Ladakh, India is placed at the western facet of Himalayas. It is covered via four mountains stages specifically Himalayan, Zanskar, Ladakh, india and Karakoram.
Ladakh is surrounded by means of a labyrinth of extremely accelerated flurry capped peaks. The main glaciers outdoors to the glacial pace, rule the topography where gorge depth array from a mere 8000 feet. To 15000 ft. Whilst passes of up to 20000 toes. And peaks getting above 25000 ft. Be capable of being seen all about. The world’s biggest glacier external to the glacial county, Siachen is at this time. Such intimidating stature, establish the land’s temperature.
The main watercourse of Ladakh, India is Indus which penetrates India from Tibet at Ldemchok. Opening in close proximity to Mt. Kailash, the Indus according to Mythology, develops commencing the mouth of a Loin and is consequently branded as Senge Kababs. Hence the summertime you will hardly find it getting any warmer than 27 degrees. But during winters even Leh is as cold as -20 degrees Celsius.
At this height, the air is so thin, the heat of the sun is more intensely felt here than at lower altitudes. That is why it is said Ladakh is the only place on earth where you can get sunburn as well as frostbite at the same time. Ladakh, India is surrounded by worlds largest mountain levels; the Himalayan variety and the Karakoram. These lay crossways two different Zanskar and Ladakh , Indiavariety.
The highest altitude of Ladakh you will find here is from 2750 to 7637 m. For first-timers, Ladakh, India leaves them spellbound. There is any such widespread cultural difference between Ladakh and other regions people are taken in via that. Ladakh, India has a fantastic history too.
The land of lost Shangri la is mysterious sufficient. It has several monasteries and local testimonies intrigue the listener even more.
The culture of Ladakh, India is pretty influenced by the Tibetans. Buddhism is the main religion followed here. The first population to be here became Mons from Tibet and Kullu. Drads came later and started to live in lower Ladakh, India.
It is referred to as Little Tibet due to its Tibetan has an effect on. Kargil district, on the other hand, is dominated by Muslims. As you trek to Ladakh, India you will find several walls that are studded with engraved stones that bear the mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum”.
There are charters which exhibit Budhha teachings. There are villages which are decorated with gompa and monasteries that have hermits, monks residing since such a long time. Kashmir bought Islam to Ladakh around the 15th century. Places like Drass, Suru valley have Shias and Sunnis living there.
The best time to come to Ladakh, India is during the summers. If you plan to come to Winters then you have to make all your better arrangements in advance.
Places to Visit In Leh-Ladakh:
The central Ladakh
The geographical backbone of Central Ladakh is Indus Valley, particularly from Upshi down to Khalatse. It is also the region’s historic heartland. All the major sites connected with the former kingdom’s dynastic history are here. Starting with Leh, the capital city since the early 17th century when Sengge Namgyal built its nine-storey palace. A few kilometres up the Indus is Shey. The most ancient capital, with its palace and temples, their vibrantly coloured murals cleaned and restored in mid-1980.
This place is situated just across the river from Leh. This village with which the deposed royal family was compensated for the loss of its throne. Its palace houses a museum of artefacts associated with the dynasty, and there is also a small Gompa.
Partly as a result of royal patronage, the central area of Ladakh has the greatest concentration of major gompas. Of the twelve situated on or near the Indus. The Lamayuru is believed to have been a sacred site for the pre-Buddhist religion known as Bon. Phyang, Hemis and Chemrey were all founded under the direct patronage of members of the ruling Namgyal dynasty. Phyang represents an act of penance by the 16th century King Tashi Namgyal for the violence and treachery by which he reached the throne.
Hemis, together with Hanle near the Tibetan border, was founded at the instance of King Sengge Namgyal, and Chemrey by his widow as a posthumous act of merit for him. Stakna, dating from a slightly earlier period, was endowed by the Namgyal kings at various times. All these belong to the red-hat Kar-gyut-pa sect of Tibetan monasticism.
