Land between the earth & the sky...
Leh is the best place to plane and make arrangment for your trip to remote areas. The restaurants are superb so enjoy the meals as you are not going to get same in the mountains....
I would suggest a visit to a Ladakhi House or a cultural show. If you are the type you may visit the echological centre of Ladakh or the Students cultural movement of Ladakh, ort just walk to Sankar village through the fields is wonderful.... You are definetly going to miss the "meeting places". Lots of restaurants under the open sun...you meet fellow travelers here to share information...stories...sipping a cappuccino or lemon tea while getting sun tanned...
There is a saying in Ladakh: In Ladakh if your hands are exposed to the sun and your feets are under shadow...your hands will get "sunburned" and your feets will get "frostbite" at the same time.
packing for leh
Make sure you have a backpack of convenient size with you to pack in sun screen, water and other stuff. You will probably spend a considerable time outdoors and the cool winds could be misleading. There is a strong sun in summer. The weather can change pretty fast, so its best not to take chances with clothing. Also, it can get cold pretty quickly as soon as the sun sets behind the mountains Altitude sickness can be a factor for some. You are at 11,000 feet after all. Take it easy on the first day of course, and if it dosent help even after that, you may need some medication. The local chemists will also stock everything that you will probably need, but if you are headed out of town, make sure you are well stocked, since there are areas of complete wilderness aplenty The shops in town should have all that you may need. Rolls, batterys, memory sticks... Also, ensure you have enough space on your memory card when you set off, since Ladakh offers photo ops everywhere you look try to travel light, but you may have rafting-treking etc on mind, so pack accoridingly
Journeys along Glaciers- Zanskar PART 2
Rangdum is an isolated amphitheatre like valley which lies 130 km from Kargil . Enchanting in its beauty, it has two small hamlets and a monastery that date from the 17th century. The villagers are basically agricultural serfs of the monastery, which like many other monasteries is perched on a high hillock. The region is ideal for camping hiking and horse riding. A five-day trek can be undertaken for Henaskut and Lamayuru through the Kanji valley.
An overnight halt is an amazing experience, but the sunrise over the Zanskar range to the north, and the Great Himalayan Range to its south and west is bound to take your breath away! After a quick maggi, its time to move on further. From Rangdum to Padum is another 100 odd kms, through the Pensi La (15,340 ft). On the way, you will spot wild horses, Yaks, Marmots, Bharal, wolves and of course the glaciers!
This journey will take you along the Suru river valley, all the way to the source of the river, near the Pensi La watershed. You can almost reach out and touch the glaciers (well, it does feel that way) on the way up. After crossing Pensi La you meet the astounding Drang Drung Glaciers, the largest glacial system here, and the source of Stod/ Zanskar river. Thereafter the road leaves the mountain and into a flat valley like expanse, which can become dreary in its monotones. Padum is about 110 kms from Rangdum and takes a good 6 hours to reach. On the way you can stop at Sani Gompa ( a nunnery) well known for its sculptures. Padum is a nondescript village-town with towering peaks around it, and a small 2000 odd Buddhist population . More in Part 3 .....
The Leh palace is right in the middle of Leh, and is kind of damaged, or undergoing some renovations. But you should visit it just to walk/crawl through the labyrinth of corridors, very easy to get lost, but very easy to get back as well!! Kind of reassuring isn't it? Anyway, the best part about the palace is the room in which all the ancient scrolls and manuscripts are stored. There are manuscripts in that room, which are thousands of years old, which describe life and events back then, and are definitely a part of Ladakhi culture and heritage.
The festival of the blindfolded acrobatic oracle monks
On the 15th day of the 1st Tibetan month, a 2-day festival is held at the Matho Monastery-the only Shakyapa monastic establishment in Ladakh. During this festival, the two oracles of the monastery make a public appearance in their full spiritual form. These oracles, actually monks of the monastery, meditate in complete isolation for a full month in preparation of entering in a state of trance and invoking the spirit of the deities.
On the day of the festival, they invoke and receive the deities and come into their full spiritual trance. They run over the high rise ramparts of the monastery jump from one balcony to another and execute a number of acrobatic feats, all while blindfolded!
People from far and wide come to hear the oracles predict key future events and to seek answers about their own future.