I love Leh located at an altitude of 3,500 meters. Leh is one of the main big towns of Ladakh that is known for its moon landscape. My romance with the town rises during non-peak season for its evident sense of remoteness. This very sense makes the place unique and challenging, ensuring interesting leisure.
My three observations about the town reflect the remoteness:
1. A Few Movie Posters, Tourists but Lots of Uniformed Personnel
I have spent more than fifty days in Leh. I noticed that Bollywood and other movie posters were conspicuous by its absence. However, I saw a film shooting was in progress near National Highway 1.
The non-peak season draws a few tourists and travelers. So, chartered vehicle traffic trickles down. Walking therefore becomes easier, which I always enjoy. Local people then dominate the public places and life, giving a chance for mute or real conversations. Otherwise, busy locals almost disappear in foreign crowds.
Lots of men and women in uniform reminds me of my closeness to the remote Himalayan borders.
2. Plenty of Clean Budget Guesthouses, Homestays
Clean budget beds within traditional houses open a window to the world of community living in the harsh terrain that is not endowed with all resources found in my urban home town. The community is not just living. It is enjoying the life irrespective of geography-specific issues.
The community has also adopted a number of urban ways. For example, traditional guesthouses and homestays are appointed with western commodes, glossy tiles, washbasins, and geysers. The community therefore continues its tradition of serving the best to the guest.
3. Proximity to Beautiful Forts, Hamlets, Monasteries, High Passes
The mud and stone houses and the remnants of old buildings create brown grey landscape in Leh. Tall green or yellow poplars depending on the season add another dimension to it.
A number of lovely forts, hamlets, monasteries, and high passes-the mountain vantage points- are short distance away from the town. So I can spend a day in small village exploring the past and sleep in town. I can even enjoy some urban luxuries when my budget permits.
I can observe a culture that has not yet fully adopted modern urban ways. The culture that knows its rich unique past could create a wealthy future. Several heritage conservation projects therefore are in progress to attract more cultural enthusiasts.
Don’t all of us always think of future?
Leh is doing the same. Leh is maintaining existing and creating new heritage attractions for tourists, travelers, and future generations. Many of these attractions are hidden in slim lanes and by lanes and / or crowning the steep rocky slopes. So, you and I can explore them on foot only, an age old way of doing and seeing the things.