The reformist Ge-lugs-pa (Yellow-hat) sect is also well represented in central Ladakh by Thikse, Likir, Ridzong and Spituk. The last of which has daughter houses at Stok, Sabu and Sankar. Ridling, the only gompa which is not yet approachable by a motorable road. It is situated a few kilometres up a side-valley at Uley-Tokpo.
It was founded only a century and a quarter ago by a devout layman-turned-lama, with the purpose of giving full expression to the strict monastic rule of the Ge-lugs-pa.
While the paintings and images in its temples may, to some extent, lack the aesthetic and antiquarian interest of those in the older establishments. This gompa nevertheless has an indefinable atmosphere of peace and dedication which reflects faithfully the inwardness of the Buddhist Way.
The smaller but much older Buying-ma-pa and Saskya-pa monastic sects are represented respectively by Tak-thok and Matho gompas. Takthok, at the foot of the Chang-la, incorporates one of the many caves in the Himalaya where the Indian Buddhist apostle Padmasambhava is said to have rested and meditated on his journey to Tibet.
Matho Gompa has a slightly rundown structure, but a vibrant religious community. It is famous for its festival of the oracles which takes place early in the year, usually in the first half of March.
But the jewel among central Lakakh’s religious sites is Alchi. Abandoned centuries ago as a place of regular worship, it has been lovingly maintained by the monks of Likir, the nearest functioning gompa. Known as Chaos-kor, or religious enclave, it comprises of five temples, the Du-Khang (assembly hall) and the three storeys Sum-tsk.
Its murals, paintings dating from the 11th and 12th centuries, pre-date the Tibetan style of painting that is present in all the other gompas. Some of them are reminiscent of the paintings of the far-off Ajanta Caves and are presumed to be almost the sole survivors (along with some in Phugtal Gompa in Zanskar, and Tabo in Spiti) of the Buddhist style current in Kashmir during the first millennium AD.
It is situated down the river and right on the road and Tingmosgang. A short way up to a side-valley served as capital cities. When the country was temporarily divided into two parts in the 15th century, and both have the remains of forts and temples dating from the period of their brief glory.
About 80 km. west of Leh, Basgo was the capital of lower Ladakh before the kingdom was united at Leh. Until recently, this fascinating World Heritage Site was crumbling into dust, but UNESCO and the Basgo Welfare Committee have joined forces to restore the ancient citadel compound. Today, Basgo’s Chamba Gompa is one of the highlights of the Indus Valley.
The mural work inside has been spectacularly restored using traditional colours and techniques, images of Bodhisattvas and celestial beings even cover the ceiling. The main building contains a two-story statue of Maitreya and there is a second gompa just downhill with another outsized Maitreya statue. The ruins of the citadel are scattered across the surrounding hill.
Basgo has no place to eat or sleep but there are roadhouses for meals in nearby Nimmu, 2 km. back towards Leh near the confluence of the green Indus and the murky brown Zanskar river. A road is slowly being built from here to Padum in Zanskar.
Basking under an endless sky, Padum is the capital of Zanskar, but don’t expect more than a few dusty streets and a bus stand. Around Padum, the Zanskar valley shimmers in the wan desert light. Yaks and Dzo graze calmly in the fields and the plain is dotted with small farms and villages. Padum has a little town mosque, catering to a small community of Sunni Muslims and two ruined gompas.
A short walk across the valley is the medieval monastery at Pibiting, topped by a massive chorten with views over the plain. Like a smear of whitewash on the mountainside across from Padum, Karsha Gompa is Zanskar’s largest and oldest Buddhist monastery, dating back to at least the 10th century. Around 150 monks maintain the gompa, helped by the French charity Solidarijeune. There are two main chambers, both containing the stunning murals and old treasures.
The annual Chaam dances are held in the July as part of the three-day Gustor festival. You can reach the gompa from Padum by car or a two hours walk across the exposed plain to the new bridge over the Zanskar river. There are more historic gompas in the small villages of Pishu, Stongde and Zangla, accessible by car or on foot from Padum. a more challenging destination is the isolated gompa of Phuktal, squeezed into a cave clinging to the side of the near-vertical Shadi gorge.
