Population: Approx. 2.40 lakh in the 2 districts of Leh & Kargil.
Languages: Ladakhi including Balti / Purgi, Shina or Dardic, Urdu / Hindi.
Ethnic composition: Mongoloid/Tibetan, Dardic and assorted Indo-Aryan elements.
Altitude: Leh 3505 m, Kargil 2750 m
|Leh Ladakh Temperature:||Maximum||Minimum|
|Summer||25 °C||8 °C|
|Winter||(-) 5 °C||(-) 20°C|
Rain-fall : 15cm, 6″ (annual average)
Leh Town and around
Leh town offers a number of sightseeing options for the visitors. A historic town that served as the royal capital of the Old Kingdom, it is dominated by the nine-story palace built by King Singge Namgyal in the grand tradition of Tibetan architecture, it is said to have inspired the famous Potala in Lhasa which was built about half a century later.
The State Bank of India and the J&K Bank have branches at various places in Ladakh, with main branches in Leh and Kargil, where foreign exchange facilities are also available in the main Market also with different tour operators as well as an extension counter at the Tourist Information Centre located in the Dak Bungalow Complex, Leh. Some hotels in Leh are also licensed to deal in foreign exchange, though these mainly service in-house clients. There is no foreign exchange facility outside these two towns.
Leh and Kargil towns have worldwide direct dial telephone facility and there are a number of public call offices/ telephone booth operating in Leh town for the convenience of the tourists.
The State Tourism Department has its own wireless radiophone network linking its offices at Leh, Kargil and Padum, with those at Srinagar, Jammu and Delhi. This facility is mainly used to monitor the movement and welfare of tourists in the State. It is especially useful in ensuring timely rescue arrangements for tourists falling ill or injured in accidents.
Acclimatization and altitude sickness
Ladakh is a high altitude cold desert with a low level of atmospheric oxygen. It is, therefore, absolutely necessary that visitors reaching Leh from the plains of India by air, give themselves sufficient time for acclimatization before engaging in any physical activity. The rarefied atmosphere may cause high altitude ailments like Acute Mountain Sickness, necessitating instant evacuation of visitors who are unable to get acclimatized.
Anyone travelling to altitudes above 10,000 ft (2,700 m) is liable to suffer from acute mountain sickness (AMS) unless properly acclimatized. The most common symptoms of acute mountain sickness are headache, disturbed sleep and loss of appetite, nausea, coughing, irregular breathing, breathlessness, lassitude and lack of concentration. If you are reaching Leh by air, it is important to take complete rest for the first 24 hours after arrival. Any kind of physical exertion is to be avoided. Smoking and drinking should also be avoided till you are fully acclimatized. The symptoms of acute mountain sickness generally develop during the first 36 hours, and not immediately upon arrival. Your body should get used to the lower oxygen level of Ladakh after 2 or 3 days if you have taken complete rest for the first 24 hours and as much rest as possible during the next 12 hours.
High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema (HAPO) and High Altitude Cerebral Oedema (HACO) are very serious forms of acute mountain sickness. These are life-threatening ailments and warrant immediate medical attention.
As a preventive measure, Tab Dismox 250 mg should be taken at the rate of 1 tablet twice a day for 3 days, atleast 2 days before coming to Ladakh or any high altitude area.
Healthcare & Medical Assistance
The main centre for health care in Leh is the SNM Hospital, which is well equipped and staffed by specialists to handle all problems. Elsewhere in the region, there are sub-district hospitals at block headquarters and medical dispensaries in major villages, which are staffed by qualified doctors. In addition, services of the following private clinics and associated facilities are also available in Leh:-
The Mahabodhi International Meditation (MIM) Centre situated near Choglamsar, Leh, offers regular courses in various forms of meditation under the supervision of trained teachers. The MIM Centre’s facilities are quite good and the charges are nominal, sufficient to cover the cost of food. The Centre also runs a branch within Leh town at Changspa. Meditation facilities are also available in Hotel Agling Resort on commercial basis in a package covering accommodation and courses.
Lamas as Oracles
Lamas are believed to be the messengers between the physical and the spiritual world and often act as astrologers and oracles predicting the auspicious time for starting any major enterprise. However, the monk-oracles of Matho Gompa are the most popular ones. It is very interesting to witness the feats performed by these monk-oracles. Two monks are chosen to act as oracles in every three years by a traditional procedure and they have to undergo rigorous routine of prayer and fasting (and perhaps training) to purify themselves for the cause. When they finish, deity possess their body at the opportune time ans the feats, which they perform feats that can awe anyone including cutting themselves with knives without even wincing and sprinting along the gompa’s (monastery’s) topmost parapet as if they are made of rubber. Whenever possessed, they are believed to answer only the truth regarding individual and public welfare, though, the deity may also react with frenzied anger to those who are skeptical and ask questions only to test the deity.
Monasteries & Monuments
Sightseeing of the historic monuments and major Buddhist gompas (monasteries) are the main attractions of Ladakh. The Indus Valley, particularly from Upshi down to Khalatse, whichis the region’s historic heartland, is dotted with all the major sites connected. The important sistes of Leh include: Stock Palace, Shey Palace- Monastery. Other famous monasteries include: Thiksey, Hemis, Chemday, Takthok, Spituk, Phyang, Likhir, Alchi, Rizong, Lamayuru.
known as “Lechen Palkhar was build Dharmaraja Singey Namgyal in 1600 AD. It has 9 storeys and history says that its completion took three years. In the Leh valley, there is Samkar Monastery which was founded by Skyabrje Bakula Rinpoche. In the center of Leh City is the new monastery called “Chowkhang”. The Ladakh Buddhist Association found it in 1957 AD. Inside there is a sacred image of the Buddha Shakya Muni that was brought from Tibet.