In the far northern reaches of India is a high-altitude desertic region known as Ladakh. The area was part of the former Tibetan Kingdom until the 13th century, but even after Tibet ceased direct influence, it remained largely under the control of Buddhist kings until the 19th century. During that time, many fortified palaces and monasteries were built on the hilltops between the arid valleys; many of them still stand today against the beautiful snow-capped mountains.
The fast-flowing rivers and high peaks of Ladakh have attracted rafters, climbers, and trekkers from around the world in recent years. But if you’re more into architecture, religion, and history than sweating it out on a hike, the region is a great spot to check out. Here are seven Buddhist monasteries you should not miss when in Ladakh.