Inside you can see a sacred spring and some 700-year-old murals in the Alchi style. The gompa can only be reached by walking, typically as part of the Padum to Darcha trek.
Phugthal is the most spectacularly located monastic establishment in Ladakh. The Phugthal complex spills out of the mouth of a huge cave high up in the sheer mountain face of a lateral gorge through which a major tributary of the southern Lungnak (Lingti-Tsarap) River flows.
It is the most isolated monastic establishment of Zanskar and its foundation date back to the early 12th century. One old chapel, among the several of which it is composed, has frescos and ceiling decorations reflecting strong Indian artistic and iconographic influence. Phugthal is accessible from the Padum-Manali trekking route through a 7 km long trail that branches off from the Purney Bridge on the main trail.
A visit to Phugthal, including Bardan and Muney monasteries en route, makes a good 5 days round trek from Padum. This unique monastic establishment is inhabited by a resident community of about 40 monks.
The Nubra Valley, once on the trading route that connected eastern Tibet with Turkistan via the famous Karakoram Pass has been opened recently to the tourists. The Nubra Valley literally means the valley of flowers. Nubra Valley is situated in the north of Leh. The average altitude of the valley is about 10,000 feet above the sea level.
The Khardong village, Khalser and Deskit are the main villages of Nubra valley.
At first glance, the valley seems parched and dry, but this is prime farming land by Ladakhi standard. Here the farmers grow apples, apricots and barley and harvest the orange berries of the Tsetalulu. Dotted around the valley are ancient gompas and ruined palaces and villages are close enough together to make this magnificent walking country. The people of Nubra Valley are friendly and hospitable.
The Nubra Valley is indeed precious treasures of Ladakh were people still living in the complete isolation for most of the year from the rest of the world in the heart of the great Himalayas. The main attraction of the Nubra valley is Bactrian Camels (double hump Camel). These camels can be seen around sand dunes. Other attractions include Deskit, Samstanling monasteries and Khardung la Pass (18,380 feet) above sea level.
For tourists its ideal to spend here two to three nights. However, you do need a permit, which only allows travel as far as Hunder and Panamik for a maximum of seven days. You must hand over the photocopies of your permit on both sides of the Khardung La and also by the bridge to Sumur.
Attractions in Nubra Valley:
The main tourist attractions in the Nubra Valley are Diskit, Panamik, Samstanling monasteries and Khardung la Pass. People travelling to Nubra Valley are advised to take enough eatables and drinking water etc. as people in the valley do not have much to offer you from their winter reserves. On the way, most of the vehicles you meet are the Indian Army trucks.
Diskit is the main habitation and administrative centre of the Nubra Valley. Sprawling over the floodplains on the south banks of the Shyok river, Diskit is situated on the edge of a desert on the Shyok-side valley. Due to the unmatchable beauty of this valley, an excursion made here in unforgettable. The valley surrounded by the Himalaya mountains offers spectacular views.
While descending into the valley after a few kilometres one would come into a surprisingly green landscape with high stone formations appearing like if sugar was poured over them.
In the valley, the landscape changes from the green oasis to the desert. The main habitation, the town of Diskit makes an impression of being rather an empty town.
There are several government offices in addition to the usual cluster of the whitewashed farmhouses. The Diskit village offers Guest Houses and lowers budget hotels. The main attraction here is the 17h century Diskit Gompa, reached by the winding road or the dirt track starting near the stream in the middle of the village.
Some stone steps climb to the main prayer hall, which enshrines a huge Maitreya statue and a giant drum. Upstairs is a dramatic lookout and a second chamber with effigies of demonic protectors. The gompa holds a major festival of Dosmoche in February. Downhill is the photang of the head lama of Nubra, dwarfed by the enormous statue of Chamba.
