Arid mountains, pristine valleys, picture perfect gompas and serene monasteries… Ladakh is set amidst the Himalayan mountain splendour. Ladakh means ‘land of passes; ‘La’ meaning pass, and ‘Dakh’ meaning land. The ex-Buddist Kingdom unfolds its magic with ancient murals, fresco paintings, and the golden image of Buddha, making a trip to Ladakh, an everlasting memory. Prayer wheels release notes of positive energy, and even the pebbles here seem to be inscribed with countless mantras. A trip to this mesmerizing country will blaze in the memories, even long after one has left its borders.
Gur Gur chai
If you get a chance to visit a Ladaki household, don’t miss out trying their ‘Gur Gur chai’, a butter tea. Don’t get misled by its name, it has nothing to do with tea leaves. It is a concoction of yak butter, salt, milk and an infusion made from plants available in that region. Ingredients in the beverage provide the required energy to combat the cold and dry climate of Ladakh. The tea is made in bulk and kept in a traditional copper pot on a charcoal brazier. Ladakhis drink around 30 to 40 cups in a day, which is a normal quota for them. Anybody for a cup of tea? Or maybe 40?
Pangong Tso & Tso Moriri
Ask a group of Ladakhis, “Which lake do you like the most, Pangong Tso & Tso Moriri?”. You will soon realize that you have started a heated debate. Both are locating at an altitude of above 4000 meters, enchanted, and charismatic with crystal clear azure waters. Beauty of the lakes are particularly breathtaking during opalescent dawns and saffron sunsets. Each lake has its own appeal, an inanimate existence that impress the soul of the viewer.
This is one of the biggest and oldest monasteries of Nubra valley. Legends state that years ago a Mongol demon lived here, and kept on resurrecting even after killing it many times. Hence the Diskit Gompa was build; adorn with the statue of Maitreya Buddha and many fierce guardian deities who will believe to guard the wrinkle head and hand of the Mongol demon. During the month of December, a festival known as ‘Dosmoche’ or the festival of scape goat is organizing here for two days. The valley comes alive with the rhythmic beating of drums, and masked Lamas performing the sacred dance.
Prayer wheels also known as ‘Mani Wheels’ are enshrining in the monasteries of Leh. The mantra ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ will inscribe on the wheels, and it is believing that the mere viewing of the mantras inscribe on the wheels can be as effective as reciting it. Small hand held wheels are also available, so if one wants to take home some spiritual memories from the ‘roof of the world’, they can shop around for this.
Festivals of Ladakh
The best way to feel the culture of Ladakh is to visit here when the country is in festive mood. Hemis festival is one of the most popular and biggest festivals of Ladakh. The pulsating fiesta takes place in the courtyard of Hemis Gompa, the biggest Buddhist monastery in Ladakh. Impressive masquerades are carrying on by the monks playing long horns, cymbals, and drums. People participate in the procession with appealing traditional brocade dresses, facades, and tinted masks. Visit Ladakh during a festival time and live your dream.