Ladakhi culture is similar to Tibetan culture. Ladakhi food has much in common with Tibetan food, the most prominent foods being thukpa (noodle soup) and tsampa, known in Ladakhi as ngampe (roasted barley flour). Edible without cooking, tsampa makes useful trekking food. A dish that is strictly Ladakhi is skyu, a heavy pasta dish with root vegetables.
As Ladakh moves toward a cash-based economy, foods from the plains of India are becoming more common. As in other parts of Central Asia, tea in Ladakh is traditionally made with strong green tea, butter, and salt. It is mixed in a large churn and known as gurgur cha, after the sound it makes when mixed. Sweet tea (cha ngarmo) is common now, made in the Indian style with milk and sugar. Most of the surplus barley that is produced is fermented into chang, an alcoholic beverage drunk especially on festive occasions.
The most popular sport in Ladakh now is ice hockey, which is played only on natural ice in January. Archery is a traditional sport in Ladakh, and many villages still hold archery festivals, which are as much about traditional dancing. The sport is conducted with strict etiquette, to the accompaniment of the music of surna and daman (shenai and drum).
Polo, the other traditional sport of Ladakh is indigenous to Baltistan and Gilgit, and was probably introduced into Ladakh in the mid-17th century by King Singge Namgyal, whose mother was a Balti princess..
Shey Gompa is about 15 kms from Leh. It used to be the summer palace of the kings of Ladakh. There are lots of Stupas and Gompas built around the palace. Shey palace was built by Deldan Namgyal in the beginning of 17’Th century AD. Main attraction in Shey is the 12m Shakyamuni Buddha statue inside the Dresthang Gompa.
Thiksey Gompa, close to Shey is about 17 kms from Leh. The monastery is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Ladakh and belongs to the Gelukspa order.
Hemis, about 45 kms south of Leh it is one of the most famous and largest monastery in Ladakh. It belongs to the Drukpa order and was founded in the early 17’Th century. The setting is perfect with the monastery cradled in a lovely valley, surrounded by streams and fronted by long Mani walls. Overnight stay at the guest house.
Alchi - Lamayuru Lamayuru has fascinating caves carved out of the mountainside. Also known as Yung Drung (Swastika) it is sited on a high promontory overlooking the village and valley. For sheer spectacle value no other Gompa can match Lamayuru.
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