EXPLORE MEDICINAL PLANTS IN LADAKH

Himalaya the youngest mountain range of the world is unsurpassed in its wealth of mountain flora and fauna, rich cultural diversity as well as bio diversity. The flora of Ladakh comes under alpine and high alpine zones and is dominated by annual and perennial herbs, followed by few stunted shrubs and bushes. The vegetative growth starts at the commencement of summer when melting snow provides abundant moisture and the flora is fully bloom in the month of August but starts disappearing by the ends of September.Though cold desert of Ladakh region might look barren and lifeless to visitors, but if explored there is rich plants species, out of which about 50% of plants have medicinal and aromatic properties.

Exploration sites of Ladakh region.
1. INDUS VALLEY

Indus valley is the most populated and the central valley of Leh district of Ladakh region. The majority of settlement of the valley is under 180 Km long and 55km wide. The important places of this valley are Dha-Hanu, Lamayuru, Khaltsi, Saspol, Liker, Nimu, Phyang, Spituk, Leh, Saboo, Choglamsar, Stok, Thiksay, Karu, Hemis, Upshi etc. It is Khardungla on the north-east, by Changla on south-east and fatula on the west.

2. NUBRA VALLEY

This is the northern most valley of Ladakh. Khardung-la pass(18,380 ft), the world's highest motor able pass, is the gate way of the valley and it includes Khardung, Khalsar, Partapur, Thoise, Chalunka, Turtuk, Tegar, Deskit, Hunder, Panamic villages. The altitude of this valley is less in comparison to Leh Valley. Valley is known for its rich flora. Natural forests are noticed on both sides of Nubra river. A number of shrubs, trees and herbaceous plants are found in the forest. Alpine grasses are there on mountains peak.

3. CHANGTHANG VALLEY

The maximum area of Changthang plateau is situated between an elevated of 12000 to 15000 ft. above sea level. Changla pass (17600 ft.) and Taglangla pass (17000 ft) are the gateways to Changthang valley from Ladakh region. Changthang valley is famous for its borax, sulphur and salt deposits, hot springs and high quality Pashmina production etc. It has world highest lakes Pangong Lake (14,600ft), Tsomoriri Lake and Tso-Kar lake (14,500) sheltering large number of beautiful and endangered birds and wildlife around its rich green wetlands. From floristic point of view Changthang valley has scattered vegetation. Agriculturally valley is under developed in comparison to other valleys due to its harsh and cold climatic conditions. The cultivated area lies between 10,000ft to 14,000 ft. where only Barley crops are grown in small quantity. The local inhabitants of Changthang valley are known as Changpas and they Buddhist by religion. Majority of Changpas are nomads whose main occupation is livestock rearing especially famous Pashmina goats and sheep's. They move with their livestock from one pasture to another. Being always close and travelling with nature Changpas are largely dependent on wild plants for vegetables, medicine for both human and animals and other needs.

The dominant plant species of the Changthang valley are as under :

Species Common name Status
Arnebia euchroma Rattanjot Endangered
Dracocephallum Heretrophyllum - frequent
Nepeta longibracteata - frequent
Pedicularis loniflora - frequent
Rheum spiciformae Himalayan Rhubarb endangered
4. ZANSKAR VALLEY

Zanskar valley is situated at an altitude between 11000 ft. to 14000 ft. and is one of the most remote and least populated valleys of Ladakh. The important places are Lungnak, Stongdey, Padum, Karsha, Sani, Phey, Aksho, Abran and Rangdum etc. This beautiful valley of Kargil district of Ladakh is cut off from the rest of the world during most of the time, it is reachable by road during summer season for only four to five months and during winter time can be reached by frozen river trek. The cultivated area lies at altitude of between 10,000 ft. and 12,000 ft. Economy of the region is mainly dependent on agriculture and animals.

