Ladakh constitutes more than 50% of Jammu & Kashmir. However very few people associate this place with the state, probably due to its different demography, geography and culture. Ladakh is a cold desert inter spread by Indus and Zaskar
rivers and Zaskar mountain ranges of the Himalayas. The above picture is the image of zaskar and Indus river Sangam. This place is used for river rafting in summers and when the river is frozen in winters, this is a paradise for trekking, most famous being the cheddar trek. Most of the population in eastern Ladakh are traditional Tibetean Buddhists. This region is dotted with beautiful stupas and ancient Tibetean monasteries giving a sense of calm and peace to one of the most untouched and most virgin places in India. The western part of Ladakh, however is among the more hostile and war prone regions of the country. Kargil, Dras, Siachen are places where some of the most coveted operations of the Indian army have been executed, as Ladakh has China on one side and Pakistan on the other. Most of the families in Ladakh are associated with the Indian army in one way or the other.
When one visits Ladakh, it takes around half a day to a couple of days to get acclimatize to the oxygen levels here due to its great altitude. Once one gets used to the oxygen, this place is sure to give you all the happiness you need from life.
The monasteries here give you a sense of tranquility and peace, even if you are not a very spiritual human being like me. The most famous ones are Thiksey, Hemis, Likir, Stakna, Diskit, Spituk. Thiksey is the largest of the lot having an architecture similar to the Potala palace in Lhasa, Tibet. This monastery also has a Maitreya buddha temple, with a beautiful 15 meter tall lord Maitreya. Lord Maitreya is among the most worshipped deities in this region. The largest Maitreya Buddha statue however is in Diskit, a village in the Nubra valley here. Each monastery has its own cultural festival, which are extremely colourful and treat for photographers. Mulbek is the only famous monastery in western ladakh, located in Kargil. Leh is the commercial capital town. It has a beautiful market. From leh palace one can have a bird eye view of the town. Leh has home stays a plenty for tourists and travelers to stay. This town is a heaven for foodies with Tibetean, European, Israeli, Indian delicacies being served in many corners of the market.
Also one can stay in tent rooms away in the Nubra valley and Pangong, which I would recommend for the younger lot. Talking of Pangong and Nubra, the journeys from leh are quite hectic but worthwhile as you have to cross among the highest passes( Chang la and Khardung la) respectively to reach here. In the village of Hunder in Nubra, the tourists enjoy a breathtaking camel safari. Pangong is a beautiful lake, partly in Tibet. However this is one of the many beautiful lakes in Ladakh. Tso moriri is the other famous lake near by.