Bounded by Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, and Tibet, Ladakh forms India’s northwestern boundary. Defined by the Indus River, which runs through Ladakh along the Leh Valley at an altitude of 11,500 feet, it is cradled by the Karakoram and Himalayan Mountains which rise up to more than 20,000 feet. The climate is a high altitude desert, giving rise to very hot summers and extremely cold winters. Rain and snow melt are used to irrigate networks of fields and gardens within the river valley. The only road that connects Ladakh to the southern plains is cut off by snow for the majority of the year, creating a region that is remote and sparsely populated. Often described as “Little Tibet”, Ladakh is one of the few remaining mountain societies where a traditional Tibetan Buddhist way of life still thrives.