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Ladakh



LADAKH QUICK INFORMATION

ladakh travel video, guest feedback, Ashoka Holidays Location :
Himalayas, Jammu & Kashmir, North India [GMT+5:30 ]

Capital :
Leh

Population :
Approx. 2.40 lakh in the 2 districts of Leh & Kargil

Area :
97,000 sq. km

Languages :
Ladakhi (Tibetan Script), Hindi and English. Also Balti / Purgi, Shina or Dardic, Urdu.

Bordering state :
Himachal Pradesh (south) & Kashmir Valley (west)

Best time to visit :
June – October to have the Most of Ladakh  or the Best of Ladakh Tour
Mid-Jan – End-Feb to do the Frozen Cheddar Trek
Rest of the year – visit Monasteries; Festivals of Stok, Matho and Tibetan New Year; or the Sham trek.


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LADAKH ORIENTATION

Ashoka HolidaysSculpted by winds, waters and the glacial movements it has been having a drop-jaws effect and rightly earning clichés like “Hermit Kingdom”, “Land of Gompas”, “Shambhala”, and “Last Shangri La”. Emptiness, a key Buddhists philosophy, reflected by Ladakh’s barren and hostile landscapes sideswipes a few of the tourists who pose “Sorry Ladakh…Not again”. No doubt, majority returns again and again and yet again either touched by the divinity that survives in that same “emptiness” or for, “it’s different”! “it’s LADAKH

A stretch of Tibet in terms of culture & topography Ladakh is a vast-cold-rock-and-desert expanse averaging 3500m in altitude and is neighbored by lush green Kashmir valley & Himachal Pradesh. It is sparsely populated with approx. 0.2 million humans. The unique profile of Ladakh’s landscape renders it a suitable destination for Jeep Safari – Biking – Trekking – Rafting – Mountaineering – Wildlife & Bird watching.

Travel to Ladakh and experience the isolation & moonscapes of the Zanskar, shimmering calm waters of the Changthang, the surprising landscape of Nubra, and the unique Brokpa culture of Dha Hanu. Dotting these sub-regions are the numerous rugged moonscapes, river-valleys, ancient Gompas (Monasteries), simple folks, colorful festivals, mystic oracles, dancing monks, wind-kissing prayer flags and mantras, and also double humped camel-safari, Leh berry juice, polo and archery, arts & handicrafts et al that enliven the Ladakhi sojourn.
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LADAKH DESTINATIONS AND EXPERIENCES - Tourists Attractions

Destinations/ Circuits / Regions ExperiencesIntroduction
LehSights:
  • Leh Palace,
  • Tsemo Gompa,
  • Old Leh Market,
  • Shanti Stupa
Activities:
  • Fairs & Festivals
  • Sports
Facilities:
  • Hotels & Guest houses
  • Restaurants,
  • Travel Agents & Tour operators,
  • Information centre
  • Market
Leh town, a former barter centre for Pashm (Cashmere) & spices & the present headquarters of the Leh district, today forms the epicenter of tourism in Ladakh. With all its touristy comforts, Leh comes as a relief for the travelers who entered Ladakh via the tiring trans-Himalayan roads. Also, at 3505m (11,500 ft.) above the sea level it is a perfect place to get acclimatized to the great heights & rarefied atmosphere of Ladakh and prepare oneself for the greater heights waiting ahead. The road to a wholesome Ladakh Darshan goes through Leh with modern facilities and amenities – market, hotels, cafes, buses/taxis, airport, hospitals etc.
Pangong Tso lake Magnificent Pangong Tso lake; en route picturesque villages; Gompas; photography; journey itself!Here, at over 14,000 ft (4200m), nature rendered the Pangong canvas with its childlike creativity – the clear waters strikingly changing from refreshing turquoise to somber gray, while mirroring the surroundings that hover over and around it. The transitions till the sunset following the spectacular sunrise on this natural marvel are all worth being-eye-witness to and certainly make perfect desktop-images.

