Heaven on Earth: Leh-the Himalayan Kingdom

For many days, my wife was behind me to plan for a holiday, because we are not able to make a proper holiday after our marriage. We were too much occupied with our work, office and seriously didn’t have as many leaves in our kitty (We store maximum of our leaves for hometown visit). We had already dropped our trip to hometown at the time of Puja because of the lack of leaves (actually we don’t want to go home for 4-5 days). At a family gathering, my sister-in-law asked details of Leh and can we visit it on 1st week of October. We searched a lot about the weather of Leh-Ladakh on 1st week of October. Maximum of blog, portal, travel agencies said it will be too much cold to visit in October; maximum guest houses also told us that they will closed in September last. It was difficult for us to make a decision on before October, because budget was increased by 150% and maximum hotel/guest house told that they don’t have room. Finally we decide that we will make it possible after September (June to 3rd week of September is considered high season time), and booked tickets as usual. We decide to stay up to the 6th of October, whereas my in-laws decide to stay up-to 9th October. After searching all opportunities, we booked only one room in a guest house, at least we can get space to stay. As a habit of not planning so much for the tour (my wife is totally opposite for the same, but this time she agreed for a non-planned tour), do the same thing for this tour also, not planned anything, only we took the details of places which need to visit, weather, communication etc. etc. Leh – The Himalayan Kingdom, September is the most favorable month to visit this part of the country, but we decide to go beyond that (2nd October, 2010). I was waiting for this opportunity for a long time (you can say a childhood dream carried from my class 8, when I 1st time heard about Ladakh), and now the moment has come when my wife and I can spend few memorable days together away from the city’s hustle-bustle (Not so alone, because my in-laws with us).

Beautiful Roads

Beautiful Roads



Our journey began from Delhi IGI T1 on 2nd October, 2010 at 6.50 AM and within one hour time we were at the most mystical place of India, Leh – The Himalayan Kingdom (Bakula Rimpoche Airport).

Just arrived  Leh airport

Just arrived Leh airport

The enchanting view of snowcapped mountains, tiny river streams washing the feet’s of mountains and the dry-treeless environment left astonished both of us leaving to say only one word “Wow! At the airport we were once again amazed with the warm welcome of the shield winds. We started our journey towards our already booked guest house “Indus Guest House” (A beautiful guest house with peace, owner says their guest house is preferred by maximum European tourist for clam and peace condition, TV also not available in the room, the guest house is also mentioned in many European travel guides & book, they’re also providing the option of self-cooking).

Apple at our Guest house

Apple at our Guest house

We were given clear instructions not to go to high altitudes on the first day of our visit and just relax & acclimatize ourselves to the new environment. But we were so hungry to grump up the beauty of Ladakh. So, after having a breakfast, we came out in search of places to visit, how to go, fares etc. etc. Noticed a good thing in Leh that, like other tourist place, here people, businessman, and operator are more honest and organized. It is due to control by government and association. Taxi fares are fixed by location wise by authority, so there is no scope of any bargain. They do not ask for anything for guiding or information or you can say they not misguiding their tourist, because tourism is the one of the major sources of income. Anyway shops and traditional business products are bargainable but not like a Delhi market.

Accepting instruction, on the first day we didn’t plan to visit any places but the thrust of Leh we can’t resist ourselves to move out. So discussing with Guest house owner where we can hit one day, he told us that we can go to Leh Palace and Shanti Stupa , but still advise us to acclimatize, but in our mind who you are to stop us. We request guest owner for arranged a car for us and suddenly I noticed a bike stand there, my favorite old Yamaha RX100

Great Yamaha RX100 ride

Great Yamaha RX100 ride

I request him for the same and ready to pay for the same (whereas I can rent a Bullet or Avenger in Rs. 500 a day, but only RX100 rider know about the beauty of this bike), he gave us the bike and also arrange a Maruti Van for family (already told there is no difference in rent, whether you took it from taxi stand or from the operator). Our journey began with broom…. I and my wife took the ride on old Yamaha RX100, in-laws board on Maruti Van. Started with visiting Leh palace and later headed to Shanti Stupa and back