Beyond Diskit, the highway passes through a wide area of rolling sand dunes before reaching the sprawl of farmhouses and scrubby trees at Hunder. The foreigners can only travel as far as the bridge at the west end of the village. Immediately before the bridge is the squat Hunder Gompa, containing a large gilded statue of the Chamba.
Across the road, a crude trail claims to two crumbling Buddhist temples and the ruins of a vast compound of pilgrims quarters. The fort at the top of the bridge offers inspirational views, but the exposed scramble up here is not for the fainthearted.
The Camel safari can be organized from Diskit to Hunder village. Safari takes around two hours. Hunder village has a small monastery and it is located on the ancient Silk Route.
On the far side of the valley, another dramatic gorge runs north along the Nubra river. Sumur is the largest village here, a pretty, green settlement with some interesting Buddhist relics.
About 1 km uphill from Sumur is the huge Samstemling gompa, with a school full of friendly novice monks and a number of old and modern prayer halls full of quite distinguished murals. Further north on the main road is the small village of Tegar. It has a small, adobe gompa enshrining a giant prayer wheel.
Above the road are the burnt-out ruins of the Zamskhang palace, a former residence of the kings of Nubra. It is surrounded by the tiny stupas filled with thousands of votive clay tablets left here by pilgrims on the Silk Road. There is another medieval gompa a few kilometres north at Pinchimik.
Panamik has situated about 28 km. north of Sumur. The farthest place the permit allows one to visit in the valley is Panamik, the last settlement of any size before the Tibetan border. Panamik is the most northern point open to foreigners in India.
Further to that, the sensitive military area starts. The soldiers guarding the border are friendly and are happy to see the visitors too. The hot springs of Panamik are also worth visiting to feel the warm water which is rare and valuable in the area.
The Ensa Gompa is 250 years old and lies on the top of a rock and overlooks the snow-peaked mountains of the valley. This Gompa seems not very far away but one needs to walk 6 to 7 hours to reach the Gompa.
How to reach Nubra Valley :
The road journey to Nubra valley leads through Khardungla (the highest motorable road in the world) situated at 18380 feet. Beyond the pass is the wide, flat Nubra Valley, crisscrossed by the winding channels of the Shyok and Nubra rivers. The total distance of around 150 km from Leh to Diskit which is also the administrative headquarter can be covered by the state buses.
Jeeps give you the freedom to stop wherever you want and are recommendable. The roads are maintained and guarded by the Indian army and sudden changes in the weather and short term road blockage are common. One should be prepared to face natural hazards as and when visiting Nubra Valley.
Kargil (2704 m), situated about 204 km from Srinagar in the west and 234 km from Leh in the east, is the second-largest urban centre of Ladakh and headquarters of the district of the same name.
The town lies nestling along the rising hillside of the lower Suru basin. Two tributaries of the Suru River that meet here are the Drass and Wakha.
The broad Kargil basin and its wide terraces are separated from the Mulbekh valley by the 12 km. long Wakha gorge. The land is available along the narrow valley and also the rising hillsides. It is intensively cultivated in neat terraces which grow barley, wheat, peas, a variety of vegetables and other cereals. Kargil is famous for the fine apricots grown here. In May the entire countryside becomes awash with fragrant white apricot blossoms. While August, the ripening fruit lends it an orange hue.
A quiet town now, Kargil once served as important trading and transit centre on the two routes. it is from Srinagar to Leh and to Gilgit and the lower Indus Valley.
Numerous caravans carrying exotic merchandise of silk, brocade, carpets, felts, tea, poppy, ivory etc. Transited in the town on their way to and from China, Tibet, Yarkand and Kashmir. The old bazaar displayed a variety of Central Asian and Tibetan commodities.
Even after the cessation of the Central Asian trade in 1949 till these were exhausted about two decades back.
Similarly, the ancient trade route passing through the township was lined with several caravanserais. Now, since 1975, travellers of numerous nationalities have replaced traders of the past and Kargil has regained its importance as a centre of travel-related activities. Being located in the centre of the Himalayan region with tremendous potentials for adventure activities, Kargil serves as an important base for adventure tours in the heart of Himalayas.
