Once part of Tibet, Ladakh is now India’s most northern state. Isolated from the rest of India by the massive bulk of the Greater Himalaya it still has more in common with Tibet.
China has remodelled Tibet, but Ladakh holds out and is home to a relatively undisturbed Buddhist culture. Cut off from the rest of the world during the winter months, the villages have preserved an almost medieval way of life.
Most of today’s travellers arrive by air and in so doing deprive themselves of the opportunity to experience the truly remarkable landscape that holds Ladakh in isolation.
For the cyclist it is better to start low and ascend slowly, acclimatising as you go. This way you will fully appreciate the incredible and unique landscape that has kept Ladakh frozen in time. The true success of this adventure lies not in the arrival in Leh but in the endeavour required to achieve this goal.
Starting in Manali we spend two days enjoying the cool air and lush mountain scenery and then set off to ascend the 53km relentless climb to the summit of the Rohtang La and pass into a land beyond the monsoon with a rainfall similar to the Sahara.
Above the tree line the massive jagged peaks have been eroded into incredible shapes and the light on the vast mineral rich scree slopes and the unbelievable blue of the sky are a photographer’s delight. This land belongs to the hardy Tibetan nomadic herders.
This is splendid isolation on a massive scale.
During the next 8 days we cross several passes over 4000 meters, sometimes higher than Everest base camp, including the Taglang la at 5359 meters and the worlds highest, the Khardung La. The Taglang is perhaps more worthy of celebration as it heralds our traverse of the Greater Himalaya.
For further information of the 2009 tour, log onto www.cyclingholidays.org.
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