Cold deserts of India

Camel ride (Photo credit: wildxplorer)

In the lap of Himalayas lie the cold deserts of India. These are arid areas not affected by the Indian monsoons because they lie in the rain-shadow of the Himalayan mountain systems. They include Ladakh, Lahaul, Kinnaur, Spiti, Bharmour and some areas of northern Uttaranchal and Sikkim.

Indian cold arid areas have unique ecosystems. The flora and fauna is unique to the area. Major animal include yaks, dwarf cows, and goats.

There are several national parks and wildlife reserves around the area. Oak, pine, deodar, birch and rhododendron are the important trees and bushes found there.

Thiksey Gompa (Photo credit: r_rajni)

The culture of the people inhabiting them is diverse. They have their unique set of languages, attires, food and crafts. The economies of the cold deserts of India are supported mostly by tourism. They offer Buddhist monasteries and beautiful temples for those seeking spirituality in their travels.

These areas are also the ground of extreme debate—political as well as environmental. China and India are constantly in a debate as to who actually owns the upper northern part of Kashmir.

Recent environmental changes resulting from global warming and green house effect are wreaking havoc on the landscape of these areas. The glaciers are melting and the snow cover is fast depleting.

"you got to look at the big picture" (image)
"you got to look at the big picture" (Photo credit: Alosh Bennett)

These areas are ideal for tourism. They offer scenic beauty that no other part of the world does. Treacherous mountains and rivers are conducive to extreme adventure sports like rafting, sky diving, and bungee jumping.

Himalayan handcrafts are great souvenirs and gifts. There are flights from all major Indian cities to the major cities. Railways and roads connect far-flung areas.

India - Ladakh - Trekking - 067 - Yaks grazing nearby (Photo credit: McKay Savage)

Yak (locally called Dzo) is a popular mean of transportation.

Military surveillance at some areas like Leh and Ladhak does not irk the tourist in any perceptible ways. However, be prepared to wait an extra hour at the airports for checking. Cold deserts of India are a tourist as well as geologist’s delight

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