Tatler - Ladakh is back
July 2012

Mouldy mattresses, bad plumbing and a musty whiff in the air? Sounds like a homestay -- except when it comes to beloved Shakti Himalaya, queen of fine feasts, flushing loos and the best beds around. All these indulgences are embedded in the beating heart of the Indus Valley where villages are aflutter with Buddhist prayer flags and farmers herd yaks and thresh barley. This travel outfit has nailed the concept of total immersion and cosseted brilliance, evidenced by the launch of three new Ladakhi houses that are even more remote and even more ravishing than their precursors. Likhir has the hands-down best views; the house at Shey is perfectly placed for visits to palaces, monasteries and temples; our favourite is the furthest away -- creaking 200-year-old Egoo, reached by a rugged road through a lush valley, the starting point for Marshall’s Walk, an uplifting trek over the mountains. Don’t be lulled into thinking it’s entirely smart -- power is off-and-on, which means you either read by torchlight or bring your favourite lover. By day, there are treks in the Karakorams, bike rides along the banks of the Zanskar and dawn prayers at Thiksey monastery. Ladakh is finally on the move, with the Indian government recently opening up access to more than 100 peaks in Kashmir. Track down the intrepid guides at Rimo Expeditions to tackle a serious summit.

Michelle Jana Chan travelled with Ampersand Travel (www.ampersandtravel.com).