Ladakh literally means 'the land of many passes'. Situated in the northern most extremity of India, Ladakh lies among parallel mountain ranges running from south-east to north-west. To the north tower the stark snow clad mountains of the Karakorum and Kun Lun range separating India from Central Asia and Tibet. The stunningly awesome granite hills of the Ladakh range starts from the Indus - Shyok confluence while the drawn-out mountain maze of the Zanskar range that consists of sedimentary layered hills and aeons ago an ocean bed, stands as the dividing line between the Indus Valley and the Zanskar region. The Great Himalayan Range in its southern extremity demarcates Ladakh from the lush green Kashmir Vale and Himachal Pradesh. On its northern frontier lie the highlands of Aksai Chin and the vast Soda plains while to the west is the hauntingly beautiful Kanjit region of the Hunza valley.
Ladakh is a land that has an amazing diversity of landscapes with people residing at altitudes ranging from 2700 to 4500 metres while the nomadic Changpa roam and camp at even higher altitudes. People over the centuries have adapted comfortably to the harsh barren land and the high altitudes. The people here are predominantly Buddhists, followed by Muslims and a small population of Moravian Christians in Leh. The many ancient monasteries dotting the countryside that still function act as a unifying factor have a strong influence on the Ladakhi and his lifestyle even with modern attitudes slowly creeping in.
Leh at 3505m is the principal town of Ladakh and was once a meeting place of the ancient trade caravans traversing the high routes into the legendary Central Asian bazaars of Yarkhand, Kashgar and Kotan. Leh is like a delightful green Oasis amidst a landscape of grey, mud brown monotonous slopes and is today a popular destination and the strategic point from where most treks and other tours begin. It has restaurants serving Indian and European cuisine beside the traditional meal - a bowl of boiled noodles topped with a meat broth washed down with salted butter tea. Hotels range from budget to Luxury and offer surprisingly modern facilities.
Today Ladakh is accessible by two overland routes one from the south - the Manali Leh Highway and the other from the west by the Leh Srinagar Highway. The fastest way however is by air with two major airlines operating daily flights into Leh from Delhi.