Most Part Of J&K
Also Known As: The Moonland, Little Tibet, The Last
Significance: The Remotest Region Of India.
is a land like no other. Bounded by two of the world's
mightiest mountain ranges, the Great Himalayas and the
Karakoram, it lies athwart to two other ranges, the Ladakh range and the Zanskar range.
In geological terms, this is a young land, formed only a few
million years ago by the buckling and folding of the earth's
crust as the Indian sub-continent pushed with irresistible
force against the immovable mass of Asia. Its basic contours,
uplifted by these unimaginable tectonic movements, have been
modified over the millennia by the opposite process of
erosion, sculpted into the form one sees today by wind and
The best time for a trek in Ladakh is July to September.
By air: Leh is connected by air from Delhi,
Chandigarh, Jammu and Srinagar.
By road: Leh can be reached by road from Manali
by covering a distance of 471 kms over some
of the highest passes in the world. Alternatively Srinagar is
connected to Leh by Zozila Pass.
High grade trek routes (3/4c) converging on Leh via Padum
in Zanskar. Also start from Kishtwar over the Sersank and Pota
La and from Zanskar crossing the Charcharal. Perhaps the most
popular pass of all is the Shingola which still serves as an
arterial route (19 days/3C) from Lahaul to Zanskar.
7/8 trek days from moderately high passes (3C) end with visits
to the Markha valley, Stok Village and the celebrated Hemis
Monastery. The season is also marked by higher water volume in
the Indus enabling rafting excursions from Leh down to Nimmu
near its junction with Zanskar River. Acclimatisation is
essential. Day visits from from Leh can be taken to the
Buddhist Monasteries dotting the Indus Valley. Leh bazaar
itself harks back to the oldest trade routes to Tibet.
Inner Line Permit
Inner line permit is required for trekking in certain
areas of Ladakh which may be obtained from J & K Tourism
office in Delhi or the district magistrate office in Leh or
from the Indian Missions abroad.
The Zanskar sub-division of Kargil district is centered
around its main settlement at Padum (3505m). Four main routes
pass up to 5000 m converge here from Lahaul in the Chenab
valley, Kishtwar, Suru Valley and Leh. Truly one of the most
desolate places in the Himalayas, Zanskar is known for its
spectacular scale, hardy mountain folk and extreme winter when
the Zanskar river freezes to form the "Chandar" over
which mail runners operate.
On the North and Eastern exits of the Indus valley in
Ladakh there are two of the world's highest motorable passes:
Khardungla at 18,3000 ft from the Nubra valley and Taglangala
at 17,500 ft on the Manali road. The former is Karakoram
gate-way to the vast confluence of the Shok and Nubra rivers,
Saser Kargil peak and its associated lofty ranges. Eastward in
the same district, over the Changala at 17,000ft, the road
winds its way to the barkish Pangyong-tso and Tso Moriri lakes
at 14000 ft on the edge of the Tibetan plateau, where the
traveller may sight the nomadic herdsmen of the Changthang, the
black-necked crane or the elusive snow leopard.
Sights & Sound
Down the Indus from Leh, the route branches off for the a
Hanu region inhabited by the Dards reputedly descendants from
the armies of Alexander The Great.
Kargil (2705m) is now a district head-quarter and is 234 kms
from west of Leh. It held its own importance on the earlier
commercial map. A further 60 kms west of Kargil is Drass
(3230m), reportedly one of the coldest places in winter. But
it is Kargil's Suru Valley on the edge of the Great Himalayan
range that leads in to the region of Pannikhar, Saukhoo, the
Ringdum Monastery. A number of 2/3 treks in the area provide
close ups around the Nun & Kun peaks.