Pangong is approx. 140 Kms. away from Leh, situated at an altitude of 14,000 ft. above the sea level. The Pangong Lake is around 71 Kms. long but only 25% of the Lake is in India rest falls in the share of China. The vast and serene lake displays a spectacular color variation from dark blue to turquoise green during the day.
Tso Moriri lakeLakes Tso Moriri & Tso Kar, wildlife esp. birds, nomad herdsman’s lifestyle, one of the highest cultivation, driving and/or riding, and of course, camerawork!The journey past the deep gorges between the Ladakh and the Zanskar ranges, along the legendary Indus river, on the good-bad tarmacked surfaces, following rocky-dirty-sandy trails, cutting across the stretches of the Tibetan Plateau and the Rupshu valley, and always accompanied by the usual unnerving heights and scenic country delights. It puts one close up to the exotica that Ladakh treasures between its mighty and rugged Himalayan shelterbelts.  

This Southeast to the Leh circuit is a little off-track and less traveled compared to that of Pangong Tso but any such quantitative analogies are injustice to these natures’ marvel. While on the move and/or during one’s brief halts this circuit is the place to get intimate with the natural waters, and the thriving wildlife and the camping nomadic herdsman of the yesteryears thriving on the upper reaches of the Ladakh. Of course, as the name suggests Tso Moriri lake forms the highlight.
NubraChanging landscapes, highest motorable pass, double-humped camel safari, monasteries (Diskit Gompa & Samasthemling Gompa)Nubra [meaning ‘flower valley’ in Tibetan] is a wide fertile valley with a beautiful green terrain and referred to as the ‘valley of flowers’. It was once a part of the Central Asian trade route when around 10000 horses and double-humped camels hoofed its floors.

Getting a hold on the beacon highway, going over the worlds Highest Motorable Pass, the Khardung La, north of the Leh, towards the Nubra valley circuit promises one the scenic surprises that will slap down the ‘barren moonscape impression of Ladakh’ that washes ones mind up till and until this journey.

After overcoming a probable highest motorable road one is welcomed to the charm of the Nubra with the landscape changing from the barren mountains to the lush green and the desert with a snow-capped backdrop!! 

Tour Of Nubra: 2 Days with overnight stay at Guesthouses or camps with basic facilities.
Dha Hanu [Drokpa Circuit]Culture: Drokpa community;
Villages: Beautiful Dha and Beema villages;
Drive: scenic country drive past numerous beautiful villages.
Dha-Hanu circuit, lying 160 kms to the north-west of Leh, is an interesting alternate to the conventional route to Kargil via Mulbekh & Shergol. It is a scenic country drive along the river Indus, gorges, beaches, confluence of Indus and Shayok and many beautiful villages like Khalsey, Domkhor, Achinathang etc. However, out of the beautiful villages that are worth more than a ‘dekko’, only two villages of Dha and Beema are open to tourists to explore.

The amazing Drokpa community forms the highlight of this circuit and hence the name “the Drokpa Circuit”. There are factors that differentiate Drokpa belt from the rest of the Ladakh. Drokpa people have the features of pure Aryans, language similar to that spoken by immigrants from Gilgit and Drass and culture and religious practices resembling that of ancient pre-Buddhist animistic religion of Bonchos. Interestingly, the Drokpa people avoid cow and its products. Three times in a year, they have a celebration of the harvest called as Bono-na Festival made lively by the songs, hymns, and ancient rituals. The warm microclimate of the place blesses it with two crops a year and fruits like apricots, apples, walnuts and grape.

Tour of Dha Hanu Circuit : 2 Days with overnight stay in the tents.[from Leh]
ChangthangLakes [‘Tso’ – ‘lake’ in Ladhaki] - Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri, Tso Kar
Wild animals - The Kiang [Tibetan wild ass], foxes, hares, Marmot, Bharal, Lynx etc;
Rare Birds - Bar headed goose, brahminy duck, pintails, black-necked cranes.
Changpa or Khampa nomads
Rupshu valley: Beautiful country drives or treks
Changthang is the extension of Tibetan Plateau into Ladakh and home of the nomadic herdsmen, Changpa (Khampa) and their flocks of pashmina goats. The vast wilderness of Changthang is one of India’s five bio-diversity regions. The uplands of this cold desert averages 4430m (14600 ft) and acts as a basin for few of the highest and most beautiful lakes around the world. Lakes and wetlands of the Changthang are habitat of many a rare and elusive wild animals and birds.

