Amidst the hustle and bustle of the lives in the big city, we often forget about the natural environment we live in. Always on a run, packed spaces, noisy streets, air pollution, and not realizing what came before all this. Travelling in Ladakh almost seems like a contrast to living in cities; the cobalt blue skies, crisp and fresh air, endless snow-capped mountain ranges, and crystal-clear water. The charm of Ladakh can seep into one’s soul, giving yourself time to reflect. It is a place of inspiration and serves as an example for the future of our cities and us.

Ladakh, also called “Little Tibet”, is a place with very few resources and an extreme climate. Yet it is a place that has a lot to offer. Home to a thriving culture for thousands of years. Traditions that inculcate cooperation, and location-specific knowledge, to co-exist with nature, that not only allow them to survive but to prosper. 

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Pangong Tso, Ladakh ©httpswww.kimkim.comchighlights-of-ladakh-leh-nubra-valley-pangong-tso-7-daysa

Life in Ladakh

Ladakh is assumed to arrive from the Tibetan la-Jags, which means “land of mountain passes”. Culturally, Ladakh is similar to Tibet, its language, art, and architecture reflect this. Buddhism is a dominant religion in Ladakh, for centuries monks from Ladakh studied in Tibetan monasteries and there is constant interchange of ideas between the two. Ladakh majorly is a self-supporting society, living in small settlements and scattered in this vast desert. Each village spans usually depending on the availability of water, which is the melted glacial snow from the mountains. Life in the villages is essentially to adhere to one’s needs; how to build houses from mud and stone, to depend on yak and sheep for clothing and their dung to make cakes used for cooking. 

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Settlements in Ladakh ©httpswww.istockphoto.comvideosladakh

What makes Leh different from other cities

Leh is surrounded by a surreal landscape with sky-piercing peaks of snow-capped Himalayan Mountain ranges, one of the coldest deserts in the world. The city is over 11,000ft above sea level. Leh is a haven for travelers, from having exquisite views, rugged terrain provides the opportunity for various adventure sports, and as well as a trek through this snowy landscape, or even a perfect place for a road trip.  

Attractions in Leh

Below are some of the attractions in and around Leh

  1. Alchi Monastery: This monastery dates back to the 10th century, making it one of the oldest monastic complexes in Ladakh. This is situated about 70 kilometers west of Leh. It is famous for its ancient artwork, huge statues of Buddha, and elaborate wood carvings.
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Alchi Monastery, Ladakh ©httpswww.istockphoto.comphotosalchi-monastery
  1.   Gurudwara Pathar Sahib: This Gurudwara is located in the periphery of Leh. This was constructed to honour the memory of Guru Nanak. It is believed to have significance as the place where Guru Nanak rested after traveling to Sikkim, Nepal, and Tibet. He sat in this very place to meditate and while he was here, he vanquished a demon, that was trying to crush him with a boulder.
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Gurudwara Shri Pathar Sahib, Leh ©httpsdiscoverlehladakh.ingurudwara-pathar-sahib.htm
  1.   Hall Of Fame: This is a museum that exhibits the accomplishments of the bravery of Indian soldiers. There are various galleries inside with the display of weaponry used in the Kargil war, uniforms that are worn at the Siachen glacier, letters written by soldiers to their families, photographs clicked during the wars around the region, and other exhibits. There is a 30-minute documentary of the Kargil war and a light-sound show that shows the struggles and bravery of the soldiers in the region. 
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Hall of Fame, Leh ©httpsexplorebyroad.bloghall-of-fame-leh
  1. Magnetic Hill: Situated at an altitude of 14000ft, this is one of the most intriguing spots to visit. This is a tiny hillock where it supposedly defies gravity and tends to pull the vehicle upwards. The theory states that there is a strong magnetic force from the hills that pulls these vehicles. Local Ladakhi superstition believes that this road leads straight to heaven.
  2. Maitreya Buddha: The statue of Maitreya Buddha is placed on top of the monastery. Noted for its incredible carvings, brilliant craftsmanship, and vivid colors. The hall beneath this statue has collections of Buddhist literature and a variety of statues.
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Maitreya Buddha, Ladakh ©httpswww.tourmyindia.comstatesladakhmaitreya-buddha.html

6. Shanti Stupa: With staggering mountains in the backdrop, this serene white Stupa stands as a testament to its time. It is said to have been constructed by Japanese monks between 1989 and 1991. The aim was to bring about and promote world peace.

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Shanti Stupa, Ladakh ©httpsupload.wikimedia.orgwikipediacommons44fShanti_Stupa_%28_Winters%29.jpg

While we embrace “modernity” and “progress”, we often forget the divide that exists between us and our natural environments. Realizing how much control we have over our habitat and how there’s a need to co-exist. Ladakhis have a deep-rooted connection to their native earth. We must question is the progress that we speak of is truly inevitable or if should we question its mere reliance. 

Reference list:

What is Alchi famous for? Available at: (Accessed: 18 February 2024). 

Norberg-Hodge, H. (2016) Ancient futures. Chelsea Green. 

Home (no date) Tourist Places to Explore in Leh | Incredible India. Available at: (Accessed: 18 February 2024). 

Teli, P. (2021) Leh-Ladakh journey, Medium. Available at: (Accessed: 18 February 2024). 


This is Ritu, a graduate of architecture. Books have always fascinated her, she started with fantasy novels and slowly acknowledged the power of words and found the urge to write. This passion and determination in writing was channeled into architecture journalism.