Nestled in the Western Himalayas, to the extreme north of India in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh is situated at an altitude of 9,000m and is one of the remotest regions of India. It extends across four major mountain ranges (the great Himalayan, Zanskar, Ladakh and the Karakoram).The landscape of Ladakh is more like a dreamscape, enrapturing the visitor with its amazing contours, colours, textures and intrinsic life-rhythms.

The beautiful valleys & lakes, ancient Buddhist monasteries, a maze of enormously high snow capped peaks and the largest glaciers outside the polar region have earned it various names such as The Moonland, The Last Shangri-La and The Land of Lamas and Gompas. Ladakh also has a rich tradition of language and literature which dates back to the 7th century A.D.

The most attractive features of the landscape of Ladakh are the Buddhist gompas or monasteries. Built either on the highest point of the mountain or over the cliff sides, the gompas are located within the surroundings of villages. These aesthetically pleasing, architecturally interesting sacred places are the epicentres of faith. They are places of worship, meditation and religious instruction for Buddhist people and possess a wealth of artefacts.

Ladakhi monasteries, some more than a thousand years old, are the true representatives of the ancient practices and artistic traditions of Buddhism. Not only are they repositories of culture and religion but they actively keep alive the spirit of belief and practice. They dynamically bring together the old and the new, inspiring a visitor with that special feeling of eternity.

Written by: Sandesh Bhandare
Photographs: Sandesh Bhandare
Copy editor: Shama Lahiri

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