It is also the take-off station for visitors to the erotic Zanskar Valley. Nowadays, it is the overnight stopping place of the Srinagar-Leh highway. Tourists travelling between Srinagar and Leh make a night halt here before starting the second leg of their journey.
Places to See in Kargil:
Kargil mainly serves as an ideal base station for adventure activities like trekking, mountaineering, camping, river rafting etc. The mountaineers attempting to climb the Nun and Kun, both over 7000 m high, start from here. It is also a base for taking shorter excursions to Mulbek where the chief attraction is a 9-m high rock sculpture depicting the future Buddha.
Kargil also offers some interesting walks along the river bank and up the hillside. The best among these is the one leading to Goma Kargil along a 2-km long winding road which, passing through some of the most picturesque parts of the town, presents breathtaking views of the mountain stream.
The town has a medieval atmosphere with narrow cobbled streets and the people are mainly Balti Muslims. The two mosques show a strong Turkish influence.
A stroll in the bazaar might lead to a shop selling flint and tobacco pouches, travelling hookahs and brass kettles – handcrafted items of everyday use which find their way into the mart as curious.
The town has a medieval atmosphere with narrow cobbled streets and the people are mainly Balti Muslims. The two mosques show a strong Turkish influence. A stroll in the bazaar might lead to a shop selling flint and tobacco pouches, travelling hookahs and brass kettles – handcrafted items of everyday use which find their way into the mart as curios.
Most shops deals in common consumer goods, but some specialize in trekking provisions. The showroom of the Government Industries Centre near the riverbank displays and sell Pashmina Shawls, local carpets and other woollen handicrafts. The apricot jam produced here serves as a rare delicacy. Kargil’s dry apricot has now become a souvenir item, which can be purchased freely in the bazaar.
This valley (3230 m), is situated about 60 km. west of Kargil on the road to Srinagar. Drass is a small township lying in the centre of the valley of the same name. Drass is the first village after the Zoji La pass. It has become famous as the second coldest inhabited place in the world due to the intense cold and snowfall that descends upon the valley during winters.
In winters, the temperature sometimes goes down to minus 50 degrees and heavy snow and strong winds cut off the town. The Drass valley starts from the base of the Zojila pass, the Himalayan gateway to Ladakh. For centuries its inhabitants are known to have negotiated this formidable pass even during the riskiest period.
In the late autumn or early spring, when the whole sector remains snow-bound and is subject to frequent snowstorms, to transport trader’s merchandise across and to help stranded travellers to traverse it.
By virtue of their mastery over the past, they had established a monopoly over the carrying trade during the heydays of the Pan-Asian trade. A hard people enduring with fortitude and harshness of the valley’s winter. The inhabitants of Drass can well be described as the guardians of Ladakh’s gateway. The inhabitants here are Dard and Muslims. There are a bank and tourist bungalow in Drass.
Drass is a convenient base for a 3-day long trek to Suru valley across the sub-range separating the two valleys. This trek passes through some of the most beautiful upland villages and flower sprinkled meadows on both sides of the 4500 meters high Umbala pass, which falls en route.
The trek to the holy cave of Amarnath in neighbouring Kashmir, which starts from Minamarg below Zojila. It takes 3 days and involves the crossing of 5200 meters high pass. Drass also offers numerous shorter treks and hikes to the upland villages.
It is the farthest and the most isolated part of the Suru Valley. This is an elliptical expanded plateau surrounded by colourful hills on the one side and glacier encrusted rocky mountains on the other side. Rangdum is situated about 130 km south-east of Kargil and falls midway between Kargil and Padum.
Due to its remoteness from inhabited parts either of Suru or Zanskar. This area of wild beauty is almost haunting.
While its isolation is near perfect even as the unpaved Zanskar road traverses its length. The chief attraction of this area is an imposing 18th-century Buddhist monastery with about 40 monks in residence.
