ladakh guide & maps


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Page 1: Ladakh Guide & Maps

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Page 2: Ladakh Guide & Maps

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Area: 97,000 sq kms out of which nearly 38,000 sq. kms are under Chinese Occupation since 1962.

Population: Approx. 2.40 lakh in the 2 districts of Leh & Kargil.�

Languages: Ladakhi including Balti / Purgi, Shina or Dardic, Urdu / Hindi.�

Ethnic composition: Mongoloid/Tibetan, Dardic and assorted Indo-Aryan elements. �

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Altitude: Leh 3505 m, Kargil 2750 m�

Rainfall:15cm(annual average)

Clothing :Cotton & light woollens in summer and heavy woollens including down-filled wind proof upper garments in winter. �

Geographical Introduction Ladakh is a land abounding in awesome physical features, set in an enormous and spectacular environment. Bounded by two of the world's mightiest mountain ranges, the Karakoram in the north and the Great Himalaya in the south, it is traversed by two other parallel chains, the Ladakh Range and the Zanskar Range.�

In geological terms, this is a young land, formed a few million years ago. Its basic contours, uplifted by tectonic movements, have been modified over the millennia by the process of erosion due to wind and water, sculpted into the form that we see today. �

Today a high-altitude desert, sheltered from the rain-bearing clouds of the Indian monsoon by the barrier of the Great Himalaya, Ladakh was once covered by an extensive lake system, the vestiges of which still exist on its south-east plateaux of Rupshu and Chushul, in the drainage basins or lakes of Tso-moriri, Tso-kar and Pangong-tso. But the main source of water is winter snowfall.

Dras, Zanskar and the Suru Valley on the Himalaya's northern flanks receive heavy snow in winter, this feeds the glaciers from which melt water, carried down by

Temperature: � Maximum� Minimum�

Summer � 25oC� 8oC�

Winter� (-) 5oC� (-) 20oC�

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streams, irrigates the fields in summer. For the rest of the region, the snow on the peaks is virtually the only source of water. As the crops grow, the villagers pray not for rain, but for sun to melt the glaciers and liberate their water.�

Ladakh lies at altitudes ranging from about 9,000 ft (2,750 m) at Kargil to 25,170 ft (7,672m) at Saser Kangri, in the Karakoram Range. Summer temperatures rarely exceed 27C in the shade, while in winter they may at times plummet to minus 20C even in Leh. Surprisingly though, the thin air makes the heat of the sun even more intense than at lower altitudes. It is said that only in Ladakh can a man sitting in the sun with his feet in the shade suffer from sunstroke and frostbite at the same time!�

Historical Background�

For nearly 900 years, from the middle of the 10th century, Ladakh was an independent kingdom, its ruling dynasties descending from the kings of old Tibet. The kingdom attained its greatest geographical extent and glory in the early 17th century under the famous king Singge Namgyal, whose domain extended across Spiti and western Tibet right up to the Mayum-la, beyond the sacred sites of Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar.�

Gradually, perhaps partly due to the fact that it was politically stable, Ladakh became recognized as the best trade route between the Punjab and Central Asia. For centuries it was traversed by caravans carrying textiles, spices, raw silk, carpets, dyestuffs, narcotics, etc. Heedless of the land’s rugged terrain and apparent remoteness, merchants entrusted their goods to relays of pony transporters who took about two months to carry them from Amritsar to the Central Asian towns of Yarkand and Khotan. On this long route, Leh was the midway stop, and developed into a bustling entrepot, its bazars thronged with merchants from distant countries.

The famous pashmina (better known as cashmere) also came down from the high-altitude plateaux of eastern Ladakh and western Tibet, through Leh, to Srinagar, where skilled artisans transformed it into shawls known the world over for their softness and warmth. Ironically, it was this lucrative trade that finally spelt the doom of the independent kingdom. It attracted the covetous attention of Gulab Singh,


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the ruler of Jammu in the early 19th century, who sent his general Zorawar Singh to invade Ladakh in 1834 AD.�

There followed a decade of war and turmoil, which ended with the emergence of the British as the paramount power in north India. Ladakh, together with the neighbouring province of Baltistan, was incorporated into the newly created state of Jammu & Kashmir. Just over a century later, this union was disturbed by the partition of India, as a result of which Baltistan became part of Pakistan, while Ladakh remained in India as part of the State of Jammu & Kashmir.�

Like the land itself, the people of Ladakh are generally quite different from those of the rest of India. The faces and physique of the Ladakhis, and the clothes they wear, are more akin to those of Tibet and Central Asia than of India. The original population may have been Dards, an Indo-Aryan race down from the Indus and the Gilgit area. �

But immigration from Tibet, perhaps a millennium or so ago, largely overwhelmed the culture of the Dards and obliterated their racial characteristics. In eastern and central Ladakh, today's population seems to be mostly of Tibetan origin. Further west, in and around Kargil, the people's appearance suggests a mixed origin. �

The exception to this generalisation is the Arghons, a community of Muslims in Leh, originated as a result of marriages between local women and Kashmiri or Central Asian merchants. They exhibit a marked dominance of the Indo-Aryan trait in their physique and appearance, though culturally they are not different from the rest of the Ladakhis.�

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Ancient Routes���

The Caravan Route To Leh Ladakh's position at the centre of a network of trade routes traditionally kept it in constant touch with the outside world. From Chinese Central Asia, the mightily Karakoram Range was breached at the Karakoram pass, a giddy 18,350 Feet (5,600m). The trail from Yarkand crossed five other passes, of which the most feared was the glacier-encumbered Saser-la, north of Nubra. Travellers from Tibet could take one of two main routes from the Central part of the country, the Tsang-po valley, they could pass the holy sites of Kailash Mansarovar and reach Gartok, on a tributary of the upper Indus, from where they followed the river down to Leh. Trade with the 'Pashm'-producing areas of western Tibet flowed by a more northerly route, taking the village of Rudok, a few miles into Tibet, and from there across to Chushul on the Pangong-tso, up the length of the lake to Tangse, then a cross the 18,300feet (5,578m) Chang-la to the Indus, and so to Leh. Baltistan, joined administratively with Ladakh for 100 years, was linked to it either via the Indus up to its confluence with the Suru-Shingo river, and on up to Kargil: or by the Chorbat-la pass over the Ladakh range, the trail dropping down to the Indus 40 km below Khalatse, and following the river up to Leh. Still Following The Old Path! The two main approaches to Ladakh from south of the Himalayas are roughly the same as today's motor roads from the Srinagar and Manali. The merchants and pilgrims who made up the majority of travellers in the pre modern era, traveled on foot or horseback, taking about 16 days to reach Srinagar; though a man in a hurry, ridding non-stop and with changes of horse arranged ahead of time all along the route, could do it in as little as three days. The mails, carried in relays by runners stationed every four miles or so, took four or five days. That was before the wheel as a means of transport was introduced into Ladakh, which happened only when the Srinagar- Leh motor-road was constructed as recently as the early 1960s.

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Ladakh was the conduit through which Buddhism reached Tibet from India and in the process it got deeply entrenched in the region from the very beginning. There are ancient Buddhist rock engravings all over the region, even in the areas like Dras and the lower Suru Valley which today are inhabited by an exclusively Muslim population. The divide between Muslim and Buddhist Ladakh passes through Mulbekh (on the Kargil-Leh road) and between the villages of Parkachik and Rangdum in the Suru Valley, though there are pockets of Muslim population further east, in Padum (Zanskar), in Nubra Valley and in and around Leh. The approach to a Buddhist village is invariably marked by mani walls which are long, chest-high structures faced with engraved stones bearing Buddhist mantra, and by chorten (commemorative cairns)�

Many villages are crowned with a Gompa or monastery, which may be anything from an imposing complex of temples, prayer halls and monks' dwellings, to a tiny heritage housing a single image and home to a solitary lama.�

�Fresco of Buddhist Deity�

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�slam too came from the west. A peaceful penetration of mainly the Shia sect spearheaded by Islamic missionaries, its success can be attributed to the early conversion of the chieftains of Dras, Kargil and the Suru Valley. In these areas, mani walls and chorten are replaced by mosques, small unpretentious buildings, or Imambaras, which are imposing structures with a quaint blend of Islamic and Tibetan styles, surmounted by domes of metal sheet that gleam cheerfully in the sun. There are also pockets of Sunni Muslims among which the Dards of Drass and the Arghons of Leh are the largest groups. Wedding Ceremonies��A visitor to Ladakh rarely has a chance to see a Buddhist wedding performance according to the old customs and ceremonies. Today too much foreign influence is likely to have crept in; European clothing is slowly replacing the traditional dress. The celebration begins in the morning at the house of the bride. The all male party celebrated with Chang, which, according to custom, one must take in three consecutive draughts. As a special sign the host improved the 'Chang' by adding butter. A celebration meal is served in the afternoon, but again only men partook. The bride remains in her mother's kitchen, symbolically indicating where her place is! Clothed in a wedding gown with a silver embroidered cape, decorated with old family jewellery, the bride is overwhelmed with lucky white ribbons and given gifts of money by her relatives and friends. While the men sing and the mother laments, the bride then goes to the family of the bridegroom, where she is met, in front of the house, by Lamas. The Celebrations Now the celebration proper begins. In a long ceremony, in which the bride must first of all refuse the food which is offered to her, the bride is led from her father or a friend of the family, to her husband, with whom she then symbolically partakes of a meal. She is then shown the house, with particular emphasis on the kitchen. By sunrise the ceremony is concluded, but not the celebration, which is a social occasion for the families with musicians, food and much, much Chang.

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Funeral Ceremonies Near to the palaces at Stok, Shey and Leh one may notice a large number of Chortens, the old 'pleasure gardens' of the kings of Ladakh. If one goes into the side valley, to the north east of Leh, on whose eastern slopes the road to the Nubra valley begins, one may find a Lare stone where a curious funeral practice was once conducted. The bodies of the dead were hacked to pieces and ground up with stones then left to be devoured by vultures. This practice was also followed in Tibet and is still followed in the Mustang region of Nepal. Today the site of dismemberment is used for cremations. After a ceremony in the house of the dead person the corpse is tied up in a covered Sedan chair. Accompanied by Lamas the procession makes its way into the side valley near Leh. A few hundred metres northwest of the Chortens the procession halts and the chair is placed in a walled oven. This is really only a vertical tube with fire hole underneath. The fire is started with many prayers and during the long ceremony oil is frequently thrown into the oven until the cremation is complete. The ashes are scattered into a holy river or in the case of a person of high standing, placed in a Chorten. Status Of Woman In Ladakh. The demeanour of the people is affected by their religion, especially among the women. Among the Buddhists, as also the Muslims of the Leh area, women not only work in the house and field, but also do business and interact freely with men other than their own relations. In Kargil and its adjoining regions on the other hand, it is only in the last few years that women are merging from semi-seclusion and taking jobs other than traditional ones like farming and house-keeping. Religious Harmony Of the secular culture, the most important element is the rich oral literature of songs and poems for every occasions, as well as local versions of the "Kesar Saga", the Tibetan national epic. This literature is common to both Buddhists and Muslims. In fact, the most highly developed versions of the Kesar saga, and some of the most exuberant and lyrical songs are said to be found in Shakar-Chigtan an area of the western Kargil district exclusively inhabited by Muslims, unfortunately not freely open to tourists yet. Ceremonies. Ceremonial and public events are accompanied by the characteristic music of 'Surna' and 'Daman' (Oboe and drum), originally introduced into Ladakh from Muslim Baltistan, but now played only by Buddhist musicians known as "Mons".

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When a child is born the family usually holds a festival for their relatives, neighbours and friends after the first 15 days, at age one month and after a year. All are invited to come to the house and are given 'Tsampa', butter and sugar, along with tea to eat and drink all day.

The Ladakh Festival �

It is a major event organized every year by the J&K Tourism Department, in collaboration with the local communities and the district administrations of Leh and Kargil from 1st to 15th September. Its main objective is to revive and promote the richness, depth and pageantry of Ladakh’s centuries-old culture, traditions and folk heritage for world-wide appreciation and enjoyment. �

The inaugural function is held on grand scale at Leh with a spectacular procession in which various cultural troupes and village contingents participate in full ceremonial costumes, singing songs and performing various types of dances to the tune of the traditional orchestra. At the Polo ground, where the procession terminates, the participants break into a variety of folk and popular dances, presenting the best samples of the region’s performing arts.�

Among the regular programmes, the most colourful and interesting are the village archery festivals held in selected suburban villages of Leh. Every villager is required to formally participate in these events in accordance with the established social code. �

Every male participant is expected to try his skill with the bow and arrow in alternate rounds of archery and dancing while the ladies have to join in as many rounds of the mandatory folk dances. Other programmes of the festival include a series of evening musical concerts, mask

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dances by lamas of selected monasteries and mock marriage ceremonies complete with all the associated traditions. �

A major polo tournament called the "Ladakh Festival Cup" is also held as part of the festival in which polo teams from different parts of the region participate. Visitors to Ladakh during this period will have the opportunity of witnessing this ancient sport of the western Himalayas being played in its original, wild style with fewer rules and frenzied crowd involvement. Yet another interesting programme is the staging of a typical Central Asian trade mart in Leh Bazaar, complete with caravans laden with traders’ goods, while skilled artists dressed in period-costumes play the role of merchants engaged in trading, bartering and associated activities.�

The festival is also simultaneously organized in different parts of Kargil district. These include traditional archery tournaments, besides presentation of programmes showcasing the cultural heritage and traditions of different ethnic groups of the area. Of particular interest are the cultural programmes presented by the Brok-pas people based on their ancient social customs and ceremonies. Among the programmes presented by the

Dards of Dras is the game of polo, the ancestral sport of the Dards of the western Himalayas. Similar programmes are also held in Zanskar Valley, where the high point is the traditional sport called "Saka", in which a number of colourfully attired horses are used in a quaint racing competition. �

The Ladakh Festival is a unique project of the State Department of Tourism to patronize the revival and promotion of Ladakh’s age-old traditions and customs, its cultural heritage and the performing arts. For the visitors to Ladakh, the festival provides an opportunity to witness and experience the lifestyle and cultural ethos of

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a people who have lived for centuries on the crossroads of Asia, receiving and harmonising socio-cultural and religious influences from their neighbouring societies.��

The Monastic Festivals�

The monastic festivals are annual events of the major monasteries which the local people eagerly look forward to attending, both for attaining religious merit and as a means of social entertainment. These are generally held to commemorate the establishment of a particular monastery, the birth anniversary of its patron saint or some major events in the history and evolution of Tibetan Buddhism. People turn out in the thousands to attend these festivals in their colourful best, making every event a carnival of colours.�

Chhams – the ritual dances �

The core event of the monastic festival is a highly choreographed ritual dance-drama known as ‘Chhams’, which is directed by the ‘Chham-spon’, the mystic dance master of the monastery. The dances are performed not only to dramatise the esoteric philosophy of the event for the benefit of the lay devotees, but also by way of ritual offerings to the tutelary deities of the monastery and the guardians of the faith. A select group of resident lamas of the monastery, dressed in brightly patterned brocade, robes, perform these dances in the courtyard of the monastery. They also wear masks representing various divinities, which are mostly found in the form of statues in the "Gon Khang", the room dedicated to the guardian divinities. Some of the dances also feature masks representing famous characters from historical episodes or Tibetan fables. The more fearsome ones represent powerful divinities in their various manifestations, mostly representing the Dharmapalas or protectors of the faith. The dancers, holding ritual instruments in hands, step around the central flagpole in the monastic courtyard in solemn dance and mime, in tune with the music of the monastic orchestra. The ritual instruments and the hand gestures or mudras of the dancers symbolise different aspects of the dance-drama. In between the more sombre sequences, relief is provided by a group of comic performers who jump into the scene in the guise of skeletons and other characters, performing comic and acrobatic feats. These also wear masks representing various divinities and religious or historical characters.�

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Destruction of the evil �

As the ‘Chhams’ approaches its end on the second and last day of the festival, the climactic scene is enacted, in which the votive offering, a grotesque human figure made from dough, is ritually cut into pieces and scattered in the four cardinal directions. This figure symbolises the enemy of Buddhism as well as the embodiment of the three cardinal evils in the human soul viz. ignorance, jealousy and hatred. Accordingly, its destruction

represents killing of the enemy of Buddhism and the purification of the human soul from the three evils. This ritual is known as ‘Dao Tulva’ and has many interpretations: cleansing of the soul from evils, dissolution of the human body after death into its elements, or a re-enactment of the assassination of the Tibetan apostate king Lang-dar-ma by a Buddhist monk in 842 AD. In fact, the long-sleeved dress and the huge hat worn by leader of the Black-Hat dancer, who executes this ritual in most festivals, represents the dress used by Lang-darma’s assassin to conceal his identity.�

Pilgrimage of the deities�

The ‘Rimpoche’ or head lama incarnate of the monastery conducts the rites and ceremonies of the festival. He sits on a high throne placed in the centre of the long veranda that runs along one side of the rectangular courtyard facing the huge, elevated gates of the monastery’s main prayer hall or Du-khang. This room actually serves as the green room for the artists during the festival.

