General Information about Ladakh

Area : 98000 square km.
Population : 135000
Altitude : Altitude ranges from 9000 feet (2,750 m) at Kargil to 25,170 feet (7,672 m) at Saser Kangri in the Karakoram.
Temperature : In summers, up to 27 degree Celsius, and in wintersit is -20 degree Celsius and below in the higher reaches.
Best Season: Early June to October
Clothing : In summers, light woolen clothes and in winters, heavy woolens with wind proofing

About Ladakh

The flight into Leh, the capital of Ladakh, is an exciting experience as you fly over the dramatic regions of the Himalayas, the Great Himalayan, Zanskar, Ladakh and the Karakoram. This area is highest inhabited region of India and the River Indus with its tributaries flows through the ranges. Ladakh is a separate province of the State of Jammu and Kashmir and distinct in its culture and topography. It is a region which was opened to tourists only a few years ago.

Since then, foreign tourists, particularly a large number of young visitors are traveling to Ladakh to see its unspoiled beauty. The landscape of Ladakh is glorious but stark and the surrounding mountains are painted in colors that only nature could choose. Only adventure lovers are recommended to visit Ladakh. Ladakh should not be compared with a hill station like Srinagar. The region is predominantly Buddhist and several important Buddhist monasteries dominate the region. Some of them are located within visiting distance from Leh and normally day excursions are ideal to visit most of them. The clean, dry air, magnificent scenery and the warm hospitality of the happy people makes Ladakh truly memorable.

The territory of Ladakh represents some 70 per cent of area of the State of Jammu and Kashmir with the lowest density of population in the world which is less than one or two per square kilometer. The effect of elevation and isolation amidst snowy mountains has made the countryside forbiddingly arid and produced one of the most unusual climates in the world. Burning heat during the day is normally followed by extreme cold at night and dry cold air makes you feel its presence. The average annual rainfall is less than four inches. As you drive up and down this arid, barren, sun-beaten and wind-swept countryside, you may get a peculiar feeling that you are somewhere on the lunar surface – this topography character has given Ladakh the term “Moonland”.

History of Ladakh
Though Ladakh seem to be remote but it has never been totally isolated. Over the centuries the trade route from India to Central Asia passed through this area through its high passes and desert landscape. Caravans carrying spices, brocades, pearls, carpets, tea and other goods of daily needs took around two months to cover the distance from Amritsar in the Punjab to the Central Asian towns of Yarkand and Khotan! Leh and Kargil profited from this ancient route and also developed into the centers of trade. Since 1962, the fear of Chinese invasion made Indian Army to send a large contingent of the army to different areas of Ladakh. The army present here has been very significant for the political reasons but it has also done a lot good to the tourism of Ladakh. The requirement of the Army to reach to the strategic points has resulted in better infrastructure of roads and Ladakh has become for the rest of India reachable and the region seems to be now ‘opened up’. Near Leh in the upper Indus Valley there is the cultural heartland of Ladakh, where the old capitals of the area and many splendid palaces and Gompas (monasteries) can be found. More....

Geography of Ladakh
Ladakh has an area of approx. 98,000 sq km., situated at an altitude of 2,500 to 4,500 meters with some of the passes at 6,000 and peaks up to 7,500 meter all around the region. The mountains of Ladakh do not seem to be very impressive, the reason being the city of Leh is situated already at an altitude of 3,500 m and the mountains appear only 3,000 m higher and they do not look any bigger than the Alps. The Ladaeh region is part mountain, part flat terrain and is quite arid. Ladakh is really a high altitude desert area and there is only little snow on the mountains and look like big brown hills. When you get into them they are dry and dusty, with clusters of willows and desert roses along the streams. Yet visitors still find that Ladakh is a magical and remote place with its happy people. The four mountain ranges of Great Himalayan, Zanskar, Ladakh and Karakoram pass though the region of Ladakh. Ladakh also has the world’s largest glaciers outside the poles. The towns and villages occur along the river valleys of the Indus and its tributaries, Zanskar, Shingo and Shyok. There is also the large beautiful lake Pangong Tso which is 150 km long and 4 km wide at a height of 4,000 m. Due to necessity and adverse conditions people of Ladakh have learnt to irrigate their fields. In the fields barley is the main crop which is turned into tsampa after roasting and grinding. Apple and apricots trees are also grown with success. Most of the crops are reserved for the hard winter time. At lower altitudes, grape, mulberry and walnut are grown. The willow and poplar grow in abundance and provide fuel and timber, especially during the winter. These trees are also the source of the material for basket making. The fragrant juniper is reserved for religious ceremonies. It is burnt at several occasions by the Buddhists filling the atmosphere with its fragrance.

Climate of Ladakh
In peak winters the temperature in Ladakh goes down to - 30 Degree Celsius in Leh and Kargil and - 50 Degree Celsius in Dras. Temperatures remain in minus for almost 3 months from December to the month of February. But on clear sunny days it can become very hot and one can get sun burnt. Rainfall is very less due to the geographical location of Ladakh. The rainfall is around 50 mm annually. It is the melting snow which makes the survival of human and animals possible. In the desert like landscape one may come across the dunes or perhaps occasionally to the dust storms.

Economy of Ladakh
Although, most of the places in Ladakh are more or less cut off for 6 months from rest of the world, the state has retained cultural links with its neighboring regions in Himachal Pradesh, Kashmir, Tibet and Central Asia and also traded in valuable Pashmina, carpets, apricots, tea, and small amounts of salt, boraz, sulphur, pearls and metals. Animal transportation was provided by yaks, ponies, Bactrian camels and hunia sheep with broad backs. Livestock is a precious contribution to the economy of Ladakh, especially the yaks and goats play an important role. Yak provides meat, milk for butter, hair and hide for tents, boots, ropes, horns for agricultural tools and dung for fuel thus paying the most vital role in the local economy of the region. Goats, especially in the eastern region, produce fine pashmina for export. The Zanskar pony is considered fast and strong and therefore used for transport and for the special and famous game of Ladakhi polo!