http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ladakh#Geography june 2nd
Main article: Geography of Ladakh
Map of the central Ladakh region
Landscape in Ladakh
Ladakh is India’s highest plateau with much of it being over 3,000 m(9,800 ft). It spans the Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges and the upper Indus River valley. Historical Ladakh includes the fairly populous main Indus valley, the more remote Zangskar (in the south) and Nubra valleys (to the north over Khardung La), the almost deserted Aksai Chin, and Kargil and Suru Valley areas to the west (Kargil being the second most important town in Ladakh). Before partition, Baltistan (now under Pakistani administration) was a district in Ladakh. Skardu was the winter capital of Ladakh while Leh was the summer capital.
The mountain ranges in this region were formed over a period of 45 million years by the folding of the Indian plate into the more stationary Eurasian Plate. The drift continues, causing frequent earthquakes in the Himalayan region.[θ] The peaks in the Ladakh range are at a medium altitude close to the Zoji-la (5,000–5,500 m or 16,000–18,050 ft), and increase towards south-east, reaching a climax in the twin summits of Nun-Kun (7000 m or 23,000 ft).
The Suru and Zangskar valleys form a great trough enclosed by the Himalayas and the Zanskar range. Rangdum is the highest inhabited region in the Suru valley, after which the valley rises to 4,400 m (14,436 ft) at Pensi-la, the gateway to Zanskar. Kargil, the only town in the Suru valley, was an important staging post on the routes of the trade caravans before 1947, being more or less equidistant, at about 230 kilometres from Srinagar, Leh, Skardu, and Padum. The Zangskar valley lies in the troughs of the Stod and the Lungnak rivers. The region experiences heavy snowfall; the Pensi-la is open only between June and mid-October. The Indus river is the backbone of Ladakh. All major historical and current towns — Shey, Leh, Basgo, and Tingmosgang, are situated close to the river.
The Ladakh range has no major peaks; its average height is a little less than 6,000 m (19,700 ft), and few of its passes are less than 5,000 m (16,400 ft). The Pangong range runs parallel to the Ladakh range about 100 km northwest from Chushul, along the southern shore of the Pangong Lake. Its highest range is 6,700 m (22,000 ft), and the northern slopes are heavily glaciated. The region comprising the valley of Shayok and Nubra rivers is known as Nubra. The Karakoram range in Ladakh is not as mighty as in Baltistan.[ι] North of the Karakoram lies the Kunlun. Thus, between Leh and eastern Central Asia, there is a triple barrier — Ladakh range, Karakoram range, and Kunlun. Nevertheless, a major trade route was established between Leh and Yarkand.
Monthly average temperature in Leh.
Ladakh is a high altitude desert as the Himalayas create a rain shadow, denying entry to monsoon clouds. The main source of water is the winter snowfall on the mountains. Recent flooding of the Indus river in the region has been attributed either to abnormal rain patterns, or the retreating of glaciers, both of which might be linked to global warming. The Leh Nutrition Project, headed by Chewang Norphel, also known as the 'Glacier Man', currently creates artificial glaciers as one solution for this problem.
Phyang Gompa, Ladakh, IndiaThe regions on the north flank of the Himalayas — Dras, the Suru valley and Zanskar — experience heavy snowfall and remain virtually cut off from the rest of the country for several months in the year. Summers are short, though they are long enough to grow crops in the lower reaches of the Suru valley. The summer weather is dry and pleasant, with average temperatures between 10–20 °C (50–70 °F), while in winter, the temperature may dip to −15 °C (5 °F). The proportion of oxygen is less than in many other places at comparable altitudes because of lack of vegetation. There is little moisture to temper the effects of rarefied air. Ladakh lies in the Very High Damage Risk cyclone
Karakoram is a mountain range spanning the borders between Pakistan, China, and India, located in the regions of Gilgit, Ladakh and Baltistan. It is one of the Greater Ranges of Asia, often considered together with the Himalaya, but not technically part of that range. Karakoram means "black gravel" in Turkic, as many of its glaciers are covered in rubble.
The Karakoram is home to more than sixty peaks above 7,000m (22,960 ft), including K2, the second highest peak of the world (8,611 m, 28,244 ft). Most of these peaks are in the Hunza of Pakistan. The range is about 500 km (300 mi) in length, and is the most heavily glaciated part of the world outside of the polar regions. The Siachen Glacier at 70 km and the Biafo Glacier at 63 km rank as the world's second and third longest glaciers outside the polar regions.
The Karakoram is bounded on the northeast by the edge of the Tibetan Plateau, and on the north by the Wakhan Corridor and the Pamir Mountains. Just to the west of the northwest end of the Karakoram lies the Hindu Raj range, beyond which is the Hindu Kush range. The southern boundary of the Karakoram is formed by the Gilgit, Indus, and Shyok Rivers, which separate the range from the northwestern end of the Himalaya range proper.
