Tourism in Ladakh

Tourism in Ladakh

Ladakh (bo|t=ལ་དྭགས་|script=yes, Ladakhi IPA2|lad̪ɑks, Hindi: लद्दाख़, Urdu: لدّاخ; Hindi IPA2|ləd̪.d̪ɑːx) , a word which means "land of high passes", is a region in the state of Jammu and Kashmir of Northern India sandwiched between the Karakoram mountain range to the north and the Himalayas to the south. The Indian portion of Ladakh is composed of the Leh and Kargil districts. The Leh district is the largest district of India, covering more than half the area of Jammu and Kashmir, of which it is the eastern part. Adventure tourism in Ladakh started in the 19th century. By the turn of the 20th century, it was not uncommon for British officials to undertake the 14 stage trek from Srinagar to Leh as part of their annual leave. Agencies were set up in Srinagar and Shimla to specialise sport related activities — hunting, fishing and trekking. A large retinue of porters would carry huge canvas tents and collapsible string beds. This era is recorded in Arthur Neves "The Tourist's Guide to Kashmir, Ladakh and Skardo", first published in 1911 [ Garry Weare, "Trekking in the Indian Himalaya", 4th Edition, Lonely Planet, 2002 ] . Today, about 18,000 tourists visit Ladakh every year. Bounded by two mighty mountain ranges, it is a popular place for adventure tourism. The well-preserved Tibetan-Buddhist culture makes it even more attractive. The main corridor for accessing the area has shifted from the Zoji-La pass and Kargil route from Srinagar in the Kashmir Valley, to the high altitude Manali-Leh Highway from Himachal Pradesh. The latter is open only between July and September, when snow is cleared from the road. There is one airport, situated at Leh, from which there are multiple daily flights to Delhi on Jet Airways and Indian, and weekly flights to Srinagar.

Buses run from Leh to the surrounding villages. Trucks often stop for hitchhikers, who are usually expected to pay half the bus fare. There is a bit less than 1000 km of paved roads in Ladakh. The Manali-Leh-Srinagar road makes up about half of that, the remainder being spurs off it. For the traveler with a number of months it is possible to trek from one end of Ladakh to the other, or even from places in Himachal Pradesh. The large number of trails and the limited number of roads allows one to string together routes that have road access often enough to restock supplies, but avoid walking on motor roads almost entirely.

Among the popular places of tourist interest include Leh, Drass valley, Suru valley, Kargil, Zangskar, Zangla, Rangdum, Padum, Phukthal, Sani, Stongdey, Shayok Valley, Sankoo, Salt Valley. Popular treks are Manali to Ladakh, the Nubra valley, the Indus valley, Markha valley, Ladakh monastery trek, South Zangskar, Trans-Zangskar Expedition, Spiti to Ladakh, Spiti to Pitok to Hemis, Rupshu, the Great Salt lakes, Chadar Ice trek, Padum-Phuktal, Padam to Darcha, Panikhar to Heniskot, Padum to Manali , Lamayuru-Martselang, Lamayuru - Alchi, Kala Pattar trek, Pahalgam to Suru valley, Kinnaur-Spiti-Ladakh, Tsomoriri-Lake Trek, and Manali-Leh trek. [ [ Leh Ladakh treks] ]


General traveling maps showing the roads and tourist sites are commonly available in India and abroad.

Permits and borders

No special permit is required to visit most of Ladakh, including Leh and Kargil towns. Permits are required for both domestic and foreign tourists to visit the "Inner Line" areas, i.e. Nubra Valley; Panggong Lake and the Durbuk Block that it lies in (i.e. north of the Changla Pass); Tso-Moriri and Tsokar Lakes and the area along the Indus River east of Upshi; and Dha-hanu and the area along the Indus River northwest of Khalatse. These permits are easily available in Leh town from the local authorities and do not need to be acquired while applying for an Indian visa.

Permits are not available, and foreigners are not allowed, in the far reaches of each of the above-named areas close to the borders (or Line of Control, etc) with Pakistan and China. For example, foreigners can go to the edge of Panggong Lake but not along the edge of it to Phobrang, Merak, Maan, or Chushul villages; they cannot proceed east up the Indus from the Mahe Bridge; and in Nubra, they can only go as far as Panamik to the north and Hundar to the west.

There are no border crossings open between Ladakh and neighbouring regions of Baltistan (under Pakistan) or Tibet (under China).

Notes and References

* [ Ladakh Adventures]
* [ Marathon in Ladakh] - a different kind of tourism
* [ Ladakh Tourism Guide] - Photo Gallery, Trekking in Ladakh, Monasteries in Ladakh, NGO’s in Ladakh.

* [ Article on Tso Morriri Lake by Rangan Datta]
* [ Article on Alchi & Likir Gompa by Rangan Datta]
* [ Rangan Datta's personal web-site]

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