Tso Moriri lake: At 15,500 ft above sea level, nestled between the snow-dusted peaks, lie the cool and calm waters in the basin carved on the higher Himalayas. One of the highest lakes of the world, Tso Moriri, is 28 km long and 8 km at its widest and 4 peaks viz. Mentok and Kharlung on the right and Karchu and Langsar on the left looms over it.The lake forms the breeding ground for the bar headed goose, brahminy duck, pintails, black-necked cranes. The Kiang [Tibetan wild ass], foxes, hares and of course, the delightful Marmots are not difficult to be seen as it is surrounded by a wildlife reserve. The Khampa [Changpa] nomads, too, inhabits this region with their cattle and yaks and their temporary dwellings.

Tso Kar lake: At a distance of around 80 km from Tso Moriri, lies a spectacular lake ringed by the white salt, which it has been churning since ages, and no wonder called as the ‘White Lake’.

Tour of Tso Moriri & Tso Kar Circuit: 2-3 days Jeep Safari [from Leh] Trek: 2-3 weeks

Lake Pangong-Tso is an inland brackish water lake, 130-odd km long and hardly 6m at its widest, with its major portion stretched into Tibet [China]. The allowed 7 km long view some exploration along its southern shore, till Spangmik, however, more than makes-up for the lost territory’s experience.

Here, at over 14,000 ft (4200m), nature rendered the Pangong canvas with its childlike creativity – the clear waters strikingly changing from refreshing turquoise to somber gray, while mirroring the surroundings that hover over and around it. The transitions till the sunset following the spectacular sunrise on this natural marvel are all worth being-eye-witness to and certainly make perfect desktop-images

Tours of Pangong Circuit: 1-2 days [from Leh]
Private camping is prohibited nearby the lake.
Tourists aren’t allowed beyond Spangmik.
Leh - Alchi Arts, Heritage, Magnetic hill, Rock Mould at Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, moonscapes et alThe Alchi circuit lies to the west of Leh on the Leh – Kargil highway and along the Indus. Compared to other circuits in Ladakh, the terrain is gentler and almost all sights are within the reach of an excursion.

This circuit sees several monasteries of significance – religiously, symbolically, aesthetically & location. All these parameters of significance actually meet at Alchi, the highlight of the trip. However, beside Alchi it goes past some interesting shrines and sights too : Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, housing a legendary rock mould with imprints of sitting Guru Nanak Dev; Magnetic Hill that defies gravity; one of the worlds most endangered heritage sites at Basgo; the brilliant pillar-like sandstone exteriors at the Lamayuru Gompa and the moonscapes en route the same; confluence of the Indus and the Zanskar rivers – the life line for the destination in the first place etc.
Leh - ManaliEn route scenic splendors – making this unending surface journey of ~475 kms a ‘must-in-a-life-time’. Plus, the Acclimatization blues, chilling tented night-halts, whimsical weather. The clichés like “there is no short cut to success” and “the success is a journey not (only) a destination” make sense if one opts for this perfect gateway to the ‘land of high passes’ or ‘high altitude desert’ or ‘little Tibet’ that Ladakh is. Around 475 kms of apparently unending and unnerving overland journey goes through thousands of cascading vistas - cascading rivers, waterfalls, high passes, lakes, villages, transition from a green coniferous landscape to a barren rocky one etc.
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LADAKH SUGGESTED HOLIDAYS - Tours, Treks, Rafting Program and packages

Ladakh holidays/Trek/Rafting No. Of daysDestinations Covered
Best Of Ladakh Tour 15Delhi – Leh – Nubra – Alchi – Kargil (via Dha hanu) – Padum – Tso Moriri – Tso Kar – Pangong – Leh – Delhi

Jeep Safari across most of the regions of Ladakh viz. the Nubra, Zanskar, Changthang, and Leh.
Its Differen Tour 8 Delhi – Leh – Phey – Rumbak – Zingchen – Stok – Leh – Delhi

