“The secret of the mountain is that the mountains simply exist, as I do myself: the mountains exist simply, which I do not. The mountains have no "meaning," they are meaning; the mountains are.”

At the roof of the world, lies a hidden kingdom.

A land of high mountain passes and icy lakes, Ladakh is a magical place. The Trans-Himalayan landscape is a direct contrast to its festive culture, which is full of colour and character. The drama of the Ladakhi countryside adds to its allure. Flat plateaus give way to high passes, forested valleys, orchards, glaciers and even sand-dunes.

It’s natural beauty is enriched by deep spirituality, which is rooted in Mahayana Buddhism. If you would like to understand the philosophy first hand, then Encounters Asia’s specially guided journey with a local monk, is a once in a lifetime experience. As you travel across the region, he shares various aspects of Buddhism and its wisdom with you. For those who want to celebrate a special moment in their lives, Encounters Asia can arrange for the monks to conduct a special blessing just for you. As they light up a thousand oil lamps in a unique ritual, the aura is magical. By the end of the trip, you’re completely transformed.

Ladakhis love to celebrate the summer.

From May to September, the region is filled with traditional events and local flair. Grand processions, masked and costumed participants, music, and even a fast and furious game of polo played at high-altitude, are all a part of the festivities. Song, dance and pantomime come together create lively dramas out of local myths and legends.

The capital, Leh, is a bustling outpost and an important hub for the entire region, and really comes to life in the summer. We suggest staying in and around Leh at the start of your Ladakh expedition, to get a feel for the city and also acclimatise to the high altitude.

After a day of acclimatisation, one can easily spend several days exploring Ladakh.

From river-rafting on the Zanskar to the coppersmiths of Chilling, or hiking and biking in the Nubra Valley, it’s a terrific destination for the culture-curious who enjoy a spot of adventure on the side. Travel across some of the steepest mountain passes in the world, and discover hidden valleys. Perched at the edge of the Siachen glacier, Nubra, otherwise known as the orchard of Ladakh, is one of our favourites.

There are a variety of great places to stay in and around Leh. The Ultimate Travelling Camp is an experiential, luxury tented camp, which rests on the grounds of Thiksey Monastery. Luxurious and comfortably equipped, these tented suites include en-suite bathrooms.

Nimmu House, an old Ladakhi home that has been converted into a quirky boutique hotel, is another favourite, and one can stay in either rooms or tents. Stok Palace, which is a historic royal residence, also has a handful of traditionally designed suites.

The winter has its own appeal.

From December to February, Encounters Asia leads its epic Snow Leopard expeditions in the Hemis National Park — a once in a lifetime experience for rugged travelers, wildlife lovers and avid photographers.

Ladakh has an other-worldly feel to it. Raw yet resplendent, it touches the core of your soul and transforms you inside and out. It’s a trip unlike any other.