On this World Environment Day let us explore the heavenly district of Ladakh and be mesmerised by the beauty of nature. Let us also take this lesson as to how beautiful nature is and if we are not careful in preserving it places like these would just remain in pictures for our future generations. It is important that we respect Mother Nature and learn to preserve it.
Ladakh, situated on the banks of the Indus River, is a famous tourist spot in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. It is also known as 'the last Shangri La', 'Little Tibet', 'the Moon Land' and 'The Broken Moon'. Beautiful lakes and Monasteries, mesmerising landscapes, and mountain peaks are some of the attractive features of this place. Buddhism being the dominant religion of the region, monasteries or gompas are a major feature in Ladakh's list of attractions. So get set to explore the beautiful landscapes of Ladakh.
How to Reach
Ladakh Airport is the nearest air base to the destination which is connected to important cities of the state. Jammu Airport is the major air base in Jammu & Kashmir which is well connected to major cities of the country. The nearest railway station is the Jammu Tawi railway station, which is located at a distance of 712 km from Ladakh. Tourists can reach Ladakh from here by hiring cabs or taking a bus. Ladakh can be accessed by road from Jammu and Srinagar. Manali to Ladakh by the Rohtang Pass, which opens between July and September, and Srinagar to Ladakh by Zoji La Pass, which opens between June and October. One can travel either by buses or hire a taxi or a jeep.
General Zorwar's Fort
General Zorawar's Fort, also known as Riasi Fort, is situated above the Palace of Leh and it presently lies in a wrecked stage. A huge collection of coins and specimens of new stamps apart from the precious treasure of the ruler are housed in the fort. Located close to the river Chenab, the fort is an attraction for individuals interested in archaeology, prehistoric culture, and artefacts. Inside the fort are present a mosque, a natural spring, and a Temple dedicated to Hindu Goddesses Kali and Durga.
Matho Monastery situated in the Indus river valley is situated at a distance of 16 km from the city. Visitors can see an antique collection of thangkas in the museum built inside the monastery, presented in the form of Mandalas. The four hundred year old thangkas or religious Tibetan silk paintings, and the Matho Nagrang festivals attracts tourists here.
Nubra is a tri-armed valley located to the north east of Ladakh valley. The Shyok River meets the Nubra or Siachan River to form a large valley that separates the Ladakh and Karakoram Ranges. Siachen Glacier lies to the north of the valley. The Sasser Pass and the famous Karakoram Pass lie to the northwest of the valley and connect Nubra with Uyghur. It is a paradise for trekkers and also for photographers.
Sankar Gompa, also known as the Sankar Monastery, is situated at a distance of 3 km from Leh. A statue of the Avalokiteshvara, a 'Bodhisattva' or enlightenment-being who embodies the compassion of all the Buddhas is placed in the Gompa. The speciality of this idol is that it has eleven heads, one thousand hands and eyes on the palm of each hand. Designed in a traditional architectural style, the paintings of the ‘Guardians of the Four Directions' are placed at the entrance. Visitors come to visit this Gompa and admire the statue here.
Serzang Temple is located at a distance of 40 km from Leh. One of the unique features of this temple is that Gold and Copper were extensively used in its construction. A statue of the Maitreya Buddha known as the Buddha of the future or the Laughing Buddha, standing tall at 30 ft, sits in the temple.
Shey Gompa is situated at a distance of 15 km from the southern part of Leh. A large copper and gilded gold statue of a seated Buddha, considered to be the second biggest statue in the region of Ladakh, is enshrined inside this Gompa. Although currently in a ruined state, Shey was considered the summer capital of Ladakh in earlier times. Visitors and devotees come here to pay respect to Buddha and to admire the statue.
Photo Courtesy:Karunakar Rayker
Stok Palace Mueseum
Stok Palace Museum is located inside the Stok Palace and houses royal crowns, royal artefacts, precious stones, copper coins, jewellery, prayer instruments, thangkas or religious Tibetan silk paintings, and other heirlooms. The museum depicts the art and culture of the region in the past. Visitors coming here can explore the Stok Palace and also learn the history of this place.
Suru Valley, drained by the River Suru, is popular among tourists for its natural beauty. Visitors can enjoy the panoramic view of the Kun and Nun mountain peaks, from the lower end of the valley. Suru Valley is surrounded by other tourist places like such as Zanskar and Padum. It is a best place to enjoy the view of untouched nature and to be lost in its beauty.
Photo Courtesy:Motohiro Sunouchi
The rugged terrain of Ladakh is home to a few animals which are hard to spot. The famous one being the Snow Leopard. One should consider oneself lucky if they can spot this beast. They rarely come to the lower latitudes and can be spotted usually during the winter months. Another predator here is the Tibetan Wolf which is known to attack the livestock of the villagers here. There are a few Brown Bears too in the area surrounding the Suru Valley. Trekkers if lucky may catch a glimpse of it.
Photo Courtesy:Tambako The Jaguar
Well one can find different cuisines of one ventures into Leh but if you are wanting to have the house spread then do try out the thumpka which is a Tibetian dish eaten around the region. If you are feeling slightly adventurous about the food then do try out Skyu, which is a heavy pasta dish with root vegetables.