Majestic Ladakh : Likir to Leh

Though enquiries about destinations, main attractions and places of interest are very common about any tourist place but they seem to be meaningless for Ladakh! It is beautiful not because of any particular spot or attraction, but for the journey therein which itself makes it a heaven for any traveler. What we saw were splendid! Nothing I described is in exaggeration nor did I find appropriate words in appreciation.  The landscapes are stunning, sky- so alluring to take your eyes off and the road- full of surprises!

We drove around 45 minutes from the Likir Monastery and stopped at a place with no name of it. The highway from there looked as if to meet the horizon, a gateway of heaven! Such are the views around everywhere in Ladakh! Such are the feelings that every traveler experience in Ladakh!

The Road to heaven!

The Road to heaven!

The Landscape

The Landscape

Basgo Monastery and Ruined Palace

Basgo Fort

Basgo Fort

A further drive of 15 minutes, we reached the point where from we could see the Basgo Fort.  Located on the mountain cliff by the bank of river Indus, the remains of Basgo Palace stands high above the village. It was once an important cultural and political centre.  It was a Palace, but now in ruins and is mainly known for its monastery. There is a road to the Gompa but for want of time we skipped the visit and continued our journey towards ‘Sangam’.

Sangam – confluence of River Indus and Zanskar!

In India meeting point of two or more rivers are called Sangam. The most popular is the “Tribeni Sangam” of Allahabad which is the confluence of river Ganga, Jamuna and Saraswati.

The Sangam or confluence of river Indus with its tributary Zanskar lies 40 Km before Leh on the Srinagar-Leh highway and is a spectacular place to stop over.

Sangam-confluence of River Indus and Zanskar

Sangam-confluence of River Indus and Zanskar

Zanskar, the tributary of Indus flows down from the top and meets here with Indus which is flowing from left (Leh) to right (Basgo-Alchi-Khalsi-Dah-Skardu). Originating from Tibet, river ‘Indus’ enters into India and flows through the region of Ladakh. It flows through Leh and after meeting with Zanskar runs through ‘Skardu’ for entering into Pakistan and finally falling into Arabian Sea.

A road took us down to the river side of Indus. We saw that the water of Indus was slightly clear than that of Zanskar. There was also a road (Zanskar Valley Road) that went upward by the side of river Zanskar to a village call ‘Chilling’.  But one can only see the spectacular view of the confluence from the Srinagar-Leh highway which runs through the top of mountain.

Magnetic Hill

We went ahead to experience the much acclaimed ‘Magnetic Hill’ which has been puzzling the travelers for long. It locates by the side of Srinagar-Leh national highway. While travelling from Kargil it comes 30Km before Leh and locates at an elevation of 11000 feet above the sea level.

BRO Sign Board

BRO Sign Board

Box marked on the highway to park Car there

Box marked on the highway to park Car there

We reached the point and saw a signboard of BRO that invites the travelers to park car inside the box marked on the road and experience the phenomenon that defies gravity. However, not too much satisfied with the claim, few travelers were driving to the hills on the right.  A hill on the right is marked as ‘Magnetic Hill’.

My friends at Magnetic Hill on the right

My friends at Magnetic Hill on the right

The myth is that, the hill has some magnetic properties which pull the car uphill if parked in neutral gear. To verify it, ‘Sachin’, a traveler from Delhi drove the car uphill with one of his friend. It was then many others to follow them. While some were happy to drive uphill and taking photos on it, some were returning confused! We did talk with ‘Sachin’ and his friend. Though not sure, but they did feel something on the uphill.  Was it due to magnetic property or an optical illusion could not be confirmed! Be that as it may, the magnetic hill pulls many tourists if not the cars!

Travelers with their car at the Hill

Travelers with their car at the Hill

My friend Prabir & Ranen with Sachin & his friends

My friend Prabir & Ranen with Sachin & his friends

Gurdwara Sri Pathar Sahib

Our journey so far was blessed with breathtaking vistas of nature. We could not expect to get more than what the landscape offered. It was now time to have darshan of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Sahib. We stopped at Gurudwara Sri Pathar Sahib which locates 27 km before Leh on the Srinagar-Leh national highway. This Gurudwara was constructed by Indian Army and is maintained and managed by them.

Gurudwara Sri Pathar Sahib

Gurudwara Sri Pathar Sahib

Entry to Gurudwara

Entry to Gurudwara

Belief is that, while Guru Nanak was returning from Tibet to Punjab through Leh and Srinagar, he meditated here.  A demon that lived here and was responsible for horrifying the locals, with an intent to kill the Guru on meditation, pushed down a boulder (Pathar) on him from the nearest hill top but it stopped against Guru Nanak’s back and softened like wax. Realizing the spiritual power of Guru, the demon fell at the feet of Guru and begged forgiveness.  Thereafter, the demon gave up all evil deeds and lived serving the people.

Inside the Shrine

Inside the Shrine

The Rock thrown by demon on Guru Nanak

The Rock thrown by demon on Guru Nanak

Chardi Kalan Baba Nanak Di’ is engraved on the opposite hill of Gurudwara, road to Leh goes upward

Chardi Kalan Baba Nanak Di’ is engraved on the opposite hill of Gurudwara, road to Leh goes upward

SPITUK MONASTERY

Spituk Monastery

Spituk Monastery

We set off the journey to Leh and after travelling about 18 Kms reached the Spituk Monastery. Perched on a high hill overlooking the Indus River, Spituk Monastery locates about 8 Kms away from Leh. It was founded by the King of Leh in the last 14th century. It houses the statues of Shakyamuni Buddha, Avolokitesvara and deity Tara.

