LEH- LADAKH Happened!! :) :)

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Finally Leh Ladakh happened!! Super happy πŸ™‚

Next time when you think about where to go for vacation, don’t think! Just pack your bags and go to Leh-Ladakh. The beauty of that place can neither be captured in camera exactly nor can be described in words!! It’s just WOW πŸ™‚  It has everything from burning sun to freezing winds to colorful Monasteries to snow capped mountains to steep curves to deserts to double humped camels and a destination that will remain in your memories forever. All shades of brown, blue, green, red can be seen there.   Bordered on north west with Pakistan, North with China and East with Tibet, stands this Amazing place. So if you are the kind who enjoys the journey more than the destination, this is the place to be!!

Our journey was short yet thrilling! We had time crunch but wanted to visit almost everything there, So we stopped only for sleeping πŸ˜‰ We didn’t mind the hectic because we kept on falling in love with everything we saw!
However it is NOT recommended to do hectic!!

We followed the following Itinerary but it is advised NOT to follow the same. Add one night stay in Nubra and one in Tso Moriri for sure. Rest is depending upon the time you have.

Day 1: Srinagar – sonmarg – zojila – Drass – Kargil (Approx 8hrs with all the stops in between for food, pics etc.)

Visit Zojila pass, Minamarg meadows, Pandrass and Drass memorial on route. Lunch at Sonmarg.

Day 2 : Kargil – Lamayuru – Leh (Approx 9 hrs depending on the stops in between)

Cover Mulbekh maitrye , Lamayuru monestary , Lunar landscape or moonland , Fotu la pass, Magnetic hills, Alchi, Confluence at Nimmu. Can have Lunch at Lamayuru restaurant near the monestary.

Day 3 : Leh local + Inner line permit

Shanti Stupa, Leh Palace, Hall of fame, Thicksey Monestary, Druk white Lotus school or Rancho’s school

(Permit Office remains closed on Sundays.)

Day 4 : Leh – Khardungla – Nubra valley – Karu – Chang La – Pangong

South Pullu, Khardungla, North Pullu – Diksit – Hunder – Khardungla – Karu – Chang La – Pangong

(Direct route to Pangong from Nubra is via Shyok village or Wari La. These routes to be taken or not totally depends upon the road conditions and if your driver agrees. Stay over night at Nubra. Panamik and Turtuk  are nearby Nubra and can be visited if one wants to.)

Day 5 : Pangong – Maan – Merak –  Thukung – Chushul – Tsaga – Nyoma band – Laal pahadi – Hanle (Approx 5 hours)

Enjoy vistas enroute, Hanle Observatory, Night sky at Hanley

(Inner Line permit needed for this route. Best part of the whole journey πŸ™‚ )

Day 6: Hanle – Laal Pahadi – Nyoma band – Muth – Kolokunga pass- Tso Moriri – Tso Kar –  Moore plains – Pang – Lachungla pass –  Brandy nala – Sarchu

(Stay overnight at Tso Moriri to ease out the journey)

Day 7 : Sarchu- Baralacha pass – Suraj taal – Darcha – Jispa – Keylong – Tandi – Sissu – Koksar – Layul – Rohtang – Manali (Approx 10 hrs)

Must Carry things:

Woollens, Sun glasses, sunscreen, Sports shoes, Diamox(for oxygen problem after consulting your doctor), Camphor balls(keep smelling it at regular intervals if oxygen levels lower), other usual stuff.

The Journey

Our driver, Mr Lobzang quoted “Leh’s weather and Mumbai’s fashion changes very frequently!”  And this was true to every extent!

So here it goes..

We flew from Delhi to Srinagar in morning. Our driver, Mr. Lobzang Tsering, whom we booked for our trip in advance, came to pick us up at the airport. He is a very nice person and has super duper excellent driving skills. He has more than 25 years of driving experience. Owns a Mahindra Xylo. He used to drive trucks for army earlier. Had he not been there, I don’t think our super fast journey might  not have been possible πŸ˜‰

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Day 1: Srinagar – sonmarg – zojila – Drass – Kargil (Approx 8hrs with all the stops in between for food, pics etc.)

Reached Srinagar around 10:15 am in the morning. Started road trip from Srinagar. Our first halt was at Sonmarg for lunch. Sonmarg has huge grasslands. Activities such as horse riding, zorbing can be done here.
After lunch, headed for Kargil crossing adventurous Zojila pass, Minamarg meadows, Pandrass with beautiful scenery and Drass memorial.
Last halt for the day was Kargil for night stay at New International Guest house. It was clean, had hot water facility, free wifi for few hours.