 Leh town from city palace

Leh town from city palace

Leh City palace

Leh City palace

Leh City palace

Leh City palace

A beautiful vroom around Leh town…. only satisfaction in face. After back from Shanti Stupa, clock raise to 6 and we really feel the cold. So we don’t want to roam and decide to take meal and go to guest house. As decide, we headed to a restaurant with North-Indian food description, but I decided to stick to Tibetan food only, coz after a gap, I may able to feel real taste of Tibetan food. Food was over, tummy was full, what next??? Now every member feel savior head ache and waited head….. so I went to a nearby Pharmacy for buying disprin or something, but the pharmacist asked me about “DIAMOX”, I was totally unaware about that, so he told me that just took 2 tablets every day, whether we in Leh, it will help us to acclimatize in high altitude without any problem. I took one that they but another member refuse to take, so they suffer headache for 2 days, but I really feel safe with Diamox. Now I can tell everyone that, if you really want to enjoy high altitude, just takes a Diamox tablet, it will make your travel easier. I am not advertising the Tablet, but later on in many travel blogs I came to know about this tablet. 1st day’s end with mixed response of the body, tiredness of early get up and finally asleep (nothing to do in Guest house, no TV, no bone fire due to savior cold waves)

As consulting with local tour operator, our searches and Guest house owner information, 2nd day of our journey fixed for near- by location. Again I and my wife took rent a Bullet and an Inova for our families.

At Thiksey Monastery

At Thiksey Monastery

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

Sangam

Sangam

We are at sangam

We are at sangam

Indus and Zanshar together.....

Indus and Zanshar together…..

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,

Pather sahib Gurudwara

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

Magnetic Hill

Magnetic Hill

Another excellence of world (This type of magnetic location available in many parts of world). We end our 2nd day’s journey in Hall of Fame, an Army memorial museum of Kargil War. Beautifully managed and we can say how much trouble our Army face to protect us from an intruder or any disaster

stone cut display at hall of fame

stone cut display at hall of fame

Our 3rd day trip was to Khardung-la, I wish if I can go with a bike again, but I had not got support from my wife, so force to be in the car. Journey was a bit tiring as we had at the highest motorable road of the World – located at an altitude of 18,372 feet

Road to Khardung la

Road to Khardung la

Hills road...

Hills road…

We stopped there, though not for a longer time as it was too chilly to stand and we were staggering for breath. Hats off! For all those trekkers, who climb to this remote area all alone and more hats off to those foreigners, who used MTB (cycle) to reach there. Indian also may be doing cycling, but they are countable. In Khardung-la, I and wife enjoyed a lot but my in-laws even not able to come out from the car. They were facing a savior head ace and breathe problem due to high altitude. A simple cup of a red tea, a lone restaurant maintains by Indian Army gave us a warm breath and we were able to take lots of photos with snow covered mountains

Highest cafeteria in the world

Highest cafeteria in the world

4th day of Ladakh, our journey began with all the excitement of going to Pangong Tso – a mystic lake sprawling 350 km (lake size is only readable theory, because it’s having only 4 km in India) both in India and China (Tibet). It took approximate three and a half hours to reach there (around 150 km). The drive was adventures and I have never seen such landscapes, mountainous deserts, ragging rivers, flawless blue sky and unimaginable colours of nature

Light & Shade : on way to Pangkok tso

Light & Shade : on way to Pangkok tso

We kept on taking photographs over the entire journey as everything was very eye-catching and don’t want to miss a single beat

Ice covered mountain at Sanga-la

Ice covered mountain at Sanga-la

at chang -la

at chang -la

Pengang Tso

Pengang Tso

We crossed Sangla-Pass., where heavy snowfalls happened the previous night. As we approached Pangong Lake, we were stunned to see its breathtaking beauty and just shout as Wows…. remembering 3 Idiots last scene, shooting at Pangong, sometime we amaze with photography and video, but Pangong can be framed only on the eyes

Our shadow at cristal clear pengok tso

Our shadow at crystal clear pengok tso

we are again at Pengkok tso

we are again at Pengkok tso

The most interesting thing about the Lake is that instead of it being a saline lake, its water freezes. Due to end of season, the entire tent restaurants were closed, only one small tent restaurants near the lake was open where one thing available to eat and that was “Maggie”. No wonder, Maggie can reach any destination….. However it was a blessing in disguise as we were dying to eat. Near the lake, there is an Indian Army run restaurant (we find out that restaurant later on) where you can get excellent Rajma-chawal and also can buy souvenirs from the Army run shop.

