Crossroads of High Asia

‘Crossroads of High Asia’ is the title of a book by Janet Rizvi first published in 1983 describing the little known land of Ladakh and referring to its unique position in the cultures, trade routes and religious beliefs of ancient Asia. Perched on the western end of the Tibetan plateau in the great Himalayan range it was an independent kingdom for 900 years up until the 19th century. In modern times Ladakh has come under Indian jurisdiction but border disputes persist with Pakistan and China. 

Ethnically and culturally closer to Tibet and a fascinating mix of Buddhism, Islam and ancient belief systems, Ladakh remains enchanting and remote. Its geographical isolation has maintained traditional ways of life much revered by many although the hardships of village life in altitudes up to 4500 meters (15,000ft) with surrounding peaks of nearly 8000 meters (26 000ft) is not to be underestimated. Possessing the highest motorable roads in the world (up to 
5 500meters, 18 000ft) much of the region is only accessible by road for a short 3-4 month period in the summer. 

Chai Wallah serves traffic jam caused by collapsed road section, Rohtang pass (4000m, 13 000ft)
Trucks negotiate a collapsed section of the road, Rohtang pass (4000m, 13 000ft)
Stupa at the summit of the Rohtang pass. (4000m, 13 000ft)
Military base, Leh – Manali highway
Café owner in his restaurant at 4500 meters (15,000ft)
View along the Leh – Manali highway
High altitude pastures, Leh – Manali highway
Truck negotiates the Leh – Manali highway
Indian military convoy, Leh – Manali highway
Indian military convoy, Leh – Manali highway
Road labourers, city clothes and morning rituals, Leh – Manali highway
Migrant road labourer, Leh - Manali Highway
Offerings, Inside a monastery, Leh
Ceremony, inside a monastery, Leh
Appropriately titled rum brand, inside a monastery, Leh
Reverence for the Dalai Lama, monastery, Leh
Thikse Monastery, Leh
Street scene outside Thikse Monastery, Leh
Street scene outside Thikse Monastery, Leh
Thikse Monastery, Leh
Ceremony, woman’s monastery, Leh
Ancient stupas, Leh
Indus River
Young monks planting in the garden
Young monks planting in the garden
Road to Pangong Lake
Pangong Lake
Roadside wreckage
Military outpost and temple, Chang La pass ( 5334m 17 500ft )
House and livestock compounds, Pangong Lake
Pangong Lake
All images © Shaun Fynn