Ladakh ("land of high passes") is a region in Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir that currently extends from the Kunlun mountain range to the main Great Himalayas to the south, inhabited by people of Indian and Tibetan descent. It is one of the most sparsely populated regions in Jammu and Kashmir and its culture and history are closely related to that of Tibet. Ladakh is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and culture.
The mountain ranges in this region were formed over 45 million years by the folding of the Indian plate into the more stationary Eurasian Plate. The drift continues, causing frequent earthquakes in the Himalayan region.[f] The peaks in the Ladakh Range are at a medium altitude close to the Zoji-la (5,000–5,500 m or 16,000–18,050 ft) and increase toward southeast, culminating in the twin summits of Nun-Kun (7000 m or 23,000 ft).
Ladakh is a high altitude desert as the Himalayas create a rain shadow, generally denying entry to monsoon clouds. The main source of water is the winter snowfall on the mountains.
Zanskar is the main river of the region along with its tributaries. The Zanskar gets frozen during winter and the famous Chadar trek takes place on this magnificent frozen river.
The fauna of Ladakh has much in common with that of Central Asia in general and that of the Tibetan Plateau in particular. Exceptions to this are the birds, many of which migrate from the warmer parts of India to spend the summer in Ladakh. For such an arid area, Ladakh has a great diversity of birds — a total of 225 species have been recorded. Many species of finches, robins, redstarts (like the black redstart), and the hoopoe are common in summer. The brown-headed gull is seen in summer on the river Indus. Resident water-birds include the brahminy duck also known as the ruddy shelduck and the bar-headed goose. The black-necked crane, a rare species found scattered in the Tibetan plateau, is also found in parts of Ladakh. Other birds include the raven, Eurasian magpie, red-billed chough, Tibetan snowcock, and chukar. The lammergeier and the golden eagle are common raptors. The endangered black-necked crane, Grus nigricollis, breeds in Ladakh. It is the state bird of Jammu and Kashmir.
Some of the mammals that are found here are the bharal or blue sheep which is the most abundant, the Asiatic ibex is a very elegant mountain goat, the Ladakhi Urial is another unique mountain sheep of Ladakh, the Tibetan argali or Nyan is the largest wild sheep in the world, standing 3.5 to 4 feet at the shoulder with the horn measuring 90–100 cm. The endangered Tibetan antelope, known as Chiru has traditionally been hunted for its wool (shahtoosh) which is a natural fiber of the finest quality. Ladakh is also home to the Tibetan gazelle, which inhabits the vast rangelands in eastern Ladakh bordering Tibet. The kiang, or Tibetan wild ass, is common in the grasslands of Changthang. There are about 200 snow leopards in Ladakh of an estimated 7,000 worldwide. The Eurasian lynx, the Pallas's cat, the Tibetan wolf, a few brown bears, the Tibetan sand fox, marmots, hares, and several types of pika and vole are some of the common and rare species found in this region.
The Leh Ladakh Holiday Packages are offered by many tourist agencies as this region has one of the most picturesque landscape one can see anywhere in the Indian subcontinent, be it the rugged mountains, steep valleys, undulating rivers or the snow clad peaks and lush green meadows and plateaus, not to mention the rich flora and fauna of the region.
A typical Leh Ladakh Holiday Pakage would include a bit of flora and fauna, visit to the famous lakes of Tso Moriri or Pangong and a few of the well known monasteries of Diskit, Lamayuru and not to mention the highest desert of the Nubra Valley and the highest motor able pass of Khardung La and other passes winding across the Himalayan region and an occasional sighting of the animals and birds that call this highest plateau their home for most of the year.