Ladakh

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

Ladakh Calling… (Part 6) Leh – Sarchu (260 Kms)

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From “Zing Zing Bar” it was more a downhill journey & our bulls were easily cruising through. By the time we reached “Darcha” it was 12:00 Hrs. We had a cup of tea with hot maggi & pushed of quickly. It started becoming cold with moderate rain. “Keylong” was just 8 kms away when it started raining heavily. We took a halt under a tree shade & after few minutes of (SuGa) break we resumed our journey. It was 14:00 Hrs when we reached “Keylong” & managed to get a decent room on the road side & parked our bikes just in front of our room.

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Drive to Manali from Leh

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The road upto Upshi was good and at par the Highway, a route from here diverts towards left for Pangong Lake. Hereafter, the character of the terrain starts changing and the road is gradually treacherous and rigorous with sudden steep ups and sharp curves. The little above 100 km journey was a mixture of adventure, peril, test of driving skill and curiosity. We were now at the world’s 2nd highest motorable road at Taglang La at an altitude of 17582 feet. The air here was so rare that we were feeling the scarcity of oxygen despite acclimatizing since last few days. The mountain peaks were on parallel to us and the sight of snow covered mountainous stretches around us was spellbinding. A board on which written, “Enjoy Tea/Coffee at 2nd Highest Motorable Pass” by courtesy of the BRO was very satisfying and proud moment. Multi coloured prayer flags flurrying in air tied around a tiny roundabout on the small flat top plateau at the stopover seemed blessing all of us for reaching there. A triumphant feeling brought tears in my eyes out of immense ecstasy, reaching upto there was never easy and I longed for years with intensity for this moment. Though I wanted to stay longer at this impossible site but it is not at all advisable, due to prone to AMS. With immense joy and satisfaction, we started descending gradually on the journey to confront the onward adverse challenges.

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Drive to Leh from Sonmarg

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Suddenly we came under the shades of very gigantic mountains on both sides of the road with a river with very dull and grey colored water full of silt, flowing along side. It was shadowy because the cliffs of the sand stone mountains hanging on the roof allowing little light to penetrate and the road turning in sharp curves. The sight was so delightful and panoramic that I don’t have words to describe it neither my photographs can do the job. You need to be there to experience the nature’s charisma. A triumphant feeling of almost reaching the dream destination highlighted our joy to a greater extent. Engulfed in excitement and ecstasy we continued keep rolling. It was an unforgettable moment to see the sun setting behind the gigantic sand stone structural mountains with figures appearing on them like shades of brush strokes creating abstract impressions on the nature’s canvass, opulently defining the gracefulness of creativity through visual delight. Lost in the illusionary of vision and spellbound with the bounty of natural wealth, we in fact reached our “dream come true” destination. A toll of Rs. 100/- is levied for entering the city and thus we were through. Yes, it was almost dark and I lit the head lights of my car, with a usual bowing head and prayer on lighting the car’s head lights, practiced by every Indian driver, I guess. Simultaneously, I thanked God for the safe journey so far. We were in Leh, a city that surprised me with its beautiful modern amenities as good as in any big city in the country.

Street lights, one way road, traffic signals with excellent traffic system, sufficiently crowded matching any urban development with multi branded showrooms, big shops, automobile dealers, service stations, parks, roundabouts and what not. I was very shy and sorry about my skepticisms by underestimating it. Leh is the second largest district in terms of area after Kutch in Gujrat, in the country with an area of over 45,000 sq. km at an altitude of 3525 meters however, very scarcely populated inhabiting around 35,000 – 40,000 only. Leh experiences a cold and harsh winter from October to early March with minimum temperatures well below freezing point with occasional snowfalls. The weather in the remaining months is generally fine and warm during the day with cool to cold nights. The temperature ranges from −30 °C in winter to 30 °C in summer. A weather chart compiled from authentic sources will well illuminate the factual.