Warm Homestays, mild trek up the Stok la pass (4900 m), moderate rafting on the Indus and viewing the unique wildlife – Blue sheep, the Great Tibetan Sheep or Argali, high altitude flora.
The Himalayan Safari Tour23DelhiManaliLahaul – Sarchu – Tso Moriri – Nubra – Pangong – Alchi – Kargil – Zanskar – Srinagar – Delhi

A North Indian ‘Himalayan’ Feast! With Ladakh, one also gets a close-up with the lush green Kashmir valley and Himachal delights.
Markha Valley Trek 08 days of overall Moderate trek 12 Tour daysMarkha valley & river; Camping at the base of the Kang-yutze peak on the plains of Nimaling; Hemis monastery
Zanskar Classic Trek [Lamayuru – Padum –Darcha]19 days of Challenging trek from Ladakh to Himachal. 25 Tour DaysZanskar isolation & stark landscapes, hardy people; Ancient monasteries of Phutkal, Lingshet, Sani; explore the beautiful Himachal
Changthang Traverse Trek [Rumste to Tso Moriri]08 days of overall Moderate walk across the vast Tibetan Changthang plains 13 Tour DaysBeautiful lakes of Tso Moriri & Tso Kar; Wildlife – marmots, ibex, blue sheep and Kiangs (wild asses) in plenty; Changpa (khampa) Nomads & their herds & yak skin tents.
Stok Kangri Ascent
03 days of arduous ascent (20,100ft /6150m) 8 Tour DaysMost famous peaks; spectacular view of the Indus valley and karakoram range; it can also be done with Markha valley trek.
Sham Trek [Likir to Khalste] 04 days of Easy & short trek for the beginners & the families 8 Tour Days Lamayuru, Likir & Rizong Gompas; pretty village of Hemisshukpachan dots this lower ladakh Trek [can be done throughout the year]
Old Monasteries route [Lamayuru to Alchi]05 days of overall Moderate trek. 11 Tour Days3 heritage monasteries of founded by the great Ringchen Zangpo Alchi, Wanla & Sumdachan.
Chaddar Trek [Frozen Zanskar River] Jan-Mid March 18 days of Challenging pilgrimage trek during the severe winters. 24 daysUltimate adventure of Walking on Frozen river of Zanskar, a part of the ancient Silk route,
Rafting on the Zanskar5 days of run down the Zanskar rapids of grade II, III & IV. Experience not an issue. 13 Tour Days Rafting thrill & Zanskar delights with narrow gorges, monasteries, people, homestays etc.
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LADAKH FESTIVALS - monastic, cultural, touristic events and programs

Have a wholesome cultural feast of things Himalayas and Himalayan by timing your visit around its various Fairs & Festivals. Festivals of Monasteries and those touristic in nature are showcase of Ladakh’s rich cultural heritage that still lives in its folk music, songs, thematic masked dances,  monastic influences, colorful attires, arts, archery, polo, Buddhism, Himalayas etc. Hemis Tse-Chu, Leh Domsche, Matho Nagrang and New Year (Galdan Namchot & Losar) are the most famous. Beside the monastic festivals Ladakh Festival [1st to 15th September] and Sindhu Darshan [Visit Indus festival from 1st to 3rd June] are worth being part of.

Festival name Time of the year Introduction
Hemis Tse Chu or the Hemis Festival
June / July [10th day of the Tibetan Lunar month]The very famous Hemis Festival requires no introduction. Travel to Ladakh during June-July to join the crowd at the courtyard of the largest & richest monastery of Ladakh, Hemis, which for 2 days go jam-packed with the Ladakhis and the tourists. Watch the Himalayan religious-cultural spectacle and celebrate the birth day of the founder of the Tibetan Buddhism, Guru Padamasambhava. The lamas attired in colorful bright brocades and elaborate headgears perform the masked dances (Chamms) with “good (Gods) defeating the evil (Demons)” being the underlying theme.

