Ladakh is maybe the most unknown place in India and one of the most impressive ones for its beauty and for its cultural diversity. Located between the borders of Pakistan and China, in the Norwest end of India, we find a dry and dusty landscape that in the winter is covered in white, being blocked all the access by land to the region. Although the winter of Ladakh is tough for the traveller (the transport in the area becomes more complicate, and not to mention the low temperatures), some of them dare to get to Leh a few days before the roads collapse with snow, in order to be cut off in the mountains covered by snow and enjoy long trips in glaciers, the white landscapes and a local life not touched by massive tourism.
But it is in the summer when most of the travellers decide to go into the beautiful Ladakh. During the warmest season of the year, the roads between Leh and the rest of the regions of the Northwest of India are open again and the temperatures become nicer. Even the local tourists choose Ladakh as an ideal destination to escape the suffocating heat of the Indian plains.
However, if you have enough budget, you can also get to Ladakh by plane, but to be honest, during spring and summer, get to Ladakh by land is the best way to enjoy the amazing landscape of this region of India. There are many who chose to get to its capital, Leh, by motorbike. In fact, for many Indian tourists is a tradition to travel the dusty roads of Ladakh in a Royal Enfield. But there is another way to go through this region that, furthermore, offers a closer contact with the locals and a more complete understanding of the idiosyncrasy of Ladakh: The buses. They look like ramshackle vehicles that are going to fall apart at the first bend, but in the whole India the drivers of Jammu y Kashmir have a great reputation.
The best thing to get to Leh in a ramshackle local bus from Manali or Srinagar, is being able to admire one of the most beautiful landscapes of Asia. However, to be able to enjoy this adventure, it is necessary to prevent the altitude sickness and the vertigo; two words that can cause concern but they should not stop us to go through this land that will offer us images of nomads camping in barren valleys, small adobe houses with nice gardens and monasteries built on rock that have been centuries defeating the gravity laws.
Once in Leh, the travellers will find a dusty city with houses, hostels and restaurants, ready to look after the tourists that use this city as a the base to explore the region. In order to get to many of these places it is needed a permit by the Indian authorities, as many areas are in dispute with the neighbours of the country and for that reason their borders are militarized and completely closed to the travellers.
One of these places is the Nubra Valley. In order to reach it, it is necessary to cross one of the highest mountain passes of the world, the Khardung-La (5359 m), from its snowed summit it is possible to enjoy a wonderful landscape of the city of Leh. Once this pass has been crossed, the journey continues into a barren landscape, at some moments almost deserted (with dunes and even camels). The start point for a visit to the Diskit Valley, a small village protected by a gigantic image of Avalokiteshvara (the Buddha of love and compassion) from where local buses depart towards other small villages of the valley, like Turtuk.
The locals of this small village near the border of Pakistan offer its modest rooms for the visitors so they can enjoy for a few days the calm life of the village. In Turtuk it is possible to enjoy the friendliness of the locals and the tranquility that is around the potato fields and the school, as well as the magnificent view of the valley and the nice excursions in search of waterfalls. Besides the beautiful views and the remote villages, the Nubra Valley is a very recommended place for those who want to be amazed by the variety of people and cultures that inhabit Ladakh, because while in Diskit we find a strong Tibetan-Buddhist community, in Turtuk the Muslim religion is dominant and in some more remote villages the Bon religion is still practiced. It seems that everything has a place in this valley and that everything is balanced as long as the locals show proper respect to their God, and above all, their mountains. Because if there is something clear in a trip to Nubra, is that they are the ones that rule over there.
Author: Irene García
Writer in EcoMind Travel
Blogger in Crónicas de un argonauta