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<< Indian Himalayas << About Himalayas >> << Culture Travel >> << Culture of Ladakh >>

Culture Travel Ladakh

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

Visits to the major Buddhist monasteries and other cultural or heritage sites are the principal tourist attractions of central Ladakh and Zanskar. These sites, most within reach of Leh, may be visited by bus or by taxi. Most villages and/ or monasteries are provided with regular bus services from Leh. Taxis are expensive, with fixed tariff for almost every monastery or group of monasteries, but offer good value in terms of comfort, convenience and time frame.

The monasteries constitute the fountain-head of Ladakh's Buddhist religion and culture. Tourists are advised to respect their sanctity. Shoes may have to be removed before entering some of the temples.

Buddhism reached Tibet from India via Ladakh, and there are ancient Buddhist rock engravings all over the ragion, even in areas like Dras and the lower Suru Valley which today are inhabited by an exclusively Muslim population. The divide between Muslim, and Buddhis Ladakh passes through Mulbekh (on the Kargil-Leh road) and between the villages of Parkachick 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 Buddhist village is invariable marked by mani walls which are long chest-high structures faced with engraved stones bearing the mantrra im mane padme hum and by chorten, commemorative cairns, like stone pepper-pots.

Many villagers 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 hermitage housing a single image and home to solitary lama. The demeanor 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 emerging from semi-seclusion and taking jobs other than traditional ones like farming and house - keeping. The natural joie-de-vivre of the Ladakhis is given free rein by the ancient traditions of the region. Monastic and other religious festivals, many of which fall in winter, provide the excuse for convivial gatherings. Summer pastimes all over the region are archery and polo. Among the Buddhists, these often develop into open-air parties accompanied by dance and song, at which chang, the local brew made from fermented barley, flows freely.

Travel in Leh-Ladakh (Jammu & Kashmir)

Leh, the capital of Ladakh is a fascinating destination. Age-old monasteries, quaint lanes, colorful markets and stunning views of the Himalayas make Leh an exotic destination. Leh is where your adventure in Ladakh begins. You can go trekking through the mountainous terrain of Ladakh, enjoy a game of polo in a high altitude arena or watch an archery contest where local residents compete in a contest that remains unchanged by time. Mountaineering, white water rafting and wildlife tours are other adventurous attractions of Leh Ladakh India. Though the weather can be freezing cold, the smiles on the faces of the Ladakhi people are sure to warm your heart. Feel on top of the world in Ladakh, on tours to Ladakh with Leh Ladakh India.

Leh (3505)
A tiny speck of freshness in a hollow between monotonous grey slopes at a transiion from desert to greenery.  Leh is a jigsaw of terraced roofs and houses jammed against one another.  The bazaar cuts the town in two; this main artery reaches out from the centre to the enormous Royal Palace. Built into rock, the palace dominates the whole countryside.  The mosque used by the Muslim community lies at the far end of the bazaar.  In the narrow lanes are small eating places; here the standard meal is a bowl of boiled noodles, toped with meat both, washed down with salted butter tea. The little bazaar (Markets) sells hand-woven carpets with dragon designs, trinkets of silver and copper set with turquoise and painted thankas or scrolls.

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