The lamas of the monastery and the monk musicians in their full ceremonial attire, sit on carpet-covered cushions on either side of the throne in the veranda, according to their hierarchy.

The Rimpoche leads the lamas in the recitation of the mantras associated with the ‘Chhams’, thus creating the appropriate ambience for the dancers to enact the role of the deities whose guise they adopt. For the lay devotees, however, seeing the masked dancers serves to familiarise themselves with the kind of deities they are to encounter during the 49-day- ‘Bardo’ or transition period between death and

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rebirth in one of the six forms of existence, depending upon one’s karmic existence.�

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The festive atmosphere�

The monastic festivals also provide the local people an opportunity for socialising, trading and entertainment.

On this occasion, makeshift markets spring up overnight near the monastery, to which people throng. During the summer festivals, the visiting people organise picnics, overnight excursions, and all-night signing and dancing parties. �

For the more devoted villagers, however, the event is essentially a pilgrimage to the monastery and its various temples, for it is during this period only that they can see all the images and figures, which are otherwise kept veiled.�

The Calendar of Monastic Festivals �

The monastic festivals of Ladakh are governed by the Tibetan calendar which is luni-solar. So the dates vary form year to year, requiring astrological calculations to determine each year’s calendar. Traditionally, at the end of the year, the astrologers prepare a new calendar of festivals so that it is available as the new year ushers in. But in the absence of long-term calendars, visitors face problems in planning trips to Ladakh to witness these events.�

In order to address this problem, the J&K Tourism Department has had a 10-year calendar of festivals, for the period 2000 AD to 2009 AD, prepared by an astrologer, which is included in this site for the convenience of visitors.�

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Calendar of Monastic Festivals �


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Arts And Crafts���

There is little tradition of artistic craftsmanship in Ladakh, most luxury articles in the past having been obtained through imports. The exception is the village of Chilling, about 19-km up the Zanskar River from Nimo. Here, a community of metal workers, said to be the descendants of artisans brought from Nepal in the mid-17th century to build one of the gigantic Buddha - images at Shey, carry on their hereditary vocation. Working in silver, brass and copper, they produce exquisite items for domestic and religious use: Tea and Chang pots, teacup-stands and lids, Hookah-bases, ladles and bowls and cooking pots they need for everyday use.

Weaving 'Pattu', the rough, war, woollen material used for clothing is made from locally produced wool, spun by women on drop-spindle, and woven by semi-professional weavers on portable looms set up in the winter sunshine, or under the shade of a tree in summer. Baskets, for the transport of any kind of burden-manufacture for the fields, fresh vegetables, even babies-are woven out of willow twigs, or a particular variety of grass. Woodwork is confined largely to the production of pillars and carved lintels for the houses, and the low carved tables that are a feature of every Ladakhi living room. Many such items, together with others recently introduced as part of the development process, are available in the District Hnadicrafts Centre at Leh, which exists to train local people as well as to market their products. There one can find, in addition to traditional objects, a few special items like Pashmina shawls- rough compared with those produced in Srinagar, but soft and warm as only pure Pashmina can be: and carpets in designs and techniques borrowed from Tibet. Similar carpets are also to be had at the Tibetan Refugee Centre at Choglamsar. Thangka Paintings The Handicrafts Centre also has a department of Thanka painting. These icons on cloth are executed in accordance with strict guidelines handed down from past generations. In the same tradition are the mural paintings in the Gompas, where semi-professionals, both monks and laymen about to keep the walls decorated with images symbolizing the various aspects of the Buddhist Way. The skill of building

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religious statues is also not extinct. The gigantic representation of Maitreya was installed in Thise Gompa as recently as the early 1980s. New Areas �Even Rupshu's bare hills support a sparse population of wildlife, and the animal most likely to be spotted is the Kyang, the wild Ass of the Ladakh and Tibet plateaux. More plentiful are Marmots (ubiquitous on mountain slopes all over Ladakh), Hares, and an unusual tail-less rat. The lakes are breeding-grounds for numerous species of birds. Chief among them are the bareheaded Goose, found in great numbers on the Tso-moriri, the great crested grebe, the Brahmini Duck (Ruddy Sheldrake) and the brown-headed Gull.�

Acclimatization and altitude sickness�

Ladakh is a high altitude cold desert with a low level of atmospheric oxygen. It is, therefore, absolutely necessary that visitors reaching Leh from the plains of India by air, give themselves sufficient time for acclimatization before engaging in any physical activity. The rarefied atmosphere may cause high altitude ailments like Acute Mountain Sickness, necessitating instant evacuation of visitors who are unable to get acclimatized.�

Anyone travelling to altitudes above 10,000 ft (2,700 m) is liable to suffer from acute mountain sickness (AMS) unless properly acclimatized. The most common symptoms of acute mountain sickness are headache, disturbed sleep and loss of appetite, nausea, coughing, irregular breathing, breathlessness, lassitude and lack of concentration. If you are reaching Leh by air, it is important to take complete rest for the first 24 hours after arrival. Any kind of physical exertion is to be avoided. Smoking and drinking should also be avoided till you are fully acclimatized. The symptoms of acute mountain sickness generally develop during the first 36 hours, and not immediately upon arrival. Your body should get used to the lower oxygen level of Ladakh after 2 or 3 days if you have taken complete rest for the first 24 hours and as much rest as possible during the next 12 hours.�

High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema (HAPO) and High Altitude Cerebral Oedema (HACO) are very serious forms of acute mountain sickness. These are life-threatening ailments and warrant immediate medical attention.�

As a preventive measure, Tab Dismox 250 mg should be taken at the rate of 1 tablet twice a day for 3 days, atleast 2 days before coming to Ladakh or any high altitude area. �

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River Rafting

Ladakh offers many options for undertaking adventure activities amidst landscapes of spectacular, rugged beauty. These mainly include river rafting, mountaineering and trekking.�

River rafting in Ladakh is quite unlike anywhere else in the world. It provides the best opportunity to enjoy and experience the natural beauty of the spectacular landscape with deep gorges, towering snow-capped peaks, hilltop monasteries, hillside villages, and glimpses of the unique wildlife. Ladakh offers a range of rafting options on the Indus and its major tributaries. The best stretch for professionally guided runs in white water is on the Indus between Spituk and Nimu or Saspol, which rates 2 to 3 in the international river grading scale of 1 to 6. Upstream of Spituk, the Indus has the easiest stretch up to Karu, which is ideal for basic training or "scenic floating". In recent years, running the Indus has become an attractive option to complement with sightseeing, and features on the itinerary of most visitors. Several travel

agencies offer all-inclusive rafting packages. Ask for details at the Tourist Office at Leh.�

The most difficult but exciting rafting option is available on the Zanskar River, along its spectacular course through a gorge in the Zanskar Mountains, between Padum and Nimu. This is suitable only for well-organized white-water expeditions, prepared for about a week of rafting and camping in absolute wilderness. Participants are required to be trained rafters themselves while the arrangements should be assigned to a dependable professional agency. Adequate arrangement for rescue back-up is an essential prerequisite for embarking upon this white-water expedition. �

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Mountain Climbing�

The area most frequented by foreign climbers is the Nun-Kun massif in the Great Himalayan Range. Its easy accessibility from the Kargil-Padum road and the shortest possible approach march to the base camps makes this massif the most attractive climbing destination in the Great Himalayan, necessitating advance booking years ahead. Among its six known peaks accessible from the Suru Valley, Nun (7,135 m) and Kun (7,087 )are the highest summits.�

The area nearest to Leh is the Stok-Khangri massif in the Zanskar Mountains, south of Leh. The base camp for the various peaks of this massif is about two days' trek from the Stok village. Among its known peaks, Stok- Khangri (6,150 m) is the highest. It offers a spectacular perspective to the central expanse of the Indus Valley, which it dominates. Other peaks in the area include Gulap Khangri (5,900 m), Matho West (5,950 m) and Kantaka (5,275 m).

The much higher Konglacha Peak (6,700 m) lies southwest of Leh and is reached via Rumbak on the first leg of the Markha Valley trek from Stok. Besides there are many unnamed peaks in the altitude range of 5,500 m to 6,400 m available for climbing.

North of Leh, across the Ladakh Range and the Nubra Valley, lies the Karakoram Range. It soars to a number of known peaks which are, however, within the restricted area and so not freely accessible to foreign climbers except with special permission from the Government of India. The most prominent summits in this range, which are accessible from various parts of the Nubra Valley include, Saser-I (7,415 m), Saser-II (7,513 m) and Saser-III (7,495 m).

The climbing season extends from mid-May to mid-October, the ideal period being from June to September because during this time only Ladakh remains unaffected by the monsoon, which holds sway over most of the Himalayas.�

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Foreign climbing expeditions are required to obtain permission from the Indian Mountaineering Foundation for climbing all listed peaks. A booking fee, based on the height and popularity of the allotted peak, is charged and a Liaison Officer is assigned to every climbing team. The minimum period required for processing applications for permission is six months. A list of peaks available for climbing and application forms for booking along with other requisite documents can be obtained from the Director, Indian Mountaineering Foundation, Benito Juarez Road, New Delhi-110021. For further details goto <>�


The trekking options range from short, day-long walks up and down mountain slopes to visit monuments or monastic settlements (or across a ridge to enjoy the sheer beauty of the lunar landscape), or long, trans-mountain treks involving weeks of walking and camping in the wilderness. For example, the trek from Lamayuru in the Indus Valley to Darcha in Lahoul, across Zanskar Valley, takes nearly three weeks and crosses 2 major mountain ranges. Most of the established routes traverse the Zanskar range, which separates the Indus Valley from Zanskar. The 10-day Markha Valley trek, the 11-day Lamayuru- Padum traverse and the 4/5-day Stok-Khangri round trek are the more popular ones. In recent years, parts of the Ladakh range, which lie between the Indus and Shayok valleys, have also become available for trekking.�


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The trekking season normally extends from early June to mid-October. But short, localised treks within the central Indus valley can be undertaken even in May. On the other hand, some routes are suitable only for the late autumn as during the summer the tracks are submerged due to excessive flow of water, as is in the case of the Hemis-Markha-Padum trek. The winter access to Zanskar is actually along the frozen surface of the Zanskar River called Chaddar route. This route, though difficult and highly demanding in terms of arrangements, is

perhaps one of the most exciting and memorable foot journeys in the world.


Ladakh offers very interesting trekking routes for trekkers. Trekking possibilities include short, day -long walks up and down mountain slopes to visit isolated villages or monastic settlements, or across a ridge to enjoy the sheer beauty of the lunar mountainscape. Or long, transmountain treks involving weeks of walking and camping the wilderness. Ladakh is rich in wildlife, you may come a across some rare species like gazelles, ibex, ammon or shapo etc. You are sure to see Yak and Demos grazing on mountain pastures. The mountain river can be the only sound in your solitude as it runs along your route. All these may go to make your trek in this region a memorable moment, the experience of the life time. CLOTHES AND EQUIPMENTS. The summer visitors to Leh will need basically warm- weather clothes, with a sweeter for evenings and mornings when it may be chilly. Temperatures begin to fall around the 2nd half of August, and though cottons continue to be worm during the day until mid September, a heavy sweeter or an anorak or coat will be needed in the mornings and evenings. Form mid September it starts getting distinctly cold and woollens are needed even during the day, though in the sun it is still hot. Winter visitors- which means November to April- will need to equip themselves with heavy woollens, anoraks or tweed coats, gloves, balaclave helmets or equivalent and warm boots. Reasonably good trekking equipment can be hired from Private Tour Operators specialised in mountain treks. All trekkers should remember that nights in the mountains would be chilly at any time of the year and make sure that they should be fully equipped for the treks. They must carry enough food for the whole trek, basic supplies- fruit & vegetables or the occasional villages enroute will be able to provide local food if you run out of food stock. It is advisable to keep a good torch handy during treks and visit to the monasteries because shrines are often found ill- lit.


