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Ladakh cold desert

Geography

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Cold desert of Ladakh

Ladakh is a cold desert lying in the Great Himalayas, on the eastern side of Jammu and Kashmir. The Karakoram Range in the north and the Zanskar mountains in the south enclose it. Several rivers flow through Ladakh, Indus being the most important among them. The rivers form deep valleys and gorges. Several glaciers are found in Ladakh, for example the Gangri glacier.

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Climate of Ladakh

The altitude in Ladakh varies from about 3000m in Kargil to more than 8,000m in the Karakoram. Due to its high altitude, the climate is extremely cold and dry. The air at this altitude is so thin that the heat of the sun can be felt intensely. The day temperatures in summer are above zero degree. The night temperatures remains well below 30C. It is freezing cold in the winters. As it lies in the rain shadow of the Himalayas, there is little rainfall, as low as 10 cm every year. The area experiences freezing winds and burning hot sunlight.

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Vegetation in Ladakh

Due to high aridity, the vegetation is sparse in the cold desert of Ladakh. There are scanty patches of grasses and shrubs for animals to graze. Groves of willows and poplars are seen in the valleys. During the summers, fruit trees such as apples, apricots and walnuts bloom.

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Birds found in Ladakh

Several species of birds are sighted in Ladakh. Robins, redstarts, Tibetan snowcock, raven and hoopoe are common. Some of these are migratory birds.

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Animals of Ladakh

The animals of Ladakh are wild goats, wild sheep, yak and special kinds of dogs. The animals are reared to provide for the milk, meat and hides. Yaks milk is used to make cheese and butter. The hair of the sheep and goat is used to make woollens.

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Occupations of the people of Ladakh

In the summer season the people are busy cultivating barley, potatoes, peas, beans and turnip. The climate in winter months is so harsh that people keep themselves engaged in festivities and ceremonies. The women are very hard working. They work not only in the house and fields, but also manage small business and shops.

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Cities of Ladakh

Leh, the capital of Ladakh, is well connected both by road and air. The National Highway 1A connects Leh to Kashmir Valley through the Zoji la Pass.

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Tourism in Ladakh

Tourism is a major activity with several tourists streaming in from within India and abroad. Visits to the gompas, treks to see the meadows and glaciers, witnessing ceremonies and festivities are important activities.

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