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Ladakh

Ladakh, The Land of High Passes, is spectacular, both physically and culturally. Situated in India’s far north between Pakistan, Tibet and Himachal Pradesh, it forms the eastern part of Jammu and Kashmir state. Perched at an altitude of over 3,500 metres (11,500 ft), the isolated plateau is fringed with soaring snow-capped mountains and enormous sweeping valleys, and deep turquoise lakes dot this high-altitude desert. This raw and awe-inspiring ancient land is often referred to as Little Tibet and is home to one of the best preserved Tantric Buddhist societies in existence. Much like Tibet prior to the Chinese invasion, dramatic monasteries sit high on rocky peaks, commanding incredible vistas of the milky blue Indus River and colourful apple and apricot orchards dotted along the riverbanks.

The Nubra Valley, traditionally known as Ldumra or the Valley of Flowers, is situated in the north of Ladakh (about 150 km north from Leh), between the Karakoram and Ladakh ranges of the Himalayas. The tri-armed valley lies at an altitude of about 3,200 metres above the sea level and is where the deep-cut Shyok and Siachan rivers meet, carving tremendous scenery on a grand scale. Small villages and distant hamlets add a human touch, and opportunities for walking and hiking, and one long Shyok Valley drive can easily fill exploration time.

Another highlight in the Ladakh region is Pangong Tso, meaning High Grassland Lake in Tibetan. Situated around 4,350 metres above sea level, the endorheic lake is a vivid sheet of blue with a striking backdrop of stark scree slopes and harsh arid mountains. It truly is an enchanting place, one rarely feels so close to nature amidst the unforgettable scenery. The long narrow basin of inland drainage is hardly five kilometres wide at its broadest point, and yet it extends over 130 kilometres long, bisected by the international border between India and China, where approximately 60% of the length of the lake lies.

Ladakh is at its finest during the summer months from mid-May to mid-September, when the warm summer air flutters colourful prayer flags on the mountain breeze, and monasteries burst into life during medieval masked dance festivals, with deep rooted culture and traditions which have little changed for 500 years. There are daily flights from Delhi to Leh or take the spectacular seasonal high roads over the Himalayas from Manali or Srinigar.

>> Read our blog: Ladakh: Summer on the Silk Route

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