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S.No:Form To Apprx. Distance Time

1. Padam - Raru 22 Kms. 7 hours 2. Raru - Cha 23 Kms 7 hours 3. Cha - Testa 25 Kms 8 hours 4. Testa - Kargiah 26 Kms 8 hours 5. Kargiah - Lakhang Pulu 24 Kms 8 hours 6. Lakhang Pulu - Zanskar Sumdo ( Via Shingkunla 5100 Mtrs) 25 Kms 8 hours 7. Zanskar Sumdo - Darcha Sumdo 25 Kms 7 hours. Padam the head quarter of Zanskar Sub Division provides the facility of the refilling of fuel and food provision etc. One can arrange pony, porters and guide for the trek and can visit the Karsha monastery and Stakrimo monastery while in Padam. 1St day PADAM- RARU 7 hours The trek goes on to the south east of Padam and the trekkers have to follow the jeepable road almost for 15 km from here in Lungnak valley. They should follow upstream of Zanskar River. The valley promises one of its beautiful villages on both side of the river. There are bridges to cross the mountain streams. The village of Raru provides a fairly big camping site at the lower end of the village. Drinking water is available at a bit distance. IInd Day RARU - CHA 7 hours. The trail almost goes to the South East of the Village having several ups and downs. There are several small but peculiar villages enroute. Each village has a small monastery . A person of these villages looks very cheerful. To your right on the other side of river is the village of Cha. One may camp there near the bridge, again you have to descend down into the deep canyon for water. 3rd Day CHA - TESTE 8 hours The trail descend down and ultimately the ascend of the trail reveal you a tri -junction of the ranges and the trail branches off. The trail which descends down takes you to a wooden bridge. On crossing the bridge here comes Purney village and at a distance of an another hour walking, lies the famous cave monastery of Phuktal. The trail runs on the right side of Zanskar river. There are several villages enroute. One can see Yaks near the mountains of Testa. The upper end of the village provides a beautiful camping site free of charge. 4th Day TESTA - KARGIAH 8 hours Your trail still follow the river up stream. The mighty river turns into a mountain stream here and the trekkers have to ford the same twice or thrice. You can see Yaks in a every village enroute. Just before the village of Kargiah a lake with clear water exists which adds to the beauty of the valley. Kargiah is very cold during late autumn and early spring. Camping can be done in the heart of the village. 5TH DAY KARGIAH - LAKHANG PULU 8 hours. The windy place needs courage to fight the wind because it always flow to the opposite direction. Now hundred s of Yaks and Dzos can be seen enroute. The mountain stream has to be crossed to your right. During summer one must try to cross the stream early in the morning when the water is low. A steep

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climbing leads your way to a mountain abode here, accommodation should be taken in one of those abodes. The climate is very cold here . Woollen clothes and good sleeping bags with sleeping mats recommended. 6th DAY LAKHANG PULU - ZANSKAR SUMDO 8 hours. One should start the trek very early while the Shingkunla has lot of snow . 3 hours of hard climb take you to the peak of Shingkunla 5100 Metres. On the other side one can see a lake of blue water or the transit camp for the migrating water dwellers. The descend being a bit steep changes of skipping from the snow covered route is there. It may take you another 3 or 4 hours of descending upto the last border of Jammu and Kashmir State Zanskar Sumdo. The other side of river is the territory of Himachal Pradesh State. The Himachal Pardesh border provides a green camping place. 7th DAY ZANSKAR SUMDO - DARCHA SUMDO 7 hours Right from the camping site the route passes through sandy and among boulders which creates a lot of problem for the beast of burdens. The mountain ranges are green a tress can be seen frequently. Trails takes you to the other side of river now your trail has some trees by its side the first village of Himachal Pardesh is Chaka very small village and the second village is Rari. The villages being adjacent to each other the both are named as Chaka- Rari. A rough jeepable road leads you to the village of Darcha at a Tri Junction. Here your trek comes to an end. Next morning very early a Bus can take you to Manali in one day 7 hours drive. The shopkeeper should be consulted about the timing of the Bus service because it is subject to change. 2) SPITUK - STOK 3 DAYS TREK. This is a short and easiest trek for those who have very short time and needs sleeping bags, tents and food provision for three days. Accommodation can be had at every halting point and there are camping site at a nominal rent. Ist Day : SPITUK - ZINGCHEN 5 hours. Transfer by jeep or by Bus to the nearby village, Spituk and same morning, one can start the trekking down through the barren landscape after crossing Indus from Spituk bridge. The trail abruptly turns to the east through a narrow valley when you come across a stream. While walking upstream, one has to cross the water thrice to reach a wooded place. A mild ascend takes you to the village of Zingchan comprising of two houses. The upper end of village offer a good camping place. One has to pay a nominal rent for the camping place. 2nd Day ZINGCHAN - RUMBAK 4 hours Immediately beyond the camp is a wooden bridge across a mountain stream. Thereafter you have to do three or four more crossing but the water is not more than knee deep during the summer months. At the junction of two valleys, the route goes turns east in the narrow valley and one can see the small village of Rumbak. Camping is possible by the side of a stream. 3rd DAY RUMBAK - STOK 7 hours It is recommended to start the trek early. The trail ascends gradually upto the base of Stok la. Now the ascend is bit steep and continues for another 2 hours. While at the peak once can have a very close view of the Stok glaciers and a panoramic view of Indus valley and the mountain ranges beyond Indus river. The descend is as steep as the ascend on the other side, one can reach Stok in four hours. Enroute to Leh, the capital town, one can visit Stok monastery, Stok Palace Museum. There is a daily Bus service in the afternoon and in the evening.

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3) MARKHA VALLEY TREK 9 DAYS. This trek is possible from mid April to mid November. Trekkers should be equipped with tents, sleeping bags, cooking equipment and food provisions for 9 days. The trek promises a Panoramic view of beautiful mountain ranges and of small villages high up in the mountains .

Ist Day SPITUK - ZINGCHAN 5 hours

One can avail the daily bus to Spituk which is just 9 Kms from Leh town, and start the trek on the same day. A bridge takes you across the mighty river Indus to Farkha village. A walk through barren land -scape takes you to the junction where you come across a mountain stream. After fording the stream three or four times you reach a hamlet Zingchan consisting of two houses. The upper end of the village offers a beautiful camping places at a nominal charge. 2nd DAY ZINGCHAN - YURUTSE 6 hours After walking 3 hours upstream, two valleys come to your site , one to east and another to the south west . Rumbak a small village remains to your left. Those going to Markha have to follow the trail to the south west. After a mild ascend one reaches Yurutse consisting of two houses. After 2 hours walking a good camping site with clear spring water is available at the base of Kandala ( 4,900 Mtrs). 3rd DAY YURUTSE - SKU 6 hours. Having climbed the Kandala ( 4,900 Metrs) peak which commands a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains, the descend from here to the base may take 2 hours to Shingo, a small village. Now the gorge takes one’s route through thick groves of willow tress upto Choli Chikpo,almost descending to the village Sku to your left in a valley to the south east. There is also a valley to the right, or south west, which goes to Chiling, Sku, a fairly big village, offers a very good camping site in the heart of village on rental basis. 4th DAY SKU - MARKHA 5 hours. Most times, the river remains to the right and has to be crossed a few times. While crossing the river when in spate, trekkers should consult their guide or horseman. After pleasant walk through the wooded valley you reach the biggest village on the trek, Markha. The village consisting of approximately 50 houses and has a monastery on a mountain spur at the lower end of the village. 5th DAY MARKHA - HANKAR 6 hours. An hour walk from this village, you have to ford the river first time and follow the river upstream. You have to cross the same stream three or four times. The trail is a gentle climb upto the village of Hankar. Here one can pitch tents without any camping charges. 6th DAY HANKAR - NIMALING 5 hours To the south east of Hankar the trail continues uphill, ascending for the next high pass. The base of the high pass is called Nimaling, an uninhabited place. Camping by the side of water is recommended . It being the coldest place sometimes the temperature falls below zero degrees during the summer. 7th DAY NIMALING - SHANG SUMDO 7 hours The trail begins to ascend right from the camping spot. One can have a beautiful view of the mountain ranges and the wildlife around this pass . The summit of the pass, Kongmarula ,5,030 metres, reveals different snow clad mountain peaks all around. The trail descend and at some points it is very steep

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and narrow. Loaded animals need great care in traversing the trail and at some places the narrow gorge . Follow downstream upto Shang Sumdo, a good camping place near water. 8TH DAY SHANG SUMDO - MARTSELANG 5 hours. At a little distance from the camping place there is a valley to your left which takes you to Shang village, but trekkers continue straight down the wider valley, following the stream down hill. During the summer season, one should consult the guide or porter before crossing the water. The wider valley reveals the panoramic view of Indus valley. One can pitch tent by the side of water in Martselang. 9TH DAY MARTSELANG - HEMIS 3 hours. After breakfast, one should follow the trail towards the west which takes you to the famous monastery of Hemis . You have sufficient time to visit the monastery, the place also offers restaurant facilities during the tourist season. There is a daily bus service leaving Hemis for Leh by 12 noon. Bus timings are subject to change from time to time. One can consult the restaurant owner for the departure of the bus . Leh , the capital town is 47 Kms from here.

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4) LEH - PADUM TREKKING VIA JUNGLAM 11 DAYS. Leh Padum trekking via junglam is seasonal and is therefore practicable from mid April to mid June and from mid September to November. This trekking demand a bid of endurance as it arduous and mountain rivers has to be negotiated for scores of time. Trekkers should be fully equipped and food provision should be carried by them. Ist DAY SPITUK - ZINGCHAN 5 hours. One can go to Spituk by Bus or Taxi. At Spituk a bridge takes you across the river Indus to Farkha village. You follow a trail which initially goes towards the south west and after wards turns to east where a stream meets your routes to your right. After fording the stream for three times you reach Zingchan, a hamlet consisting of 2 houses. The upper end of the village offer a good camping site at a nominal rate. 2nd DAY ZINGCHAN - YURUTSE 6 hours. After 3 hours walk from Zingchan two valleys come to your site one to east and another to the south west. Rumbak a small village remains to your left. People bound for Markha trek have to follow the route leading to south west. After fording the stream for two times and having a mild ascending you reach Yurutse, consisting of 2 houses. After two hours walking a good camping site with clear spring water is available at the base of Kandala ( 4,900 Mtrs.) 3rd DAY YURUTSE - SKU 6 hours. Having climbed Kandala, its peaks commends a good panoramic view of the surrounding mountains. The descending to trend of the routes continues up to Shingo, consisting 2 houses. The route pass through a gorge with groves of willow tress. As the end of the gorge the lower end of Sku village can be seen where the route branch off to opposite direction. The route to the Southeast leads to Sku, while the route to the Southwest goes to Chiling. Sku also offer very good camping site in the heart of the village. 4th DAY SKU - MARKHA 5 hours For most of the time the streams remains flow to your right which you have to cross several times. After a pleasant walk through the wooded valley you reach Markha, the biggest village in this trekking, consisting of 50 houses and a monastery on mountain spur at the lower end of the village. 5th DAY MARKHA - BAIRPA KYANCHIK. 6 hours The trail leads Langrula ( 4900 Mtrs), from a top the pass, the route branch off, one in front is very steep which is not advisable and the other to the left has a gradual descending, come across Kharnak Sumdo. Valley runs to the Southeast and to the Southwest. The former valley is restricted. One should follow the route to the south west. An hour walk bring you to Bairpa Kyanchik, a suitable camping place. 6TH DAY BAIRPA KYANCHIK - TILAT SUMDO ( STABDONGSA) 5 hours. Between Bairpa - Kyanchik and Tilat Sumdo route pass through narrow gorges, Tilat Sumdo offers good camping place. After the gorge trail turns to the east and ascends continuously upto the Tilat Sumdo, the river has to be crossed after every half a kilometre. The route is very narrow, specially at Nari Nartse. It is quite precarious for loaded animals. Ultimately you reach Stopdongsa which offer camping place. 7th DAY STAPDONGSA - STASHONG GAMISHONG. 5 hours. En route there are glaciers . Sta shong Gamishong offer camping place. It being the coldest place the water freezes during night. Therefore water for morning use should be stored in the evening.

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8th DAY STASHONG GAMISHONG - CHAR CHAR LA 6 hours. Stashong Gamishong the trail is very narrow at the initial stage. The animal has to be unloaded at certain places. After the gorge turns to the east and ascends continues upto the summit of Charcharla ( 5030 Metres), from the top of the pass one can enjoy the panoramic view of the surrounding mountain of Zanskar valley and descend to the south base camp of Charcharla for nearly 2 hours. At the base water and wood is available. 9th DAY SOUTH BASE OF CHAR- CHARLA - ZANGLA 5 hours. The trail descend towards Zangla. En- route a river has to be forded for several times. The trail passes through narrow gorges and the descending continues upto Zangla. Zangla is fairly a big village with a monastery and an old palace. 10th DAY ZANGLA - STONGDAY 5 hours. It is almost flat walking. Villages like Tsazer and Shiling Skit can be visited enroute. Stongday has a big and a prominent monastery. 11th DAY STONGDAY - PADUM 4 hours. From Stongday, Karsha on the right side of the river and Padum which is the Headquarter of Zanskar Sub-Division can be seen. Accommodation both in Public and Private Sector is available. Food provision can be purchase from the shops. A Tourist Office also exist in Padum. LIKIR - TINGMOSGANG 4 DAYS TREK. Ist DAY LEH - LIKIR. 3 hours. A good number of buses ply past Likir village from Leh, right from 8 o’clock in the morning to 1 P.M . These buses drop one on the road side about 1 Km. Away from the village. Start by the morning bus, walk up to the village, visit the monastery, after your meals make all preparations for the next days journey. Night halt at Likir in a guest house or a tented camp. 2nd DAY LIKIR - YANGTHANG 4 hours. From the village the trekking path descends into a narrow gorge. Follow the trail along the bare hill down the village upto Sumda in the next valley. Before you enter Sumdo village the path forks at a stupa. Follow the path on the left side till you reach Yangthang village. Hire a guide to visit Rizong Gonpa ( a secluded and a peaceful monastery) and back to the village for the night. 3rd DAY YANGTHANG - HEMIS -SHUKPACHAN 4 hours. Continue your journey towards west to the village through a narrow gorge and then climbing a pass to Hemis-shukpachan. There are guest houses and camping sites available in the village for night stay. 4th DAY HEMIS-SHUKPACHAN - TINGMOSGANG 4 hours. The path to Tingmosgang passes through a wide valley past several big stupas. Take the path sloping down the south upto the bottom of the valley and again start climbing up from the valley along the northern slope of the valley till you reach the top of the Maptak-la. Continue along a gentle slope down to Tingmosgang. Visit Tingmosgang Palace and the monastery over a hillock. There is another small Gonpa called Tseskarmo inside a valley extending to the North along a narrow valley up from the village. This monastery is unique in its location and tranquil surroundings. Plan your night halt at a

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camping site or in a guest house. The twin villages of Tingmosgang and Tia is continues up stream along a beautiful clear water rivulet up to a centuries old small monastery called Khatsa Gonpa. A rarely visited by tourists this monastery is worth seeing. You should plan to visit the monastery early in the morning on the last day of your trekking. There is a daily bus service from Tingmosgang to Leh at 8 A.M.

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LAMAYURU - ALCHI 6 DAYS TREK 1St DAY LEH - LAMAYURU Plan your trekking on this route by contacting guides, helpers etc. at Leh. Purchase food stuff and hire trekking equipments before starting from Leh. Since availability of porters and pony at Lamayuru is uncertain ensure that your porter or pony is arranged before hand . Proceed to Lamayuru by taxi or Leh- Srinagar Bus along with your guide, food stuff etc. On reaching Lamayuru you have plenty of time to visit the famous 11th century Lamayuru monastery and see some interesting landscapes around the village. Night halt at Lamayuru in a guest house. 2nd Day LAMAYURU - WANLA 5 hours. Follow the well mark path on the other side of the village along a slope which rises gradually to the top of Prinkitila ( 3500 Mtrs) then the path descend down a very narrow gorge till you reach Wanla village. The guide or the pony man can tell you the proper camping site. The duration of trekking is only 5 hours so you have enough time to visit the monastery, go around the village and chat with local people. 3rd DAY WANLA - FANJILA 5 hours. Continuing up stream along the foot path proceed to Fanjila, a small village at the junction of two streams. There is a good camping place near a spring at the upper end of the village. 4th Day FANJILA - TARLA BASE 4 hours. Here one can see wild animals in abundance. The trail ascends gradually to the east and you may feel a little breath less while climbing. The ascend becomes more difficult when you are near the Tarla Base. The base is uninhabited and one can manage to pitch tents at this beautiful place. 5th DAY TARLA BASE - TAR( via TARLA 4900 Mtrs) 4 hours. The ascend to the pass being very steep, the loaded animals can not cross this pass in early spring and late autumn. Tarla, almost 4,900 Mtrs high and the trekkers walk over snow even in summer. The peak offers very beautiful views of mountain ranges. The descend is also steep and continue down to the village of Tar. Plan your night halt at a camping site. 6th DAY TAR - ALCHI 4 hours. Follow the well mark path sloping down gradually. Between Tar and Alchi village, there are some small villages. Within a period of approximately 6 hours reach at Alchi Village. Visit Alchi monastery that is very famous for its ancient wall paintings and wood carving. Night halt at Alchi in a guest house. In the morning at 7 A.M. there is a bus service from Alchi to Leh.