Once every 12 years the giant 62-ft Thangka (religious painting) of Guru Padmasambhav is unfurled & hung in the courtyard. It is the largest thangka in Ladakh and is richly embroidered with gold threads and studded with precious stones and pearls. (next to be unfurled in 2016)
Losar (New Year)December / January [11th month of Tibetan calendar]Losar (New Year) sees a month of preparations, ancient rituals, socio and religious get together, colorful outfits and carnival that sets Ladakh’s mood for the winters post-harvest. The real festivities starts with the illumination of the houses, monasteries & surroundings during the auspicious day of Galdan Namchot, the birth anniversary of Tsongkha pa who introduced Gelug-pa School of Tibetan Buddhism. Celebrations continue with the traditional customs – offerings to the gods and ancestors, special Ladakhi dishes ‘thukpa’ (soup of vegetable & mutton), ‘Chang’ (local barley liquor), greetings and gifts, visiting & receiving friends & relatives with presents & ‘khatak’ (a ceremonial scarf), new colorful outfits and so on. The festivities conclude with the interesting ‘Metho’ ceremony that bids goodbye to the year bygone and welcomes the New Year. The markets and lanes are all crowded to watch the procession whirling fire torches and chanting mantras to chase away the evil spirits. Travel to ladakh for celebrating the Tibetan new year is for the connoiseurs of cultures and lifestyle especially Himalayan. Travel to Leh during these whimsical times when even flights, the only access, are at the mercy of the weather.
Ladakh Festival 1st – 15th sep annually First half of the month of September is time for to taste the grand blend & showcase of trans-Himalayan Kingdom’s music, dances, arts, handicrafts, sports and culture. Cultural troupes from all over Ladakh come together for this event designed specially for the tourists by the State Tourism board. Travel Ladakh around this time for Folk songs, music, dances, colorful dresses, monastic ‘chhamms’ [masked dance], archery, polo etc happen at Leh town and different villages of Ladakh for 15 days. 
Sindhu Darshan (Visit Indus ) Festival1st – 3rd June annuallyThe 3-day Sindhu Darshan Festival is the celebration of the river Sindhu (Indus), the lifeline and the symbol of the communal harmony and national integration. It also honors the brave soldiers who martyred for their nation during the battles and continue safeguarding their country.

Cultural Artists and Performers from all over India bring with them the waters of other great rivers and mingle it with that of the Indus as a symbolic integration of the vast diversity of this legendary civilization. Following it, a host of cultural performances and other ceremonies take place.


Festival Calendar : Monastic Festival schedule based on Tibetan Calendar for tourist’s reference:

Names of the Festival Venue 2011 2012 2013 2014
Spitok Gustor Spituk JAN 31,FEB 01 JAN 21,22 JAN 9,10 JAN 28,29
Dosmoche Leh ,Likir & Deskit Monasteries MAR 2,3 FEB 19,20 FEB 8,9 FEB 27,28
Stok Guru Tse-Cue Stok Monastery MAR 14,15 FEB 2,3 FEB 19,20 MAR 10,11
Matho Nagrang Matho Monastery MAR 18,19 FEB 7,8 FEB 24,25 MAR 15,16
Buddha Purnima Leh JUNE 15 MAY 4 MAY 25 JUNE 13
Hemis Tse Chu or the Hemis Festival   Hemis Monastery JUL 10,11 JUN 29,30 JUN 18,19 JUL 7,8
Yuru Kabgyat (Lamayuru) Lamayuru Monastery JUN 28,29 JUNE 16,17 JUN 5,6 JUN 24,25
Zanskar Karsha Gustor Karsha Monastery JUL 27,28 JUL 16,17 JUL 6,7 JUL 24,25
Ph-Yang Tsedup (Phyang) Phyang Monastery JUL 28,29 JUL 16,17 JUL 6,7 JUL 24, 25
Korzok Gustor (Tso Moriri Lake) Korzok Monastery AUG 2,3 JUL 22,23 JUL 11,12 JUL 30,31
Dak-Thok Tse-Chu Dakthok Monastery AUG 8,9 JUL 28,29 JUL 18,19 AUG 6,7
Sant Naro Nasjal (Zanskar) Sani Monastery, Zanskar AUG 12,13 AUG 1,2 JUL 21,22 AUG 9,10
Shachukul Gustor Shachukul Monastery JUL 17,18 JUL 5,6 JUN 25,26 JUL 14,15
Thiksay Gustor Thiksey Monastery NOV 13,14 NOV 1,2 NOV 20,21 NOV 9,10
Chemrey Angchok Chemrey Monastery NOV 23,24 NOV 11,12 NOV 30, DEC 01 NOV 20,21
Galdan Namchot All Over Ladakh DEC 20 DEC 8 DEC. 27 DEC 16
Losar All over Ladakh DEC 25 DEC 14 JAN 02 DEC 22
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LADAKH FAQ’S - clothing, accessories, medicines, health, aMS, permits

