Once an independent Buddhist kingdom at the crossroads of vital trade routes between China and the Middle East, Ladakh, often called “Little Tibet” or “Land of the Broken Moon” is our favorite Off the Beaten Path location. Set deep in the Himalaya on the western edge of the Tibetan plateau, the region now belongs to the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, and Leh, Ladakh’s capital (at 11,500ft) is one of the highest and driest inhabited places on earth.
“Ladakh is the most magical and culturally rich place on earth that I have ever experienced, and it is our favorite off the beaten path destination that we will always visit for many reasons,” says Jennifer Spatz, Global Family Travels' Founder and CEO. “Living close to nature in one of the world’s harshest landscapes, the Ladakhi people have much to teach the rest of the world about maintaining a sustainable, harmonious balance with the environment,” says Spatz.
Besides the Great Himalaya, three other major mountain ranges pass through Ladakh: the Karakoram, Zanskar and Ladakh. The beautiful high terrain of this region, dotted with hillside monasteries and villages, is surrounded by massive glaciers and numerous peaks above 20,000 feet. Travelers are recommended to spend the first couple of days acclimatizing to the altitude before enjoying the many activities the region offers. Access to the region by road is limited to the four warmest months of the year (June-September), making it a very Off the Beaten Path location!
Ladakh is also home to the Drokpas, which are ethnically and culturally different from the other Ladakhis in the area, as they speak their own unique language, have their own oral history, and epics. While they are now practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism and have been visited by His Holinesss the Dalai Lama, they also still practice more ancient rituals that many anthropologists believe are connected to their origins, which are European and Iranian. Some go so far as to say they are descendants of Alexander the great and that their ancestors were a part of his army, staying on to settle here rather than continue on with the troops.
We invite you to join Global Family Travels’ Ladakh: Learn, Serve, Immerse trip in July of 2018 for a unique experience in this special region in India and experience some of India’s grandest wonders along the way. The trip offers travelers the opportunity to contribute meaningfully with the village community of Stok by living, working and learning with a host Ladakhi family, and to participate in a service project with students from the Siddhartha School Project. During the home-stay part of our tour, families are immersed in the Ladakhi communal culture and gain a deep understanding of the Buddhist culture and traditions of this stunning region.
On this trip to our favorite off the beaten path destination, families can also enjoy a spectacular drive over Khardongla, the world’s highest motorable pass and enter into the northern frontier of beautiful Nubra Valley. Surrounded by high mountains and white sand dunes, Nubra Valley is home to many interesting Buddhist monuments and monasteries and is famous for its double humped camels.
Some of the other family-fun activities in Ladakh include:
White water rafting on the Zanskar River - A wonderful way to enjoy the natural beauty of the spectacular landscape through deep gorges and snowcapped peaks!
Trekking in the Himalaya
Village homestay and community service project
Drive over Khardongla, the world’s highest motorable pass
Enjoy more photos from Ladakh taken from our recent visits to the Siddhartha School Project (SSP), and the Ngari Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, a Buddhist school providing education for children from remote villages who normally wouldn’t be able to attend school For more photos, follow Jennifer’s family upcoming summer adventure to Ladakh on Global Family Travels’ Facebook page.