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LAMAYURU - PADUM 10 DAYS TREK. Ist DAY LAMAYURU - FANJILA Accommodation in a guest house or camping site is available in Lamayuru . It is a big village, horses and porters are available in this village but purchase food stuff and trekking equipment from Leh. The pony trek goes to the south east of Lamayuru, follow the well mark path along a slope which rises gradually to the top of the Prinkitila 3,500 Mtrs high. Then the paths descend down a very narrow gorge till you reach Shela village. The road traverse through the valley of Shela and Wanla can be seen from here at the distance of 5 Kms. And can visit the monastery and a castle in ruin. There is a beautiful halting place for lunch at the side of the stream and a good camping site. Continue your journey towards the village of Tarchet by crossing the Hanupata stream. The well mark path leads to another village at the meeting point of three ways the name of this village is Fanjila. Night halt at Fanjila in a tented camp. 2nd DAY FANJILA - HANUPATA. 7 hours. Approximate distance is 7 hours walking . Starting this trek early in the morning is recommendable cross Urtse water and keep on walking on a broader trail on the left side of Hanupata stream for 5 kms. And it comes a peculiar bridge built with the help of two wooden poles covered with stone slabs. Almost at a distance of 1 Km. From the bridge is the trail of Dem-Dem Chan. The trail has been cut out of very hard rock during the year 1978, to avoid Gyapopass, the ascend to this pas was very crucial. Those who are with loaded animals should unload their luggage and adjust the loads on once own back just from the first crue. In the month of October one can avoid this foot path Dem-Dem-Chan just by walking stream side. Now it comes a natural bridge -like formation of rocks. Here one can transfer the loads again on the horse back. After a little distance from here two valleys comes as well as it is the junction of two streams that is Photoksar to the left and Hanupata stream to the right side. Follow the Hanupata water upstream.Before the proper village comes a chorten attached to a Mani wall. It is the village of Hanupata 3,700 metres high. For accommodation there is a good camping site. 3rd DAY HANUPATA - PHOTOKSAR 7 hours. Follow the right side of the Hanupata stream, the trail is well marked and at the distance of another 1 start their ‘ Dok’ where the shepherds live in summer. There after the trail descends towards the side of the stream and cross the Hanupata stream over the bridge. The foot path goes on left of the stream and the water bottles should be filled here. It is the base camp for She-Shela. To cross the She- Shela 4500 metres high it takes two and half hours. The people who are interested in wild animals can see marmots just near the top of She-shela. After an hour walk from the top Yak and Dzomos can be seen. At another little distance is a chorten attached a Mani wall, from this shorten the village of Photoksar is seen. There is a camping site for night halt. For edibles one should not depend upon the villagers. 4th DAY PHOTOKSAR - BASE SINGHEYLA From Photoksar your route ascends on the other side of the river of Photoksar for a small pass called Bamiktsala. The descend of Bomiktsala reveals the whole route to the base of Singheyla through a wider valley. In the evening you can reach at the base of Singheyla and pitch tents by the side of the mountain stream for night halt.

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5th DAY BASE OF SINGHEY LA - SKUMPATA. The trail traverse a plateau like valley and walk to the east gradually leads to the famous pass known as Singheyla 5400 Metres. high. While reaching the top one should not take much time here. Well the descend from here not very steep. You reach a place of two houses is called Skumpa-ta. There is beautiful camping site for night halt. 6th DAY SKUMPATA - LINGSHET. It would be recommend to start the trek early in the morning in order to reach the next destinations well in time. If you take the walk easily you may reach the Lingshet village in the afternoon. You have a enough time to visit the monastery.It is worth seeing you can pitch the tent near the monastery. 7th DAY LINGSHET - OMANGSCHU. It is a gentle climb for an hour from the village. Here the trail ascend up for another pass called Hanumala which is 4700 metres high. The ascend to this pass is not very steep while you are at the top of the pass you can see Debring la to the North. It is an easy descending for half an hour where you meet a spring water on the way. After a little walk from here the route turns quite rough for loaded animals. Here the loaded animals has to be unloaded because the trail is so narrow and one has to transfer the load on one’s own back. The route traverses through a wooded place and leads your way to Omangschu. Near the water you can pitch your tent and spend the night easily. 8th DAY OMANGSCHU - PIDMO Now the route ascend directly just at the chest of Parpila (4700 metres) high and once you are at the summit of pass it reveals the whole valley of Zanskar. The descend is gradually and one can enjoy the descending towards a wider valley. After that the flat walking starts till the first village of Zanskar named Rinam. At a short distance there is another village called Pidmo. There is a camping site for night halt. 9th DAY PIDMO - RINAM At a distance of an hour’s walk on the right side of Zanskar River from Pidmo one can see Zangla village and after walking for two hours from Pidmo there is Pishu village. A little above this village cross the Zanskar river through a rope bridge. Visit Zangla Gonpa and Palace. From here it takes two hours to reach the village Rinam. 10th DAY RINAM - PADUM Before starting from Rinam one should carry enough drinking water as you don’t get water for then two hours before reaching Karsha. Continue your journey through a vast plain. Before reaching Padum the path forks in two directions. Follow the right trail to visit Karsha village. Visit the monastery and continue to walk towards Padum crossing the river through a bridge. There are guest houses and hotels for stay. ��

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Leh Town and around�

Leh town offers a number of sightseeing options for the visitors. A historic town that served as the royal capital of the Old Kingdom, it is dominated by the nine-storey palace built by King Singge Namgyal in the grand tradition of Tibetan architecture, which is said to have inspired the famous Potala in Lhasa built about half a century later.�

Above the palace, on the Namgyal Tsemo hill, are the ruins of a fort, the earliest royal residence built by King Tashi Namgyal in the 16th century. The associated temples remain intact, but they are kept locked except during the morning and evening hours, when a monk from Sankar Gompa hikes up the hill to attend to the butter-lamps in front of the images.�

Down in the historic bazaar, the main sites to visit are the Jo-khang, a newly built Buddhist temple, and the imposing historic mosque founded in the late 17th century standing, almost opposite. But the pleasures of Leh are not confined to the visiting of monuments and sites. For locals and visitors alike, a stroll along the main bazaar, observing the varied crowd and looking into the curio shops is an engaging experience. A particularly attractive sight is the line of women from nearby villages sitting along the edge of the footpath with baskets of fresh vegetables brought for sale. Behind the main bazaar, Chang Gali is less bustling but has interesting little shops selling curios and jewellery. Further on are the labyrinthine alleyways and piled-up houses of the old town, clustering around the foot of the palace hill. In the other direction, down the bazaar, are the Tibetan markets where one can bargain for pearls, turquoise, coral, lapis lazuli and many other kinds of semi-precious stones and jewellery, as well as carved yak-horn boxes, quaint brass locks, china or metal bowls, or any of a whole array of curios. When tired of strolling, one can step into any of several restaurants, some of them located in gardens or on the sidewalks and serve local, Tibetan, Indian and Continental cuisine.

Or one can strike off away from the bazaar, past Zangsti and the Moravian Church to the Ladakh Ecological Centre and appreciate the work being done by this NGO in applying folk technology to meet the demands of modern life in

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Ladakh. From here a footpath across the fields leads to Sankar Gompa, which is half an hour’s walk away.�

Or one can leave the main road from the bazaar near the Moravian Church and turn off to Changspa, an attractive suburb of Leh, lying below the hill on which stands the imposing Ladakh Shanti Stupa, which can be reached by a winding road. Down past the Tourist Information Centre in the old dak Bungalow, follow the Fort Road to Skara, another pretty and prosperous suburb of Leh town, and admire the earthen ramparts of Zorawar Singh's fort, now housing army barracks. This road continues onward, swinging around the village to meet the main highway near a crossroad, where the roads from Srinagar and Manali meet. A branch of this road turns southward and traverses the interior of Skara to meet the main highway near the airport, an excellent drive through the heart of the sprawling village.�

There are also several attractive sightseeing and walking destinations within a 10-km radius of Leh. Sabu, a charming village with a small gompa, nestles between two minor spurs of the Ladakh range, about 9 kms away from the town. In the same direction, but nearer town is Choglamsar, with the Tibetan refugee settlement including a children’s village, a handicrafts centre devoted largely to carpet weaving and the Dalai Lama's prayer-ground, Jiva-tsal. And in the opposite direction, about 8 kms on the Srinagar road, is the turning for Spituk village and its imposing monastery. �


Sightseeing of the historic monuments and major Buddhist gompas (monasteries) are the main attractions of Ladakh. The Indus Valley, particularly from Upshi down to Khalatse, which is the region's historic heartland, is dotted with all the major sites connected with the former kingdom's dynastic history, starting with Leh, the capital, since the building of its nine-storey Leh palace in the early 17th century. A few kilometres up the Indus is Shey Palace, the most ancient capital, with its palace and temples. Down river, Basgo, right on the road, and Tingmosgang, a short distance up a side-valley, both served as royal capitals when the Old Kingdom was temporarily divided into two parts in the 15th century. Both these places have the remains of forts and temples dating from the period of their brief �

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glory. Just across the river from Leh lies Stok, the

village with which the deposed royal family was compensated for the loss of the throne. Stok Palace, where the royal family now lives, houses a museum of artefacts associated with the dynasty. �


The central area of Ladakh has the greatest concentration of major Buddhist monasteries or gompas. Of the twelve situated on or near the Indus, the oldest monastery is that of Lamayuru, which is believed to have been a sacred site for the pre-Buddhist religion known as Bon. The monasteries of Phiyang, Hemis and Chemrey were all founded under the direct patronage of members of the ruling Namgyal dynasty. Phiyang represents an act of penance by the 16th century King Tashi Namgyal for�

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the violence and treachery by which he reached the throne. Hemis monastery, together with that of Hanle near the Tibetan border, was established at the instance of King Singge Namgyal, while his widow founded Chemrey as a posthumous act of merit for him. Stakna, dating from a slightly earlier period, was endowed by the Namgyal kings at various times. All these belong to the Red Hat (Kargyud-Pa) sect of Tibetan monasticism.

The reformist Gelugs-pa, or Yellow-Hat sect, is also well represented in central Ladakh by the monasteries of Thiksey, Likir, Ri-dzong and Spituk, the last of which has branch monasteries at Stok, Sabu and Sankar. Ri-dzong, situated a few kilometres up a side-valley from Uley-Tokpo, was founded only a century and a quarter ago by a devout layman-turned-lama, with the purpose of following the strict monastic rules of the Gelugs-pa sect.�

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Tak-thok and Matho gompas represent the smaller but much older Nying-ma-pa and Saskya-pa monastic sects respectively. Tak-thok, situated at the foot of the Chang-la pass, incorporates one of the many caves in the Himalayas where the Indian Buddhist apostle Padmasambhava is said to have rested and meditated on his journey to Tibet. Matho gompa is famous for its festival of the oracles, which is held early in the year, usually in the first half of March.�

But the jewel among Ladakh's monastic foundations is Alchi. Abandoned centuries ago as a place of active worship, it has been lovingly maintained by the monks of Likir, the nearest functioning monastery. Known as Chos-kor, or religious enclave, it comprises five temples, the richest in paintings and images being the Du-khang (assembly hall) and the three-storey Sum-tsek. Its murals, dating from the 11th and 12th

centuries, pre-date the Tibetan style of painting seen in all the other gompas of the region. Some of them are reminiscent of the paintings of the Ajanta Caves and are presumed to be almost the sole survivors (along with some in Phugtal gompa in Zanskar, and Tabo gompa in Spiti) of the Buddhist style prevailing in Kashmir during the first millennium AD.�

Note for visitors to monasteries�

The monasteries of Ladakh are the fountainhead of Buddhist religion and culture. They are also the repositories of the region’s centuries old artistic and cultural heritage. Visitors are advised to respect their sanctity and appreciate their heritage importance. �

Shoes may have to be removed before

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entering some of the temples, while ladies are not allowed to enter the Gon-Khang or the room dedicated to the guardian divinities. Smoking is anathema to the monastic atmosphere, while loud action and improper dress may disturb the tranquil ambience characteristic of such places of worship. �

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Most of the region’s principal monasteries are open throughout the day and a caretaker lama is there to show visitors around. Some of the less visited establishments have special opening hours as in the case of the Namgyal Tsemo, Shey Palace etc. Check the timings in the Tourist Office before proceeding to these places. Also, most monasteries charge a small entrance fee.�

The new Tour Circuits����

Certain areas of Ladakh, which were formerly closed to foreigners on account of their sensitive strategic position or proximity to international borders, have recently been opened. Movement within these areas, however, is limited to a number of specifically designated circuits, and foreign visitors are allowed to go only in groups, accompanied by a recognised / registered tour operator. The maximum time allowed on a circuit is seven days. Permits must be taken from the Deputy Commissioner, Leh, but citizens of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar will be issued permit only with the prior approval of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi. Foreign diplomats and members of the United Nations and other international organisations are required to apply for permits to the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi.

Entry of tourists beyond one mile north of Zoji-la-Drass-Bodhkarby-Khalatse road is restricted. However, on the Khalatse-Leh road, the monasteries of Tia-Tingmosgang, Rhizong, Likir and Phiyang can be visited even though these fall north of the road. Similarly, tourists are allowed to visit Shey, Thikse, Chemrey and Thak-Thok lying north of the Leh-Upshi road.

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The Leh-Manali road is also open up to one mile east of its general alignment. Although the northeastern and northern regions of Ladakh are now partially opened for foreign tourists, there are required to obtain permission from the Deputy Commissioner, Leh. This is only subject to several condition of travelling along certain identified tour circuits in groups of four or more. Permission to enter to other restricted areas can be sought from: The Ministry Of Home Affairs, Government Of India, Lok Nayak Bhavan, Khan Market, New Delhi

The Drok-pa Area Circuit����

Khalatse-Domkhar-Skurbuchan-Achinathang-Biama-Dah and return.

Down the Indus, between Khalatse and the Shayok-Indus confluence, live a people, known as Drok-pa, who are Buddhists by faith, but racially and culturally distinct from the rest of the Ladakhis. Two of the five villages inhabited by them, Dah and Biama are now open to foreign tourists. The route follows the Indus river down from Khalatse, past the villages of Domkhar, Skurbuchan and Achinathang, along a fairly good road.�

In the Indus gorge, where these villages are situated, the sun's heat is frequently intense which makes it possible to grow two crops every year in the fields. Fruits such as apricots, apples, walnuts and grapes are grown. Skurbuchan, Domkhar and Achina-thang are attractive villages, with an air of modest prosperity about them. But the special interest of this region is its Drok-pa inhabitants. A minuscule community of perhaps no more than a couple of thousand, their features are pure Indo-Aryan, and they appear to have preserved their racial purity down the centuries. Their culture and religious practices are more akin to the ancient pre-Buddhist animist religion, known as Bon-chos, than to Buddhism as practised in the rest of Ladakh. One curious feature is their abhorrence of the cow or any of its products. They have preserved their ancient traditions and way of life partly through the celebration of the triennial Bono-na festival, a celebration of the harvest, and partly through the songs and hymns. �


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One of these is a description of an ibex-hunt, for the ibex is especially sacred to them. Another recalls their migration from Gilgit, an event which must have occurred well before it came under the influence of Islam. Their language is said to be akin to that spoken in Gilgit, and by the immigrants from Gilgit settled in Drass.


