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Ladakh officially lies in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, but is very different from them in one simple respect: the majority of the people in Jammu and Kashmir are Muslim, and the Ladakhis are principally Tibetan Buddhist.

The area is characterized by the alpine desert climate, being in the rain shadow of the Zanskar range. The majority of the precipitation falls as snow, but in recent years, as in many parts of the world, changes have been noticed in the general pattern of the climate.

Thiksey Monastery in Leh, LadakhThe society of this almost entirely isolated region has survived by very efficient use of small resources — animals are kept in the ground floors of houses over winter, and the heat is conserved in the building. Polyandry means that the reproductive capacity of the population is limited, and surplus males were sent off to monasteries. Agricultural production was at a subsistence level and the diet was unvaried.

Since the area opened up to tourists in 1974, a number of changes have taken place, and change continues to affect the valley of the Indus in particular. Imported goods, more varied foodstuffs and different lifestyles have made some impact on Ladakhis, but less on Ladakh. The capital of Ladakh, Leh, lies at some 3,500 meters, and visitors should take things easy for the first three days of a visit, unless they have arrived overland, in which case they will be feeling better acclimatized.

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    Our expert guides to exploring Ladakh

    Written by our specialists from their own experiences of visiting Ladakh, these guides will help you make the most of your time there. We share both our practical recommendations and the best ways to appreciate Ladakh at its best.

    • Summer in India: Ladakh
      Thiksey Monastery in Leh, Ladakh

      Summer in India: Ladakh

      Summer in India: Ladakh

      Considering India between June and September? India specialist James explains that, while much of the country is too hot or wet to visit, it’s the ideal time of year to explore mountainous Ladakh, a region of high-altitude deserts, Buddhist monasteries and sheer-sided mountains.

      9 min read

      Read this guide

    Accommodation choices for Ladakh

    We've selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Ladakh. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.