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

Majestic Ladakh : ZojiLa- The Most Treacherous Mountain Pass In The World!

By

Wait a minute! It has a history of war too. Don’t raise your brows! Yes, it has. Kashmir was then an independent Kingdom and Maharaja Hari Singh was its king. It was the year 1947-48. The king was finding it difficult to decide with which country to join his territory, India or Pakistan, or to remain independent. The king chose to remain independent but his wishes were short lived and dashed in October 1947 as Pakistan sent Muslim tribesmen invader into the territory of Kashmir who were then approaching to the capital Srinagar fast. Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession, ceding Kashmir to India on 26th October. Thus the first war between India and Pakistan broke out over Kashmir in 1947. India referred the dispute to United Nation on 1st January 1948. During this war Pakistani invaders seized ZojiLa in 1948 while they were on the verge of capturing Ladakh. On 1st November, Zojila pass was recaptured by Indian forces under Operation Bison. On 1st January 1949, a ceasefire was agreed with only two-third of the whole Kashmir under Indian control and the remaining with Pakistan (we call it now as Pakistan Occupied Kashmir or P.O.K). In the ceasefire lines, LOC (Line of Control) was drawn up which was formally established in 1972, after a third war between India and Pakistan in 1971.The Line of Control remains the de facto border between the two countries.

We spent enough time at the pass looking at how other vehicles were negotiating the road at the mountain edge that has no barrier. The road is so narrow and vicious that it is known as one of the most dangerous passes in the world. But the route is a lifeline that keeps the people of Ladakh connect with the rest of the world. However it remains closed for more than six months in a year for blockage due to heavy snowfall. The road reopens in late spring. ZojiLa at an elevation of 11649 feet above sea level is considered to be the second highest pass after Fotu La on the Srinagar-Leh National Highway.

Read More

Majestic Ladakh : The Journey Begins!

By

Now let’s begin the journey. Yes it starts with this prologue. For me, the journey actually began much before I stepped into the land of Kashmir to enter into Ladakh.

The Chinese philosopher, Lao-Tzu, said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” It is true for travelling to the top of the world, Ladakh! The first step undoubtedly would be to know a little bit about Ladakh.

It started, for me, four months before I actually travelled the region- through numerous articles, blogs and travel stories. Before going to Ladakh it was much essential for me to know about the places to go and activities to do in Ladakh, its history, culture, religious institutions and the mystics.

Read More

Delhi – Sangla … journey through the verdant valleys of Himachal

By

As we go further, this road climbs higher till it reaches sheer cliffs of stark, unadorned rock where the road is but a scooped out C-shaped tunnel embedded in the vertical cliff side. While we enjoy the drive along the banks of the Sutlej in all its moods, I am almost willing the road to start climbing to this, one of the most celebrated and recognised sections of this route. And when we do hit that stretch, we are all spellbound! Such is the precarious nature of the road that there are precipitous drops on the only open side and encased in solid rock on the other three sides.

Read More

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

By

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.

Read More

Drive to Manali from Leh

By

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.

Read More

Drive to Leh from Sonmarg

By

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.

Read More

Ladakh, What else

By

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.

Read More

Heaven on Earth: Leh-the Himalayan Kingdom

By

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

Read More

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

By

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”.

Read More

Ladakh Calling… (Part 3) Sarchu to Leh

By

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.

Read More
Surya in Tent at Sarchu

Ladakh Calling… (Part 2) – Manali to Sarchu

By

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.

Read More