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The Nubra Valley Circuit����

Leh-Khardung-la-Khalsar-Tirit-Tegar-Sumur-Panamik and return.��

The name Nubra is applied to the region comprising the valley of the river Nubra and that of the Shayok, both above and below their confluence, where they meander in many shifting channels over a broad sandy plain, before flowing off to the north-west to join the Indus in Baltistan. The Shayok and Nubra rivers drain the east and west sides of the Saser sub-range of Karakoram. The route from Leh crosses over the Khardung-la, the highest motorable road in the world. The line of the road is different from that of the old pony-trail, longer and actually higher (18,300 ft 5,578 m). The view from the top is amazing. One can see all the way south over the Indus valley to the seemingly endless peaks and ridges of the Zanskar range, and north to the giants of the Saser massif. For several kilometres, on each side of the pass, the road, covered by deep snow in winter, is rough. For the rest of the way the road is good. At the confluence of the two rivers there is no dearth of water, but the sandy soil is not suitable for agriculture, which is confined to the alluvial fans where side streams drain into the main valley. The valley floor itself is covered with dense thickets of a thorny shrub, which the villagers use for fuel and for fencing, though there is now less need for this than there was in the days of the caravan trade with Central Asia when up to 10,000 horses a year are said to traverse the district. The villages are large and prosperous, and have thick plantations of willow and poplar. The altitude is a little less than that of Leh, varying between 10,000 ft (3,231 m) at Hundar, and 10,600 ft (3231 m) at Panamik. Summer temperatures vary between 15oC and 28oC. The main village is Deskit, which has a bazaar comprising of single line of shops, and a gompa situated on a rocky spur above the village with a commanding view. From Deskit, the route follows the course of the Shayok to Hundar, past an area of rolling sand dunes, with their contours liable to shift with every gale. There is a small population of the shaggy double-humped Bactrian camels, which in the old days were used as pack animals on the Central Asian trade route. During the past 50 years, they have been bred for transport purposes in Nubra. Today visitors to Nubra can use these animals for going on camel safaris. The other circuit proceeds up the Nubra River, taking in the pretty villages of Tirit, Lukung, Tegar and Sumur. Nubra's other major monastery. Samsta-ling is situated on the mountainside just above Sumur. This was the route taken by the

A Bactrian camel in Nubra valley

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trade caravans. Panamik, the last village on this circuit, was at that time a busy centre, being the last major settlement before the caravans entered into the mountains of Karakoram and the Kun-Lu. Here they halted for a few days to make final preparations for the journey across the mountains, or to recuperate on the way back. The Government maintained a granary to sell food grains for the men and even for the horses. But this arrangement was insufficient for the amount of the traffic, and the villagers made huge profits, selling grain and fodder and letting out their fodder-fields for the horses to graze in. Today, Panamik is a sleepy village, its inhabitants quietly going about their work in the fields. On the mountainside above the village, hot water bubbles out of the earth in thermal springs, reputed to have therapeutic qualities. Across the river, clinging to the mountains, are a few trees rooted among the rocks surrounding the tiny Ensa gompa. Pangong Lake Circuit Leh-Karu-Changla-Durbuk-Tangtse-Lukung-Spangmik and return. This route proceeds past the picturesque villages of Shey and Thikse, and turns into the side-valley of Chemrey and Sakti. The Ladakh range is crossed by the Chang-la (18,000 ft / 5,475 m) which is one of the easier passes remaining open for much of the year even in winter. Tangtse, just beyond the foot of the pass, with an ancient temple and a Tourist Bungalow, is a convenient halting point on this circuit. The main attraction of this circuit is the Pangong Lake, situated at an altitude of 14,000 ft (4,267m). It is a long narrow basin of inland drainage, hardly 6 to 7 kms at its widest point, and over 130 kms long, and bisected by the international border between India and China. Spangmik, the farthest point up to which foreigners are permitted, is about 7 kms along the southern shore from the head of the lake. It presents a spectacular view of the mountains of the Chang-chenmo range to the north, their reflections shimmering in the ever-changing blues and greens of the lake’s brackish waters. Above Spangmik are the glaciers and snow-capped peaks of the Pangong range. Spangmik and a scattering of other tiny villages along the lake's southern shore are the summer homes of a scanty population of Chang-pa, the nomadic herdsmen of Tibet and southeast Ladakh. The Pangong Chang-pa cultivate sparse crops of barley and peas in summer. It is in winter that they unfold

Bactrian camels among the sand dunes of nubra

The Pangong Lake

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their yak wool tents called rebo, and take the flocks of sheep and pashmina goats out to the distant pastures.

Tso-Moriri Lake Circuit����

Leh-Upshi-Debring-Puga-tsomoriri-korzok and return Leh-Upshi-Chumathang-Mahe-Puga-Tsomoriri and return.� The area traversed by the Manali-Leh road, and containing Tso-moriri and other lakes, is known as Rupshu. Here, the Zanskar range is transformed into bare rolling many-hued hills, divided by open high-altitude valleys scoured by dust devils. It is a landscape quite unlike any other in Ladakh or elsewhere in India. This area is now open for foreigners for visiting, along the two tour circuits. The first circuit follows the Manali road over the Taglang-la as far as Debring, a

Changpa camping place. From here it strikes off eastward on a rough track across the basin of the twin lakes Startsapuk-Tso (fresh water) and the Tso-kar (salt water), over the Polokongka-la (about 16,500 ft/5,030 m) to Sumdo in the Puga Valley, near the site of old sulphur mines, then over a roller-coaster track to the head of the Tso-moriri, and on to Korzok viilage, a quarter of the way along the lake's 20-km length.�

The alternative route, instead of leaving the Indus at Upshi, carries on up the river through the gorge between the Ladakh and Zanskar ranges, to the village of Chumathang, where there is a hot spring. At Mahe, about 17 kms further, the road crosses from the north to the south bank of the river, over a bridge, and then follows the Puga stream up to join the first circuit at Sumdo Korzok, situated at 15,000 ft (4,572 m) with its dozen or so houses and its gompa, is the only permanent settlement in Rupshu, which is otherwise inhabited only by nomadic Chang-pa herdsmen. The Rupshu Chang-pa live in tents all the year round, moving according to an old established annual routine, between the pastures that exist wherever an occasional stream makes possible the growth of grass, which is said to be highly nutritious. The few barley-fields at Korzok are believed to be among the highest cultivation grounds in the world, although there is no guarantee that the crop will ripen every year.�


Overview of Tsomoriri Lake

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Despite its barrenness Rupshu’s hills support a sparse population of wildlife, and the animal most likely to be spotted is the Kyang, the wild ass of the Ladakh and Tibetan plateaux. More plentiful are marmots (ubiquitous to mountain slopes all over Ladakh), hares, and an unusual tail-less rat. The lakes are breeding grounds for numerous species of birds. Chief among them is the bar-headed goose, found in great numbers on the Tso-moriri, the great crested grebe, the Brahmini duck and the bar-headed gull.

La vallée de Markha.

La vallée de la Markha peut être l'occasion d'un petit trek improvisé de 8 jours. Le départ se fait de Spituk, tout près de Leh. Le Ganda La, 5000m, permet d'accéder à la vallée. La vallée est réputée pour sa verdure, mais ce n'est pas la Normandie ! La marche est facile, le fond est plat; il y a beaucoup de passerelles et peu de traversées à gué.

Tout en gardant les troupeaux, les femmes filent en tournant leur

quenouille dans une curieuse louche de bois accrochée à leur ceinture.

Une technique inédite !

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Les enfants de Markha, chef-lieu de la vallée, attendent au soleil le moment

de rentrer à l'école.

Le long des pistes de trek, les teashop sont d'agréables pauses avant de quitter la vallée par le Konmaru La, 5150 m.

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Road Journeys�

The Journey from Kashmir�

The main overland approach to Ladakh is from the Kashmir Valley through the 434-km Srinagar-Leh highway, which follows the historic trade route, also known as the ‘Treaty Road’. It generally remains open for traffic from early June to mid-November. This road journey provides the best possible introduction to the land and its people. At one step, as you cross the Zoji-la pass (11,500-ft./3,505 m), one passes the lushness of Kashmir into the barren contours of a trans-Himalayan landscape. Drass, the first township over the pass, inhabited by a population of mainly Dard origin, has the local reputation of being the second coldest inhabited place in the world. But in summer when the pass is open and travellers are going through, the standing crops and clumps of willow give it a gentle look. After Drass, the valley narrows down to almost a gorge. Yet even here it occasionally opens up to allow small patches of terraced cultivation, where a small village population ekes out a precarious existence. �

On leaving Kargil town, the road plunges into the ridges and valleys of the Zanskar Range, over a huge mound of alluvium known as Khurbathang plateau, now made fertile by a huge irrigation system. Form here it descends to the Pashkyum area and passes through several roadside villages before entering Mulbek, with its gigantic rock carving of Maitreya Buddha and a gompa perched high on a crag above the village. Mulbek is the transition from Muslim to Buddhist Ladakh. Two more passes, Namika-la (12,200 ft/3,719 m) and Fotu-la (13,432 ft/4,094 m) follow the exit out of Mulbek valley.From Fotu1a, the road descends in sweeps and turns, past the spectacularly sited monastery of Lamayuru and the amazing wind-eroded towers and pinnacles of lunar-landscape rocks, down to the Indus at Khalatse - a descent of almost 4,000 ft / 1,219 m, in about 32 kms. From here the road follows the river, passing

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villages with their terraced fields and neat whitewashed houses, the roofs piled high with neat stacks of fodder laid in against the coming winter. Here and there one notices the ruins of an ancient fort or palace or the distant glimpse of a gompa on a hill. And at last Leh is visible, dominated by the bulk of its imposing 17th century palace.

The Road journey from Manali.�

The 473 km Manali- Leh Road is open for about three months in the year from early July to September. For much of its length, it passes through areas so barren that it is entirely void of habitation. Lahoul district, through which the road passes, is a typically trans-Himalayan landscape. The first major pass in this road, the Rohtang pass (13,000 ft / 3,978m) which is crossed soon after departure from Manali, cuts through the Pir Panjal range of the Great Himalayas. Lahouli houses are built in the Ladakhi pattern, out of sun-dried bricks. Whitewashed and flat-roofed, they stand among the irrigated fields of the villages, which cling to the mountain slopes. Beyond Keylang, the region's main town, the road follows the Bhaga River up towards its source, passing a few more villages, the last till the territory of Ladakh is entered. Now it hairpins up to the Baralacha-la (16,050 ft / 4,892m), which is a tri-junction, with a trail from Spiti also joining in from the southeast. This is the crossing of the Great Himalayan Range, the watershed between the Indus and the Chenab. Now the barren landscape becomes positively lunar with dusty plains stretching into the distance.�

The Zanskar Range, which lies next on this road, is crossed through two more passes, the Lachulung-la (16,600 ft / 5,059m) and the Taglang-la (17,469 ft / 5,325rn). Between these two, there is nothing but rock and sand, rolling hills and broad plains scoured by dust devils. An occasional pasture here and there provides nourishment for the flocks of the nomadic Chang-pa herdspeople who are the region's only inhabitants, apart from the seasonal entrepreneurs from Leh and Lahoul, who erect tents and shacks at various points along the road, to cater to the needs of travellers. Once over the Taglang-la, the descent to the Indus starts, and soon one passes the first village, Rumtse. The road follows the Gya River down to the Indus at Upshi, from where it is plain sailing to Leh, past the Indus valley

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villages of Karu, Stakna, Thikse, Shey and finally the Tibetan village at Choglamsar, before entering the town.�

Transport Facilities�

The J&K State Road Transport Corporation (J&K SRTC) operates deluxe and regular buses between Srinagar and Leh, with an overnight halt at Kargil. Taxis are also available at Srinagar and Leh for the journey. Groups can charter deluxe and A-class buses from the J&K SRTC at Srinagar. On the Leh- Manali route, J&K SRTC and H.P. Tourism operate deluxe and ordinary buses. The bus journey between Leh and Manali takes about 19 hours or two days, with an overnight halt in camps with basic facilities, at Serchu or Pang.

Tips Taxi

Depuis Manali, en un ou deux jours, quand la route est dégagée (de début Juillet jusqu'à fin Septembre). Le prix : 11 143 roupies à discuter. C'est plus cher que l'avion, mais il faut être 3 ou 4 pour partager Le voyage : inoubliable de beauté dans un monde minéral d'eau, de glace, de falaises rocheuses colorées, ou d'étendues désertiques interminables.(mais Attention : à l'aller, sans acclimatation à l'altitude, le voyage peut devenir un calvaire pour certains) Le prix : moins cher qu'à l'aller : 1 200 Rs pour les 2 places à l'avant, 1 000 Rs pour les 3 places de la banquette arrière, et 900 Rs pour les 4 sièges (2 à droite et 2 à gauche) du fond.. Le voyage : en 1 ou 2 jours, sans problème d'acclimatation à l'altitude. Mais on est tellement secoué que, personnellement, je préfère le bus.�

Air Travel�

The flight route to Leh presents the visitors with a spectacular panoramic view of snow-capped ranges spread out below, and the thrill of identifying particular landmarks. The twin peaks of Nun and Kun stand out high above the others. Tso-moriri lies intensely blue among bare brown hills. The Zanskar River snakes through the mountains, and one route of flight takes you directly above the Zanskar valley, with villages and gompas clearly visible. Far to the northwest, the giants of the Baltistan Karakoram dominate all the other peaks and ranges. Indian Airlines operates regular scheduled flights to Leh from Delhi, Chandigarh, Jammu and Srinagar. Jet Airway, a private airliner, also operate daily flights between Delhi and Leh.

