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Geography > Life in the Deserts > The Cold Desert – Ladakh
Life in the Deserts

The Cold Desert – Ladakh

You must have heard about the beauty of Ladakh. Have you already planned a trip to beautiful snowy hills of Ladakh? But, do you know anything else about the place? In this chapter, we will look beyond the adventurous trips that people take to the place. Let us look at the life of people who stay there!

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The Cold Desert: Ladakh

Ladakh is a cold desert in India. It lies in the Great Himalayas, on the eastern side of Jammu and Kashmir. It has the mighty Karakoram Range in the North and in the south, it is bound by the  Zanskar mountains. Several rivers flow through Ladakh. The most important one is the Indus.

These rivers form deep valleys and gorges. They add to the scenic beauty of the place. Several glaciers are found in Ladakh. The Gangotri glacier is an example. The altitude in Ladakh varies from about 3000m in Kargil to more than 8000 m in the Karakoram.

Ladakh

Climate of Ladakh

Due to its high altitude, Ladakh is always freezing cold and dry for most of the year. The air is so thin that you can feel the sun’s heat intensely. In summers, the temperature during the day is just above zero degrees and the night temperature is much below -30°C. In winters the temperature remains as low as -40°C most of the time.

The rainfall in this region is as low as 10 cm annually. This is because it lies in the rain shadow of the Himalayas. The area experiences freezing winds and burning sunlight. Therefore, if you sit in the sun with your hand in the shade; you will experience sunstroke as well as frostbite at the same time.

Flora and Fauna of Ladakh

Flora

Because of the extreme dryness, you would find sparse vegetation in the area. There are scanty patches of grasses and shrubs for animals to graze. During the summers, trees of fruits such as apples, apricots, and walnuts bloom.

Fauna

Several species of birds such as robins, redstars, Tibetan snowcock, raven, and hoopoe are common. Some of these are migratory birds. The animals include wild goats, wild sheep, yak and special kinds of dogs. The animals are reared to provide:

  • Milk: Yak’s milk is used to make cheese and butter.
  • Meat
  • Hide
  • Hair: The hair on the sheep and goats is used to make woollens.

People of Ladakh

You would mostly find either Muslims or Buddhists here. Ladakh is blessed with many Buddhist monasteries. Some of the famous monasteries are Hemis, Thiksey, Shey, and Lamayuru. The people of this region resemble the people of Tibet and Central Asia.

Cultivation Activity

In the summer people usually cultivate barley, potato, beans, p, as and turnip. In the winter months, due to the harsh climate, people keep themselves engaged in festivities and ceremonies. You would find the women working comparatively more than the men.

Business Culture

Since Ladakh is one of the most sought-after tourist places in India, and also the world, the business is quite profound. You will find a lot of small businesses and shops. They cater to the needs of the tourists who visit each year. Mostly, women manage these shops and businesses.

Infrastructure

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

Tourism

This is a major tourist attraction for tourists across the globe. The tourists visit the gompas, do trekking to see the meadows and glaciers and witness the ceremonies and festivities. It is a great place for the bikers and the adventure lovers.

Changes in Area

Modernization has not left Ladakh aloof. The life of the people is undergoing a change. This is mainly because of the modern technology and lifestyle. The people of Ladakh have over centuries learned to live in harmony with nature.

Due to the scarcity of resources, they understand their value and conserve them. They do not waste the resources and use them very judiciously. To know the beauty of Ladakh, one has to visit the place. You can get proper enthusiasm when you visit this amazing place.

Learn more about the Hot Desert – Sahara.

Question For You

Q. Describe the climate of Ladakh.

Ans: Due to its high altitude, Ladakh is always freezing cold and dry for most of the year. The air is so thin that you can feel the sun’s heat intensely. In summers, the temperature during the day is just above zero degrees and the night temperature is much below -30°C. In winters the temperature remains as low as -40°C most of the time.

The rainfall in this region is as low as 10 cm annually. This is because it lies in the rain shadow of the Himalayas. The area experiences freezing winds and burning sunlight. Therefore, if you sit in the sun with your hand in the shade; you will experience sunstroke as well as frostbite at the same time.

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