Ladakh has always been “Crossroads of High Asia” and has server as a conveyor channel of diverse cultural ideologies between the major cultural areas lying beyond its barrier.
Leh was an important trade centre of Central Asia from time immemorial and was a meeting place of the people of different nationalities. The region witnessed the ups and downs of “Great Game” in the 19th Century
Despite its rugged terrain and remoteness explorers, preachers, spies, soldiers and tourists have traversed the region for centuries. Many of them have written books based on their observations and experiences which provide wealth of information about social , cultural and political life of the region for different periods.
During its long history, Ladakh was exposed to the cultures of its neighboring regions and its centuries of composite culture has found expression in its monuments, monasteries, folklore, oral literature, art forms and festivals. With the passage of time, it evolved its own unique culture and it possesses a vigorous cultural identity.
The monasteries of Ladakh are treasure-house of rare statues exquisite wall paintings, ancient thankas (Painting on cloth) , precious antique pieces and artifacts. .
The religious painting and sculptures are living in Ladakh, Ancient stone carvings, images and inscriptions are found throughout the region. In the sphere of music, Ladakh has served a vehicle to introduce instrumental music comprising aboe and kettle drum to Tibet, which were played in the official Ceremonies and public functions of the Tibetan Government headed by Dalai Lama. Ladakh inherits both religious and temporal musical instruments.
Woodcarving is a characteristic feature of Ladakhi architecture. Wooden Columns, Beams and lintels are carved with beautiful designs and painted. The region has produced eminent Scholars, distinguished literary figures, men of art and culture, saints and sages during the last one thousand years.
In spite of its extreme weather conditions , Ladakh has always been a land of gay festivals and crowded fairs. The exuberance , gaiety, colorfulness and pageantry associated with these festivals make them great occasions of rejoicing and joy.
Dance is ingrained in the ethos of an average Ladakhi. It is an essential component of the cultural and social mullein. There are more than a dozen kinds of dances including folk dances which are performed on different occasions. most of theses dances have originated in Ladakh. Almost every village has a local musicians who perform on festive occasions. Similarly the folk songs have more than a dozen categories.
A far as Costumes and Jewellery, a European Traveler Wlliam Moorcraft about two centuries back had remarked that a Ladakhi female in full costumes would create no small sensation amongst the fashionable dames of a European Capital.
Another European E. F. Knight has described Ladakh as a land of the “Arabian Night”. It has been as “Magic Land” and “Mysterious Land” for Tourists from ancient time.
When Tyndale Biscoe, an Educationist from England first came across Ladakhis in an old village he was mystified and pinched his body to ensure whether he wasn’t dreaming.
The landscape of Ladakh has always fascinated the travelers. It is a moon land where earth and sky seem to meet. It looks like roof of the world.
Ladakh occupies an important position geographically. It was an important outpost of the Central Asian Amphitheatre. Leh Bazaar was a listening post. The traders brought different information from their respective regions which occasionally proved correct. In view of its geographical and strategical location, it served as a conduit for the diffusion of Buddhism from India into Central Asia and China.
Polo is the most exciting sport of Ladakh. Archery is also very popular, which is held in every village amidst singing and dancing. In short, this Trans-Himalayan Land is repository of myriad culture and entertainments.
Presently, Ladakh is favourite destination globally for tourists. In the pre-modern era people traveled on foot and on horse and yak back. Now, apart from air journey, travelers use different modes of transport.
With the globalization, Ladakh has considerably changed and perception of tourists about the region has changed too. However, Ladakh has retained its traditional characteristics by and large.