At the time of writing (and for many years) the UK government advise against all but essential travel to Jammu and Kashmir other than Ladakh. Ladakh in the eastern corner of Jammu and Kashmir is India’s most remote and sparsely populated region. It is in a high altitude snow desert surrounded by the Karakoram and Great Himalayas ranges. Ladakh borders Tibet and it is so strongly influenced by the Tibetan culture that it is sometimes called ‘Little Tibet’ or ‘the last Shangri-La’. It is one of the last enclaves of Mahayana Buddhism in South Asia. Since the Chinese authorities closed the border with Tibet, Ladakh has lost its strategic position on what was once an important trade route. Tourism is now one of its main sources of income.
Leh is the largest town in Ladakh and was the capital of the Himalayan Kingdom of Ladakh before the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It has medieval streets and bustling bazaars. The town is dominated by the huge and now derelict Leh Palace, former home of the royal family. Other places of interest include the Shanti Stupa, temples and monasteries. The bazaars of Leh are a good place to purchase Pashmina shawls and the beautiful Ladakhi wooden handicrafts. The Pangong Lake east of Leh is perhaps one of the most amazing lakes in Asia as it changes colour 4 or 5 times a day.
This is one of the most well known and beautiful trekking bases in Ladakh. Within the area is Lamayuru village with its lunar landscapes and an 11th century monastery. Other monasteries in the area include Rizong and Likir.
This valley formed by the Shyok and Nubra Rivers is 150 km north of Leh and separates Ladakh and the Karakoram Ranges. The valley altitude is around 3,000 km. Access is often via the Khardongia Pass – the world’s highest driveable pass (Guinness Book of World Records)