5th, the last day of our journey, just to say sorry Ladakh, we have been here for just a few days, will back again. I think this was one of the most memorable holiday trips for me till date. I am now very happy to be in the good books of my wife. Now, whenever I see my Leh snaps, I feel that I am still in Leh, cherishing those wonderful moments. At last I want to guide for the avid traveler who want to visit Leh-Ladakh, please note below the point

Time to visit: June –September (July –August have rainfall)
Accommodation: Available lots of hotels, guest house. Online booking option available for maximum hotels and maximum tour operator portal have facility for online booking. Maximum hotel/guest house take charge per person, not by room
Food: Option available – Tibetan, Chinese and North Indian in general Dhaba. Continental mainly available in hotels or you can get one or 2 joints
Taxi: Fixed rate by District authority, whether you take a Maruti van or Inova. No bargaining at all.
Motorcycle and MTB: available on rent, per day cost Rs.500+ for Enfield or Avenger, MTB cost may differ by manufacturing company (Trek, Firefox along with imported brands available).

Tent and tracking arrangement available on rent. All for personal belonging give rent to people after getting proper identification of the person. They keep your proof as a deposit against their property. Direct flight available from many cities of India. Car rider can choose from Srinagar-Leh highway, or can choose Manali-Leh highway.

14 Comments

  • ashok sharma says:

    beautiful post.very good pics.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Good log Anjan. I have never owned/driven a RX-100 (barring a few KMs here n there) and I can attest the fan-following it had. The kick it used to give to a rider was unbeatable.

    For higher altitudes, one should be careful about AMS. Keep yourself hydrated and give enough time to acclimatise and most importantly go slow with things.

    Leh is a wonderful place so many thanks for sharing your story and for all the information. Thank you.

    • anjan says:

      Thanks Nandan…

      only RX100 followers know why this bike is still rocking…. one of the best bike in 100 CC segment India produced till date.

  • Sharmistha Dan says:

    Hi Anjan,
    You have written a blog on my dream destination. I am planning a Leh-Ladakh trip in August 2014. Can you give me some information about the availability of bike rentals in Leh? Also is it possible to travel there by bike alone? I mean does one need a guide through the roads?
    Anyways, the photos are majestic and heavenly. If there is something called heaven, it is this place. Isn’t it? Thanks a lot for such a wonderful and informative post.

    • anjan says:

      Hi Sharmistha

      Thanks for your lovely comment. you can travel alone, that not a challenge, but you need to be well equipped with basic maintenance of bike, you never know what happen in road. you will get lots of biker in Manali-Leh high way. Guide is not require, because all roads are well marked from Delhi-Srinagar-manali etc… but it is always suggest to bring a todays navigator GPS. don’t think for your smart phone as your GPS, cause in maximum place you will be out of network.

      You can rent bike from Manali or Leh. there are lots of shops available, in pick time you may be wait for a day for get a bike. Rs.500 was rent on 2010, 2014 may be high, you get all information in Himalayan traveler sites about current rate.

  • SilentSoul says:

    very good and detailed t-log. I think you have covered many places in one go. This should have been divided into more parts to give more space to each place.

    good fotos :)

  • Very informative post, specially on how to deal with high-altitude syndrome, very nice pictures.

  • DEAR UPANSHU
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  • o p laddha says:

    So interesting post and photo are also so beautiful

  • Nirdesh Singh says:

    Hi Anjan,

    Leh is truly heaven on earth. It is everyone’s wish to see Pangong Tso lake.

    Enjoyed the post and the photos are amazing!

  • v p says:

    Very poor english…. lots of grammatical mistakes. ….. u can use hindi instead.

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