 
Q. Summers is the Best Time to visit Ladakh. What about the rest of the year?
A. Best time to travel to Ladkah and access all its drives & treks falls during summers (June – October) before it starts snowing by November.

However, January to Mid-March is time for the very famous trek on the frozen Zanskar river, “Cheddar Trek”. Rest of the year one can visit Leh and the most of the famous monasteries and be part of the Festivals of Stok, Matho, Losar (New Year) and Sham trek too.


Q. Do I have to rest for the initial 24-40 hrs just to acclimatize? Even if I reached Leh via 450 kms of overland journey across the very high passes? Even if I am an experienced trekker and in a perfect health?

A. Yes. It makes sense to play safe and live it up. Acclimatization is applicable to anyone who comes to the land of high passes and lower-oxygen levels. This is irrespective of your mode of travel into Ladakh (air or road) and your prior experience to such place.

The altitude sickness if not taken seriously can be threatening. At the same time remember that the body takes time and rest to acclimatize, so don’t be in a hurry to medicate yourself or others.
 
 
Located: state Jammu &Kashmir [India, GMT +5:30]
Currency: Indian Rupee (INR)
Temperature: June to September (summers): 8’ - 35’ C and December to March (winters): -30 to 0’ C
Rainfall: 6” or 15 cm annual (Dry)
Phone & Fax facility: at Leh, Padum, Kargil, and Nubra
Internet facility: Leh town

 
LOCAL TRANSPORT
Only Private vehicles and local taxis and buses are allowed for local sightseeing & safari. Taxis from outside Ladakh (Leh & Kargil) allowed only until Leh & return journey. While buses are the cheapest mode of transport within Ladakh, hired taxis are the most convenient way to explore the area. Taxis are hired on fixed point-to-point bases. Detailed information about bus schedules, taxi tariff, travel agencies, etc. can be obtained from the Tourist Office.

 
 
CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES

June – September (summers)
  • Sunscreen, hat, lip balm, sunglasses, full sleeves cotton T-shirts to block the very strong sunlight.
  • Cotton, light woolen clothes, pullovers, windcheater to avoid the chilling winds esp. at high passes, near lakes and during early and late hours of the day.
  • Warm socks and comfortable walking shoes or trekking shoes.
  • During October thermals, scarves, gloves are helpful at changing weather conditions.
  • Dressing in layers helps keeping adjusting to the fickle weather with freezing cold winds and strong sun.
Between December – March (winters) substitute the light woolens and windcheaters with the heavy ones. Rest all remains the same.
  • Carry 2 waterproof rucksacks. A small one for the bottles, camera, lunch etc. And a bigger one for clothes.
  • A sleeping bag [summer/winter] useful at the tented accommodations.
  • A thermos to keep the hot beverages ready for any amazing halt on the way.
  • Torch to view the very old paintings inside the poorly lit monasteries.
  • Binoculars to spot the rare and elusive wildlife.
Leh Market provides things from a simple tourist’s utility to a trekker’s needs – sleeping Bags, rucksack, shoes, and other clothing and accessories.
 
 
MEDICINES
  • One should keep first aid designed for these heights and as suitable to one’s health. Bring medicines for stomach upsets, motion sickness, chest infection, fever, strains and a suitable sunscreen for strong sun.
  • A light portable Oxygen Cylinder if needed or advised by the doctors.
 