Perched picturesquely atop a centrally rising hillock which is entrenched around by the bifurcated course of a wild mountain stream. The Rangdum monastery has the aura of an ancient fortification guarding a mystical mountain valley. The villagers are descendants of the monastery’s agricultural, serf-tenants, who do not own any land in the region.
The monastery enjoys perpetual and inalienable ownership of the entire valley including the fields tilled by the villagers, pastures, hills and streams. Rangdum also serves as an important trekking base.
The most popular trek from here leads to Henaskut near Lamayuru, across the spectacular gorge of the Kanji valley. This 5-day trek also forms the last leg of the two-week-long trans-Himalayan traverse between Kashmir and Ladakh.
It is situated about 42 km south of Kargil is a picturesque area surrounded by colourful rocky mountains. Sankoo is a new town with a small bazaar and numerous villages around. Dense plantations of poplars, willows, Myrciaria and wild roses fill the bowl-shaped valley. Giving it the ambience of a man-made forest tucked within the mountain ramparts.
Two side valleys drained by large tributary streams of the Suru river. The Kartse flowing from the east and the Nakpochu descending from the west, open up on either side of the expanse.
The Karsten Valley runs deep into the mass of the eastern mountains with a large number of isolated villages tucked within its course. The 4-day trek between Sankoo and Mulbek follows this valley.
The route passes through some very beautiful alpine areas on the way to the 4950 m high Rusi-la. The high altitude settlement of Safi and its mixed Buddhist-Muslim population is struck between the Rusi-la and the Shafi-la. Over which the final leg of the trek passes before entering the Mulbek valley. A southward diversion from the foot of the Rusi-la leads to Rangdum. Across the glaciated Rangdum pass where the Karsten River rises.
The 3-day trek to Drass across the Umba-la (3350 m) follows the western valley.
Places to see in Sankoo:
It is very popular among local picnic lovers who throng the area from Kargil town and other places. Locally it is also popular as a place of pilgrimage to the ancient shrines of Muslim scholar-saint, Sayed Mir Hashim. He was specially invited from Kashmir for imparting religious teachings to the region’s Buddhist ruler.
Thi-Namgyal of the Suru principality, following his conversion to Islam during the 16th century. The shrine is situated in the village of Karpo-Khar on the outskirts of Sankoo where the chief had his summer palace.
Suru Valley, Ladakh
The Suru Valley is one of the most beautiful areas of Ladakh and a rather recent addition to the tourism map of Ladakh. The Suru Valley forms the mainstay of Kargil district. Lying nestled along the north-eastern foothills of the great Himalayan Wall, it extends from Kargil town. First southward for a length of about 75 km Up to the expanse around Panikhar.
Hence eastward for another stretch of nearly 65 km up to the foot of the Penzila watershed where the Suru valley rises.
The hills of Suru Valley are cultivated intensively than anywhere else in Ladakh. Enough snow and water during the winters and fertile land makes it possible to yield two crops annually.
The valleys are especially picturesque in spring when the apple, apricot and mulberry trees are all in bloom and in autumn when they are laden with fruits. Its composite population of about 30,000 – mainly of Tibetan-Darad descent, are Muslims who had converted their Buddhist faith around the middle of the 16th century.
At Thangbu, a little village, the traveller gets a first glimpse of the spectacular Nun (7135 m) – Kun(7935 m) massif which looms over the skyline in their crystalline majesty.
Pahikhar, about 12 km. away is the base for treks to Kashmir and Kishtwar. The road goes past the glaciers of the Nun-Kun massif to descend to Rangdum Gompa with a little stream forming a moat around it, looks like an ancient fort protecting the valley.
Only the basic accommodation is available at most of the tourist spots of Suru Valley.
Sankoo, Panikhar, Rangdum and Padum in the Suru and Zanskar Valleys are the base for a variety of trekking routes. The Suru Valley covers the catchment area of the famous Suru River. Suru river originates from the Panzella glacier. Before it joins the Indus River at Nurla it is joined by numerous tributaries, including the Dras River at Kharul.
