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Life in Cold Desert - Ladakh

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Last updated date: 18th Jul 2024
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Ladakh is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Untouched by commercialization, it is largely known for snow-capped hills and long-stretched plains. This Tibetan culture-oriented place is a major tourist destination. Also called the cold desert, Ladakh lies in the great Himalayas, on the eastern side of Jammu and Kashmir. There are several rivers that flow through this region, but the most important is the Indus River. These rivers form deep valleys. Ladakh is the region where several glaciers are found, one such is the Nubra glacier.


However, one of the major questions people visiting this place has is why is Ladakh called a cold desert? In fact, when asked which is the coldest desert in India, Ladakh is the name that comes to mind. The temperature during the winter season goes down to -30 degrees in Ladakh, so you can imagine life in the cold desert of Ladakh.


Ladakh Desert- The Coldest Region

Ladakh is enclosed between the north by the Karakoram Range and Zanskar Mountains in the south. One of the reasons why Ladakh is the coldest desert is because it is located at a high altitude. The air here is so thin that one can feel the sun's heat. During the summer season, during the daytime, the temperature is above zero degrees and the night temperature is below -30 degrees. During the winter season, the temperature remains around -40 degrees. The region also receives the lowest rainfall because of the great Himalayan effect, making Ladakh a cold desert.



One of the reasons why Ladakh is called a cold desert is its location as a plateau in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, further extending to the Himalayan range. It is surrounded by the Kunlun ranges which date back to 45 million years ago. The vegetation of Ladakh mostly depends on the Indus River. Towns like Leh, Tingmosgang, and a few others are located around this river.


The Flora and Fauna of Ladakh


When the question arises that what does the cold desert of Ladakh lack, the answer is flora. The Ladakh desert has low flora compared to other Himalayan regions. The extreme dryness brings down the flora of the region. However, many areas of the Ladakh region have scanty patches of grasses that are used by animals for grazing purposes. During the summer season, the region witnesses ample growth of apples, apricots, and walnuts.



When it comes to fauna, Ladakh is home to different types of bird species including redstarts, robins, and Tibetan snowcock. Many of these birds are migratory. Some of the animals you will find here are wild goats, sheep, yak, and special types of dogs-


People of Ladakh

Since life in the cold desert Ladakh is very simple and largely covered with mountains, you will find less population of people. Here, Muslims and Buddhists live in harmony. Since the population of Buddhists is high, the region is blessed with Buddhist monasteries. Hemis, Thiksey, Lamayuru, and a few others are the most beautiful Monasteries. People here are welcoming and treat tourists nicely.



Due to harsh climatic conditions, the cultivation activity in Ladakh is limited to barley, potato, turnip, and a few others. During the winter season, people mostly engage themselves in festivals. One special thing about this cold desert Ladakh is you will find more women working compared to the men.



Ladakh is the biggest tourist region, so people living here have a good business income. From antique and handmade product shops to transport services, Ladakh people engage in small and medium-sized businesses which make this region a good business destination.



The infrastructure in the cold desert of Ladakh is pretty good. Since it’s a tourist destination, Ladakh is well connected by road and air. One of the major road connectivity is the National Highway 1A that connects Leh to Kashmir Valley through the Zoji la Pass.



Tourism in Ladakh is on top, attracting thousands of visitors throughout the year. Bikers love riding bikes on the road and terrains of Ladakh to get an eye-pleasing view of different locations. Moreover, during the winter season, there are many festivals taking place which are worth attending.



If we check what does the cold desert Ladakh lack in, we will find the changing lifestyle. Since there is not much commercialization happening here, the lifestyle of people here hasn't much changed here. However, lately, there have been some changes due to modern technology. People here live in harmony. Moreover, there is a scarcity of resources and people here value them the most. They are known for living cheerful lives and being close to nature. Traditionally, they lead the life of nomadic pastoralists. The most prominent feature of Ladakh culture is that women hold prestigious positions and have freedom in life and to work.

FAQs on Life in Cold Desert - Ladakh

1. How is the climate of Ladakh?

The Ladakh desert is largely snowcapped. Throughout the year, the region remains cold and dry. During the summer season, Ladakh remains above 0 degrees during the daytime and goes lower than -10 degrees at night time. 

Ladakh is one such place where you will feel both bright sunlight and freezing winds at the same time. Due to its uneven climatic condition, it is recommended to pack warm clothes and woollen socks to protect your body from the harsh climate. When it comes to rain, the region receives 10 cm of rainfall annually. However, the vegetation of Ladakh largely depends on the Indus River, which flows from this region.

2. How is the tourism of Ladakh?

One of the major attractions of Ladakh is tourism. There are many places to explore in this region, and one such is the Nubra Valley where tourists can explore a number of beautiful monasteries including- Diskit Monastery, Hunder Monastery, Khardung La Pass, and others.

Ladakh is also known for the Zanskar Valley, which is widely famed for mountains and landscape. This place is untouched by commercialization, making it worth visiting. However, each of these places is extremely cold. So, when someone asks where the cold desert is in India, name Ladakh.