Due to its altitude and ruggedness, the Karakoram is much less inhabited than parts of the Himalayas further east. European explorers first visited early in the 19th century, followed by British surveyors starting in 1856.
The Muztagh Pass was crossed in 1887 by the expedition of Colonel Francis Younghusband and the valleys above the Hunza River were explored by George Cockerill in 1892. Explorations in the 1910s and 1920s established most of the geography of the region.
Marcel Ichac made a film entitled "Karakoram", chronicling a French expedition to the range in 1936. The film won the Silver Lion at the Venice film festival of 1937.
A portion of the Karakoram, disputed between India and China, has been re-created as a scale model by the Chinese government
The Indus River (Urdu: سندھ Sindh; Sindhi: سنڌو Sindh; Sanskrit and Hindi: सिन्धु Sindhu; Persian: Hindu; Pashto: Abasin "Father of Rivers"; Tibetan: Sengge Chu "Lion River"; Chinese: 印度 Yìndù; Greek: Ινδuσ Indus) is the longest and most important river in Pakistan and one of the most important rivers on the Indian subcontinent. Originating in the Tibetan plateau in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar, the river runs a course through Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, India and Northern Areas, flowing through the North in a southernly direction along the entire length of country, to merge into the Arabian Sea near Pakistan's port city Karachi. The total length of the river is 3200 km (1988 miles). The river has a total drainage area exceeding 450,000 square miles. The river's estimated annual flow stands at around 207 cubic kilometres. Beginning at the heights of the world with glaciers, the river feeds the ecosystem of temperate forests, plains and arid countryside. Together with the rivers Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, Jhelum, Beas and the extinct Sarasvati River, the Indus forms the Sapta Sindhu ("Seven Rivers") delta in the Sindh province of Pakistan. It has 20 major tributaries
The ultimate source of the Indus is in Tibet; it begins at the confluence of the Sengge and Gar rivers that drain the Nganglong Kangri and Gangdise Shan mountain ranges. The Indus then flows northwest through Ladakh-Baltistan into Gilgit, just south of the Karakoram range
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Image:Panamic village, nubra valley.jpg
Panamic Village, Nubra Valley
Nubra Valley is situated about 150 km north of Leh, the capital town of Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, India. The common way to access this valley is to travel over the Khardung La from Leh where one will first encounter the Shyok Valley. To enter the Nubra valley, one must cross over the Shyok River via a small bridge and pass through a military checkpoint. An "Inner Line" permit is required to pass. The Nubra valley contains the small towns of Sumur and Panamik. Sumur has a Buddhist gompa or monastery while Panamik is noted for its hot springs.
There are two villages accessible to foreigners in the Shyok Valley - Disket and Hundar. Disket is home to a busy and dramatically positioned gompa. Hundar is one of those rare places on earth where you can see in one place the splendid beauty of a desert with bactrian camels (two-humped), sand dunes, rolling mountains and snow peaks.
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The Nubra River is a tributary of the Shyok River, which flows into the Indus River. It flows in the Ladakh area of Jammu and Kashmir.
http://www.jktourism.org/cities/ladakh/site-see/valley.htm# June 7, 2007
The Nubra Valley Circuit
Leh-Khardung-la-Khalsar-Tirit-Tegar-Sumur-Panamik and return.
A Bactrian camel in Nubra valley
The name Nubra is applied to the region comprising the valley of the river Nubra and that of the Shayok, both above and below their confluence, where they meander in many shifting channels over a broad sandy plain, before flowing off to the north-west to join the Indus in Baltistan. The Shayok and Nubra rivers drain the east and west sides of the Saser sub-range of Karakoram. The route from Leh crosses over the Khardung-la, the highest motorable road in the world. The line of the road is different from that of the old pony-trail, longer and actually higher (18,300 ft 5,578 m). The view from the top is amazing. One can see all the way south over the Indus valley to the seemingly endless peaks and ridges of the Zanskar range, and north to the giants of the Saser massif. For several kilometres, on each side of the pass, the road, covered by deep snow in winter, is rough. For the rest of the way the road is good. At the confluence of the two rivers there is no dearth of water, but the sandy soil is not suitable for agriculture, which is confined to the alluvial fans where side streams drain into the main valley. The valley floor itself is covered with dense thickets of a thorny shrub, which the villagers use for fuel and for fencing, though there is now less need for this than there was in the days of the caravan trade with Central Asia when up to 10,000 horses a year are said to traverse the distri ct. The villages are large and prosperous, and have thick plantations of willow and poplar. The altitude is a little less than that of Leh, varying between 10,000 ft (3,231 m) at Hundar, and 10,600 ft (3231 m) at Panamik. Summer temperatures vary between 15oC and 28oC.The main village is Deskit, which has a bazaar comprising of single line of shops, and a gompa situated on a rocky spur above the village with a commanding view. From Deskit, the route follows the course of the Shayok to Hundar, past an area of rolling sand dunes, with their contours liable to shift with every gale. There is a small population of the shaggy double-humped Bactrian camels, which in the old days were used as pack animals on the Central Asian trade route. During the past 50 years, they have been bred for transport purposes in Nubra. Today visitors to Nubra can use these animals for going on camel safaris.
