Over a billion people, several hundred dialects, 29 states, and a cultural diversity that baffles the mind and cannot be put into words. Each of India’s states, and the innumerable villages within them, has a distinct history, cultural traits and unique allure. It is the land of a thousand untold stories.
Route : Delhi – Leh – Thiksey – Stok – Lamayuru – Uleytokpo – Alchi – Leh – Delhi
As the pre-landing announcement to secure our seatbelts found its way to my ears, I felt my skin tingle with goose bumps. No, it wasn’t that I was flying for the first time. Nor was it about setting foot for the first time on the stark Ladakh landscape. Rather it was the expectation of what lay ahead. An experience of the fascinating lifestyle of the region and the opportunity to interact with some of Ladakh’s not so well-known inhabitants that made me nervous and excited at the same time.
Now you too can follow my footsteps and experience Ladakh, a mysterious part of India tucked away from the prying eyes of the world.
First Stop – The Thiksey Monastery
Apart from the rugged landscape, it is the Thiksey Monastery that is seen as the face of Ladakh. A beautiful ancient structure perched on a hilltop commanding a majestic view of its surroundings, it houses an incredible two story statue of the Maitreya Buddha seated on a lotus, along with a temple dedicated to the goddess Tara where 21 gorgeous images of her artfully grace glass-covered wooden shelves.
Next Up – The Twin villages of Dha and Hanu
Upon seeing the inhabitants of these two villages up close, you will likely be struck by their uncommon facial features. A far cry from the typical Mongoloid stock that inhabits the region, the denizens of Dha and Hanu belong to Indo-European stock. They lead a fascinating lifestyle, practicing polyandry and offering women significant power to divorce, which is unfortunately not very common in India. These twin villages are part of the greater Brokpa villages, but are the only two areas that tourists are allowed to visit.
Then Play football with the Little Lamas of Rodzong Nunnery
Meeting with the inhabitants of the Rodzong Nunnery will fill you with warmth and leave you with sweet memories. Interacting with them, watching them go about their daily chores, and in general, just being with them, is an experience that stays with you forever. Playing football with the young lamas on the barren mountain landscape illuminates the stark contrast between the harshness and playfulness this life offers.
Afterwards Visit Alchi – A Summer Haven of Exciting Activities
A 2 hour drive from Uleytokpo will take you to the scenic bank of the turbulent Indus River. Not far from the gurgling waters lies your next destination – Alchi. While normally a sleepy little village, life in Alchi waxes and wanes with the tourist season. After months of a leisurely lifestyle, the town reverberates with activity when summer arrives and nature’s splendor welcomes visitors from all over.
Alch has a lot to offer during this beautiful time of year. Chat and frolick with the with school children of the Likri Monastery. Get your adrenalin pumping while River Rafting in the rowdy waters of the Zanskar River. Drive to Khardung La along stunning yet steep and treacherous mountain roads. Explore the serene Nubra Valley and visit the tiny village of Turtuk. Journeying through Alchi and its surrounding areas will be the adventure of a lifetime.