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The barren beauty of Ladakh with snow capped peaks and clean azure sky have attracted the intrepid traveler since the region was opened to tourists in the 1970s. Since then, Ladakh has become a favorite haunt for trekking and mountaineering enthusiasts. The rugged terrain and the majestic mountains around, make an exotic cocktail for an adventure sport lover. But before you decide to fly away to the land of Buddhist monasteries and brave people, it is imperative to understand that you need at least a week to enjoy your tour to Ladakh. Since, acclimatization itself needs at least a few days in Ladakh.
Religion and Culture
This is perhaps what keeps going an ordinary Ladakhi in most inhospitable conditions. At a place where the mercury plummets below zero degrees Celsius in winters and the rainfall during the year is as scant as 50 mm, one needs to be little more than fit to lead a healthy life. Buddhism is the way of life in Ladakh, though there are people of other faiths in Ladakh who live in harmony with each other.
People of Ladakh are very different in looks from the rest of the country. Due to the altitude of the place, their skin is very hard and tough with soft and plain nature by heart. Their face round shape, small eyes and nose give them different look from the rest of the world people. Their clothes and appearance are more alike to the Asian and Tibetan people. In between the 4th and 5th century, Dards migrate towards the Himalayan region and settle down there. These Dards are said to be from the Indo – Aryan race. Many people from this origin convert themselves in the Islam religion where as some remain with the Buddhist religion. The Ladakh people are said to be the most simple and cheerful in nature. Even their lifestyle is very simple and they prefer to remain close to the nature. Dresses for Ladakh man and woman are totally different. Women wear the Goncha, which is a loose thick woolen robe that is tied on waist by a colorful band and men wear loose pyjamas with a hat. The Buddhist people wear bright brick red color robe. On special occasions, people wear bright and silk robes. The culture of Ladakh is rich with the Buddhism culture. The main culture of Ladakh is Buddhism with other bit part of religion of Hindu, Muslims and Christians. The land has many rocks engraving of Buddhist speaking even in areas like Drss and lower Suru valley. Most of the Muslim residents will be found at the Padum, Nubra valley and nearby places of Leh. The monasteries in Leh Ladakh display the culture of Buddhism. Even the women in Ladakh are fully affected by the religion of the place. Here, women of Buddhist and Muslim culture, works not only at home but also works outside the home. Some families also run their business in which women take the full participation. They are totally free to interact with the men outside their home.
Monasteries in Ladakh either belong to Mahayana or Hinayana sect of Buddhism. Hemis Monastery is one of the largest and most popular monasteries in Ladakh Travel. The monastery is quiet popular among tourists and most travelers visit the monastery during Ladakh Travel. The Hemis is center of action during the annual Hemis festival that takes place in June-July. The festival is held to commemorate the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava. This is the best time to see the cultural side of Ladakh. During the festival, locals from remote corners of Ladakh converge on the Hemis monastery.
Ladakhis follow a patriarchal society where the elder son inherits all the property. He is the one who shoulders the responsibility of the family. But when it comes to younger son or sons, the Ladakhi society permits him to become a lama if he wants. He can also remain in the family. Lamas are devoted to God and remain detach from world affairs. There are about 500 Lamas in Ladakh. Even Hemis Monastery can accommodate up to 150 Lamas.
Buddhism is the dominant religion in Ladakh and one can find its stamp all over in Ladakh. Be it monasteries, music or simple of way of life, Buddhism is essence of Ladakh. One can find 'tangkhas', masks, musical instruments and precious items in the Gompas in Ladakh. A huge painting of the Buddha inside the Hemis Monastery is the biggest draw. Thiksey and Shey monasteries are the classic architectural wonder in the region. No matter which part of Ladakh you travel, the smiling Buddha and His followers greet you in smile.
Leh is the nearest airport, which is connected to Delhi, Chandigarh and Srinagar. The nearest railway station to Ladakh is Jammu. From Jammu you can head to Srinagar by road and then to Ladakh, which is some 434 kilometers away. It is about a two-day journey from Srinagar with a night halt at Kargil. On the road from Srinagar to Leh you will cross the high Zoji La Pass, and travel past Mulbek where there is a giant image of the Maitreya Buddha. The Namika La and Fotu La Passes and the Spituk Gompa are scenic attractions on the road from Srinagar to Leh. You can also approach Leh Ladakh from Manali. On the road from Manali you will cross the Rohtang Pass and the Baralacha La Pass. Stop overnight at Sarchu Serai and on the next day travel through Tanglang La and Lachulung La passes to Upshi and onward to Leh. Along the way you will see many ancient monasteries and Buddhist structures.