Mystique Mountains

Ladakh is variously known as ‘the land of many passes and mystic lamas’, ‘broken moon’, ‘little Tibet’ and even ‘the last Shangri-La’ – and no wonder… The region is bounded by two of the world's mightiest mountain ranges, the Great Himalaya and the Karakoram and it lies athwart two others, the Ladakh range and the Zanskar range.

Amongst the highest of the world's inhabited plateaus, Ladakh lies at altitudes ranging from about 2,750 m at Kargil to 7,672 m at Saser Kangri in the Karakoram. Its mountain ranges are strikingly parallel, stretching through the region from southeast to north-west. It has an area of about 97,000 km2, of which only about a half percent is inhabitable, and a population of approximately 200,000.

In geological terms, this is a young land, formed a few million years ago by the buckling and folding of the earth's crust as the Indian subcontinent pushed with irresistible force against the immovable mass of Asia. Ladakh was once covered by an extensive lake system, the vestiges of which still exist on south-east plateaus of Rupshu and Chushul, in the drainage basins or lakes of Tsomoriri, Tsokar and Pangong Tso. However, the main source of water is winter snowfall.

For centuries, Ladakh has been an important center of trade between India and the countries of Central Asia. Leh, the capital served as the terminus for caravans.

Today, thousands of tourists from all over the world visit this mysterious land every year. They are fascinated by the natural grandeur of the entire region and more so by the hospitality and simplicity of the people.

The geographical and cultural difference from the rest of India is striking; the features of Ladakhi people, their clothes and dialects are distinctly Tibetan or Mongoloid rather then Indian. These people, as well as their monasteries perched on hilltops overlooking the villages down below, the huge statues depicting the Buddhist philosophy of life, the fine Buddhist frescos and unending mountain ranges are each one of them a wonder and a miracle for the visitor.

Ladakh in India Overview Ladakh