Please do not go to Ladakh just because he or she has done it,
Please go to Ladakh if you really want to do it!
La-dakh meaning the land of high passes is a beautiful cold desert in India with landscapes ranging from rocky / muddy barren mountains to snow-capped peaks, rivers, lakes, sand dunes, muddy / rocky terrains, lunar valleys, clear skies with cotton ball clouds or clouds all over. While it is beautiful, it is not an easy place to be at.
First of all, the place is just too far with almost-no to no roads at all which are also open just a few months a year. If you take a flight from anywhere to Leh, you have the risk of getting AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) and most of Ladakh is well above the minimum prescribed altitude for AMS. The locals are used to that as their bodies have adapted to higher altitudes and less oxygen, but a regular city dweller has not. While the natives can breathe and carry on with their daily chores normally, you will probably feel dizzy, will throw up, lose your appetite, all your energy and hence the overall reason to travel and explore. Sarchu, Pang, Leh, Pangong Tso, Khardungla are few points where AMS is common.
It is not safe! It is not about the people, normally the natives are very warm and helpful, way more than you expect. It is the terrains that are unsafe and a lot of tourists do not get it. You cannot drive in Ladakh the way you drive on city roads. One wrong turn or an unexpected landslide and that becomes the final trip of your life. Ladakh has many important and tough passes to go from one region to another such as:
Rohtang Pass (13000 ft) to cross-over from Manali,
Tanglang La (17400 ft),
Baralacha La (16000 ft),
Fotu La (13400 ft),
Namki La(12100 ft),
Chang La (17500 ft),
Wari La (17400 ft) – connecting Nubra to Pangong,
Lachulung La (16500 ft),
Zozi La (11500 ft) – connecting Ladakh via Srinagar,
Pensi la (14400 ft) – Connects Suru valley to Zanskar,
Marsimik La (18300 ft)
You can have “maggi in the mountains” for probably one Instagram post and 3-4 meals, but you cannot survive on maggi and boiled noodles for the entire Ladakh trip. It is not easy for tourists with insatiable junk-food cravings to spend a couple of weeks in Ladakh. For some, this trip might be the worst nightmare as they cannot gorge over their favorite sandwich, burger or pizza.
The landscapes are undoubtedly surreal, but do you know that Ladakh is the only place in the world where you can get sunburnt and get a frostbite at the very same time. So one really needs to tread with caution while spending hours to get that perfect picture with the snow-capped mountains as a backdrop under the sun and clouds.
It is not secluded anymore; in their quest for off-beat locations, the trend-setters have reached to the last impossible point of this barren cold desert leaving behind a huge carbon footprint and unfathomable tonnes of plastic waste. While they got their pictures and
stories, the authorities are still mulling over the fact that how can they retrieve the plastic waste back to where they can do something about it.
Water in Ladakh is a luxury, it is a cold desert after all. The river beds are drying up due to constant global warming and the natives are generally struggling with the water shortage the year round. In winters, because it is all snow and in summers, because of the huge tourist inflow. We do not want a situation like that in Shimla recently, when there was no more water available and the ground water was contaminated barring it for daily use. The authorities requested tourists to stay away.
The monasteries are not just about gompas, colorful silk cloths and buddha statues, they are really important in the culture of Tibetan Buddhists. It is a pious place for meditation, also institutes for buddhist studies which help shaping up the lives of the little monks that you have seen in pictures. While at a monastery you are required to be calm, quiet, respectful, not intrude anyone’s space and other things which are very difficult for modern day tourist to follow.
There are many other issues at the place, mostly caused by the tourists and a number of challenges existent for the natives since forever. This article is not aimed at discouraging you from visiting Ladakh. We Escape to Ladakh every year, for it is our most favorite
summer retreat, but we try and be as responsible towards the region as we can.
You must visit Ladakh if it is something you wish to do. Think of it as a huge natural painting that you are seeing and with each new stroke of color, you explore something new about nature and about yourself. Feel free to see the painting as much and for as long as you want, just do not spoil it.
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