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Immerse in Ladakh, India: Top 10 Travel Highlights filled with Culture and Community Experiences

Updated: Aug 19, 2022

Nestled between the stunning Himalaya and Karakoram mountain ranges, Ladakh, India is a magical destination filled with natural beauty and home to fascinating cultural festivals honoring Buddhist traditions and ancient ways.

As founder of Global Family Travels, I have been blessed to travel to Ladakh almost yearly since 2010 and have provided many of our clients with immersive, unforgettable community-based experiences in this region thanks to our long-time relationship with friends at the Siddhartha School Partnership (SSP), as well as many other local organizations and communities.

Throughout all my travels, Ladakh continues to be my absolute favorite place on the planet, not just because of its beautiful scenery, fascinating history, and culture, but also because of the dear friends we have made there. Each time I visit, my own family circle expands further to include even more of the region’s compassionate people who are proud to share their cultural traditions!

Connecting with Community & Thiksey Monastery in Ladakh, India, photos courtesy of Global Family Travels

Most recently, in July of 2022, I enjoyed a culturally immersive journey to Ladakh with Global Family Travels’ clients, and this visit was as memorable as ever— filled with experiences at centuries-old monasteries, heritage homes, craft workshops, ancient palaces, and meditation caves. While all these experiences were quite amazing, the ones that will be remembered longest and treasured most involved engaging with communities and Ladakhi people and enjoying celebrations with them.

“I suppose most visitors would point to the amazing scenery of Ladakh, or the fascinating history, or the mystique of this spellbinding place as being the highlights of the trip, but for me it wasn't only these aspects, moreover it was also the beautiful spirit of the many wonderful people we encountered. We connected with them in a very heartfelt way.” –Martin Diedrich, Global Family Travels’ fellow traveler and blog co-author.

Top 10 Experiences in Ladakh Honoring Culture and Communities

Siddhartha School Jubilee celebration performance, photo courtesy of Global Family Travels

1. Celebration of the Siddhartha School’s 25th Anniversary

The Jubilee celebration of the amazing Siddhartha School in the village of Stok was a particularly special part of this trip which we enjoyed with students, parents, teachers and local and U.S. board members. It was such a joyous occasion! A longtime partner of ours since our inception in 2010, Global Family Travels congratulates this wonderful school that honors the rich cultural heritage of Ladakh and provides students with high quality education in a remote part of India.

Siddhartha School student Assembly in Stok, Ladakh photo courtesy of Global Family Travels

After the lighting of the butter lamp to bless the auspicious day, guests at this special celebration enjoyed entertainment from students representing each of the Siddhartha School’s 10 classes, and inspiring talks by the school’s local founder, Khensur Rinpoche Lobzang Tsetan.

Visit Global Family Travels Tik Tok page for some of the cultural performances!

Khensur Rinpoche's heartfelt speech described his upbringing as a monk and how he started the school, ending with a quote that represents the compassionate mission of the amazing school:

“Children are the seeds of the future. We must care for them by providing love and education so that they blossom into good human beings.”

Siddhartha School founder, Khensur Rinpoche Lobzang Tsetan, photo courtesy of Global Family Travels

2. Magical Rong Valley & Community Visits in Ladakh

A visit to two villages in the mystical and beautiful gorge of Rong Valley was hands down one of the highlights of our trip. Located 80 kilometers from Leh, it is said this region has the highest density of snow leopards in Ladakh. After viewing rock art en route to Rong Valley that dates back 3000 years BC, we visited the village of Tarchit, which is known for its hidden “beyuls” - or valleys. We also explored the meditation caves of Padmasambhava, the guru who brought Buddhism to Ladakh and Tibet in the 8th century!

Views of Tarchit Village, Ladakh India , photo courtesy of Global Family Travels

We were very lucky to have several amazing guides on the trip with us, one of whom was who was working on a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to train and empower local women in these villages of Rong Valley by helping them create visitor experiences that showcase their cultural heritage.

In the village of Tarchit, we had the good fortune to enjoy tea with a woman who was hosting lunch for her entire community on the day the village was blessing its agricultural harvest. Just after she hosted us, the woman donned her beautiful Ladakhi outfit, and stood at her front doorstep while a stream of villagers delivered gifts and prayer books to her. The local Lama (monk) also visited to bless the woman’s home with barley flour (a sign of abundance). We felt incredibly lucky to witness all of this taking place.

Tarchit Village host greeting her community for puja, Ladakh India, photos courtesy of Global Family Travels

“Here, it seemed people still lived and dressed as they had for centuries, nearly untouched by the outside world,” shared Martin. “In one of the villages, we happened upon a puja festival (prayer blessings), where we were invited right into the midst of the celebration by the village host of the puja. It was almost like a time travel moment into an ancient way of life in a faraway place. Extraordinary and very special.”