Suru Valley forms the mainstay of Kargil district. The valley is nestled along the north-eastern foothills of the Himalayan range and from Kargil. People living in Suru Valley are mainly of Tibet and Darad descent – most of them converted their religion in the 16th century.
The beauty of this Suru Valley region is further aided by two towering peaks of Kun (7035 m) and Nun (7135 m) which loom over the skyline. The general topography and mountains in most of the areas in Ladakh differ from the Suru Valley. As Suru Valley is relatively more fertile extending from the Panzella glacier to south of Kargil town.
In Kargil, the Suru River merges with the Botkul River which originates from the Botkul glacier. The upper reaches of the valley, particularly around the Sankoo bowl, the Panikhar expanse. The higher stretch beyond, present a spectacle of breathtaking features.
Majestic mountain ramparts crowned by snow-capped peaks, undulating alpine slopes draining into wild mountain streams of foaming cascades of pristine water, awesome glaciers descending along the Himalayan slopes to the river bed in riverine formation, Quaint villages of adobe houses straggling dry hillocks surrounded by large tracts of lush crops downward the patches of alpine pastures uphill.
The average altitude of the Suru valley is 3,000 m. Winters are extreme and heavy snowfalls are normal. Still, the conditions in the Suru Valley do not become as adverse as in the Dras Valley.
The winters begin around mid-November and end in May. During winter, most of the valley is covered with a thick layer of snow. The interesting development can be observed as the water starts melting in the month of May. During the first melting process, one can see the dark colour which is obtained by the water and after it takes the blue and green colour.
In the month of September, the water reflects the best colour. At the same time as it starts getting cooler again the melting of the snow is also slowed down. Thus, water quantity becomes less. One of the factors that the Suru Valley is fertile if compared with the other parts of Ladakh is that summer lasts here longer than in other parts. Agriculture is the main activity of the local economy and also the main source of income for local people of the valley.
In some parts of the valley two crops can be yielded each year unlike in other parts of Ladakh where sometimes it is difficult to have even a single crop in the year.
Main crops of the Suru Valley are wheat, barley and millets. Some initiatives have been taken to improve the wheat quality which has increased the production of cereals. Some of the vegetables grown here are turnip, radish, peas and black peas.
Grapes, apricots and melons are produced in fairly large quantities at Darchik and Garkoon along the lower course of the Indus through Ladakh. These find a ready market in Kargil. Liquor is made from grapes.
Mulbekh village, Ladakh
After crossing the Suru valley, the road leads through a sandy plateau followed by another narrow valley and then one reaches to Mulbekh village, Ladakh, which has an important monastery on a high rock. The landscape around the settlement is characterised by limestone masses that thrust up along fracture zones.
Here the religion dates back to the period when Buddhists missionaries came travelling east of the Himalayas. The main attraction of Mulbekh is the huge rock-cut sculpture of Maitreya. It is 9 m high and depicts a standing Boddhisattva with four arms. This is carved on a solitary finger of rock, with a headdress and jewels.
In the village of tidy whitewashed houses, there are two Gompas. After reaching Mulbekh, one crosses Namika-La pass situated at a height of 12,000 feet. Later, the road leads to the highest pass on the Srinagar-Leh Road known as Fatula. It is constructed about 13,497 feet above sea level.
Zongkhul, Ladakh is the famous spectacular cave monastery of Zanskar. This falls on the Padum-Kishtwar trekking trail, just before the ascent of Omasi-la Pass begins. This monastery is situated like a swallow’s nest on the rock face of the Ating Gorge. It is associated by legend with the famous Indian Yogi, Naropa, who lectured in the Nalanda and Vikramsila Universities.
The two caves in the monastery are said to have been used by the famous Yogi for the solitary meditation. A footprint on the stone near the ingress of the lower cave is reserved as that of the yogi. The frescos on the cave walls are very old and reflect a high degree of artistic achievement.
These are believed to be the original murals executed by Zappa Dorje. The celebrated scholar-painter of the same monastery who was active about 300 years ago.