Living on top of the world
July 3, 2006 2:48 AM   Subscribe

Ladakh (Travelfilter) covers nearly 4,000 square miles and is separated from the Changtang wilderness region of Tibet to the east by a disputed line on the maps of India and China. It is also the land of vanishing dances. Some wish to learn from the Ladakh project. Others just travel and take photographs.
posted by adamvasco (14 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
From this link:

The identification of a reincarnate, a process rigorous and foolproof, is carried out while the boy is still very young.

Tell that to Steven Seagal. He'll take you to the bank!.. THE BLOOD BANK!!!
posted by basicchannel at 7:50 AM on July 3, 2006

Snow leopards ..... awesome. Thanks for the links, adamvasco.
posted by blucevalo at 9:10 AM on July 3, 2006

Thanks for the links. I like my big cities, but there should also be places that remain more remote and less accessible --like this. What a beautiful place.

It's a crying shame that China is now running a train into Tibet.
posted by bim at 10:10 AM on July 3, 2006

More like running a train on Tibet, am I right?

Sorry, that's twice now I've brought down the discourse in this post :(.
posted by basicchannel at 10:43 AM on July 3, 2006


This is some neat stuff, thanks.
posted by Gator at 10:59 AM on July 3, 2006

It's a crying shame that China is now running a train into Tibet.

Maybe, but Ladakh is in India. Tibetan people, Tibetan plateau, but India nevertheless, not China.

A mindfuck of a place, btw. Was there in 96.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:23 PM on July 3, 2006

Ohh, Ladakh. My dad helps run a small charity that sends students off to far-away places to work on village and social projects. One such destination was the Tibetan Refugee Village School in Shang Village, in the Ladakh region, helping the nuns and monks repair the school.

Haven't been myself (I'm just redesigning their website), but I've seen plenty of pictures from their visits, and heard a few stories. Amazing place, wonderful people. Just such a contrast to the other very modern and westernised big cities in India. Ladakh is just one of the regions that seems to have avoided the modern world up to now. And yes, it's definitely Indian, even though the people have much greater relations to Tibet. Borders in that whole region are.... well, you don't go up there wearing anything that might resemble military equipment if you're smart.

It's also really damn high up there. My dad lost several stone on his trip there last year, they had to travel by mules up into the mountains. The thin air is tough as hell too for those used to lower altitudes. There's a great photo of him standing in front of the highest lake in the world, which alas doesn't appear to be online anywhere. Might see if I can get some photos from the ladakh visits up on a site somewhere, their current photo gallery setup is rather anaemic.

Fascinating place by all accounts, wouldn't mind going myself at some point in my life. Amazing how in a world that seems to get smaller by the day, there are still places that are just so, well, alien to western eyes.
posted by ArkhanJG at 4:40 PM on July 3, 2006

Great post. Thanks, adamvasco.
posted by homunculus at 4:42 PM on July 3, 2006

Maybe, but Ladakh is in India. Tibetan people, Tibetan plateau, but India nevertheless, not China.

I realize that. I am talking about the influx of tourists in general into remote regions. Don't make it too easy for them, IMHO.

Of course, the China train thing is all mixed up with politics and control.
posted by bim at 6:38 PM on July 3, 2006

From the article:
Tibetan Buddhism, as it is commonly known in the West, is in strange times. It is disemboweled in Tibet, diluted in Sikkim, in exile in India, under wraps in Bhutan, trendy in America, and existing with some freedom and authenticity especially in Ladakh, a semi-autonomous region of Himalayan India.
What about Tawang?
posted by the cydonian at 7:39 PM on July 3, 2006

I have very little to add, but it seemed necessary to post something. I derive my MeFi username from the time I spent at this particular gompa (monastery) in Ladakh in 1999-2000. It is one of my favourite places on the planet.

Helena Norberg-Hodge's Ancient Futures (excerpted in the third link in this post) is, by the way, a brilliant book.

Semi-tangential: Ladakh is in some ways more Tibetan than Tibet these days. My host at Likir Gompa, for example, was an American grad student learning to speak Ladakhi because it was closer to classical Tibetan than the Tibetan being spoken in modern Tibet (which of course has been heavily influenced by Chinese languages).
posted by gompa at 12:12 AM on July 4, 2006

Indian-China War in 1962 in the Ladakh region.

The Indo-Sino conflict.

On October 16, 1962, eleven years after it had invaded Tibet, the Peoples Republic of China assailed Himalayan India in a surprise attack that ended millennia of peaceful co-existence between the two Asian giants. As a result, approximately 43,000 square kilometers of Indian territory is still under occupation by the PRC.

In Ladakh they speak Ladhaki, a sort of Appalachian form of Tibetan, it's a weird language. Here's a strange combo, Christian teachings spoken in Ladakhi, scroll down and listen to the mp3s. There's a little Tibetan country music/singing in there too.

The Moravians commenced work in Ladakh in 1856 and by 1922 numbered 158 converts. Even thought there are no Moravian Christians in Ladakh these days that I know about, one of the odd legacies of the Moravians is that they taught the Ladakhis knitting and to knit multi-colored socks with lots of neon pink and green swastikas as part of the design.

Hemis Monastery (gompa) is the big one outside Leh, the capitol of Ladakh.

Ladakhi women's hats are amazing turquoise studded extravagances or else have fun, curly flaps.

Topographical map of Ladakh. Map of the main monasteries in Ladakh. Other maps of the area.

The Chang-Pa live in a small corner of Ladakh and share the region with other diverse ethnic groups. Ladakh is part of the Indian province called Jammu and Kashmir.

Just south of Ladakh, is one of my favorite places on the planet, remote Spiti. The grass is so thick it's like walking on a mattress, fragrant with herbs and spangled with eidelweiss.
posted by nickyskye at 1:23 AM on July 4, 2006 [2 favorites]

nickyskye; I just want to thank you for your enlightening additions to this post. And gompa thank you for sharing.
posted by adamvasco at 4:44 AM on July 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

This is the home of the Snow Leopard.
Everything that goes to these villages is carried on these animals.
That's hardcore, using snow leopards as pack animals.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:25 PM on July 4, 2006

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