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Ladakh is a region in India totally isolated from the modern world. An authentic land, it is faithful to ancestral customs where life is characterized by intense spirituality. Even an Indian traveler will probably find no similarities in the land and people between the ones he leaves behind and those he encounters in Ladakh. Rich traditions of Mahayana Buddhism still flourish in the purest form in this region, which has often been referred to as Little Tibet.

Ladakh lies at an altitude from 9000 ft to 25170 feet. At these heights, you are on the roof of the world! As the highest inhabited land in the world, it holds a fascination for many, while for some there is an enchantment of seeing mountains which had been under the sea for million of years. Ladakh is like a forgotten moment in time. It is common in Ladakh to come across villages carved out of veritable mountainside, stupas reaching the sky, monasteries virtually hanging from the cliffs and crags. Their interiors are filled with priceless antiques and art.

As the first rays of the sun hit the mountains, the monks blow the large copper trumpets from the rooftops of the monasteries. Below the monasteries, ritual articles are laid out, as monks in vestments and masks get ready for dancing in front of a gathering. As events build up, the music gets louder, incense is brought out and a group of monks in ceremonial dress come out to unfurl the large painted scroll. The night is alive with the illumination of shrines and buildings. A typical monastic festival in Ladakh takes place.

Ladakh means “land of high passes”. Until the coming of the aircraft, the only access into this remote, high Trans-Himalayan kingdom was across several high pass crossings. From the west the Zoji La at 14,000 feet is the lowest. Taglang La to the southeast is 17,200 feet high and a military highway now crosses this coming from Manali. To the north is the Khardung La – at 18,200 feet, the only access into the Nubra valley and the Karakorams. Dead ends now, but important in centuries past, were the northern passes on the Central Asian trade route – Saser La and the Karakorum pass.

Ladakh’s landscape has more in common with the lunar landscape than any other place on earth. Being in a complete rain-shadow region, cut off from the monsoon clouds by the Great Himalayas and a host of subsidiary ranges, it is a cold high altitude desert where the wind, water from the minimal winter snows, and chemical reactions within the rocks themselves, have carved a fantastic, sometimes grotesque, landscape

Cultural Tours

Tourism is travel for pleasure or business; also the theory and practice of touring, the business of attracting, accommodating, and entertaining tourists, and the business of operating tours. Tourism may be international, or within the traveller’s country. The World Tourism Organization defines tourism more generally, in terms which go “beyond the common perception of tourism as being limited to holiday activity only”, as people “traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes”.

Tourism can be domestic or international, and international tourism has both incoming and outgoing implications on a country’s balance of payments. Today, tourism is a major source of income for many countries, and affects the economy of both the source and host countries, in some cases being of vital importance.

Hiking

Hiking is the preferred term, in Canada and the United States, for a long, vigorous walk, usually on trails (footpaths), in the countryside, while the word walking is used for shorter, particularly urban walks. On the other hand, in the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland, the word “walking” is acceptable to describe all forms of walking, whether it is a walk in the park or backpacking in the Alps. The word hiking is also often used in the UK, along with rambling (a slightly old-fashioned term), hillwalking, and fell walking (a term mostly used for hillwalking in northern England). The term bushwalking is endemic to Australia, having been adopted by the Sydney Bush Walkers club in 1927. In New Zealand a long, vigorous walk or hike is called tramping.It is a popular activity with numerous hiking organizations worldwide, and studies suggest that all forms of walking have health benefits.

In the United States, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, and United Kingdom, hiking means walking outdoors on a trail, or off trail, for recreational purposes. A day hike refers to a hike that can be completed in a single day. However, in the United Kingdom, the word walking is also used, as well as rambling, while walking in mountainous areas is called hillwalking. In Northern England, Including the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales, fellwalking describes hill or mountain walks, as fell is the common word for both features there.

Peak Climbing

A climbing peak may refer to a mountain or hill peak or a rock formation that has to be ascended by climbing. The term is common in Germany where it is specifically used of free-standing rock formations in the climbing regions of Saxon Switzerland, Zittau Mountains and other nearby ranges in the German Central Uplands that can only be summitted via climbing routes of at least grade I on the UIAA scale or by jumping from nearby rocks or massifs. As a general rule, they must have a topographic prominence of at least 10 metres to qualify. In Saxon Switzerland the Saxon Climbing Regulations do not require any minimum height, but define climbing peaks as

Another requirement is its recognition by the responsible sub-committee of the Saxon Climbers’ Federation (SBB) and the responsible conservation authorities. For hikers these authorized summits may often be recognised by the presence of a summit register and abseiling anchor points.

In other climbing areas, such as those in Bohemian Switzerland, there are other exceptions. There, climbing peaks only need to have a significant rock face – the lowest side of which has to be less than 10 m high, but at least 6 m high.