The first thing that comes to our minds when we think of Ladakh is fluttering prayer flags tied to a long rope, barren landscapes dipped in gold enclosing you on all sides, and huge mass of glacial water accumulated in the foothill of the mountains kissed by snow. However, the lower ranges of the region receive small amount of snow during winters, but you should never make a perception that you are going to get moderate climate conditions, because winters show no mercy at all on the local people as well as it guests.
The region is referred to as the land of landscapes and high passes. Ladakh is home to about 10 lakes and high mountainous passes. There is an old saying in Ladakhi, “who comes to Ladakh is either the best of friends or the worst of enemies.”
There are multiple ways to reach Ladakh. The most popular is Leh-Manali highway of about 490 km length traversing through multiple passes. But the options come down to just one if you are traveling to this region in winters, i.e., air travel. You need to catch flight from Delhi and land in Leh – one of the most popular districts of J&K. Leh is a beautiful town situated at a distance of 474 km from Manali. It’s the second largest district in the entire nation with 45110 km² of area after Kutch, Gujarat.
If we look at the region from demography point of view, Ladakh is located in the eastern part of J&K, which is mostly barren and receives very less amount of rain per year (as low as four inches per annum). Due to such climatic conditions, the cold desert has a low or no reliability on agriculture and horticulture. Soil is light and sandy in this region, making it unsuitable for cultivation. This is one of the major reasons why this region is entirely dependent of tourism. After realizing backwardness of this region in comparison to other parts of the state, Ladakh was finally thrown open to tourists back in 1974 by the state government. It is one of the wisest decisions ever taken by the state government that has eventually evolved into a way of earning bread and butter for local inhabitants.
However, looking at the brighter side, fewer rains make it a perfect playground for trekking, climbing, and road journeys throughout the year. Absolute barren mountains with no vegetation at all show a pattern of vivid colors ranging from bluish grey to purple to golden yellow as the sun drifts along the ecliptic. Well-maintained asphalt roads across high passes and broad valleys make it an ideal getaway for long road journeys.
Elevation of the region varies from an average of 2760 meters (Kargil) to as high as 7672 meters (the summit of Saser Kangri). An average elevation you remain at while driving through one of the most beautiful roads in the entire world is 3500 to 4500 meters. The passes, some of them world’s greatest and most famous, you conquer along the way are much higher and treacherous.
Huge blue and clear water lakes, splendid landscapes, long tranquil treks, and challenging mountain summits make Ladakh a great place for travelers and adventure seekers around the world. Warm and welcoming nature of local people is another big reason that makes this place the Mecca of travelers.