Rising up over 3000 meters and encompassing an area of 86,904 km2, the Ladakh Plateau lies in the so-called “rain shadow” of the Great Himalayas. Seldom penetrated by monsoon clouds, this barrier has made the region a high altitude desert renowned for its stark natural beauty and unparalleled panorama.
In Leh District, whose largest town bears the same name, culture and history are closely intertwined with those of Tibet with which it also shares borderlines to the east. Here the music of monastic festivals, the architecture, the cuisines and the elaborately embroidered local costumes all bear the unmistakeable influence of the heritage which Ladakh shares with its easterly neighbour.
Finally, a feature of Ladakhi society which sets it apart from an overwhelming majority of rural communities in India is the high status and relative emancipation enjoyed here by women.
The highlights of Ladakh are addictive – seeing the first simply adds to the anticipation of seeing them all.