First thing first – True’s care! Our RE Team Leader Aakash had announced last evening that the bikes should get serviced, if needed, early on this day. True was cruising all fine and needed no service. However, eight days of grime, dirt and dips in water forced True to take a bath! So, I initiated the hunt for a bike/car wash center nearby. However, it being Sunday, Leh was largely shut and I had to drive 8kms on Manali Highway, all the way to the hamlet of Chogalmasar Jamba, where across the bridge exists an old acquaintance’s garage; a person whom was meeting after good six years! But, just like all other people from the hills, he was extremely warm and forthcoming. So, True was given special preference in queue.Read More
Part fantasy, part reality… Ladakh, is where, the forces of nature conspired to render a magical unrealistic landscape… a landscape of extremes… desert and blue waters… burning sun and freezing winds… glaciers and sand dunes. Ladakh is an authentic land, faithful to ancestral customs where life is characterized by intense spirituality. Rich traditions of Mahayana Buddhism still flourish in the purest form in this region, which has often been referred to as Little Tibet.
Leh is the capital of Ladakh and is famous for its monasteries, the Hemis Monastery being the largest. Nubra Valley, Tso Moriri Lake and Pangong Lake offer truly amazing landscapes high up in the Himalayas. Major attraction of Nubra valley is the highest motorable road Khardongla pass, majestic peaks and glaciers, enchanting valleys and villages. Chadar or Zanskar Trek, Parang La Trek and Kang Yatse Trek are great opportunities for Adventure tourism.
The only two roads into the area are the Zoji-La Pass from Srinagar (open June-October) and the high altitude Manali-Leh Highway from Himachal Pradesh(April –December). Leh can be reached by air from Delhi.
Eco tourism in Ladakh encourages “Homestays”, a system where tourists who are trekking in Ladakh, instead of bringing tents and supplies that often has to be carried by horses or donkeys,stay with local families in the villages they pass. This is seen both as environmental since the pack animals can sometimes eat all the limited vegetation, and as socially responsible since it puts money directly into the local villages.
Best time to visit: June to October, January to mid- March for Chadar Trek
Languages spoken: Ladakhi
Climate: Pleasant summers and very cold winters with snowfall
Adventure tourism: River Rafting, Double humped Camel Safari, Zanskar Trek, Parang La Trek , Kang Yatse Trek
Natural Wonders: Diskit and Samstanling Gonpa, Panamik hot spring (Nubra Valley), Tso Moriri Lake, Pangong Lake, Sand dunes at Hunder
Holy Places: Hemis Monastery, Thiksey Monastery, Spituk Monastery, Stok monastery and Shey Monastery
Other Other famous cuisines include: Kahwah (GreenTea) and Noon Chai. Kashmiris are heavy tea drinkers. Over 20 varieties of Kahwah are prepared in different households. One must taste the unheard “Kamal Kakri ke Pakore” near Nishat Gardens in Srinagar. Kashmir offers a vast variety of Kebabs. Non-Vegetarians must enjoy the mouth watering Chiken,Kebabs etc. But then, Nothing can beat the very own Lucknawi Kebabs! (Seriously),Read More
The unbelievable part of this road trip was to be driving at 120kmph at 16000 feet above sea level at More plains. You just could see the road laid in front till the eyes could see. After this there’s a steep climb to Tanglang-La at 17,500 feet where I started feeling dizzy again. Susheel said lets take 30 mins rest here at the Pass and I had to tell him like a crazy panicking person that we need to rush down to feel better. Also it’s here I discovered Susheel wasn’t driving in the wrong lane due to bad driving habit learnt in the cities but deliberately to avoid the (view of the) steep fall on the valleys side, I was splitting my sides laughing and offered to drive but he wouldn’t let me, saying I was a crazy driver to be driving on that side and he didn’t want to die. Hahaha, still makes me go when I remember how we met unsuspecting drivers from the other direction in their rightful lanes honking at us. But we did have a taxi following us in the wrong lane and driving equally slow refusing to overtake. If you saw the views from Tanglang-La you could perhaps be forgiven to be driving like that. Unfortunately I couldn’t get any good pictures as he didn’t want to stop and catch an accidental glimpse of the abyss.Read More
The last leg of our journey to the mystical and majestic Ladakh was ‘Pangong Tso’! In local language Lake is called Tso. Pangong Lake falls in the disputed territory with China. So the whole lake does not belong to India. While China occupies two-third part of this magnificent high altitude lake, India remains satisfied with mere one-third part of it.
These days the Lake is a favourite tourist place among the domestic tourists much credit for which goes to the bollywood movie ‘3idiots’! …….