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Ladakh, What else

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The plan for the next two days was to visit Pangong Lake. It is situated at a height of about 4250 m (13,900 ft) and is 134 km long. It extends from India to Tibet and two thirds of the length the lake falls in China. The distance from Leh to Pangong is nearly 160 kms, and it takes 6-7 hours to reach. The roads have been well kept, but do get messy in between due to mountain slides and constant water flowing from the hills.

The drive is quite scenic and during the entire trip, not more than 50-60 cars passed us from the other side. A permit is needed for the journey and the same is verified at 7 check posts at various passes. Dorje had it all arranged, all we needed to do was relax in the car and enjoy the journey!

We started at 9 am in the morning and crossed Shey,Thiksey village and left all signs of inhabitation behind us with the beautiful hills and the long road for a company. As we started climbing up the hill, the temperature began to fall. We did see few small villages en route. On getting out of the car at Changla Pass, the third highest pass in the world (5270 m./17,300 ft.), we could actually feel the chill in the air piercing through our skin and lack of oxygen made breathing feel like an exercise. This was the highest point of the trip to Pangong.

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Heaven on Earth: Leh-the Himalayan Kingdom

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A long day trip starting with visiting Thikshey monastery and Shey palace, roads were the worst effect of Ladakh fresh flood (Ladakh cloud burst, 2010). On the way we crossed the school, which is so much famous for Amir Khan starrier Hindi movie “3 idiots”. School is totally renovated by Amir Khan and 3 idiot’s donation after destroying on the flood. After visiting that location, we back to another monastery Hemis and after that we reached an excellent location of Leigh, Sangam, where two rivers meet up, Indus and Xansar

Water of both rivers has a different color and up to a long distance you can see the difference of color flowing together. The road towards Sangam and Hemis is amazingly beautiful, where you can get two beautiful landmarks of the journey, 1st is Pather Sahib Gurudwara,

We had our one of excellent food of Ladakh on there (even it was good then Bangla sahib or golden temple- I can bet). Gurudwara is managed and maintain by Indian Army and 2nd is Magnetic Hill, where earth magnet attracts your metal toward a specific distance, specially you can try with your car, you don’t need to do anything, and your car or any materials automatically started moving to a specific distance

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Ladakh Calling… (Part 5) Leh – Pangong TSo – Leh

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Soon to my rescue I saw a Tata Sumo coming from behind. I indicated for some help & it stopped. The driver asked me to stand on the rear footrest and grab the carrier as it was all full from passengers. I was standing out in the open air on the rear footrest. After reaching to our point I thanked the driver for the help extended, in their local language – “Julley”.

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Ladakh Calling… (Part 3) Sarchu to Leh

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read it somewhere on a board “Darling I want you but not so fast” so we gripped our nerves & maintained a decent pace. As we started early & wanted to enjoy this particular stretch (Sarchu – Leh) of our ride to the maximum, we took frequent small breaks, enjoyed that heavenly feeling, and experienced the scent in the whistling air. We literally lived those moments, discussing about our bikes, tough terrains & beautiful valleys around.

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Surya in Tent at Sarchu

Ladakh Calling… (Part 2) – Manali to Sarchu

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Next morning I was up @ 05:30 Hrs & dived out of bed to see some positive signs of relief but the scene was frustrating & heart breaking. The conditions were totally overcast with little rain. Few Peaks were not even visible & were fully covered under the mist. On the other side of Bhaga River some mountain tops received fresh snowfall in the night.

