An audible gasp escapes, out of awe or of oxygen, one shall never know. Whisps of clouds brush against quaint buildings that peek from amidst the undulating passes. From the silent corridors of a Buddhist monastery, a mild hum of chants echo across the icy white mountain folds. The warmth of salty butter chai soothes from the inside as a gust of cold breeze passes by. An olden tribe walk with solemn yaks and flock of sheep across the arid white land. Stars illuminate the dark expanse, lingering almost within one’s reach.
A land of varying landscapes, from white sands to blue lakes, snow-capped mountains to lush valleys, Ladakh, like a dream captured in a snow globe, is a wildly beautiful milieu set between the Kunlun Mountains and the Himalayas. Fly into the capital city of Delhi, where the confluence of old and new has produced some marvellous architecture, delectable cuisine, and more significantly, timeless stories. From here, travel to the lofty terrains of the Himalaya through the town of Leh.
The elevated magical landscapes of Leh, the city in the sky, is the gateway to the surrounding Ladakh region. This cold, arid, and remote region has enchanted travellers with its sheer rugged beauty. As a result of lying directly in Tibet's sphere of influence, Tibetan Buddhism and its unique philosophy have thrived here for centuries. Most of Ladakh outside of Leh is either very sparsely populated or is just a seemingly endless expanse of lofty mountains and valleys with the occasional monastery.
In these distant arid lands, the cultural vibrancy of its people has survived the harshness of their surroundings. Explore the several secluded monasteries that dot the spectacular landscape which stand out like jewels amid the cold desert. Drive, hike and walk to some of the abbeys and monasteries in Uletokpo and other remote hamlets and settlements; meet with the locals, the abbots, the lamas and the students of the monasteries, letting the barren expanse of Ladakh charm them with its unspoiled allure.
Amidst the snow-capped peaks and lush green fields lies the emerald blue Tso Moriri, untouched by modernity. Barley fields, rare birds, and charming white houses characterise this area inhabited by a nomadic community.
While in the mountains, there is a cycling tour for sightings of one of the loftiest mountain passes in the Himalayas. The locals eat hearty meals by gushing rivulets and walk into the enchanted old city. Ladakh offers bird watching experiences around River Indus and local people love to invite travellers to share a meal with them at their home.
The high-altitude desert city of Leh lies embraced by the Himalaya, caressed by snow. Within its winding lanes reside monasteries of ancient origins, each with their own customs and festivals. The people here live in harmony with nature, the architecture has been adapted to the climate, the cuisine suits the harsh needs of the region. The geographical isolation has protected the way of life here, giving birth to a culture largely untouched by foreign influences.
Located at a taxing altitude, the azure waters of Tso Moriri mesmerises the traveller with its surreal beauty. Situated near the village of Korzok - a tiny hamlet that was once an important centre of the glorious Central Asian trade route, the lake is home to the pastoral Changpa tribes of the plateau. This region also is a breeding ground for many rare bird species, making it a paradise for birdwatchers.
An enchanting village amidst snow draped mountains, Uleytokpo is the poised entry into the magical landscapes of Ladakh. In its craggy landscapes, reminiscent of the rugged features of the moon, are monasteries dating back to the 10th century, home to paintings and images predating Tibetan influences found in other gompas of these Himayalan heights. A quiet hamlet, Uleytokpo nurtures lore and legend that goes back centuries, still passing them on.
Traverse the high altitudes of Ladakh, along with an expert, and discover spectacular sights of apricot and barley fields, serene lakes and barren snowscapes and learn about the unique that they have given rise to.
A hike up to Rizong Gompa in Uleytokpo, a ‘paradise for meditation. This lonely but much-revered little 19th-century monastery has soot-darkened old murals and gilded statues.
Atop the Himalayan heights, near Tso Moriri Lake, a place harrowed by harsh weather conditions, live the people of Changpa, a nomadic community of shepherds. Walk down to their village and discover how the people of this area survive in such tough circumstances.
Take a spiritual sabbatical in a grand Gompa and a Monastery in Leh. Come face to face with Buddhist teachings and customs, as you explore their culture and learn their ways.