Leh (Laddakh) Trip
Laddakh was one of such place which I always wanted to visit so I chose laddakh for my first trip post marriage. The travel date was 2nd May 2012.
We booked the flights in advance but as we booked Kingfiher flights which cancelled all their flights to leh due to airline pilot's strike that time so we decided to book Air India flight for backup. Ultimately we travelled with Air India only. Here I go with my trip.
We boarded from Delhi. It was a 6:00 AM flight which we missed due to check-in timing issues so we boarded next flight which was going 50 mins later at 6:50 AM.
Believe me this is the best timing for the flight as by the time we were flying over Himalayas we witnessed one of the best views of life time.
The temp at Leh was 1 degree Celcius. We immediately put on woolens at airport only.
There was a hotel staff named Ricky who came to pick up us at Airport and was our driver and companion for rest of our journey.
It took us 15-20 mins to reach our hotel.
We spent the day resting so as to acclimatize adequately. In the evening, started out for some local sightseeing. Visited Sankar monastery, the seat of the abbot of the Spituk monastery.Ended our day with a spectacular sunset from the Shanti Stupa, a white domed stupa overlooking the Leh valley.
We started our day by continuing on to the monasteries of STOK palace, Hemis and Thiksey, Shey Palace and Sindhu ghat. driving through some beautiful terrain.
I will let images mostly talk about places.
STOK palace is summer home of Namgyal dynasty rulers of Laddakh. There are 4-5 small museum rooms which keeps royal things at display.
This was 2nd place of day 2 visit and what a nice place surrounded by beautiful hills. It has some fascinating ancient wall paintings.
We met many monks starting from kids of 5-6 year to as old as 90 years.
Way to Thiksey from Hemis was really nice we captured some good clicks on the way.
and here comes another beautiful monastery and beautiful place and views.
Another abode of Namgyal dynasty rulers before they moved to STOK palace.
It has an almost 10 meter high gilder copper statue of Lord Buddha.
Sindhu Ghat is situated at 10 km up stream the Indus River from Leh near the Shey , it is a peaceful river bank.
At the end of day 2 we were excited to go to pangong lake for the famous so called '3-idiots' lake and to experience snow fall but we were confused as already there was more than mild snow fall a day before if it continues next day too then our trip to Pangong lake might be cancelled.
But it started with beautiful sunny day and we started around 7:30 AM a bit early our regular schedule of 9 AM. Inititilly as we saw some snow we got so excited as we were not aware we will see snow and only snow up above.
Most of drive was on snow mountains. As we were moving ahead the looking back gave a spectacular view of the route.
The drive was becoming slow and slippery over the snow. Before today we only imagined bright side of snow.
Chang La was our first official stop for the day.
Post Chang La we encountered rock & sand mountains.
After 5-6 hours journey we reached pangong lake and what a spectacular view!
We had maggi and tea there and enjoyed our time lake side.
Though it was sad to know that India only has 1/3rd part of Pangong lake rest is with China.
While coming back from Pangong lake we also visited the school used for shooting in '3 idiots'.
I also played cricket with small kids. Initially kids were very shy generally they don't talk with strangers.
Its a place defying gravity surrounded by big big hills. Our driver showed the demo, he placed the car at one sopt and we saw it moving uphill against gravitational force. There are big hoardings mentionig this. Thats a beautiful place, people stop there to grab the wonderful weather and scenes in their camera.
After Magnetic hill we went to alchi gompa.There are number of praying wheels and people told us that we should complete the full round of the place while playing those praying wheels all around.That could exhaust but the scences beside that Alchi gompa are wonderful as we steped down a few meters of a steep hill and the best scene was the flowing water of river Indus, that was a amazing place. A river flowing between two rocky mountains and the water was crystal clear, green in color.
Likir Gompa I remmeber as a place which has very big sitting statue of lord buddha. It looked like golden buddha. The arrival to the monastery itself looks beautiful & has a beautiful driving route.
Its a must not miss spot where two rivers Indus and Zanskar meet.The water in the two rivers is different in color, one is blue other is green.It touches and go but never mix. We had amazing view and scenes as hills have surrounded the spot beautifully.
Pathhar Sahab Gurudwara:
On our way back to our hotel we went to pathar sahab gurdwara. Its a clean place just like any other gurdwara but nicely maintained. The story behind it is one morning when the Guru Nanak Dev was sitting in meditation, the demon pushed a large pathar (boulder), down from the hilltop, with the intention of killing the Guru. The boulder gained speed as it rumbled down the hillside, but when it touched the Guru's body, it softened like warm wax and came to a halt against Guru Nanak's back.
It reminded me of kargil, China war, war plans. We saw some letters written by these soldiers to their family, army costumes - heavy fire and bullet proof jackets required to stay in posts like Kargil and Siachen. Lots of war weapons, they revived whole war story.
Last but most important the war heroes and their valour.
It is the world's heighest driveable route at 18380 feet.It was again a fullday trip. We started around 9AM , it took aorund 2 to 3 hours to reach kardungla but the way to it was very diffcult drive, the steep and narrow ways seemed very dangerous , although our driver calmly and confidently drove us to the top.
We even faced a traffice jam, some 20-30 mins break, we grabbed the opportunity and climbed one of the near by snowy mountain and took some photographs and played with snow.
Finally the jam was cleared and we reached the heighest point at 18380 Ft.
We had maggie and tea again at army check post with nice bollywood music which certainly did soothe after tiring journey. Khardungla is gateway to Siachin. Few of travellers may face slight difficult breathing.
Goggles in snow is must as reflection of sun rays from snow can cause snow blindness for moments & creates it difficult to see.
Transfer to airport and departure while going back to Delhi we were again mesmerized by spectacular view of Himalayas.
I would want to go back to Laddakh again and again may be next time by bike drive from Kashmir.