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On way from Srinagar to Kargil

Day 2 : Kargil – Lamayuru – Leh (Approx 9 hrs depending on the stops in between)

Left Kargil by 8 am. Had breakfast on the way at Tashi dhaba (6-7 kms from Kargil), serves pure veg food).
On the way covered Mulbekh maitrye, Lamayuru monestary, Lunar landscape or moonland, Fotu la pass, Magnetic hills, Alchi, Confluence at Nimmu. Had lunch at Lamayuru restaurant which was near the monestary. Food was good there.

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Fotu La
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Moonland
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Lamayuru Monestary
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Indus and Zanskar river confluence at Nimmu

Finally reached Leh at around 5, night stay at Rigzin Guest house at Changspa road, Leh. Economical, clean, hot water, wifi. Many restaurants nearby. Main market is 10-15 minutes walk from this guest house.

Rigzin Guest house, Leh
Rigzin Guest house, Leh

Dinner at German bakery opp. IDBI bank in main market. Indian Food was yum! There are many other restaurants around as well.

Day 3 : Leh local + Inner line permit

Started out at 10am in the morning. Visited Shanti Stupa, Leh Palace, Hall of fame, Thicksey Monestary,
Druk white Lotus school or Rancho’s school(in 3 Ididots movie)

Shanti Stupa
Shanti Stupa
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Leh Palace
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Hall of Fame

DSC_0963Thicksey

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Thicksey Monestary
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The idiotic wall at Rancho’s school

Inner Line permit was taken from govt permit office at Leh for visiting Hanle via direct route from Pangong due to sensitivity of the area. Not all routes need permit though.

Day 4 : Leh – Khardungla – Nubra valley – Karu – Chang La – Pangong

Long day with loads of travelling! The plan was something else and something else happened!!

Packed bags and started from Leh at 6am. Reached Khardungla in approx 2 hours. Was beautiful up there. Fresh white snow. After spending some time there, headed for Nubra valley.
Crossed North Pullu on the way. The sky was wow there! A halo of rainbow around the sun!!! πŸ™‚
Reached Nubra enjoying the stunning views all along. Diksit in Nubra has a monestary and Hunder is a desert.

Play with the sand, enjoy camel safari. Visit Panamik, Turtuk if you want.

Khardung La
Khardung La
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Khardungla Top
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North Pullu Sky!
Hunder, Nubra
Hunder, Nubra
Sand dunes, Hunder
Sand dunes, Hunder
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Moonlight at Pangong lake

Initial plan was to stay overnight at Hunder, Nubra but due to very hot weather that day, we decided to go back. As the next destination was Pangong lake, Mr. Lobzang said he will take us to Pangong directly via Shyok village route which is a short cut. After reaching half way, we found out that due to lanslide the previous day, that road has been broken 😦 so we had to take the long route to Pangong via Karu. Remeber that vehicles are not allowed to pass through Karu for Pangong after 6pm. We were not aware and were late but we requested the authorities a lot and they allowed with a promise from us that we will call after we reach Pangong! So we started again after having early dinner in Karu. The route taken was via Chang la. La means Pass.

As these passes are usually snow covered, it is always advised to travel through these in mornings as by evening snow melts due to sun’s heat and water level rises on roads.

As we were already late, there was lot of water on road making the drive difficult. Also clouds came up out of nowhere and it satrted drizzling!
But we trusted our driver. He was an expert at driving. Somehow we managed to pass through and reached Pangong at 10:30 pm. All tented accommodation was full 😦 Again our shaktimaan, Mr. Lobzang arranged a homestay for us.
And we leapt in the bed to sleep.

So Lessons learnt today:
Lesson No. 1 : Always cross the snow passes in mornings
Lesson No 2: Reach your destination before sunset so that you be safe, don’t miss the vistas on route and can search for decent accommodation if not already booked!

Sigh! Enough for the day I guess!! Too long and tiring and full of adventure!

 Day 5 : Pangong – Maan – Merak –  Thukung – Chushul – Tsaga – Nyoma band – Laal pahadi – Hanle (Approx 5 hours)

Previous night we could not see outside view of our homestay due to darkness. But in the morning when we woke up at sunrise, it was absolutely stunning. Pangong Lake in front, water stream flowing outside the house, snow capped mountains all around. Made our day!

