LADAKH, the far flung eastern corner of troubled Jammu and Kashmir state, is India's most remote and sparsely populated region, a high - altitude desert cradled by the Karakoram and Great Himalayas ranges. For tourists, this barren and breathless land offers a window on a unique glimpsed by a few intrepid western travellers.
The first settlements, along the upper Indus, were established by Mons, Buddhist pilgrims on their way from India to Mt Kailash in Tibet. The Brokpa tribe, who today live in Dha- Hanu, are the last Indo-Iranian people to still follow Buddhism.
In the 9th century, Ladakh's influence extended beyond the Indus Valley and during this time many forts and palaces, including Shey, were constructed. In the late 14th century Tsongkhapa, a Tibetan pilgrim, introduced to Ladakh a Buddhist order headed by the first Dalai-Lama. The new order, known as Gelupka, flourished and led to the founding of gompas at Tikse, Likkir and Spituk.
Leh is nested in a side valley just to the north of the Indus Valley. Until 1947 it had close trading relations with Central Asia yak trains would set off from the Leh Bazaar to complete the stages over the Kaakoam Pass to Yarkand and Kashgar.
Administering the Valleys of Suru , Drass, Wakha and Bodkarbu, Kargil lies midway between the alpine valleys of Kashmir and the fertile reaches of the Indus Valley and ladakh
Thak Thok gompa shelters a cave in which the apostle Padmasambhava is said to have meditated during his epic eight-century journey to Tibet.
Dhahanu is situated to the south west of Leh, around 163 Kms. passing through the beautiful villages of Kaltsey, Domkhar, Skurbuchan
Padum is 240 km to the south of Kargil, comes as a bit of an anticlimax.
The monastery of Stongdey lies 18 kms. To the north of Padum, on the road leading to Zangla.
Walled in by the Great Himalayan Divide, Zanskar, literally " Land of White Copper" has for decades exrted the allure of Shangri La on visitours to Ladakh.
Zangla is the nodal point on the popular Padum Strongdey Zangla Karsha Padum round trip, which covers most of the cultural sites of Zanskar.
Rangdum is an elliptical expanded plateau surrounded by colourful hills on the one side and glacier encrusted rocky mountains on the other.
Diving two of the world's most formidable mountain ranges, the Suru Valley winds south from Kargil to the desolate Pensi La the main entry point for Zanskar.
the Nubra valley - nubra means green used to be on the trading route connection Tibet with Turkistan, Also Now as the Valley of Flowers more ...
Drass (3230 m), 60 km west of Kargil on the road to Srinagar, is a small township lying in the centre of the valley of the same name .
The Shyok River receives the waters of the Nubra and Changchenmo rivers. It rises from the Khumdang glacier, which can be approached from Shyok.
The Salt Lake Valley is one of the widest open areas in Rupshu. It can be approached from Leh across the Tanglang La pass.
Pangong Tso, 15km to the southeast of Leh, is one of the largest saltwater lakes in Asia, a long narrow strip of water stretching from Ladakh east into Tibet.
Tso Moriri or "Mountain Lake" is Famous for the large herds of king, or wild ass, which graze on its shores, the lake of Tso Moriri.