�On the Kargil-Leh highway�

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Tips Avion

L'ALLER S'il fait beau*, tous les jours depuis Delhi et tous les deux jours depuis Chandigarh; et quand

la situation le permet depuis Srinagar. Le prix : 117 Dollars (plus 50 Dollars de bakchich si l'on n'a pas quelqu'un sur place qui prenne le billet à l'avance). Aux bureaux d'Indian Airlines, il n'y a jamais de place avant 15 jours. Les agences de voyages proposent des billets à 117 dollars pour 2 semaines plus tard, et pour le lendemain avec 50 dollars de bakchich. Le vol : 1h30 avec un survol de l'Himalaya d'une beauté époustouflante en hiver et un atterrissage acrobatique. Le départ est programmé pour 7h. L'embarquement commence 2 h avant et il vaut mieux ne pas être en retard car les candidats en liste d'attente sont nombreux et présents. *Le 's'il fait beau', n'est pas un canular, mais la réalité : La descente entre les sommets himalayens et le vol dans la vallée de l'Indus jusques et y compris l'atterrissage se font à vue. L'été, à cause de la mousson et l'hiver à cause du gel, les vols sont souvent reportés ou annulés. (Les prix sont ceux de 2002) LE RETOUR

Il faut absolument penser à confirmer son retour le plus tôt possible après son arrivée. Si l'on n'a pas de billet de retour il est très peu probable d'en avoir un avant fin Septembre. En 2002, une nouvelle compagnie, Jet Airways, dessert le Ladakh. La qualité de ses services fait l'unanimité des passagers. Le vol : 1h30 aussi beau dans ce sens, surtout en hiver. Le départ est programmé pour 8h, et peut se faire dans l'après midi ! C'est l'avion de Delhi qui fait l'aller et le retour. Il faut absolument connaître le rituel des bagages enregistrés : Après le dépôt et l'étiquetage du bagage au moment de l'enregistrement, il est emmené devant la salle d'embarquement côté piste. Une fois en salle d'embarquement, chaque passager doit sortir et venir reconnaître son bagage, qui sera alors transporté dans la soute de l'avion. Les bagages "non reconnus" ne sont pas embarqués ! NB : Ceci est valable pour tous les aéroports indiens.�

Internal Transport�

The cheapest way to travel within the region is by public buses, which operate on various routes according to fixed time schedules. However, the most comfortable and convenient, though expensive, mode of travel is by taxis, which are available for hire on the basis of fixed point-to-point tariff. For visits to the newly opened areas of Nubra, Changthang and Dah-Hanu, it is necessary to engage the services of a registered / recognized travel agency for making all requisite arrangements including internal transport. Detailed information about bus schedules, taxi tariff, travel agencies, etc. can be obtained from the tourist office. For the current taxi fare to various tourist destinations inquire at the Tourist Office. For hiring taxis contact President/Secretary, Leh Taxi Union, Telephone No. 252723/ 253039.�

Leh offers many kinds of accommodation to suit almost every pocket and preference. Most of the hotels are family-run establishments and, therefore, service is more personalized than professional. Hotels are classified into A, B,C and

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D/economy categories while guest houses are divided into upper, medium and economy class. Tariff for A category hotels generally include all meals, offering a choice or combination of Continental, Chinese and Indian cuisine, with one or two local fares thrown in for variety.�

The guest house is a less formal accommodation, offering rooms in a part of the residential house or its annexe, where the guests can share the host family’s kitchen and living room for meals. Apart from the reasonably low tariff offered for accommodation ranging from very good to merely basic, the guest house system also provides an opportunity for the tourists to see and experience Ladakhi life from the inside.�

In the newly opened areas of the region - Nubra, Changthang and the Drok-pa area - tourist infrastructure is not yet adequately developed. The State Tourism Department has started development of accommodation facilities like tourist complexes and hiker's huts at various places in these areas. However, in some of these places, especially in the Nubra Valley, tourists can stay as paying guests with some families who have set up paying guest house in their homes under a State Government sponsored incentive scheme. For visitors to Tso-moriri Lake, accommodation is available near Korzok village in tented camps, which spring up every season. Similar camps are available in various parts of Nubra valley. �

During the peak tourist season i.e. early June to mid-September, it is advisable to book hotel rooms in advance. By late September, hotel rooms are easily available as the tourist rush declines. However, tourists planning winter trips may have to book accommodation in advance so as to ensure provision of heating arrangements during the period of their intended stay.�

For a detailed list of the registered hotels and the current tariff structure in different categories of accommodation in Leh area, refer.

Travel Agencies & Tour operators�

A number of tour operators and travel agents offer their services to the tourists. These include local operators as well as representatives of national - level travel agencies. Visitors are advised to look for the operator with the best service record

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because their inclusion in the list does not confer any official recognition upon them or any recommendation. For a detailed list of these firms go to Travel Agencies�

Healthcare & Medical Assistance�

The main centre for health care in Leh is the SNM Hospital, which is well equipped and staffed by specialists to handle all problems. Elsewhere in the region, there are sub-district hospitals at block headquarters and medical dispensaries in major villages, which are staffed by qualified doctors. In addition, services of the following private clinics and associated facilities are also available in Leh:-�

Clinics, Opticians & Chemists����

Kunfan Osting Clinic, Tele 53699; Consultant: Dr. Tsering Norboo, Physician;���

Soway Clinic: Consultant: Dr. Tsering Norboo, Surgeon Specialist���

Siachen Chemist: Consultant: Dr. Nurboo Tsering: Tele No. Res.: 53229/ 52758, 52329���

Ladakh Medicate Chemists and Druggists: Consultant: Dr. Nurboo Tsering. �

Indus Clinic, Choglamsar: S. Dawa Lonpo / Dr. Stanzin Punchok ��

Nurboo Optical, Chemdey Labrang, Near I.T.B.F Headquarters.� �

Alamdar X- Ray, Balkhang: Consultant: Dr. P.T Angchok. ���

Dr. Shoukat Ali, Gompa Complex. 1000 hrs to 1600 hrs.Ph 44088

� � � Noble Medical Hall Lingshet Labrang 53865 9AM -10AM and 4PM - 6PM.

Meditation Facilities�

The Mahabodhi International Meditation (MIM) Centre situated near Choglamsar, Leh, offers regular courses in various forms of meditation under the supervision of trained teachers. The MIM Centre’s facilities are quite good and the charges are nominal, sufficient to cover the cost of food. The Centre also runs a branch within Leh town at Changspa. Meditation facilities are also available in Hotel Agling Resort on commercial basis in a package covering accommodation and courses. � Foreign Exchange�The State Bank of India and the J&K Bank have branches at various places in Ladakh, with main branches in Leh and Kargil, where foreign exchange facilities are also available. The State Bank of India also operates an extension counter at the Tourist Information Centre located in the Dak Bungalow Complex, Leh. Some hotels in Leh are also licensed to deal in foreign exchange, though these mainly service in-house clients. There is no foreign exchange facility outside these two towns.

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Communication�Leh and Kargil towns have worldwide direct dial telephone facility and there are a number of public call offices operating in Leh town for the convenience of the tourists. There is also a General Post Office and a Telegraph Office in Leh. �The State Tourism Department has its own wireless radiophone network linking its offices at Leh, Kargil and Padum, with those at Srinagar, Jammu and Delhi. This facility is mainly used to monitor the movement and welfare of tourists in the State. It is especially useful in ensuring timely rescue arrangements for tourists falling ill or injured in accidents.�

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KARGIL��Introduction�The western parts of Ladakh comprising the river valleys, which are drained and formed by the Himalayan tributaries of the high Indus, constitute Kargil district. Prominent among these are the spectacular valleys of Suru and Zanskar, which lie

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nestled along the northern flank of the Great Himalayan wall. The smaller lateral valleys of Drass, Wakha-Mulbek and Chiktan constitute important subsidiaries. �This region formed part of the erstwhile Kingdom of Ladakh. In fact it is believed to be the first to be inhabited by the early colonizers of Ladakh, the Indo-Aryan Mons from across the Great Himalayan range, assorted Dard immigrants from down the Indus and the Gilgit valleys and itinerant nomads from the Tibetan highlands. Also, being contiguous with Baltistan, Kashmir, Kulu etc. these valleys are believed to have served as the initial recipients of successive ethnic and cultural influences emanating from the neighbouring regions. Thus, while the Mons are believed to have introduced north-Indian Buddhism to these valleys, the Dard and Balti immigrants are credited with introducing farming and the Tibetan nomads with the tradition of herding and animal husbandry.�

About 15,000 sq. kms. in area, Kargil district has an agrarian population of approximately 120,000 people, who cultivate the land, along the course of the drainage system, wherever artificial irrigation from mountain streams is possible. About 85 % are Muslims, mainly of the Shia sect, Islam having been introduced to the original Buddhist population around the middle of the 16th century by missionaries from Kashmir and Central Asia. Their descendants,

locally titled Agha, are mostly religious scholars who continue to hold sway over the population, even as the age-old traditions of Buddhist and animistic origin are discernible in the culture. Many elements of the ancient supernatural belief systems, especially many traditions connected with agricultural practices, are still followed with subdued reverence.�

Sightseeing & Excursions�

Kargil Town & Around�

Kargil town (2,704 m), situated midway between Srinagar (204 Kms) and Leh, (234 kms) on the Srinagar-Leh highway, is the second largest urban centre (approx. 8,000 inhabitants) of Ladakh and headquarters of Kargil district. A quiet town now, in the past it served as an important trade and transit centre for the Central-Asian merchants due to its unique equidistant location (about 200-230 kms) from Srinagar, Leh and Skardo, all well known trading outposts on the old trade route network. Numerous caravans carrying exotic merchandise transited in the town on


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their way to and from China, Tibet, Yarkand, Kashmir and Baltistan. Since 1975, travellers of various nationalities have replaced traders of the past and Kargil has regained its importance as a centre of travel-related activities.�

Being located in lap of the Himalayas, Kargil serves as an important base for undertaking adventure tourism and trips to the exotic Zanskar Valley and other Himalayan regions. Visitors travelling between Srinagar and Leh have to make a night halt here before starting the second leg of their journey. �

The town and its suburban villages lie nestled along the valley system formed

by the confluence of the Suru River and its tributary, the Wakha-chhu. The land along the narrow valley floor and the hillsides are neatly terraced and intensively cultivated to grow barely, wheat, peas and several other cereals, besides a variety of vegetables. Thick plantations of poplars and willows, besides rich orchards of apricot, apple and mulberry, adorn the area to form a rich oasis against the backdrop of the undulating mountains. Kargil area is famous for its fine apricots. In May the countryside surrounding the town gets awash with the white apricot blossoms, while in August the ripening fruits lend an orange hue to the landscape. �

Kargil is convenient base for undertaking adventure activities like trekking, mountaineering, camping, river- rafting, etc. in the high Himalayan valleys. It is also a convenient base for taking excursions to the Wakha- Mulbek valley, where the chief attraction is a 9 m high rock sculpture of Maitreya, besides other monuments. Another tour option is to visit the beautiful Suru Valley to behold the gradually unfolding panorama of the impressive Himalayan landscape. Yet another interesting excursion option is to visit Drass to see its famous features like Tolo-ling, Tiger Hill and the Mushkoo Valley, well known throughout India on account of the extensively televised conflict on the LoC between India and Pakistan during May-August, 1999. �

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Kargil also offers some interesting walks through the suburban villages nestling along the rising hillsides of theriver valleys. The best among these is the walk towards Goma Kargil along a 2-km long winding road that passes through some of the most picturesque parts of the town, offering breathtaking views of the unfolding mountainscape as one ascends alongside a tumbling mountain stream. It is best taken in the afternoon as the setting sun plays magic with the changing hues and shades of the hills. A shorter walk across the bridge, over the Suru River, takes you through the ancient village of Poyen, and up the Wakha-chhu valley.�

A very good view of the tiered and terraced township, sweeping down the hillside across the river can be had from here.�


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A stroll in the bazaar might lead to shops selling flint and tobacco pouches, travelling hookahs and brass kettles, handcrafted items of every day use that find their way into the marts as curios.�

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The showroom of the Government Industries Centre has pashmina shawls, local carpets and local handicrafts on display and sale. Apricot jam produced here is a rare delicacy, while Kargil's famous dry apricots can be purchased from the market.�

In Kargil town one may meet the Brokpa or Drokpa tribals from the Indus Valley villages of Darchiks, Garkon etc. of Batalik Block, which is about 56 kms north of Kargil.

This area is now open for foreign visitors up to Dah village from the Khalsi side. However, Indian nationals can also approach the area (with the permission of the local authorities) along the Kargil-Batalik Road, which connects Batalik, Darchiks and Garkon villages and leads onward to Khalsi, via the other Brokpa or Drokpa villages of Dah and Biama, along the course of the Indus.

Getting There�

The J&K SRTC operates regular buses (including deluxe coaches) between Srinagar and Leh/Kargil. Taxis of all types, including 4-wheel drive vehicles, can be hired at Srinagar and Leh, for visiting Kargil. Local buses, including mini coaches for Mulbek and Drass, leave Kargil every morning and afternoon.�

Sankoo, Panikhar and Parkachik are connected with Kargil by regular bus services. The bus ride from Kargil takes 2 hours to Sankoo, 3 hours to Panikhar and about 4 hours to Parkachik. Rangdum is serviced by the buses proceeding to Padum, which increases in frequency according to demand. Trucks plying on the Kargil - Padum Road also offer a lift, in the cabin, for the price of a bus seat. Car and jeep taxis can be hired from Kargil for visiting different places in the area.

Where to stay�

Kargil: Hotel tariff in Kargil ranges from Rs. 100/- to Rs.2000/- per day depending on the quality of accommodation and services offered, which range from barely basic to reasonably comfortable, with attached bath and running hot water. Hotels are classified into "A", "B", "C"/ Economy classes depending upon the standard of the establishments and services available. Kargil also has two Tourist Bungalows, which jointly provide 3 suits and 15 furnished rooms with proper catering facilities. Tariff for the suites ranges between Rs.80/- and 120/-per day, while for the rooms it is Rs. 50/- per day. Advance reservation can be sought from


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the tourist office, Kargil. There is also a circuit house with 6 furnished rooms. These can be reserved through the office of Deputy Commissioner, Kargil. For list of Hotels in Kargil goto List of Hotels of Travel Agents in Kargil�

Mulbek/ Shergol: The Tourist Bungalow at Mulbekh, which has attached catering arrangements, provides 4 furnished rooms at Rs. 50 /- per day. Dormitory accommodation at much cheaper price is available with some guest houses attached with the teashops located near Mulbek Chamba. Alternatively, tourists can return to Kargil for the night. The Tourist Bungalow at Shergol also provides 4 fully furnished rooms at Rs. 50/- per day.�

Drass: The Tourist Complex here provides furnished rooms and suites at Rs. 100/- per day and rooms at Rs. 50/- per day. Advance reservation can be done through the Tourist Office at Kargil or its branch at Drass. Some private hotels also provide rooms equipped with basic necessities.�

Suru Valley: At Sankoo, basic accommodation is available in the Govt. Rest House, while a new Tourist Bungalow is under completion. At Panikhar the Tourist Bungalow provides 4 furnished rooms at Rs. 50/- each, while some private hotels also offer accommodation with basic facilities. There are Trekkers’ Huts, one each at Parkachik and Tangole, providing 2 rooms and a dormitory. At Rangdum, the newly built Tourist Complex provides 5 furnished rooms and dormitory accommodation. In addition, local entrepreneurs also establish tented camps during the season where basic accommodation and food are available.�

Supplementary Information�

Banks: The State Bank of India (with money changing facility) and J&K Bank have a branch each in Kargil.�

Communication: Kargil has worldwide direct dial telephone facility, besides post and telegraph offices. J&K Tourism operates its own wireless radiophone network, connecting its offices at Kargil, Padum and Leh, with those at Srinagar, Jammu and Delhi. This facility is mainly used to monitor the movement and progress of adventure expeditions in the region and for arranging and coordinating rescue of tourists in distress.�

Health: The District Hospital at Kargil is fairly well equipped and staffed with doctors. In addition, there are medical dispensaries at Drass, Mulbek, Trespone, Sankoo, Panikhar and Padum, each headed by a qualified doctor and equipped with basic healthcare paraphernalia.�

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About 20 kms south-east of Rangdum stands the Panzila axis, across which lies Zanskar, the most isolated of all the trans-Himalayan valleys. The Penzila pass (4,401m) is a picturesque tableland surrounded by snow-covered peaks. �

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As the Zanskar road winds down the steep slopes of Penzi-la to the head of the Stod valley, the majestic " Drang-Drung" glacier looms into full view. A long and winding river of ice and snow, "Drang-Drung" is perhaps the largest glacier in Ladakh, outside the Siachen formation. It is from the cliff-like snout of this extensive glacier that the Stod or Doda tributary of the Zanskar River rises.�

Zanskar is a tri-armed valley system situated between the Great Himalayan Range and the Zanskar mountains, the three arms radiating star-like towards the west, north and south from a wide central expanse. Here the Zanskar River comes into being by the confluence of its two Himalayan tributaries, the Stod/Doda and the Lingti-Tsarap rivers. It is mainly along the course of this valley system that the

region’s approximately 14,000 strong, mainly Buddhist population, live.�

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Spread over an estimated geographical area of 5000 sq kms of mountainous territory, Zanskar is surrounded by high-rise mountains and deep gorges.

