Part of the Himalayas - including Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world - are in India. Ladakh, situated in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, is a former kingdom of the Himalayas that shares more common geographical and cultural traits with Tibet than with the rest of India. Some even say that Tibetan culture is nowadays better preserved in Ladakh than in Tibet. Like its cross-border neighbor, Ladakh is a high altitude semi-desert lying in the rain shadow north of the Himalayas. The only greenery are the irrigated wheat and barley fields near the isolated villages, most of which are accessible only by trails that follow deep river valleys. The sublimely austere and lonely mineral landscape of Ladakh is dotted by gompas, Tibetan buddhist monasteries, of which the most spectacular is Phuktal in Zanskar, clinging to the opening of a huge cave above a gorge. Zanskar is the most remote region of Ladakh, accessible by road only during four months of the year. By contrast to Zanskar and Ladakh, the Lahaul region (which used to be part of the kingdom of Ladakh), in Himachal Pradesh south of the crest of the Himalayas, presents verdant valleys.
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