Ladakh, the last shangri-la

Ladakh, also remembered as “the last Shangri-La”, is the lost paradise where time has suddenly stopped
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The Photographic Tour

Ladakh, also remembered as “the last Shangri-La”, is the lost paradise where time has suddenly stopped. Hid- den between the gigantic mountain chains of Karakorum and Himalayas, it is a region of long valleys and deep gorges furrowed by the Indo waters, crystalline skies, spectacular mountains, snowy peaks, colors and amazing people.

The steep mountain walls that surround the whole region turn the landscape into an extremely fascinating and unforgettable but difficult to reach place. With the highest mountain passes in the world, the access to these territories requires crossing a winding road above the valleys, known as the Hell Road to Heaven. Nestled between these peaks, there are wonderful Buddhist monasteries, where colorful prayer flags float in the sky while monks are singing the ancient mantra into the wind as the wheels of prayer keep running without an end.

Crossing the Ladakh means getting lost in its countless isolated valleys and sand dunes, which stand against the glaciers, facing a deafening and unknown silence. 

Don’t be gama in the land of Lama
— Ladakh street sign
 
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Emptiness

In the background of the world’s tallest and majestic mountains, in an area that grows up to 6,000 feet high as a continuation of the Tibetan plateau, stands an enchanted and peaceful land: the Ladakh. This is a remote region of India within the federal state of Jammu & Kashmir, which, however, resembles the nearby Tibet whose geographic and cultural fea- tures remain intact. Known as the “land of the high valleys”, Ladakh is a magical and timeless place, a land rich in spirituality and traditions, which are handed down from generation to generation.

Here, one step from that blue sky which can be touched with one finger, amongst the breathtaking landscapes of a high desert scattered by large snowy peaks, a fascinating oasis of tranquillity is peacefully hidden.

 
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Spirituality

Ladakh, one of the tallest and coldest inhabited places on earth, has a mixture of different cultures that live and work together.
The Dards are the native population of these lands, the last heirs of the Aryan peoples who lived in the center of Asia. For many years a huge influx of people from Tibet has overwhelmed this culture by erasing their racial characteristics and erasing the ancient traditions handed down orally.

Today, the East and Central Ladakh population is mainly Buddhist with Tibetan origin with a predominance of monks who populate the monasteries that rise on the rocks dominating the valleys. Further west, around Kargil, Buddhist temples leave space for mosques, the somatic traits of people suggest a mixed origin, descending from weddings among the various populations. 

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Mountain Life

Among barley fields and mountain deserts, Buddhist spirituality and mysticism coexist peacefully with the remaining half of the Ladakh population of Muslim faith. Linked to their traditions, as well as monks, the inhabitants of these mountains live and have always lived in harmony with nature. Despite the difficulties encountered by living in one of the highest countries in the world, these people have never disrupted the surrounding environment. To be born here means facing a tiring life, having faces and skin marked by sun and wind and having a “burning look” just like the surrounding landscape.

Thanks to small ordinary gestures and mutual aid, handed down from various generations, these men and women can live in these inhospitable places just by smiling and working uninterruptedly. 

 

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