It remains inaccessible for nearly 8 months a year due to heavy winter snowfall resulting in closure of all access passes, including the Penzi-la. This geographical isolation and the esoteric nature of Buddhism practised here have enabled its inhabitants to preserve their identity, so that to-day Zanskar is the least interfered with microcosms of Ladakh.�

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Closer observation of the lifestyle evokes admiration for a people who have learnt to live in perfect harmony with the unique environment.�

Within the mountainous ramparts of this ‘Shangri-La’ are a number of ancient yet active monastic establishments. Some of these foundations have evolved around remote mountain caves, which are by legend associated with famous Buddhist saints. These are in fact the main places of attraction for the visitors in the area, in addition to the haunting beauty of the spectacular landscape and the ancient culture.

Sightseeing in Zanskar

Once the capital of the ancient kingdom of Zanskar, Padum (3505 m) is the present-day administrative centre of Zanskar Sub-Division of Kargil district. Its older section, comprising of inter-connected adobe houses and several high-rise chortens, surround a boulder-strewn hillock, site of the erstwhile palace and fort. �

The new, upcoming township is fast encroaching upon the cultivated expanse, and a small market is coming up along the newly built road. With a population of nearly 2000, Padum can be described as the most populous settlement of Zanskar, which is otherwise a very scarcely inhabited valley.�




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Incidentally, it is only in Padum where there is a community of Muslims constituting nearly half the township's population, its origin in the area dating from mid 17th century. Lately, Padum has become famous as a major trekking base and a popular tourist destination. Several places of tourist interest in the vicinity of the townships can be visited in the course of entertaining walks. �


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The nearest site is a set of ancient rock carvings on a huge boulder near the bank of the Lung-nak river, just below the old township. These date from the 8th century and provide epigraphic evidence that the region was under the influence of Indian Buddhism since ancient times. The Stagrimo monastery, with about 30 resident lamas, clings to a tree-covered ridge above the old town, at an hour's uphill walk along flower-strewn green hill slopes. �

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Across the expanse of cultivation lies the old village of Pibiting, dominated by its hilltop monastery, which is built in the shape of a chorten or Stupa.�

Sani This picturesque village is 6 kms west of Padum, on the road to Kargil. The main attraction here is the castle-like monastery, which unlike other monasteries of Ladakh, is built on level ground. By legend its origin is associated with Kanishka (Kushan ruler of 2nd century AD) on account of the Kanika Stupa, which stands in the backyard of the walled complex. The main building comprises a huge multi-columned central prayer hall housing an array of statues of popular Buddhist divinities and Kargud-pa high lamas, while the walls are covered with frescoes and adorned with Thangkas. The most interesting frescoes, however, can be seen in a small, neglected chapel, at the back of the main building whose walls are adorned with stucco murals depicting landscapes and floral designs based on the life of Padmasambhava. Immediately outside the monastic complex is an old cemetery surrounded by a ring of ancient rock-carvings, which reflect Indian artistic influence.�

Sani is also associated with the famous Indian Yogi Naropa, who is said to have sat in meditation for some time under the Kanika Stupa. This site is now occupied by a small room housing a veiled bronze figure of the Yogi, which is unveiled once a year in late July on the eve of the Naro-Nasjal festival. People from all over Zanskar valley participate in this festival during which lamas from Bardan Monastery perform masked dances as ritual offering.�

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The largest monastery of Zanskar, Karsha Gompa is an imposing complex of neatly white washed building blocks comprising several chapels, besides residential cells for its nearly 150 lamas, who belong to the Geluks-pa sect. Built picturesquely along the steeply rising mountainside above Karsha village, the monastery can be seen from far. The central building is a large assembly hall housing an array of figures and the ornate throne of the

Head Lama-incarnate. Three adjoining chapels contain numerous statues and other art objects, among which a set of exquisite silver and copper chortens are worth noting for their beauty. Of particular interest in the complex is the Lhabrang, a large temple accessible through a vent in the roof, whose partially damaged walls are still adorned with the original frescos believed to be more than 300 years old. The event to witness at Karsha is the 3-day Gustor festival held in early July when thousands of devotees throng the monastery to witness the mask dances performed by the lamas.�

Other places of interest in the Karsha area include an old nunnery called Dorje Dzong, occupying a hilltop to the west of the main monastery. The ruins around this nunnery are believed to be the original monastic foundation of Karsha: the present monastery was founded during the 14th century. An old stupa surviving among the ruins is still adorned with the original murals, which reflect Indian artistic influence. Nearby is the ancient temple of 'Chukshik-jal', which houses an exquisite figure of Avalokitesvara as the main image. Its smoke covered wall frescos are the finest example of Himalayan art.�

Karsha can be approached from Padum by the 9 km long link road, across an iron bridge over the Stod river. It can also be approached directly from the Tungri bridgehead along a 17-km link road that branches off from the Kargil-Padum road at Tungri, about 12 kms before Padum.

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Perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the oasis-like village below, the picturesque monastery of Stongdey lies 18 kms to the north of Padum, on the Padum-Zangla road. An old foundation associated with the Tibetan Yogi Marpa, Stongdey is now the second largest monastic establishment of Zanskar, which is inhabited by a resident community of about 60 Geluks-pa lamas. The sprawling white washed complex has a number of temples, among which the Gon-Khang containing several fierce-faced veiled deities is of particular interest. The climb up to the

monastery from the roadside is rather strenuous, but it is worth the trouble for the breathtaking scenery of the valley available from here.�


Situated 35 kms further ahead of Padum in the northern branch valley of Zanskar, Zangla was ruled by a titular king till his death about two decades back. The old castle, now in ruins except for a small chapel, occupies a hill overlooking the desertic valley below. Nearby is an old Buddhist nunnery worth a visit to observe the austere lifestyle of the small community of nuns. An old monastery situated in the nearby village of Tsa-zar, midway between Stangdey and Zangla, has exquisite frescoes that should not be missed. �

Zangla is the take-off point for the Padum-Lamayuru and the Padum-Markha treks, as well as for the 'Chaddar' trek over the frozen Zanskar river to Nimu, which becomes feasible only during the middle of the winter.�


Located 12 kms south of Padum, Bardan is an isolated monastery with about 40 Dugpa- Kargyud lamas in residence. Founded during the 17th century as the first ever centre of the Dugpa-Kargyud monastic order in Zanskar, Bardan controls several smaller establishments in the region, including the famous Sani monastery.�


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The large assembly hall, around which all other structures are organised, contains beautiful statues of Buddhist divinities and small stupas in clay, bronze, wood and copper. Perched atop a rocky crag rising vertically from the Lungnak riverbed, Bardan falls right on the trekking trail to Manali. Nearby is the smaller monastery of Muney, also worth a visit for appreciating its art treasures.�


By far the most spectacularly located monastic establishment anywhere in Ladakh, the Phugthal complex spills out of the mouth of a huge cave, high up in the vertical mountainside of the lateral Shadi gorge, through which a major tributary of the Lungnak or Lingti-Tsarap river flows. Perhaps the most isolated monastic

establishment of Zanskar, its foundation dates back to the early 12th century. At least one old chapel, among the several of which it is composed, has frescos and ceiling decorations reflecting strong Indian artistic and iconographic influence, which are almost contemporaneous to those found in the Tabo and Alchi monasteries. Phugthal is accessible from the Padum-Manali trekking route via a 7-Km long trail that branches off from the main trekking route at Purney Bridge. A visit to Phugthal, including Bardan and Muney monasteries

enroute, makes a good 5-day round trek from Padum. Alternatively, one can add one extra day to the Padum-Manali trekking itinerary to include a day return visit to this unique monastic establishment which was a resident community of about 40 Geluks-pa lamas.�


The other spectacular cave monastery of Zanskar, Zongkhul falls on the Padum-Kishtawar trekking trail, just before the ascent to the Omasi-la pass begins. Built like a swallow's nest on the rock face in the Ating gorge, the monastery is


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associated by legend with the famous Indian Yogi, Naropa, who is believed to have used for meditation the two caves around which the monastery has been developed. A footprint on a stone near the ingress of the lower cave is highly revered as that of the yogi. The frescoes on the cave walls are very old and reflect a high degree of artistic achievement. These are believed to be the original murals executed by Zhadpa Dorje, the famous scholar-painter of Zanskar who was active in the same monastery about 300 years ago.

Supplementary Information:�

Getting There

The 240-km long Kargil-Padum road remains open from early July to mid-October. The J&K SRTC operates a "B" class bus service between Kargil and Padum. But tourist groups can charter deluxe buses to visit Zanskar, including sightseeing within the valley.�

Jeep and Gypsy taxis can also be hired at Kargil, but the charges are high due to the difficult road conditions. During June and early July, prior to opening of the road, it is recommended to walk into Zanskar from Panikhar or Parkachik. The week- long trek provides an opportunity to enjoy the unending grandeur of the Himalayas besides the experience of interacting with the inhabitants of the villages, which otherwise passes by fleetingly while travelling by bus or taxi. In June, summer is at its height in the region and the climate is ideal for trekking along a route free from vehicular traffic when the area is freshly

rejuvenated into life during this period after months of frigid dormancy. �

Where to stay in Zanskar:�

The Tourist Complex at Padum has 5 furnished rooms at Rs. 50/- to 100/- per day. There is catering arrangement within the complex and a camping place nearby for tourists travelling with personal tents. There are also several small hotels in Padum

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where rooms with basic facilities are available at reasonable rates. At Karsha, basic accommodation is available in guest houses. In distant villages like Stongdey, Zangla, Sani, etc., accommodation can be sought from the villagers at negotiable rates. Some monasteries may also take in guests, though more as a gesture of goodwill than on commercial consideration. Of course, the guest is expected to compensate the monastery suitably.�

Travel tips :�

Zanskar experiences drastic fluctuations in the daily temperature even during the height of summer. While the days are pretty warm, even hot at times due to the desert effect, the evenings can become quite chilly and require additional clothing. It is advisable to be prepared with a pullover and a down jacket. Other essential items include a sturdy pair of walking shoes (with strong rubber or synthetic soles for grip), a good sleeping bag and a pair of woollen socks or some thick cotton socks. It is also essential to bring along a good quality tent if one intends to travel or trek around by oneself, and a good rucksack for back packing. It is also important to carry provisions from Srinagar, Leh or Kargil if a longer tour of the adjoining villages is intended.

Tourist Information�

The main centres of tourist information in Ladakh are the J&K Tourist Offices at Leh & Kargil; the Kargil office also has a branch at padum (Zanskar). These offices help tourists prepare detailed itineraries to suite different pockets, preferences and time-frames. Tourists going on climbing expeditions, hard trekking, white water rafting etc. are advised to keep the nearest Tourist Office informed of their travel plan and routes:-�

Leh Dy. Director Tourism, Leh-(Ladakh) 194101 Tel: 01982-252297, 252095

Kargil Tourist Officer, Kargil (Ladakh) 194103 Tel: 01985-232721, 232266 Fax: 01985-232266

or Contact the J&K Tourist Offices at :-

New Delhi 201-203, Kanishka Shopping Plaza, 19, Ashoka Road,

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Tel: 23345373 Fax: 23367881.

Mumbai 25, North Wing, World Trade Centre, Cuffee Parade, Colaba, Tel: 22189040. Fax: 22186172.

Kolkata 12, Chowringhee, Tel: 22285791. Fax: 22281950.

Chennai II Floor, 36/36-A North usman Road, Tel/Fax: 044-28235958

Ahmedabad Airlines House, Lal Darwaza, Tel/Fax:25503551.

Hyderabad 5th Floor, Left Wing, Chandra Vihar Complex, M.J.Road, Tel/Fax: 24734806.

or write to The Director General Tourism, J&K Government Tourist Reception Centre, Srinagar-190 001 Tel: 2452690-91 Fax: 2452361.

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Prime Attractions of Ladakh.


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Page 76: Ladakh Guide & Maps

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Page 78: Ladakh Guide & Maps




List of Registered Hotels & Guest Houses in Leh Area

A Class

Name of Hotel Capacity Location Telepne E-Mail / Website

Bijou (4 Sgl. 15 Dbl.) Near Public Library

252131, 252346

Caravan Centre

(25 Dbl.) Skara 252282, 253779


Dragon. (3 Sgl. 27 Dbl.) Old Road Leh 252720, 252139

[email protected]

Ga-Ldan Continental

(4 Sgl. 40 Dbl.) Vegetable Market

252173, 252436 galdan

High Land (2 Sgl.12 Dbl.) Stok Village 242005

Horizon (12 Dbl.) Chulung 252602

Horzey (26 Dbl.) Old Leh Road 252454, 252280

[email protected]

Kanglachan (4 Sgl. 21 Dbl.) Karzoo Road 252523, 252144 khanglachen

Kangri (3 Sgl. 35 Dbl.) Near veg. Market

252311, 252051

K-sar (8 Sgl. 22 Dbl.) Fort Road 232725, 252348

Lasermo (2 Sgl,19 Dbl.) Chulungs 250778, 252349

[email protected]

Lingzi (25 Dbl.) Opp. Vegetable Market


Lharimo (1 Sgl. 30 Dbl.) Fort Road 252177, 252101 lharimohotel

Mandala (23 Dbl.) Fort Road 252742, 252943

Omasila (32 Dbl.) Changspa 250207, 252119

[email protected]

Rafica (16 Dbl.) Fort Road 252258 [email protected]

Shambhala (26 Dbl.) Skara 251100, 252067

[email protected] hotelshambhala

Singge Palace (35 Dbl.) Old Leh Road 253344, 252344

Spick-N-Span (31 Dbl.) Old Leh Road 252765, 251463

[email protected]

Sun-N-Sand (20 Dbl.) Changspa 252468

Siachen (2 Sgl. 21 Dbl.) Old Bus Stand 252057, 252586

Shenam (2 Sgl. 8 Dbl.) Old Road Leh 252345

Yak Tail (15 Dbl.) Fort Road 252735, 252118

Tsomo Riri (15 Dbl.) Fort Road 253611, 252271 tsomoririhotel

Page 79: Ladakh Guide & Maps




Thongsal (24 Dbl.) Yurtung 252735, 252227

Ri-Rab (18 Dbl.) Changspa 252735, 253108

Karakoram (16 Dbl.) Karzoo 252788, 253154

Devachan (13 Dbl.) Agling 253177

Ladakh Sarai (17 Dbl) Saboo 245063

Lumbini ( 23 Dbl) Fort Road 252528, 252182

Lotus (14 Dbl) Upper Karzoo 250265, 253129

Skit - Tsal (24 Dbl) Stok 242023

B Class

Agling Resort (18 Dbl.) Agling Village 252110

Bimla (2 Sgl.18 Dbl.) Farka 252754

Chonjor (10 Dbl.) Old Leh Road 253165

Choskor (18 Dbl.) Chulung 252481

Chospa (9 Dbl.) Old Leh Road 252045

Diskit Chan (2 Sgl.10 Dbl.) Debi 252487

Gypsy’s Panorama (10 Dbl) Yurtung 252735, 252660 panorama [email protected]

