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Leh District

Ladakh has been dubbed, somewhat romantically, the last Shangri la, the Moonland, and even Little Tibet; yet all these descriptions hold some truth. Ladakh is the most remote region of Kashmir. It is a barren, virtually rainless, high altitude area which lies north of the Himayayas on what is known, geographically, as the Tibetan Plateau. The Himalayas serve as a barrier to the clouds carrying rain from south so virtually none of it gets across to fall on Ladakh. As a consequence the region has only a few cm of rain per year (as little as the Sahara), creating the 'moonland' effect - a barren, grey-brown, yellow-white landscape utterly devoid of vegetation. Only where rivers carry water, from far-off glaciers or melting snow, to habitation do you find plant life. Ladakh really does seem to be a miniature version of Tibet. Apart from the fact that Ladakh is on the Tibetan Plateau and the two regions have experienced a similar isolation from the rest of the world, the people of Ladakh and Tibet are also related and share a cultural and religious heritage that goes back centuries. Ladakh also has many refugees who fled Tibet with the invasion from China. In fact, Ladakh today is probably far more Tibetan than Tibet, which has been considerably changed by the Chinese. Finally, Ladakh could well be the last Shangri la. Due to its strategic location the area is disputed by the Indians, Pakistan and Chinese - it was virtually closed to outsiders from the end of WW II until 1974. The daunting height of the Himalayas added to this isolation. Even now the main route into Ladakh is open for less than six months of each year. Also until 1979 there was no regular civilian flight into Ladakh, so from October to June the region was completely cut off.
Ladakh is now open to outsiders or at least as open as its geography and political boundaries permit. No special permission is needed to enter Ladakh and within the region you can travel with relative freedom. Because of its fairly recent exposure to the outside world, and the rapid growth in tourism, it is especially important to treat Ladakh, its people and their culture with respect and care. It's a gentle, crime-free peaceful and religious society. Ladakh is full of amazing sights; strange gompas (monasteries) perched on soaring hilltops, dwarfed by snow-capped mountains; ancient places clinging to sheer rock walls; and all around the barren shattered landscapes are splashed with small but brilliant patches of green. But most of all it is notable for its colorful delightful people who are so extraordinarily friendly. It's an amazing place.    
Trekking includes short day long walks up and down mountain slopes to visit isolated villages or monastic settlements or across the ridge to enjoy landscape. Or long transmountain treks involving weeks of walking and camping in the wilderness. The most popular treks are: Lamayuru in the Indus Valley to Darcha in the Lahoul across Zanaskar takes nearly 3 weeks. The 10 day Markha valley trek and the 11 day Lamayuru-Padam trek and Stok Kangri round trek arer the most popular among the numerous options available. Perhaps the most exciting trek in the world is Hemis-Markha-Padum Trek for 13 days and this calls for elaborate arrangements. Various New Areas have also been opened in forms of circuits . The maximum time allowed on these circuits is 7 days and foreign groups are allowed to go only in groups and accompanied by a recognized tour operator. The detailed information regarding going to these circuits can be had from the offices of J & K Tourism located across the country. These circuits are:

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