 
MONEY EXCHANGE AND CREDIT CARD
State Bank Of India (SBI) and Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) and some authorised private agencies provide money exchange services. Credit cards are acceptable by most of the Travel Agents, Hotels, and antique shops [2.5% service charge]

 
PERMITS
Travelling by road, Foreigners need to register themselves at Drass (Srinagar-Leh) and Rumste & Sarchu (Manali-Leh) depending upon the road they took. Foreigners traveling by air are supposed to register themselves at the Leh airport. Within Ladakh Inner-line Permits are applicable for all the tourists, foreigners and domestic. The Inner-line Permits are required for Nubra, Pangong, Tso kar, Tso Moriri, & Dha Hanu circuit, which are easily obtainable from the District Magistrate, Leh, through registered travel agents at a nominal service charge. Carry six photo-copies of the inner-lone permits while traveling to submit at different Check-points.
[related: permits to northeast india ]
 
HEALTH - AVOID ALTITUDE SICKNESS OR ACUTE MOUNTAIN SICKNESS (AMS)
“Don’t be a Gama, In the land of the Lama!” Whether you took the easy flight or travel to Ladakh taking a long drive across the mountains to reach Ladakh, you are here for the first time or have already been there, or you a seasoned trekker or a beginner, ‘Acclimatization’ is must to avoid the blues of Altitude Sickness that hits at these heights above 11,000 ft (3050 m). The rarefied atmosphere (thin air due to low oxygen content) at such heights reduces the blood oxygen pressure drastically, which makes an individual susceptible to the sickness. The common symptoms are headache, dizziness, loss of appetite, nausea, disturbed sleep, irregular breathing, breathlessness, lethargy, listlessness etc. The symptoms ask one to avoid further ascent and take rest until the symptoms disappear. It takes around 36 hours of complete rest for the body to get used to the lower oxygen levels and the symptoms to disappear fully. In case the sickness aggravates the symptoms rise in severity and may include double vision, confusion, and dry cough with production of pink frothy substance. The remedy lies in moving to a lower altitude immediately and consulting a doctor. Leh situated at 11,500 ft / 3505 m above sea level is an advisable place to adjust one’s body to the Land of great Heights. Beside Leh, other places that have Standard Medical Facilities and cozy guesthouses are Kargil, Manali , Srinagar and Chandigarh. Smaller town en route have primary health Facilities.
 
 
TIPS TO AVOID ALTITUDE SICKNESS OR ACUTE MOUNTAIN SICKNESS (AMS)
  • At least for the first 24-40hrs Rest!!! and Acclimatize that is get used to the low-oxygen levels! Remember the body takes time and rest to do it, so don’t be in a hurry to medicate yourself or others.
  • Drink plenty of water & fluids (4-5 litres a day). Better, start this practice 48 hrs before the journey across the heights and ascent and keep oneself hydrated.
  • Avoid Alcohol & Smoking to avoid dehydration & breathlessness, respectively, amidst the lower oxygen levels.
  • Until fully acclimatized and normal avoid exercises at those heights.
  • For safe Drinking water a chemical-free fresh boiled water can be filled from the Dzomsa Laundry [Main Market] for Rs.7 per liter.
  • A Water purification set can be helpful while out of the town in any remote circuit
  • Carry Oxygen cylinders if advised, very useful during emergencies en route.
MEDICAL FACILITIES
  • Leh and Kargil have a district hospital each.
  • Leh also has a Military Hospital and reliable private Doctors.
  • Srinagar has several hospitals and private practitioners.
  • Manali have numerous private practitioners.
  • Private Health Centers are available in smaller towns.
  • Army Camps en route are helpful, reasonably equipped

PRECAUTION AND RESCUE - FOR THE MOUNTAINEERS AND TREKKERS
For emergencies requiring immediate evacuation while trekking, mountaineering etc the Air Force Station, Leh, provides IAF helicopters when required but subject to
  • Payment of the operational cost and
  • Undertaking guaranteeing the payment source [travel insurance company / self]
  • Reimbursement of the damages to the helicopter while rescuing the concerned individual.
  • Usual cost is Rs.70,000/- per flying hours.
  • Forms to be filled (obtainable from Deputy Director, TRC, Leh):
    • form of Guarantee of full payment
    • form of acceptance certificate
    • form of Indemnity bond
    • Photocopy of Insurance policy card
    • Photo of Passport
There is no private aerial rescue service in Ladakh as of now.
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GETTING THERE IN LADAKH - reach ladakh, air, road, train

AirRailRoad
Delhi , Jammu & Srinagar to Leh Airport [ register at the airport]Jammu is the nearest railheadEither from Srinagar (434 kms – register at Drass) or Manali (475 kms – register at Sarchu & Rumste) Registration for the foreigners only.


