic theory. It states that due to the illusion we feel we are going uphill but in reality, we are going downhill.
Image Courtesy: Creator: HIMANSHU JAIN | Copyright: TRAVELDGLOBE
Kung Fu Nuns
- You must be shocked to hear the combination of Spirituality and Martial Arts.
- Yes, it is made possible by the brave nuns of Drukpa lineage (1000-year-old Buddhist Tradition).
- Today there are more than 800 Kung Fu Nuns who promote and practice gender equality, woman empowerment, sustainable living, and respect for all living beings.
- They stay in 4 nunneries present in Nepal and India. In Ladakh, they are based in Kortsa and Shey.
Image Courtesy: NDTV
Ancient Greek Texts have Ladakh’s reference
- Rock Carvings prove that Ladakh was inhabited since Neolithic times (around 12,000 years ago; last stage of Stone Age).
- Ancient Greek historian Herodotus in 5th Century BC has mentioned about giant ants digging gold and local people of Ladakh (Mons and Dards – Mixed Indo Aryan inhabitants) mining it.
- Experts later pointed out that the ants were actually Himalayan Marmots.
- Even Megasthenes (Greek Historian & Explorer) and Ptolemy (Greek Mathematician) has mentioned about Gold Digging Ants, Dards and Ladakh region in their greek literary contributions.
Himalayan Marmots Image Courtesy: Wikipedia
Herodotus Image Courtesy: Wikipedia
Megasthenes Image Courtesy: Ancient World History
Unique Ladakhi Food
- The blog seems incomplete without the mention of food! Ladakhi cuisine is heavily influenced by Tibetan and Kashmiri cooking style.
- Momos and Thukpas are widely known but there are other dishes like Tingmo, Phingsa, Ladakhi Pulao, Paba, Khambir, Butter tea, Yak Cheese which can stimulate your taste buds.
- Tingmo with shapata – This is one of the famous dishes in Tibetan and Bhutanese cuisine which is prepared from a dough of wheat flour (Maida). Also it is sometimes described as a steamed bun.
- Ladakhi Pulao – This dish is also famous in Ladakh which is prepared with rice, and different kinds of spices and this pulao has a very different taste as compared to other states in India.
- Butter Tea– It is also known as cha süma, po cha in the tibetian language, and is mostly available in Nepal and Bhutan. People drink this as butter protects lips from getting cracked due to the harsh cold weather and the salt in it helps to stay away from altitude sickness.
- Yak cheese – It is made from the milk of yaks. Locally it is known as Chhurpi. The taste is different than other cheese made from Goat / Sheep / Cow ‘s milk because, in Yak’s milk, lime and other citrus fruits are added to make the cheese.
- To know more about Ladakhi cuisine do visit this blog.
Tingmo with Mutton Shapata Image Courtesy: Picuki.com
Ladakhi Pulao Image Courtesy: Swantour.com
Yak Cheese Image Courtesy: Lehladakhindia.com