Spituk Monastery

Spituk Monastery

Inner Sanctum of Spituk Monastery

Inner Sanctum of Spituk Monastery

Deity Tara

Deity Tara

Prayer Wheel at Spituk Monastery

Prayer Wheel at Spituk Monastery

By the time we completed visit of the monastery, the sun went down and it was time to rush towards Leh.

Leh can be seen from Spituk Monastery

Leh can be seen from Spituk Monastery

We were reaching Leh one day in advance and our accommodation was booked for the day to follow. It was the period of Kalachakra Festival in Leh and all hotels were occupied in full. However, it was a matter of one night and somewhere in the town a room was awaiting our arrival!

The route map from Likir to Leh

The route map from Likir to Leh

Places I Covered on the Srinagar-Leh Route: Sonamarg – (24 Km) ZojiLa – (39 Km) Drass – (60 Km) Kargil – (36 Km) Mulbek – (15 Km) NamkiLa – (36 Km) FotuLa – (15 Km) Lamayuru – (57 Km) Alchi – (19 Km) Likir – (25 Km) Sangam (Confluence of Zanskar and Indus River) – (8 Km) Magnetic Hill – (4 Km) Gurudwara Pathar Sahib – (21 Km) Spituk Monestry – (6 Km) Leh.

 Date of my journey to Leh: 13.07.2014

 I will come back soon with stories on Leh- the capital city of Ladakh in my coming post. Till then-

 JULLEY!

22 Comments

  • Arun says:

    Perfect post with picture perfect locations…….you are a great traveler Dada… really.

  • Uday Baxi says:

    Dear Anupam

    The tales about “Magnetic Hill”, Pathar Sahib, Confluence of Sindhu and Zanskar rivers kept me spell bound. Pictures of Spituk Monastery were marvellous.

    Actually, words can not describe the colours, mood and beauty of a place where every frame is picturesque.

    Thanks for sharing..

    Regards

  • Prasad Np says:

    Another epic journey and epic post on Ladakh … really liked the line

    ” the magnetic hill pulls many tourists if not the cars!”

  • Ravishankar says:

    Dear Anupam

    Really liked your post…this made me to plan for the tour to Leh n Ladakh.
    Thanks for sharing the pics n your experience..
    As you said- A fresh dream n a new place..

    Regards
    Ravishankar

  • AJAY SHARMA says:

    Dear Anupam,
    Your narration is only refreshing my memories on the route. Very minutely captured and well elaborated (though always short of words to describe the ecstatic real feel) still good job. Magnetic Hill is an illusion and no defying gravity but still thrills.
    If you remember, I drove all the way & imagine how enchanting it would be. I wish, I retry the road to heaven once again. Visiting Leh is fun & adventurous only by road from Sonmarg to Leh to Manali & not to fly & reach in 45 mins from Delhi-Leh.

    Keep travelling
    Ajay

    • Dear Ajaj Ji

      True, Magnetic Hill thrills many! Yes I read your that log. It was really a nice post. I do also believe that an overland journey in Ladakh set the stage to explore the wonders!

      Thanks for your encouraging words!

      Regards

  • Tanusree Dey says:

    SIr,

    Is it possible to see ladakh as backpacker? I mean 2 say in a shoe string budget. I am a solo traveller and I roam a lot like a backpacker. Need advice.

    • Dear Tanusree

      Thank you for dropping by! Yes it is possible! As you roam a lot, I wish you will certainly reach Ladakh soon. There are bus services from Srinagar(J&K) to Leh (2days journey- night halt at Kargil), there are also point to point taxi services at Ladakh but their rates are fixed by the taxi union (one may feel the rates are at higher side). Hotel of different tariffs are available. And most importantly Ladakh is a safe place for solo traveler.

      Best wishes

  • Santanu says:

    Dear Anupam,
    Another nice post in the series. Description of places travelled is good accompanied by really nice pictures. As you gathered a lot of experience, can you please enlighten me, how much cost likely to be incurred for a journey by SUMO / SCORPIO from Sonmarg to Leh during end of May to June ?
    Regards
    Santanu

    • Dear Santanu,

      Thanks for liking the post. I think the taxi fare for 2015-16 from Srinagar to Leh is around Rs.15,000/- as per Taxi Union rate. Please google it before going there because Taxi Union fix the rates for each year on point to point basis.

      Thanks

  • SilentSoul says:

    Great update… the first foto was magnetic . :)

  • Archana Ravichander says:

    Anupam,

    All the posts and pictures in particular bring in just one word on my mind.. Tranquility! I really want to visit all these places.. I wonder if i shall have the same experience then but am sure your posts will come in handy.

    Serenity with just nature around and ofcourse a few beautiful monasteries and some great company to add to the essence of it, is just WOW..
    Thanks for another great post!

    Best,
    Archana

  • Natalya says:

    beautifully written n great pics

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Please read Prasad’s comment again.
    Please read SS’s comment again.

    Those were actually my thoughts, must be some kind of special magnet which took them away. I would try to be sooner for next log.

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