Lose yourself in Ladakh

Next article:The Seven Fairy Mountain

Spectacularly jagged, arid mountains enfold this magical Buddhist ex-kingdom. Picture-perfect gompas dramatically crown rocky outcrops amid whitewashed stupas and mani walls. Colourful fluttering prayer flags share their spiritual messages metaphorically with the mountain breeze. Prayer wheels spun clockwise release more merit-making mantras. Gompa interiors are colorfully awash with the murals and statuary of countless bodhisattvas.

Though threatened by a rapidly increasing number of visitors, Ladakh has much to teach the West regarding ecological awareness. Most Ladakhis are cash poor yet their traditional mudbrick homesteads are large and virtually self-sufficient in fuel and dairy products, organic vegetables, and barley used to make tsampa (roast barley flour) and chhang (barley beer).

The walls of dramatic mountains that hem in Ladakh make for an unforgettable landscape, but be aware that road access requires crossing tortuous high passes, which close from around October to May (or longer when snows are heavy).




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