My first impression of Ladakh was dizzying. I was on a small plane flying over icy white snow-capped mountains that were reaching up to pierce the sky. When I landed in Leh, the highest airfield in the world, I felt glad to have made it to this remote area. In many ways, it hardly feels like India; a regular influx of tourists means that café’s serve a mix of Israeli, Italian and German bakery goods. More alienating is the Mordor-like landscape, with stark reddish mountains on all sides, and lush green river valleys that rival any movie scenes shot in Switzerland. The population is also quite sparse in Kashmir, and I wondered if this was due to several years of unrest, or the harsh winters. Leh is considered to be rather safe compared to other areas of Kashmir, and has not suffered from terrorist attacks like Srinagar has.
The local guesthouse I stayed in was unaccountably friendly and welcoming. After a day, I felt as if I were visiting a distant family member. After adjusting to the high altitude with a night of rest, I stepped out to explore the town. The bazaar drew me in with its line of shops selling stunning antiques, silk carpets, embroidered bed sheets and other curios. We explored the things to do in the area – from white water rafting on glacial rapids to going on a trek through the valleys – while sipping mint tea overlooking the gorgeous Himalayas. Even if you are not the adventurous, sporty type, Leh is a great place to visit with friends, with its frequent musical concerts and laid-back atmosphere.
Leh Bucket List
- Get a gorgeous hand-woven Kashmiri silk carpet
- Climb up to the Shanti Stupa at the break of day
- Visit the donkey sanctuary possibly the only one in India
Volume 1 Issue 10