Hermit Hut (4 Sgl,11 Dbl) Upper Shenam 252707

Himalaya (10 Dbl.) Chumik 252746

Khayul (18 Dbl.) Chulung 252321

Lung-se-jung (2 Sgl. 18 Dbl.) Fort road 252193

Nirvana Palace (2 Sgl. 12 Dbl.) Fort Road 252834

Padmaling (11 Dbl) Karzoo 252933

Pangong (2 Sgl. 12 Dbl.) Shynam 252300

Rock Land (1 Sgl. 12 Dbl.) Fort Road 252589

Snow View (3 Sgl. 11Dbl.) Changspa 252504

Tsokar (1 Sgl. 13 Dbl.) Fort Road 253072, 253071

Takshi (11 Dbl.) Near Lamdon School


Yasmin (10 Dbl.) Fort Road 252405, 252631

Alchi Resort 15 Dbls Alchi Village

C Class

Dream Land (10 Dbl) Fort road 252089

Hill View (2 Sgl.10 Dbl.) Old Road 252058

Page 80: Ladakh Guide & Maps




Kangla (8 Dbl.) Old Road 252506

Norla (10 Dbl.) Chulung 252464

Norbuling (2 Sgl. 12 Dbl.) Skara 252154 [email protected]

Skalzang Chamba (10 Dbl.) Thiksey Village 247041

Semyas (12 Dbl.) Skara 253419

Yarab Tso (3 Sgl, 8 Dbl) Tegar(Nubra) 252480

Saser (2 Sgl. 11 Dbl.) Changspa 252654

Zerla (16 Dbl.) Shenam 252672

Naro (8 Dbl) Karzoo 252401

Abu Palace (12 Dbl) Chulung 252341

Silkroute inn (7 Dbl) Skara 252090

Silver Clouds (16 Dbl) Sankar 253120, 252572

[email protected]

D Class

Changlochen (1 Sgl,10 Dbl ) Shenam 252510

Deluxe (1 Sgl. 9 Dbl.;) Fort Road 252755

Firdous (2 Sgl. 12 Dbl.) Opp. S.P.Office 252629

Mount View (6Sgl, 6 Dbl.) Yurtung -

Skalzang (1 Sgl. 8 Dbl.) Old Road 253407

Shelkar (6 Dbl.) Shey Village 247061

Tsemo View (10 Dbl.) Old Road 252296

Guest Houses

Upper Class

All View (12 Dbl.) Sankar Road 252761

Gaph-chow (5 Dbl.) Likir Village -

Gespe Karten (1 Sgl. 4 Dbl.) Old Road 252627, 252637

Indus (3 Sgl. 8 Dbl.) Farka Village 252502

Jigmet (2 Sgl. 11 Dbl) Zangsti 253563

Jorchung (2 Sgl. 2 Dbl.) Tukcha 252463

Khan Manzil (10 Dbl.) Near Moravian Church 252681

New Antelope (1 Sgl. 2 Dbl.) Chubi Road 252086

Padma (1 Sgl. 8 Dbl.) Fort Road 252630

Rinchen (7 Dbl.) Changspa 252486

Tukcha (5 Dbl.) Tukcha 252923

Ri Buk (2 Sgl. 7 Dbl.) Changspa 253230

Page 81: Ladakh Guide & Maps




White Lotus (2 Sgl. 8 Dbl.) Yurtung 253352

Zimskhang (8 Dbl.) Alchi Village -

Medium Class

Akhoon (4 Dbl.) Shey Village 244259

Deldan (4 Sgl. 2 Dbl.) Shey Village -

Everest (2 Sgl. 3 Dbl.) Opp. TRC. 252317

Kanika (13 Dbl.) Tukcha 252703

Kalon (2 Sgl. 3 Dbl.) Thiksay Village 247029

Maryul (6 Dbl.) Karzoo 252994

Onphor (2 Sgl. 3 Dbl.) Karzoo - -

Potala (5 Dbl.) Alchi Village - -

Phuntsogling (3 Dbl.) Katpa, Leh 252267

Rigyal (1 Sgl. 6 Dbl.) Katpa, Leh 252658

Ti-sei (2 Sgl.14 Dbl.) Zangsti 252404

Wisdom Holiday Home (8 Dbl.) Changspa 252427

Economy Class

Stobsal (4 Dbl.) Hunder - Nubra -

Sand Dune (4 Dbl.) Deskit - Nubra -

Olthang (4 Dbl.) -do- -

Thachung (4 Dbl.) -do- -

Rtab-Gyatpa (4 Dbl.) Hunder - Nubra -

Deskit (2 Sgl. 2 Dbl.) Hemis-Shukpachan -

Karma (2 Sgl. 2 Dbl.) Yurtung -

Spunjee (3 Dbl.) Skalzangling -

Gonbo (3 Dbl.) Changspa 252712

Yaksha (1 Sgl. 6 Dbl.) Changspa 252699

Gomang (9 Dbl.) -do- 252657

Nazer View (2 Sgl. 4 Dbl.) Old Leh Road 253083

Shangrila (2 Sgl. 8 Dbl.) Karzoo 253050

Khangsar (2 Sgl. 3 Dbl.) Choglamsar -

Palace View (2 Sgl. 5 Dbl.) Pologround -

Rainbow (2 Sgl. 4 Dbl.) Changspa 252332

Oriental (4 Sgl. 6 Dbl.) -do- 253153

Lung Sngon (2 Sgl. 4 Dbl.) Shynam Fort Road 252749

Goba (2 Sgl. 7 Dbl.) -do- -

Padma (5 Dbl.) Yangthang -

Page 82: Ladakh Guide & Maps




Lhasa (8 Sgl. 1 Dbl.) Choglamsar -

Summer Inn House (2 Sgl. 5 Dbl.) Tukcha 252867

Otsal (6 Dbl.) Changspa - 252864

Sheringman Lhamo (2 Sgl. 2 Dbl.) Dha Village 252835

Lagang (1 Sgl. 2 Dbl.) Basgo Village -

Serdung (4 Dbl.) Chubi 252803

Solitarian (2 Sgl. 2 Dbl.) Saboo Village 245008

Singge (4 Dbl.) Upper Tukcha -

Stumpa (1 Sgl. 3 Dbl.) Changspa -

Warila (6 Dbl.) Chulungs 253302

Green Land (1 Sgl. 5 Dbl.) Changspa 253156

Babu (6 Dbl.) Pologround 252419

Sabila (1 Sgl. 10 Dbl.) -do- 252823

Eagle (2 Sgl. 10 Dbl.) Changspa 253074

Palace View Kidar (3 Sgl. 8 Dbl.) Pologround -

Oasis (1 Sgl. 7 Dbl.) Tukcha 252922

Tsavo (2 Sgl. 5 Dbl.) Changspa -

Old Ladakh (2 Sgl. 10 Dbl.) Old Leh Road 252951

Jamspal (2 Sgl. 4 Dbl.) Gerger, Fort Road. -

Chandan (2 Sgl. 6 Dbl.) Changspa 253169

Shain (2 Sgl.3 Dbl) Karzoo 252636

Chunka (3 Sgl. 4 Dbl) Changspa 253382

Lakruk (1 Sgl. 8 Dbl) Sanker -

Pal (1 Sgl. 5 Dbl) Zangsti 252650

Tak (5 Dbl) Stago Felok -

Skabapa (1 Sgl.2 Dbl) Dha -

Siddharth (4 Sgl. 2 Dbl) Fort Road 252329

Harmony (1 Sgl. 7 Dbl) Shenam 252708

Shanti (1 Sgl.8 Dbl) Changspa 253084

Two Star (3 Sgl. 9 Dbl) Karzoo 252250

Galdan (1 Sgl. 3 Dbl) -do- - -

Galwan Nallah (1 Sgl. 4 Dbl) Yurtung - 252509

Spon (2 Sgl.6 Dbl) Likir Village - -

Budha Garden (1 Sgl. 5 Dbl) Choglamsar 244074

Kitchir (4 Dbl.) Stok 242025

Drukpa (4 Dbl.) Stok -

Moon Land (10 Dbl.) Leh 252175

Page 83: Ladakh Guide & Maps




Hunder Moonland (4 Dbl.) Hunder(Nubra) -

Irfan (5 Dbl.) Malpak, Leh -

Lyon (6 Dbl.) Changspa 253361

Lhari (4 Dbl.) -do- - -

Lotsava - (4 Sgl.4 Dbl.) Alchi Village -

Stanzin (4 Dbl.) Changspa 252483

Karzoo (1 Sgl. 3 Dbl) -do- 252324

Samdopling. Alchi Village. -

Yokma (5 Dbls) Changspa 253478

Holiday Inn (7 Dbls) -do- Nil

Sonam Chan (5 Dbls) -do- Nil

Narzin (3 Dbls) -do- Nil

Odzer (4 Dbls) -do- Nil

Y-Guest House (6 Dbls) Sankar Nil

Norbuling (5 Dbls) Chubi 252841

Nilza (4 Dbls) Sankar 252374

Zaltak (4 Dbls) Chamgspa 252593

Jimmi (5 Dbls) Chamgspa Nil

Siala (6 Dbls) Fort Food Nil

Larchang (8 Dbls) Chamgspa 252797

Sindu (4 Dbls) Shey 244218

Zimskhang (4 Dbls) Tegar(Nubra) Nil

Shagrila (4 Dbls) Lamayuru Nil

Stak Jing (4 Dbls) Stok 242001

Gulshan (1 Sgl.2 Dbl) Skara Nil

Tsenala (4 Dbls) Stok Nil

(Note-The following tariff was fixed by the authorities for the year 2002-2003.)

TARIFF OF HOTELS IN LEH (Vaild upto 31st March 2003)

(Subject to annual review)

Type of accommodation

A-Class A.P. MAP C.P. E.P.

01 Suite 2625/- 2325/- 2025/- 1875/-

02 Double Room 2325/- 2025/- 1725/- 1575/-

03 Double Room Single Occupancy 1925/- 1775/- 1625/- 1550/-

04 Single Room 1820/- 1675/- 1525/- 1445/-


Page 84: Ladakh Guide & Maps




01 Double Room 1550/- 1300/- 1050/- 950/-

02 Double Room Single Occupancy 1150/- 1000/- 900/- 850/-

03 Single Room 1110/- 975/- 850/- 800/-


01 Double Room 1000/- 800/- 600/- 525/-

02 Double Room Single Occupancy 850/- 750/- 550/- 500/-

03 Single Room 700/- 600/- 500/- 400/-


01 Double Room 625/- 525/- 425/- 375/-

02 Double Room Single Occupancy 500/- 450/- 400/- 300/-

03 Single Room 400/- 300/- 300/- 275/-


Upper Class

01 Double Room - - - 300/-

02 Single Room - - - 200/-

Medium Class

01 Double Room - - - 175/-

02 Single Room - - - 150/-

Economy Class

01 Double Room - - - 150/-

02 Single - - - 100/-

Terms & Conditions I: AP = Room with full boarding MAP = Room + breakfast + Dinner; CP = Room + breakfast EP = Room only II. Full tariff w.e.f 15th June to 15th September III 25% Discount during lean tourist season (i.e. 15th April to 14th June and 16th Sept to 15th Nov.) IV. 50% Discount during peak winter months (i.e. 16th November to 14th April) V. Heating of rooms etc. to be charged extra. VI. Local taxes on tariff not included.

Page 85: Ladakh Guide & Maps




List of Hotels, Travel Agents, Excursion Agents In Kargil

List of Registered Hotels in Kargil Town

A' Class Hotels Telephone No Fax No.

1 Carvan Sarai Lankor 24 Double bed rooms 33290 33268 2 D' Zojila Biamathang 28 Double bed rooms 32227/32540 32578

3 Kargil Continental Near TRC Kargil 30 Double bed rooms 32320/32304 32575

4 Siachen Kargil Town 27 Double bed rooms 32360 32573 B' Class Hotels 1 Greenland Main Bazar 22 Double bed rooms Nil

2 Tourist Margina Near Taxi Stand 22 Double bed rooms 32381


1 Crown Near Public Park 14 Double bed rooms 32243

2 Ruby Near Taxi Stand 08 Double bed rooms 32343

3 Shashila Main Bazar 04 Double bed rooms Nil

List of Registered Hotels at Drass (Kargil)


1 Hils View Main Bazar Drass 15 Double bed rooms 74063

2 Dream Land Main Bazar Drass 06 Double bed rooms 74039

ECONOMY Class 1 City Light Drass 02 Double bed rooms Nil

List of Registered Hotels in Padum (Zanskar)

B'Class 1 Hotel Haftal Padum 06 Double bed rooms

ECONOMY Class 1 Hotel Chorala Padum 04 Double bed rooms

2 Hotel Snowland Padum 05 Double bed rooms

3 Hotel Ibex Padum 04 Double bed rooms

Registered Travel Agencies / Excursion in Kargil 1 Ansari Travels Near Hotel

Siachen 32359

2 Kargil Adventure Tours

Main Bazar Nil

3 Zojila Tours & Travels

C/o Hotel D. Zojila

32360 / 32573 32227

4 Zanskar Mountain Travels

Padum Zanskar (01985)45018

5 Zanskar Tours & Travels

Padum Zanskar (09182)53337

Page 86: Ladakh Guide & Maps

?�������������� �!�




Salted Tea in Leh! Description: walking thought the streets in Leh, i met a wonderful lady and she invited me to have a nice tea at her place. it was a wonderful occassion to see a typical Leh house inside!. There were a hight, narrow stairs, and up there are the main rooms, very warm, full of carpets, photograps, and it was full of light! we were watching pictures of her wedding (the typical Ladakhi "hat" full of turquoises)and her family, she was very nice. I tried the salted tea, made with butter yak and salt! an expirience!

The German Bakery Type: Bakery Description: The German Bakery... not "real" food, but still... a place worth going. Much as I like Indian food, sometimes the rich combination of spices was too much for m... my belly screamed for something blander. I found all I needed at the German Bakery Favorite Dish: Cakes... delicious, sweet, yummy cakes. But the real best was the Yak cheese: just buy some, add a roll of bread... and you have made yourself a most delicious sandwhich Prices: less than US$10 Comparative Price: less expensive than average Customer Satisfaction: A Great Experience. Address: library road Directions: around the corner from Main Bazar road


Best know for German Bakery products, Very good continental and Chinese cusines. The kinda place where you sit in the sun, meet fellow travelers. 2-3 $ for a complete meal.


Good Indian Mughlai cusines about 2-3 $ for a complete meal for one person.


Try some Tibetan dishes here. 1-2$ for a complete meal.


Well known for Curry in a Hurry and Tandooris. (Hay! I used to run this and barbecue that time...)

Page 87: Ladakh Guide & Maps

?�������������� �!�




Indian, Chinese and Tibetan cusines. One of the well furnished restaurant.


(Meeting point): All organic here.... All Ladakhi dry fruits, Apricot Jam & Home backed Ladakhi bread, bottled distilled water...must visit before trek shoppings... Favorite Dish: Well... my favorite dish is Momos...similar to Chinese "Dimsum" dumplings.... But if you are a traveler do not eat in ample (I have noticed that western people can not digest it easily..) Prices: less than US$10 Comparative Price: about average Address: Leh Directions: All within walking distance of 5 minutes

Spic n Span Type: Other Description: Fresh Lime sodas in the garden.

Tibetan Kitchen

AUthentic Tibetan Dishes Description: Fresh Preparation and friendly service. Favorite Dish: All Tibetan Dishes, Like Momo, Thukpa etc and Soups are just great...Avocado Soup in particular. Its delicious and fresh. Prices: less than US$10 Comparative Price: about average Customer Satisfaction: A Great Experience Address: Tibetan Kitchen, Hotel Tso-kar, Fort Road, Leh Lad Directions: Down the fort road. Phone: 01982-253071

Monalisa. dont miss at all..... Type: Diner Prices: less than US$10 Comparative Price: about average Customer Satisfaction: Satisfied. Address: monalisa, chanspa road, leh...

Page 88: Ladakh Guide & Maps






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Page 91: Ladakh Guide & Maps




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