Thiksey and Hemis Monastery and The School of 3 idiots!

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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.

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Majestic Ladakh :: Hall of Fame and The Last Post

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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.

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Majestic Ladakh : Shey Palace and Stok Palace in Leh

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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!

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Majestic Ladakh : Royal Palaces in Leh

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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!

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Majestic Ladakh : Fotu La to Lamayuru, Alchi and Likir Monastery

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Long ago when I saw a photo of ‘Moonland’ I was very much impressed and keen to see the place. But where it is? Though “Moonland’ does not have any Indian postal code or a milestone but it locates none other than in the mystical land of Ladakh, a village called Lamayuru! The moonlike landscape of ‘Lamayuru’ is popularly referred to and called by the traveler as ‘Moonland’!

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Holy Muktinath And Beautiful Mustang- Part 2

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I came back to hotel and joined my friends for our journey to Muktinath. Today we would pass through the village Kagbeni to reach Muktinath. Jomsom and Kagbeni is the main gateway of Muktinath. We drove only a few minutes and reached the riverbed of Kali Gandaki. Around that place Mr. Bachchan’s film “Khuda Ghawa’ was shot and our driver was more interested in showing us the shooting spots. But we were more excited to the adventurous drive over the riverbed. I peeped outside the window and saw wheels of our vehicle were rolling inside the river water. We crossed the river Kali Gandaki and started ascending through the rocky mountain road.

The climate and landscape all around looked like a rain shadow region of Himalaya, very similar to those of Ladakh region. It’s Mustang! A lost kingdom in Himalayas! We stopped and looked around. Far on the foothills of Mt. Dhaulagiri the view of tiny town Jomsom was awesome.

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Holy Muktinath And Beautiful Mustang

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It is not a star category hotel but undoubtedly the best of the lot. Hotel owner endeavoured to preserve the past glory by hanging photographs of Mr Bachchan with him and some film shots of ‘Khuda Gawah’ on the walls. Staying in this hotel was comfortable; it had 24 hours hot water facility and free wifi. The foods were nice but they cost too high.

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Hornbill Festival –The Liveliest Festival of India, Day Two

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There we saw nothing like individual performances and all the tribes were dancing in a group. In every performance group of artists in colourful costumes began dancing slowly, made circles or some geometrical formations, gradually raised the tempo with steps and on reaching the climax, tempo was brought down again with a satisfying finale.

The tribes of Mizoram entered into the arena with their most popular Bamboo Dance. In that format of dance bamboos were placed and held horizontally across each other on the ground. While the boys tapped bamboos in rhythmic beats girls were dancing by stepping alternatively in and out to the beats with ease and grace.

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Majestic Ladakh : Kargil to Fotu La

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The monastery is placed at the centre top of a brown mountain cliff and appears as if suspended in the middle of it. A narrow road with many steps will take you inside to this wonderful cave monastery. This monastery has many elegant frescoes. This is one of the old Buddhist monasteries in Ladakh region.

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Majestic Ladakh : Kargil

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But that war is not the sole identity of Kargil. It was famous even before- famous for centuries among the silk route traders. This land was a transit point of the traders and caravans on their way from Kashmir and Punjab through Leh to China, Tibet and Yarken. The trade route though was closed many decades ago but the place has not yet lost its importance. Even today the travellers choose this small town as their favourite and most convenient place for night stay while going to Leh from Srinagar or when returning from Leh to Srinagar.

We were travelling to Kargil from Sonamarg. Enroute, we passed through the treacherous mountain pass Zojila and the second coldest inhabitat place in the world- Drass. Kargil is about 60 Kms from Drass. We crossed beautiful pasture grounds and Majestic Mountain peaks on the way from Drass.

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