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Ladakh A Spiritual High

by on July 10, 2007

Ladakh A Spiritual High

Ladakh is a high altitude plateau at India’s furthest frontier, bordered by POK and Tibet. To the west is Kashmir and to the south Himachal Pradesh. The Indus River bisects the plateau and by its banks is Leh, the capital of Ladakh. The vast land, dry and dedicated, swells and billows into great tiers of snow-crested peaks. Arching over it is a sky, pure blue, benign, sheltering. The river bisects the floor of the valley. The best season is from May to the end of October.

Winter in Ladakh is bitterly cold. If you plan to travel by road, keep in mind that the Rohtang and Zoji La passes are open only between mid June and early October. Dominating Leh from its vantage on the northern crag is the Leh Palace, a diminutive Potala. In the late afternoon, the wind picks up, riffling the prayer flags, carrying snatches of the deeply- intoed homage to Manjushri.

The mountains, snow-capped peaks and fortress- like monasteries provide a dramatic backdrop to the many roadside cafes, restaurants, beer bars, carpet and curio shops, and trekking and rafting agencies. It is full of trails that connect remote villages spread across ancient trade routes, and there is no better way to absorb this fascinating land and its culture than to trek through it.

Leh Palace is the imposing nine- storey Palace of Sengye ‘Lion’ Namgyal dominates the city. Explore its dark passages, making your way to the top floors to get a brilliant view of the Indus Valley. Further beyond the palace is the Tsemo Gompa.

Shey is the old capital of the Ladakhi kings. It is a pretty spot with numerous chortens and graceful willows that dip their leaves into pleasant artificial lake. There are extensive remains of a fortress on the hilland a palace, incorporated into which is a temple with a handsome copper and gold Shakyamuni Buddha. Around 300m away is the Thiksey Monastery, which housesa huge three storey Maitreya Buddha.

On the beautiful Leh-Kargil road lays the earliest surviving monastery of Ladakh known as Yung-drung, or the Swastika. Its site, perched on a rocky promontory high above the Lamayuru Village at the valley.On the high southern bank of the Indus, in a lush, quiet oasis across the road from Saspol is the ancient center of learning. Alchi Choskhor. One can happily spend the whole day studying the frescoes and loafing under its verdant apricot trees. There are two high altitude lakes Tso Moriri and Pangong Tso. Leh abounds with places to stay as almost every house being converted into a guesthouse ranging from Rs. 300 to Rs. 3000. There many hotels like Shambha La and Lharimo, which offer, heated rooms and lovely view. The Leh area has restaurants, cafes and bakeries catering to all budgets that run the entire range of cuisines from authentic Tibetan fare to European to Kashmeri to Israeli.
A successful
trek in Ladakh requires you to acclimatize well. Spend a few days in Leh, go for gentle walks and get used to the altitude.

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