Thikse Gompa or Thikse Monastery (also transliterated from Ladakhi as Tikse, Tiksey or Thiksey) - Tibetan Buddhist monastery of the Yellow Hat (Gelugpa) sect. Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, India; Shutterstock ID 744715432; your: Brian Healy; gl: 65050; netsuite: Lonely Planet Online Editorial; full: Best places in India

© Dmitry Rukhlenko / Shutterstock

Kashmir & Ladakh

The state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) brings together three incredibly different worlds. Jammu and Katra, in the south, are the state's rail hubs and a major draw for domestic pilgrims. Kashmir Valley is India's Switzerland, attracting local tourists seeking cool summer air, alpine scenery and Srinagar’s romantic houseboat accommodation. And then there's the Himalayan land of Ladakh, which for most foreigners is J&K’s greatest attraction. Its ethnolinguistically Tibetan people are predominantly Buddhist; their timeless monasteries are set between arid canyons and soaring peaks, while emerald-green villages nestle photogenically in highland deserts.

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