Damian Esteban

Traveling the World on a Budget

Category: India

Doing Justice to the Splendor of Ladakh

In my last blog post, I spent a lot of time glowing about Ladakh. As I mentioned, it’s one of my favorite places in the world. In that post, I supplied a lot of photos, but I realized that they’re a bit limited in their scope. In an effort to do better justice to the splendor of the region, I’ve scoured the internet for some quality media. This is what I found. Hope you enjoy!

Beautiful time-lapse footage:

A pedestrian’s view of Leh:

Not for the easily nauseous, this video provides some good perspective on getting to Leh:

Damian Esteban

Damian Esteban - Ladakh - Worlds Highest Mortorable Road

Ladakh: Paradise in Northern India

I’ve traveled all over the world. I’ve been to deserts of North Africa to the jungles of Southeast Asia. In all of my travels no spot has spoken to me as much as Ladakh has.

A Brief Overview

Ladakh is located in the Northeastern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. In contrast to the rest of India, Jammu and Kashmir is known for its Muslim population. In contrast both to Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of India, Ladakh is known for its Buddhist population. Ladakh’s right on the border with Tibet, so a lot of Tibetan influence flows in.

Damian Esteban - Ladakh

But don’t let that make you think that Ladakh is just a Tibetan satellite. The region has its own unique culture that goes back thousands of years. The first inhabitants of Ladakh were Indo-Aryan, but over the years the region has has changed hands between Tibet, China, and of course India. It’s location in the Himalaya’s has made it a strategic asset to empires of yore. But I think the real reason that empires have waged war over this little region of the world is its climate. It’s just that good.

Getting to Ladakh

In June and July most of India becomes hot. Unbearably hot. Many tourist visiting India at the time and many Indians who have the means to, flock north. Manali, the Indian equivalent of a sleepy Swiss Alps village, is one destination that people visit. But these days, more and more people are heading towards Ladakh. The region used to be more off the beaten track, but it’s now becoming more of a hotspot. A lot of that has to do with Ladakh becoming an easier spot to get to. Over the past several years a public airport opened up (the airport was previously controlled by Indian Air Force) and roads have improved. But before these cushy modern luxuries, Ladakh was one hard spot to get to.

Damian Esteban - Ladakh - 18380 ft.

No parking, no looking down

Damian Esteban - Ladakh

Damian Esteban - Ladakh - Worlds Highest Mortorable Road

We did it!

I’ve been to Ladakh three times. Each time I got to Ladakh by road. Each time has been absolutely painstaking, but filled with some of the most gorgeous scenery I’ve ever seen. There are couple of ways to get into Leh, the main city in Ladakh. I’ve take the Manali-Leh highway twice. If you’re taking the bus, you should plan on being on the road for 48 hours. One time I wasn’t so lucky. The pass that we were taking was still covered in snow. We had to stop. It took us 72 hours. The other main way is to take Srinagar-Leh Highway. Either way, you’re in for a haul. But once you get there, it’s totally worth it.

About That Weather…

Leh is extremely high-up. The weather is almost always dry and extremely pleasant. Plus, it’s sunny almost all year round, which is another reason why Ladakh is amazing: the abundance of solar energy. Because of it’s year-round sunlight Leh is earned a name for itself as being one of the most solar-friendly and energy progressive cities in the world. People cook with solar cookers and there are a number of large arrays of solar panels. The government has even started tapping into geothermal and hydroelectric sources. Yes, there’s still combustion pollution, but the high level of renewable energies being used gives a sort of crisper feeling to the air.

Damian Esteban - Ladakh

Damian Esteban - Ladakh

Damian Esteban - Ladakh
Two of the times that I visited Leh, I stayed in the guesthouse of a guy who works on solar cookers for a living. One day he even took me to the solar panel factory to see how it was all made.

Which brings me to my next point: Leh is very welcoming. It’s very tourist friendly. It has a lot of good restaurants, a lot of guesthouses, and a lot of great people. It’s kinda like Paradise. On top of that, it’s cheap. Last time I was there, I stayed for 5 weeks for 3 bucks a night. My M.O. is to travel alone and wing it, but every time I’ve been in Ladakh I’ve made a new friend.

If you’re looking to explore India. I highly recommend you look into Ladakh.

Damian Esteban - Ladakh

Damian Esteban - Ladakh

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