Bactrian camels among the sand dunes of nubra
The other circuit proceeds up the Nubra River, taking in the pretty villages of Tirit, Lukung, Tegar and Sumur. Nubra's other major monastery. Samsta-ling is situated on the mountainside just above Sumur. This was the route taken by the trade caravans. Panamik, the last village on this circuit, was at that time a busy centre, being the last major settlement before the caravans entered into the mountains of Karakoram and the Kun-Lu. Here they halted for a few days to make final preparations for the journey across the mountains, or to recuperate on the way back. The Government maintained a granary to sell food grains for the men and even for the horses. But this arrangement was insufficient for the amount of the traffic, and the villagers made huge profits, selling grain and fodder and letting out their fodder-fields for the horses to graze in. Today, Panamik is a sleepy village, its inhabitants quietly going about their work in the fields. On the mountainside above the village, hot water bubbles out of the earth in thermal springs, reputed to have therapeutic qualities. Across the river, clinging to the mountains, are a few trees rooted among the rocks surrounding the tiny Ensa gompa.
the Pangong Lake, situated at an altitude of 14,000 ft (4,267m). It is a long narrow basin of inland drainage, hardly 6 to 7 kms at its widest point, and over 130 kms long, and bisected by the international border between India and China. Spangmik, the farthest point up to which foreigners are permitted, is about 7 kms along the southern shore from the head of the lake. It presents a spectacular view of the mountains of the Chang-chenmo range to the north, their reflections shimmering in the ever-changing blues and greens of the lake’s brackish waters. Above Spangmik are the glaciers and snow-capped peaks of the Pangong range. Spangmik and a scattering of other tiny villages along the lake's southern shore are the summer homes of a scanty population of Chang-pa, the nomadic herdsmen of Tibet and southeast Ladakh. The Pangong Chang-pa cultivate sparse crops of barley and peas in summer. It is in winter that they unfold their yak wool tents called rebo, and take the flocks of sheep and pashmina goats out to the distant pastures.
http://www.jktourism.org/cities/ladakh/site-see/valley.htm# june 7th
View of Suru Valley near Kargil
About 15,000 sq. kms. in area, Kargil district has an agrarian population of approximately 120,000 people, who cultivate the land, along the course of the drainage system, wherever artificial irrigation from mountain streams is possible. About 85 % are Muslims, mainly of the Shia sect, Islam having been introduced to the original Buddhist population around the middle of the 16th century by missionaries from Kashmir and Central Asia. Their descendants, locally titled Agha, are mostly religious scholars who continue to hold sway over the population, even as the age-old traditions of Buddhist and animistic origin are discernible in the culture. Many elements of the ancient supernatural belief systems, especially many traditions connected with agricultural practices, are still followed with subdued reverence.
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The Eurasian plate, shown in green
The Eurasian Plate is a tectonic plate covering Eurasia (a landmass consisting of the continents Europe and Asia) except that it does not cover the Indian subcontinent, the Arabian subcontinent, and the area east of the Verkhoyansk Range in East Siberia. It extends westward to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. If only the part west of the Ural Mountains is considered, the term European Plate is sometimes applied.
The easterly side is a boundary with the North American Plate to the north and a boundary with the Philippine Plate to the south, and possibly with the Okhotsk Plate and the Amurian Plate. The southerly side is a boundary with the African Plate to the west, the Arabian Plate in the middle and the Indo-Australian Plate to the east. The westerly side is a divergent boundary with the North American Plate forming the northernmost part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It is the 3rd largest tectonic plate.
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The India or Indian Plate is a minor tectonic plate. Part of the major Indo-Australian Plate, it contains the subcontinent of India and a portion of the basin under the Indian Ocean.
About 90 million years ago, in the late Cretaceous Period, the India Plate split from Madagascar off the east coast of Africa. It began moving north, at about 15 cm/yr (6 in/yr), and began colliding with Asia between 50 and 55 million years ago, in the Eocene epoch of the Cenozoic Era. During this time, the India Plate covered a distance of 2,000 to 3,000 km (1,200 to 1,900 mi), and moved faster than any other known plate.
The collision with the Eurasian Plate along the boundary between India and Nepal formed the orogenic belt that created the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalaya Mountains, as sediment bunched up like earth before a plow.
The India Plate is currently moving northeast at 5 cm/yr (2 in/yr), while the Eurasian Plate is moving north at only 2 cm/yr (0.8 in/yr). This is causing the Eurasian Plate to deform, and the India Plate to compress at a rate of 4 mm/yr (0.15 in/yr).