Ladakh, The Region of India
Ladakh, a high altitude desert located between Earth and Heaven, is a gem for travelers passionate about vast spaces as well as for lovers of culture.
In the extreme north of India, embraced between the two highest mountain ranges in the world, the Himalayas to the south and the Karakoram to the north, Ladakh – Zanskar is a vast area of about 100,000 sq. km, which represents one of the last refuges of Tibetan culture in free land.
Many valleys of Ladakh – Zanskar have long remained unknown, and have retained a singular character, preserving the Tibetan Buddhist culture.
The area was officially opened to foreign travelers in 1974. Yet, Ladakh has for centuries been at a crossroads of civilizations between Central Asia to the west and north, the Tibetan people in the East and the Indian Sub Continent in the south. Until recently, caravans constantly roamed the valley of the Indus in Kashmir to Leh, the capital of Ladakh.
Leh, the capital, is located in the valley of the Indus, which houses most of the Ladakhi population, and the largest monasteries in Ladakh.
Ladakh has five distinct regions in the North and Northeast, the valleys of the Nubra and Shyok, to the east the Rupshu plateau, in the south the ancient kingdom of Zanskar, and West in the direction of cashmere, Purig or ‘lower’ Ladakh.
The largest part of the population of Ladakh is now settled and earning its living from agriculture, but a minority of Ladakhis remain nomadic, and lives with herds of yaks, horses, goats and sheep in the Rupshu area. The Champas derive most of their income from goat wool, the famous pashmina.
The Ladakhi Buddhists were mostly from the 10th century. These Ladakhis have built many monasteries often perched above villages and oases. The most famous, located in the valley of the Indus are the monasteries of Hemis, Matho, Stakna, Tikse, Phyang, Likir, Alchi and Lamayuru.
The Ladakhis, except Dardes who are Indo -Aryan, are of Tibetan origin and speak derivatives of Tibetan dialects.
A great oasis in the desert, Nimmu is a traditional village of Ladakh that now has about 200 families.
Nimmu’s location at the confluence of the Indus River and Zanskar River, its altitude of 3,100 m which is relatively low for Ladakh, and exposure to sun that leads to an abundance of wheat, barley, fruits and vegetables, allow villagers to lead a comfortable life.
The farmers and villagers are also shepherds in the summer, and spend a few months of the year at high altitudes with their herds of yaks and goats. They were also until recently horsemen who roamed with their mules, horses and yaks around the valley of the Indus, between Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir and Leh, trading pashmina wool, butter and yak wool, which they bartered against grain.
The village has two small monasteries, many ancient caravanserai and each house is surrounded by a garden and a flower garden in summer. The village boasts of apricot, apple and almond trees in abundance.