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.