How incredible it was to see the tranquil lake and its azure blue waters! Pangong Tso is one of the largest saline lakes in Asia. On the Lake shore we walked and saw the effects of changing colours of the lake, aqua green to indigo blue! The saline water of the lake plays with the sunlight and produces different colours. We were told that during winter the lake freezes and become a solid surface to walk over it. Well, walking over a frozen lake! You need to check certainly the best season to visit there!Read More
Usually deserts occur in low altitude, such as the great Indian Thar Desert. But there is also one high altitude cold desert in India which occurs in the Hunder village of Nubra Valley…………..We arrived there. It was beyond our imaginations and dreams to see such a vast bed of silver sands with brown mountains at the backdrop…………The sand dune offers to its visitors the great Central Asian double-humped camel safari. While other visitors were busy in getting their turn first for the safari, I went close to the camels. They look the same normal camels except those two humps. For the first time I saw those camels.Read More
We were told that weather is very unpredictable and highly unstable and can change surprisingly fast at Khardung La. It may leave travelers trapped for hours or even days, but nothing like that happened to us, except heavy downpour on our way back on the following day.
We started descending from Khardung La. By now ‘Rahman’, the driver of our car became familiar with me. As I pointed the camera, he stopped the car. I came out to click. A small lake surrounded by the mountains just below the Khardung La looked so beautiful.
We set off again. Soon we passed the village Khardung. It is a tiny green village surrounded by barren mountains. A drive of another 40 minutes or so and we met the river Shyok, a tributary of river Indus. The water of river Shyok looked muddy. Our journey continued by the bank of river Shyok.Read More
The great Indian Films! They make places a popular tourist spot out of nowhere!! Amir Khan Starrer “3 idiots” is one of such Indian Boolywood movie. Some parts of the film were shot at Pangaong Lake, Ladakh and some in a school near Leh named “The Druk White Lotus School”. The school is located 15 km from Leh town on the Leh-Manali highway in the village Shey. This school made a popular tourist spot after the movie and damage of its building by cloudburst that struck Leh on August 2010. The actor Amir Khan visited the school after the incident and helped to raise funds for rebuilding of the school.
After the movie, the school receives a large number of visitor everyday and a person has been deployed by the school management for guiding the visitors. It has a visitor centre from where you need to take permission and the visiting time is 8AM to 1PM and 2PM to PM.Read More
Shanti Stupa The most famous tourist attraction in Leh is Shanti Stupa. Why? Well, it’s not easy to say one…Read More
As we entered inside the museum we were briefed by an Army Personnel. This two storey museum is maintained by the Indian Army and divided into various sections for displays. A section of the ground floor portrays the facts, culture and history of Ladakh. It has a souvenir shop where you can get t-shitrs, coffee mugs, caps, pashnima shawls etc. Enthusiast may shoot photos in Ladakhi attire in the photo shop and take the print for a nominal charge. Finding no interest in it, we went to another section of the same ground floor. The walls here are occupied by the pictures of Kargil War 1999. It transported us to decades back. The displays on the walls gave us a vivid portrayal of how Indian Army fought the war.Read More
The upper floors of the palace house museum and monastery. While in the palace, you may come across with members of royal family. I did! It was for informing that photography inside the museum is not allowed! The rooms of the palace open to the visitors are the king’s room, queen’s room, palace gompa and a room that displays a Ladakhi Kitchen. Among all, the best I found was the royal Ladakhi Kitchen. It is the traditional kitchen of royal family which displays utensils, ceramics, clay pots and clay stoves with chimney. Dining area inside the kitchen is beautifully decorated with low height tables. It’s a no photography zone! A staff of the palace was with the visitors to discourage photography inside. But there are some parts of the palace where you can take photographs.
It was my great experience to visit these royal palaces in Ladakh. By PALACE what comes primarily to our mind is a grand royal residence which is made in timeless elegance. But the palaces of Ladakh are not of such kind, yet they stand high to show their presence in the glorious past of a kingdom that lost in time!Read More
Like every other travelers in Ladakh, we too spent our second day in Leh. It is advisable to spend a day or two in Leh for acclimatization before going to any places of higher altitude like Khardung La or Pangong Lake. Leh has many great places to offer to its visitors including stunning landscape views, palaces, monasteries, stupas, war memorials and river Indus at Sindhu Ghat. We decided to visit the palaces and gompas on our second day in Leh and first to visit by us was the Leh Palace and Namgyal Tsemo Gompa.
Leh Palace of Namgyal Dynasty
The erstwhile royal residence of Leh locates around 2 Km from the main market place. Though the Palace locates on a hill top overlooking the Leh town it can be reached by car. As we reached the Palace we saw wandering young monks on bike!Read More
Though enquiries about destinations, main attractions and places of interest are very common about any tourist place but they seem…Read More