Ladakh lies in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir between the Kunlun range to the north and the Himalayas to the South and consists of the parallel ranges of Zanskar, Ladakh and Karakoram. This area is mostly inhabited by Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent people. The history and culture of this region is related to Tibet. This sparsely populated region had gained importance in ancient times for being located at the junction of important trade routes. It is currently popular as a tourist destination with rugged beauty and ancient culture. Its landscape is unique in the sense that anywere you look you just see barren or snow-coverred mountains. Ladakh is a high altitude cold desert as the Himalayas block the rain-bearing monsoon clouds. This region receives water from its 3 main rivers, the Zanskar, Indus and Shayok, which are fed by winter snowfall. It remains cut off from the rest of India for the long winter months. Summers, though short, are pleasant and long enough to grow crops. Natural vegetation is almost nill except along rivers and streams. Summer temperatures range from 3 to 35℃ while winter temperatures from -20 to -35℃.
Leh is the largest town of Ladakh and Kargil, the lone town of Suru Valley is the second most important town. Currently, the two access roads to Ladakh are from Srinagar and from Manali. The traditional route that has been in use since historical times is from Srinagar passing over Zoji La (11,320 ft), then through Kargil (9,020 ft) and finally over Namika la (12,100 ft) and Fatu la (13,500 ft). The other route is the high altitude Manali-Leh Highway starting from Manali crossing the Rohtang la (13,051 ft), Baralacha la (4,892 m; 16,050 ft), Lungalacha la (5,059 m; 16,598 ft) and Taglang la (17,470 ft) and the More plains. Both routes are open only between May and November when snow is cleared from the road.
Ladakh, as the name means in local language, has many high passes. Khardung La, Baralacha la, Chang la, Zoji la, Fotu la, Lachulung la, Namika la, Tanglang la are just some of them. The barren landscape of Ladakh is broken at places by the surreal beauty of lakes like Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri, Tso Kar, Mirpal Tso, Chagar Tso. Nubra Valley is an amazing river valley in northern Ladakh with some interesting landforms, people, flora and fauna. One can surely find inner peace in facinating Buddhist heritages of Thiksey Monastery, Hemis Monastery, Diskit Monastery and many more.
NOTE: As Leh's altitude is quite high (11,500ft), many visitors suffer from headaches and dizziness initially. Taking enough rest and drinking plenty of warm fluids can relieve the symptoms as you acclimatise yourself. In case symptoms become severe and you feel breathless and nausea, you risk developing Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). In such case you should visit a doctor and take appropriate treatment. AMS can affect even the fittest person if they ignore advice and initial symptoms.