by Anupam Chandola
part II of III
Anupam Chandola (Arnie) is a native of India and has guided around the world including the Zanskar
About the History and landscape you would receive on this whitewater expedition in India where Ladakh is in the North.
Located in Northern India, Ladakh is a high altitude desert land abounding in awesome physical features, set in an enormous and spectacular environment comparable to Colorado River Rafting. Bounded by two of the world's mightiest mountain ranges, the Karakoram in the north and the Great Himalaya in the south, it is traversed by two other parallel chains, the Ladakh Range and the Zanskar Range.
For nearly 900 years, from the middle of the 10th century, Ladakh was an independent kingdom, its ruling dynasties descending from the kings of old Tibet. The kingdom attained its greatest geographical extent and glory in the early 17th century under the famous king Singge Namgyal, whose domain extended across Spiti and western Tibet right up to the Mayum-la, beyond the sacred sites of Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar.
During the British rule in India, Ladakh, together with the neighboring province of Baltistan, was incorporated into the newly created state of Jammu & Kashmir. Just over a century later, this union was disturbed by the partition of India, as a result of which Baltistan became part of Pakistan, while Ladakh remained in India as part of the State of Jammu & Kashmir. Geographically, Culturally and Politically, Ladakh is completely different from Kashmir. The mighty Zanskar Range forms a natural barrier between the regions of Kashmir and Ladakh.
Today, with political stability, Ladakh is thriving as a Mecca for adventure travelers. Only recently opened by the Indian government to tourism, Ladakh is still relatively untouched by the excesses found in most developing countries.
In the ancient Kingdom of Ladakh the majestic Himalayan ranges, drawing adventure seeking travelers, shape an incredible variety of whitewater challenges for paddlers. A series of worlds most outstanding rivers journeys are found in the Himalayas and Ladakh is no exception. An uncanny blend of natural splendor, exotic cultures, warm weather and exciting whitewater makes river travel in Ladakh especially unique. Adventures in Ladakh are not limited to whitewater excitement. In this fairy tale land of temples, monasteries and medieval villages, a varied and complex culture has evolved rich with distinctive art forms, joyful ceremonies, and deep religious traditions of the ethnic groups that populate the land. Linked by a rich heritage, the people of the Ladakh have created a kaleidoscope of exotic customs and beliefs.
The history and culture of Ladakh only helps deepen the understanding of the land we river raft by, realizing we are just very lucky to a be in very special and ancient place. Colorado River Rafting has the scenery too, but not the heritage and new culture experience and American would be interested in seeing.