What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear someone say ‘Ladakh’? Crystal clear water shining under the sun like diamonds, numerous monks in maroon robes, snow-covered mountain peaks and early morning Tibetan chants that play like a dream song. The moment you land on this magical land, you know you are in paradise!
In fact, there are several reasons why Ladakh qualifies as one of the most interesting places in India. Let us know why.
1. Ladakh has the largest telescope in Asia: If you ever heard that ‘gods live in the mountains’, it is true. The Indian Astronomical Observatory in Ladakh boasts the largest telescope in Asia at an astounding height of over 4500m. This makes Ladakh a hub for stargazers and astrophotographers! It is India’s first robotic and the world’s largest telescope. It is located in the remote village of Hanle.
2. It is a land where gravity fails: The Magnetic Hill, or the so-called ‘gravity hill’ is a hill that literally pulls you upwards. Interested to know the science behind it? Well, the hill is actually a downhill road. The surrounding slopes are carved out in such a way that it creates an illusion of an uphill road! It is located on the smoothly constructed Srinagar-Leh highway. You can also visit Indus Zanskar Conference, Hall of Fame and Gurudwara Patthar Sahib while you are on your way.
3. It has the highest bridge in the world: Located between the meandering Dras and Suru rivers, the Bailey Bridge is the highest bridge in the world. It was originally made by the military to migrate quickly through the rivers during wartime. A hydro-electric dam is situated to the left of the bridge while there is a lake on the right.
4. It is a land of the rare twin-humped Bactrian camels: When in Ladakh, be ready to be greeted by numerous rare twin-humped Bactrian camels flocking the fascinating Nubra valley. These twin-humped Bactrian camels are a native of the Gobi desert. Another interesting thing about these camels is that they can survive in up to lowest temperature as nearly as -40 degrees.
5. It is a land of peculiar practices: Do you know that if you blow conch or seashells in Ladakh, you can call as many as 120 lamas at once? As an interesting response to the conch call, these lamas assemble every day at the Karsha Monastery for lunch! If a monk has to call his fellow monks for the morning prayer, he would simply blow a conch signifying the start for the prayer time.
6. It has the highest natural ice hockey rink: The Karzoo Ice Hockey Rink in Ladakh is the world’s highest natural ice hockey rink. This rink comes to life during winters when the subzero temperatures are superior throughout the day. Winter sports are popular on a wide scale on this naturally built rink. Whereas the history of this sport in Ladakh, dates back to the early 70s.
7. It is the land of the fascinating Kung Fu nuns- When you visit the Drukpa monastery, the Kung Fu nuns dress up in pajamas and yellow sashes to sing for you. This is a thousand-year-old tradition among them. They also have various activities; one of them being Eco Pad Yatra which is usually 400+ miles on foot as they pick up litter and aware the locals about the environment.
8. It has a monastery on the moon- Ever fancied landing on the moon but can’t figure out the rocket science behind it?! The exquisite village of Lamayuru, situated around 130kms away from Leh replicates exactly the white surface of the moon! This spectacular landscape with an enchanting Buddhist monastery on the top is indeed a treat to the eyes. There are two annually celebrated festivals that are grand.
9. It is a land of thousand festivities- Be it with your friends or a group of strangers, Ladakh never leaves you without a vivid touch of its culture. The amusing festivals of Hemis, Losar and the Tak-Tok festivals sing songs of unending fun and joy. You can also enjoy a sight at their rituals and dances.
But as they say, you can only get the real taste of something if you experience it first hand! so book your tickets now. I have only unraveled 1% of what Ladakh really is.