Situated in the western Indian Himalaya, Ladakh and Zanskar are home to some of the world’s highest living communities. In Tibetan, Ladakhi and Zanskari languages, la means ‘mountain pass’, so Ladakh translates as the ‘Valley of Passes’. This mountainous desert, with its spectacular resemblance to a lunar landscape, has been dubbed ‘moon land’ on earth.
Zanskar, west of Ladakh, is an ancient hidden kingdom, known as the Valley of Copper. As Zanskar and Ladakh both follow Tibetan Buddhism and share a similar topography, they have become known as ‘Little Tibet’. Indeed, Ladakh and Zanskar are some of the only places where Tibetan culture is permitted to thrive as in the old days of Tibet.
Geographically, Zanskar is triangular in shape with Central Zanskar bordered by three different valleys: Sham, Stod and Lungna. Zanskar remains cut off from the outer world for eight to nine months a year, due to its high mountains and harsh weather: then, the only escape from the valley is along the frozen river known as “Chader”. Ladakh and Zanskar are surrounded by chains of mountains up to six thousand meters high, some reaching seven thousand and higher.