The Ladakh region, known as ‘Little Tibet’ and the ‘Land of high Passes’ is a large excessive altitude wilderness situated in a little visited corner of far northwest India. Nestled in the mountains between Tibet and Pakistan, this unassuming area is one of the ultimate preserved pockets of ancient Tibetan and Buddhist tradition.
Ladakh has the most spectacular land-scapes of India, and according to many also the most fascinating culture. Being part of the Tibetan Plateau, and bigger than most American states, it is a high altitude desert where rainfall is as sparse as in the Sahara. It is India’s highest inhabited region, with a very slight population which in the eastern part is predominantly Buddhist. Monasteries and palaces hilltops and age-vintage customs and beliefs are still practised, with several festivals being held each year.
Leh is the largest metropolis inside the place and capital of Ladakh. It lies at an altitude of approximately, 500m, sandwiched among the Ladakh and Zanskar mountain ranges. the primary hiking season here falls within the summer season months, from June to September (the alternative of in the Nepalese Himalaya). In season, a regular movement of backpackers and trekkers pass via laid-returned Leh, the gateway to the Indian Himalaya, in seek of routes much less trodden.
Ladakh opened up to international tourism in 1974 and thankfully, due to its remote region, remains unspoiled. The beauty of trekking right here is that you could easily stroll for days, if now not weeks, without passing another trekker or signal of civilisation.
For nearly 900 years Ladakh existed as an independent kingdom. Its dynasties from the king of old Tibet, but the early colonizers of Ladakh were made up of many races, from the Darads of the Western Himalaya to Tibetan nomads. The kingdom hit its height in the early 17th century when Ladakh became an established trade route between the Punjab and Central Asia. Passing merchants brought in huge amounts of wealth as they stopped en route in Leh with their precious cargoes of textiles, spices, raw silk, carpets and narcotics. Today, the Srinagar to Leh motor-road marks this ancient trade route. It wasn’t until the mid-19th century that Ladakh
was finally annexed to Kashmir, India.
Ladakh Geography and Geology
The Himalaya was born some 90 million years ago as the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates converged, forcing the Earth’s crust to buckle and uplift to create the Himalayan range and the Tibetan Plateau. The colossal forces and extreme temperatures associated with the collision also caused melting of the Earth’s crust to generate huge granite (igneous) masses of the Ladakh Range. Elsewhere, such as in the Suru and Zanskar Valleys of Ladakh, stratified (thinly layered) sedimentary deposits which once lay on the bed of the Tethys Sea may be seen. The bewildering beautiful geology of Ladakh has since been further sculpted by natural forces.
Deep winter snows that freeze and crack the rocks, the torrents of summer melt-water, and the strong winds have all contributed to the visual feast of these mountains. Ladakh is a high altitude desert, the majority of which lies at an altitude of over 2,700 metres above sea level. The peaks have risen (and continue to rise) so high that they intercept the path of the famous Indian monsoon clouds, so very little rain falls.
This means the small summer window is perfect for trekking. Singh, the ruler of Jammu at that time, invaded Ladakh in 1834. A decade of war and turmoil ensued, ending with the incorporation of Ladakh (and the neighbouring province of Baltistan) into the newly created State of Jammu & Kashmir. Just over a century later, this union was disturbed by the partition of India, with Baltistan becoming part of Pakistan, while Ladakh remained in India as part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Markha Valley – Ladakh
The Markha Valley is the traditional Ladakh trek, which takes inside the first-rate of the contrasting scenery that this part of the Himalaya has to offer. Lofty snow-clad peaks above barren hillsides of the excessive altitude wilderness contrast with quite green villages within the valleys which spring to life each summer time. some of the wild camp websites are amidst marmot territory, in which they can be visible scampering across the hillsides. There are numerous river crossings, passes over four,900m and some long days (7-9 hours on foot which includes breaks). The descent to Hemis, Ladakh’s biggest and maximum famous monastery is likewise a real highlight of this path.
Ladakh: Stok Kangri Climb
Stok Kangri is a demanding trek traversing the Ladakh Mountains on a fantastic, rarely trodden route through wild, rugged high-altitude scenery culminating with the ascent of Stok Kangri (6,153m), one of the easiest 6,000m summits in the world. The focus is not all on the summit however. There are stunning wild camps and a staggering variety of scenery, from towering rock cathedrals to fertile river valleys and breathtaking 360 degree panoramic vistas over the Himalaya. The ascent of Stok Kangri itself is optional (an alternative glacier trek is provided for those not wishing to do the climb), making this trek accessible to couples or friends with different trekking experience or capabilities. The summit ascent is technically easy although those wishing to attempt it should ideally have previous experience of using ice-axe and crampons and walking in a rope team.