The dominant plant species of the valley are as under :

Species Common name Status
Artemisia dracunculus Tarragon Frequent
Bergenia strcheyi Pasanbhed Endangered
Codonopsis sp. - frequent
Meconnopsis aculeate Blue Endangered
Podophyllum hexandrum Himalayan Mayapple Endangered
5. SURU VALLEY

The Suru valley is named after the Suru River. The maximum geographical area of this valley is situated on the bank of Suru River, the average altitude of the valley is 9000 ft. Summer are warm and longer in Suru as compare to other part valleys of Ladakh region. It includes Kargil, Sanku, Panikhar, Batalic, Sodh, Paskum, Shakar - Chiktan and Bothkharbu areas etc. The Cultivate area lies between 8,500 ft. and 10,000 ft. Valley is famous for quality of Apricot. The majority of inhabitants of this valley are Shia Muslim. The flora is also mixture of temperate as well as of Alpine desert vegetation.

The dominant species of the Suru valley are as under :

Species Common name Status
Aconitum heterohyllum Atis Endangered
Delphinium Cashmerianum Himalayan Larkspur Vulnerable
Physalis alkekengi Winter cherry Vulnerable
Podophyllum hexandrum Himalayan Mayapple Endangered
Rubia Cordifoliam Manjistha Endangered

We organize trekking to all the explorations sites of medicinal plants of Ladakh region accompanied by local Amchi and also arrange discussion session with renowned local Amchi of remote villages of Ladakh; they will share his ancient Tibetan medical science knowledge which they gain from theoretical and practical experience passing from each other from generation to generation.

For tailor made itinerary for the Exploration of Medicinal plant in Ladakh please write to us.

TRADITIONAL AMCHI MEDICINE

Tibetan medicine also known as Sowa Rigpa is an ancient synthesis of the art of healing, drawing on the knowledge of medical systems existing in a wide region of Southeast and Central Asia. Through the process of this synthesis, Tibetan medicine was established during the 7th to the 12th centuries A.D. The fundamental theoretical concepts are based primarily on the Indian Buddhist system of medicine. It also has similarities with Ayurvedic medicine in India. The Buddha himself developed this system of medicine 2500 years ago. Tibetan cultural notions and the Buddhist belief system underline the socio-ecology of Ladakh.

Ladakh is one of the few remaining Himalayan area where the Tibetan system of medicine remains undisturbed for centuries. This indigenous health care system plays a major part in the health care of Ladakhi communities. Tibetan medicine known in Ladakh as 'Amchi' medicine has usually been passed down from generations within the village. New 'Amchis' have to take their passing out examination orally in front of the whole village. Thereby they are examined by a panel of respected senior Amchis from surrounding villages. In every village, there are usually one or sometimes two amchi families.

Most of the Amchis in Ladakh are the sixth generation of unbroken family lineages. They provide health care in the villages. No charge is made for treatment, but Amchis are helped by the villagers with farm work particularly with spring ploughing and autumn harvest. Occasionally, the villagers collect barley during the harvest and offer it to the Amchi family. The Amchi doctor holds a high position in Ladakhi society. They are often not only the medical doctors but also very strong community leaders. Often they hold the position of the 'Goba', the head of the village.

Many Amchis practise Buddhist astrology and astronomy. These subjects play an important role within Amchi medical practise as they do within Ladakhi society in general. In fact, there is very strong relationship between Buddhist astrology and Tibetan medicine. As well as its curative role, Tibetan medicine has played crucial part in preventive health care within the villages, emphasizing water and spring cleanliness, good diet and healthy lifestyle practices. In present day, Ladakhi Amchi practice still plays a crucial role within Ladakhi communities however with the tide of modernizing this system has started to lose it charm and is on the verge of decline. So in order preserve this unique feature of sustainable Ladakhi society, we are attempting to promote it through Tourism.

We have designed such itinerary which would include Ladakh tour with an enriching touch in which you get to interact with Local Amchis. Your interaction with the traditional doctors will encourage them to continue and preserve this centuries old medicine system for the benefit of mankind and the generations to come. On our part we would also provide financial support in the form of donation to keep this rich tradition of Amchi medicinal system alive.