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LADAKH ENVIRONMENT - Responsible tourism

One’s quest for the place unseen & unexplored is expected & respected but not at the cost of  the destination itself. Recreation of extinct bio-diversity, eroded cultural charm, lost mysticism and breached faith is perhaps impossible compared to a few simple steps that will help ‘conserve & nourish’ the very thing that attracts all to Ladakh.

During your travel to Ladakh, alone or in a group, self-guided or being guided by a tour operator, insist and encourage the following right ‘karmas’ when in Ladakh, ‘the last Shangri-La’.

Avoid Disturbing Ecology
  • Avoid chasing or disturbing the wildlife (Kiang, marmots, birds etc)
  • Avoid approaching their feeding & breeding grounds during the trek or safaris in and around the eco-sensitive places like national parks, lakes and so on. Instead, use binoculars to spot & cameras to shoot the rare and elusive wildlife.
  • Do not overrun a pasture or wet meadow across switchbacks nearby lakes or other ecologically sensitive areas. Use established campsites and beaten tracks and trails.
  • Avoid burying or burning all waste and carry it out. Greater would be if you carry out the already strewn litter too to set an example. It will go a long way in the conservation of this special environmental zone and will help the ‘cleaning treks’ organized especially for the cause.
Respect Local Customs
  • Photography: Avoid photographing of people without their permission. Avoid giving money and discourage such practices.
  • Dressing & Attitude: Dress conservatively. Avoid shorts, skirts, tight-fitting, skimpy clothes especially at monasteries. Also avoid public display of affection & love.
  • Trespassing: Do not enter houses, gardens etc without due permission.
  • Tipping: Tipping is up to one’s discretion. However, pony men, helpers, guides, and cook make up for the low wages with the tip after the tour finishes. Service charge of 10% is the norm in well-to-do hotels and restaurants.
  • Monatestries & Religious Artifacts: Don’t disturb monks during prayer; Take due permission taking pictures and avoid using flash as that damages the centuries old paintings; do not touch holy scriptures or any there objects; keep chortens and prayer wheels to your right.
Avoid Plastic Use and Abuse
  • Say no to Plastic carry bags while shopping etc. Reuse you plastic mineral water bottle and get it refilled at Dzomsa laundry (Main Market, Leh). They provide chemical-free fresh boiled water for Rs.7 per liter. The plastic is officially banned in Ladakh.
  • Avoid Dumping recklessly. Carry a waste bag to dump the non-biodegradable waste like cans, bottles, tins, batteries, disposable glasses etc at a suitable place. Biodegradable items like food, unlined cartons etc. should be buried.
  • Avoid using marmot’s burrows as ‘use me’ dumping hole.
Conservation of Energy, Water and Fuel
  • Use and encourage places with renewable energy sources of electricity like solar-powered, hydroelectricity like solar room-heating systems, solar showers etc.
  • Minimize vehicle use and if possible share rides & drives to reduce air-pollution. Use Bicycle or walk wherever possible.
  • Use Ladakhi Toilets instead of the flush toilets, where available.
  • Make sure your toilet tents to be set up at a distance of 150 ft (50 m) away from the water resources. Bury all excreta.
  • Do not wash directly from streams. Use a pan to throw away the soapy water away from the stream or better use a eco-friendly laundry services.
  • Avoid Bonfire and rather bring warm clothes to counter the cold.
Support Local Economy & NGO’s
  • While shopping or eating, consider doing so from a local shopkeeper or cooperative.
  • Learn from or volunteer with the various NGO’s that have taken different causes for the conservation and betterment of Ladakh.
  • Have a better insight into Ladakh – its culture, people, wildlife, and Sustainable lifestyle. Watch movies like “Ancient Futures” at the Women’s Alliance and “Ladakh, the Forbidden Wilderness” at Ladakh Ecological Development Group (LEDeG).

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