Leh

Road to Leh!

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This July, I completed a motorcycle ride from Gurgaon to Ladakh, covering Spiti Valley, Leh, Kargil and Srinagar – one of my many trips to this part of the world. Despite having done these rides multiple times earlier, why do I keep riding to these crazy terrains, where unless someone has actually travelled on a motorcycle? They wouldn’t believe what one would experience. What’s the lure of Ladakh still, when everyone and their mothers-in-law are riding/driving/flying there these days? When

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The Unplanned Travellers

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Harish and I was chatting over tea in office cafeteria and planning to go on a road trip somewhere in India in his car with friends. It started turning in to shape when one of our friend “Vikas” agreed to join us and finalized the destination to Goa “Mohali to Goa”. Next day he called up and cancelled his plan due to some work assignment and we were back to same stage of planning. Harish had a passion to cover Leh Ladakh on his bullet which he bought recently for this purpose only but could not plan the trip so far. Finally both of us agreed to go along on one bike 😊

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Motorcycle Diaries. Road to Ladakh…Leh – the land of monasteries…

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First thing first – True’s care! Our RE Team Leader Aakash had announced last evening that the bikes should get serviced, if needed, early on this day. True was cruising all fine and needed no service. However, eight days of grime, dirt and dips in water forced True to take a bath! So, I initiated the hunt for a bike/car wash center nearby. However, it being Sunday, Leh was largely shut and I had to drive 8kms on Manali Highway, all the way to the hamlet of Chogalmasar Jamba, where across the bridge exists an old acquaintance’s garage; a person whom was meeting after good six years! But, just like all other people from the hills, he was extremely warm and forthcoming. So, True was given special preference in queue.

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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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Road journeys – Diu to Porbandar, Land of the Father of Nation

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“Mangrol is an important harbour as far as the fish industry is considered. There are many fisheries located here and exports to many European nations. The fishermen of Mangrol are infamous for being caught many-a-times by the Pakistan Coast Guard for entering their naval territories in search of fish”.

We were looking forward to see the much heard and boasted coastal highway running parallel to the Arabian Sea. Though almost the entire highway runs along the coast but the sea or its shores is visible only for a stretch of one kilometer. After long wait we finally reached a concrete fly-over kind of bridge at Madhavpur. The sight of infinitive majestic blue of Arabian Sea on our left at a hand shaking distance and rows of palms and greenery comprising tall pillars with massive blades of the wind mills standing erect with pride & humility on the right was like reaching a dream land. The SUZLON wind-mills claim providing 24 hour power to the state. According to official data, wind power generations capacity in the state has increased a staggering ten times in just six years. As per C-WET data, the total installed capacity in Gujarat stood at 3093 MW.

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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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भाग4: पैंग – ताग्लंगला ला – उप्शी – कारू– लेह……………12-सितम्बर

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आज हम पैंग से 185km का सफ़र तेय करके लेह पहुँच गए। लेह पहुँच कर बिना समय ख़राब किए हमारा सबसे पहला काम था “DC” ऑफिस जाना। वहाँ जाकर हमे “नुब्रा वेली” (nubra valley) और “पेंगोंग सो” (pangong so) जाने के लिए “Inner-Line Permit” लेना था। “DC” ऑफिस मे ज्यादा भीड़ तो नहीं थी पर ऑफिस बंद ना हो जाए इस बात का भय सता रहा था। ऊपर से सरकारी ऑफिसर कब अपनी सीट छोड़ कर चला जाए क्या भरोसा। सीमित छुटियाँ होने की वजह से हम एक दिन की देरी भी नहीं झेल सकते थे। हरी और मनोज ने तो दिल्ली से हेदराबाद का हवाई टिकेट भी करा दिया था। अगर देरी होती तो इन दोनों को मोटी चपत लगने वाली थी। परमिट का काम राहुल को सौंप दिया गया। मैं, हरी और मनोज “DC” ऑफिस के बाहर फ़ोटो लेने लगे।

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Sarchhu to Leh, Pangong Lake, and Back via Kashmir

Sarchhu to Leh, Pangong Lake, and Back via Kashmir

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First town where some civilization could be seen was Upshi which is basically a check post where we did not stop. Next stop at about 30 km was Karu which basically a military establishment just before Leh. We stopped a Karu for a late lunch and some tea and then soon proceeded to Leh which took about 1-1.5 hours. On the way to Leh one can see gorgeous mountain views with Indus flowing along the road.

Next, day we went to places around Leh such as Patthar Singh Sahab Gurudwara (पत्थर सिंह साहिब गुरुद्वारा), so called Magnetic Hill, Confluence of Janskar and Indus rivers, a Kali temple and a Buddhist temple, and one of the oldest monastery near Leh. The landscape near Leh is also dry, barren but mesmerizingly beautiful. Buddhist temple have special wheels called Maney ( माने) carrying the holy mantra “Om Many Padme hum” or “ओम माणी पद्मे हूं”  which the devotees rotate.

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Ladakh: Nature’s Eloquent SIlence

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A trip to Ladakh leaves many a visitors breathless and not just because of its high altitude location. In an ephemeral moment of truce, when the cool breeze lets you rejuvenate your thoughts long lost to the battles of daily routine, a perchance to dream, a sense of being afloat on wings of imagination and suddenly you realize you need to breathe too. It’s just like in songs, ‘a flight of fancy on the windswept fields’ when you are standing alone and your senses reel. The attraction in Ladakh can be fatal especially when emotions are involved. When you are in Ladakh all you wish for is to capture its reality and here in the overwhelming vastness even reality turns out to be abstract.

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