Madhu Latha
Incredible India ; A diverse India ; Versatile India ; Enigmatic India ; Intoxicating India ; Spiritual India

India has been called many names by those who see it. India appears as such to each as those who see it that way. Come take a look at my India through my eyes...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Ladakh - The cool place to hangout

Spectacularly jagged, arid mountains enfold this magical, Buddhist ex-kingdom. In summer hikers trek between archetypal gompas that dramatically crown rocky outcrops amid whitewashed stupas and meditational mani walls(Tibetian stone walls with sacred inscriptions). Colourful fluttering prayer flags send their spiritual messages metaphorically off into the mountain breeze. Prayer wheels spun clockwise release more merit-making mantras. Gompa interiors are colourfully awash with murals and statuary of numerous bodhisattvas.
Ladhak's extrem climate divides the region and its work routines in a short span of summer. Traditional mudbrick homesteads are large, comfortable and self-sufficient in fuel and food. The very limited cultivable land is used to its full extent by carefully channelling the glacier-melt mountain streams. Ladakh's remarkably well balanced traditional society has so much to teach the west in terms of ecological awareness. In summer people pile their flat roofs with alphalpha grass to feed the live stock through harsh winters. Winter in Ladakh is icey cold and few tourists dare venture here at this time of the year.
Ladakh is a high altitude desert famous for the inspirational purity of its crystal blue skies. With low percipitation and sunshine for an average 300 days a year. In winters temperature falls below -20C
Permits and Other Information
Whether or not permits is required, always carry your passport when travelling around Ladakh as checkpoints are fairly common. To visit Nubra Valley, Panggong Tso, DhaHanu, Tso Moriri or the upper Indus beyond Upshi, you need an inner line permit. This is usually easy to obtain within one working day through a Leh travel agent for Rs100. Make multiple photocopies of your passport and permit to give to police checkpoints enroute.

- Leh and eastren Ladakh don't suffer any of the violence of the Kashmir Valley.
- As most of Ladakh lies above 3000m flying in visitors invariable suffer some symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness.

What you can do:

Summer in Ladakh is an adventure playground for outdoor types cimbing, rafting and high altitude trekking.

Trekking in Ladakh

Zingchen-Rumbak-Stok : A 2 day trek with one 4900m pass, possible without equipment and guide.
Sham Trek : A 4 day trek with many homestays enroute.
Ascent of Stok Kangri : A 5 day trek from Stok, and climbs to 6120m. This trek requires a guide and mountain trekking equipment. Requires a IMF permit of US$50 per person.
Markha Valley Trek : a 6 to 7 day trek from Chiling to Hemis with a 5030m pass. We find seasonal parachute cafes or homestays on route but it is always suggested to bring in tent and supplies.
Lamayuru Treks 
Tso Kar-Tso Moriri : a 4 to 5 days (8 days if starting from Rumtse) lonely trek with no permanent settlements enroute. Prepare for subzero temperaatures and bring all the essential gear and a good guide. Four passes over 4700m.

Mountain Tool Kit
- Warming, insulating clothing (even in summer)
- hat, lip care, UV proof sunglasses and sunscreen
- a good quality torch
- plenty of paracetamol and antibiotics for Acute Mountain Sickness.
- campers need sleeping bags
- Photographers will find polarising filters useful to reduce glare.

Internet Resources
www.jk - Gives you the open/closed status of Srinagar and Manali.

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