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भाग8: रुम्त्से (Rumtse) – कोकसर – मणिकरण – सुंदरनगर – नॉएडा…………… 16/17/18-सितम्बर

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अगले दिन सुबह 8:00 बजे घर की तरफ दौड़ पड़े। शाम 7 बजे राहुल को घर छोड़ा और यहीं पर सबने अंकल का हिसाब-किताब भी दे दिया। वैसे तो अंकल के 2000/- प्रतिदिन के हिसाब से 20000 रुपया बनता था लेकिन अंकल ने गाड़ी की इंजन पैकिंग की मरम्मत के लिए 2000 रुपया एडवांस ले लिया था, वो कट कर उनको 18000 रुपया पकड़ा दिया। वो बहुत खुश हुए। अंकल ने आखिर मे कह डाला कि “आप लोगों की बदौलत मे भी लद्दाख देख आया हूँ। अन्यथा जिन्दगी मे कभी जाने का मौका नहीं मिलता”। राहुल को अलविदा कर दिया। हम सब लोग थोडा इमोशनल हो गए थे। 10 दिन एक साथ ऐसे सफ़र पर रहने से और एक दुसरे पर बिना संदेह भरोसा करने से दिल के तार जुड़ ही जाते हैं। यहाँ से अंकल ने मुझे घर छोड़ा। यहाँ से हरी और मनोज को वो दिल्ली एयरपोर्ट छोड़ने निकल पड़े। अगली सुबह हरी और मनोज का कॉल आया की वो सकुशल पहुँच गए थे।

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Ladakh Calling… (Part 1) – Delhi to Manali

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We started from Shahbad @ around 14:30 Hrs & reached Chandigarh soon without any further break. It was 4:00 in the afternoon & we passed through lot of “Thekas” (Liquor Shops) on the Chandigarh bypass road. Finally, we succumbed to the temptation & stopped at a decent place. Deepak & I happily ordered chilled Beer while Surya, a bit apprehensive for beer-n-ride, was having fun with his chilled Limca. We dozed ourselves quickly & without wasting much time we soon crossed Ropar, Kiratpur Sahib & reached Swarghat. On the way we negotiated well with the heavy traffic spilling out diesel fumes & with all the dust & pollution on our bodies we reached Bilaspur @ 18:30 Hrs. The sun was about to set & we took a small room in the Hotel “LakeView” at Bilaspur. It was time to cheers for successfully completing the 1st day of our ride. Without wasting much time we took out our B.P bumper & sat in the balcony with the lake view. We had good round of discussion & comments on the riding styles & also planned for our next day’s target – Manali.

It was drizzling in the morning & we were keeping our fingers crossed for those high passes on our way. We got up early, dressed ourselves & without having any morning tea or breakfast, which was a regular routine for all of us, we started journey @ 07:00 Hrs.

On our way crossed Bilaspur city & NTPC Koldam site on river Sutlej. By 08:30 Hrs we were dying from hunger & we finally took a halt near a road side dhaba “Evergreen Hotel” for breakfast. We had the best of the possible breakfast available on this route “Gobhi/Aaloo Parantha + lot of Butter with hot tea”. We tanked up our stomachs & thanked the owner for making such tasty fresh “Paranthas” & promised him to come back on our return journey. On the way we crossed some recognized towns like Sundar Nagar, Mandi.

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लेह – थिकसे(Thiksey) – रुम्त्से(Rumtse) – भाग 7

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यहाँ से अब हम अगले पड़ाव की ओर निकल पड़े। रास्ते मे अब परेशानी कम हो रही थी क्यूँकि जिस रास्ते से आए थे उसी से वापस जा रहे थे। अब जगह जानी पहचानी सी लग रही थी। अच्छी धुप निकली हुई थी शाम होने मे अभी टाइम था। रास्ते का निर्माण कार्य चल रहा था। रास्ते मे बहुत से चरवाहे अपनी भेड़ो को हाक रहे थे। ये सब भेड़ वही थी जिनसे पश्मीना शाल बनती है। इनके बाल एक दम मुलायम, हलके और लम्बे थे। यहाँ के लोग जान बूझ कर इस नस्ल को पालते होंगे ताकि आमदनी अच्छी हो। और ये भी हो सकता है की लद्दाख मे सिर्फ ये ही नस्ल जिंदा रह पाती हो। ये सिर्फ मेरा अंदाजा है असलियत मुझे नहीं मालूम।

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