The mystical land of Ladakh is not just about rugged mountain ranges or the spellbinding Himalayan lakes, but is also very much about the cheerful disposition of the people of Ladakh or ‘Ladakhis’ as they are known. Ladakh, also known as ‘The Land of Lamas’ has a rich cultural heritage and simple life-style making it a very unique experience for tourists.
Handicrafts of Ladakh are an integral part of the artistic and cultural legacy of the region. Ladakh is dotted with colorful monasteries and historic forts and palaces in Tibetan-style architecture.
Every part of India has its own unique cuisine and food. Ladakh is also known for signature dishes specific to this Union territory. Chutagi, which is a dumpling soup is one of the most famous dishes in this region. Another popular dish is Skew or Sku which is another type of delicious dumpling soup with vegetables or mutton. Paba, made out of barley is a healthy source of food energy. Butter Tea or Tsaza is a special tea made in Ladakh in a Gur-Gur, which is a shaker to churn the butter which is used to prepare this speciality tea. Momos, Thupka and Tapu which are famous Tibetan dishes are also very popular in Ladakh.
Ladakhi, Tibetan, Urdu and Balti are the official languages of Ladakh. However, Tibetan and Ladakhi are most common languages spoken by the locals.
Fairs & Festivals
Despite its remote location and severe climatic conditions, Ladakh is incomparable in its natural beauty. The joyful nature of the locals, the colorful festivals and the simple Ladakhi lifestyle appeal to everyone. Celebrate Losar Festival (Ladakhi New Year) with the Ladakhi people and enjoy a variety of cultural ceremonies besides folk songs and dance performances. Witness street processions where natives carry flaming torches while chanting prayers. It is a sight to behold. Other important festivals of Ladakh are Hemis Festival, which is hosted at the Hemis Gompa Monastery and celebrates the birth of Padmasambhava, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism. The Sindhu Darshan Festival is a celebration of River Sindhu, the former Indus Valley Civilisation, with the motive of endorsing the river as an icon of communal harmony in India. Another popular festival is the Ladakh Festival which showcases folk dances, musical performances, mask dances, art and craft exhibitions providing an excellent opportunity for tourists to experience the culture and lifestyle of the people in Ladakh. The Losar Festival is celebrated between December and February, Ladakh Festival in September and Hemis and Sindhu festivals are in June.
The Shanti Stupa, a magnificent white-domed Buddhist monument and The Leh Palace, a 17th century former Royal Palace are some of the popular monuments in Leh. The magnetic hill where vehicles defy the force of gravity and move upwards on the hill when parked at the marked location is another must-see when in Leh. Spituk Monastery also called Spituk Gompa, Stok Palace and the Hall of Fame are some of the other attractions.
Popular for the Pangong lake, an endorheic (landlocked) lake and the Hemis National Park, habitat to the rare Snow Leopards. Hemis is also famous for the Hemis Festival, held every year in June and the Hemis Gompa Monastery, India’s wealthiest monastery. The Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary is another attraction of Hemis.
This semi-desert region is flanked by snow-capped mountains and sparkling clean rivers along with distinct flora and fauna. The easiest way of reaching Zanskar is from Kargil. The Phugtal Monastery which is a Buddhist monastery that looks like a honeycomb from a distance is another attraction. The Chadar Trek or The Frozen River Expedition is one of the most unique and challenging treks in India which happens in Zanskar.
With arid mountains in the backdrop, it is famous for the Bactrian camel rides, orchards and monasteries. Surrounded by snow-dusted Himalayan mountains, it can be reached via Khardung La. The Diskit Monastery or Diskit Gompa, Maitreya Buddha, Lachung Temple, Hundur Monastery are some of the other tourist spots that Nubra Valley is famous for.
Kargil came to light in 1999 during the unrest between India and Pakistan. Kargil district is home to the villages of Dah and Hanu, which are home to the Drogpa tribe, known for their distinct ornaments and head gears.