View from homestay
View from homestay
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Hmestay @ Pangong
Pangong Lake
Pangong Lake
Hanle Observatory
Hanle Observatory

We could not capture the night sky at Hanle from our camera but this is how it looked like(Pic taken from google), even better than this. So clear, so starry.

night sky

Became not so difficult to live like a local because our’s was a very basic accommodation, not even basic in fact! No water in pipelines nor any electricity! Well electricity and water problem is  in whole of Leh Ladakh. But it is extreme at few places! So we had to live like a local and trust me it was Not easy at all!! Salute to how they manage with the meagre resources they have!
We had to bring water from stream flowing outside for our morning ablutions. Ice cold water. Could not feel hands after using it for  5minutes minimum! The homestay owner was kind enough to boil water for us on her gas stove enough to wash our face and dryclean self!!

Lesson No. 3: Be satisfied with what you have in life. Your basic need may be someone else’s luxury.
Lesson No. 4: Do Not waste water and electricity or anything else for that matter!

Somehow we got ready, packed and headed for Pangong lake. It was so blue and weather so pleasant. Blue water, white birds, mountains all around. The lake changes it’s colors to various shades of blue with sun light. Looks very pretty! We enjoyed there and headed for our next destination : Hanle – for which inner line permit was taken as the route is LAC sensitive.

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pangong lake side

Now this route from Pangong to Hanle is the best we ever sae! Almost half of the roads to Hanle may be back breaking but the views are breath taking!!
We drove by the sides of Pangong lake till it turned for its china side. It is said that 30% of Pangong lake is in India and 70% in China. This route was so clean and so stunning. The more the lake reached towards china side, the bluer it got. Looked wow. Once the lake view ended, plains started. We could see all shades of brown, read, blue, green mountains on this route. There was blue lake, there was greenery, there were colorful mountains, there was desert, there was wildlife, everything! So amazing. A treat to all nature gazers!

way from pangong to Hanle
way from pangong to Hanle

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Enjoying the vistas enroute.

Laal Pahadi
Laal Pahadi

Reached Hanle at around 5:30 pm. It has the highest astronomical observatory built to observe the stars. It is operated from Bangalore real time. Tourists can only see the telescope but cannot use it. Observatory is open till 6pm everyday for tourists.

Hanle Observatory
Hanle Observatory

After seeing the observatory, we headed for guest house for night stay. There is only one guest house available in Hanle called Padma Deksit Homestay. It is a comfortable place. Warm, clean, hot water available, electricity comes only for 3.5 hours at night, Breakfast, lunch,dinner available. They own a small shop in case you need to buy something. The owner is a very nice and helpful guy.

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View from homestay at Hanle

The special thing about Hanle is that it is situated at a very high altitude. So, at night, if you are lucky enough to find clear sky, you can see lots and lots of stars and they are so near that it feels like some stars are touching the mountains!! Loved it πŸ™‚ You can see so many constellations clearly. There are so many cluster of stars that you may think its a white cloud but actually it is a band of light of group of stars. So happy that we visited Hanle! Wanted to sleep outside the house gazing at stars but cold there sent us back inside and we slept peacefully πŸ™‚

Day 6: Hanle – Laal Pahadi – Nyoma band – Muth – Kolokunga pass- Tso Moriri – Tso Kar –  Moore plains – Pang – Lachungla pass –  Brandy nala – Sarchu

Had breakfast and started the travel back from Hanle at around 8am and headed for Tso moriri via Nyoma band, Laal pahadi, Muth, Kolokunga pass. There was Chasang lake on way to tso moriri. The lake is very calm and serene, rare birds flying around. It was drizzling that day and made the view even more beautiful.

Tso Moriri
Tso Moriri
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Tso Kar

Our initial plan was to stay overnight at Tso moriri but we skipped that again πŸ˜‰ and headed for Tso kar (lake with white salt). Its surrounding was very colorful! We sat by the lake for some time and headed for Sarchu passing through Moore Plains ( Very beautiful view and road. Here rainbow was formed on mountain and not on sky!!).

Moore Plains
Moore Plains

Moore Plains

On the way we crossed Pang. Our driver decided to have some fun. He started taking short cuts on mountains and we were thrilled. Yet again he proved himself to be an excellent driver! Finally we reached Sarchu.
Sarchu was the coldest of all places. Stayed there in tents at Dorjey camping site. Tents were ok, water and electricity problem again. But location was very nice.

Dorjey Camp, Sarchu
Dorjey Camp, Sarchu

Day 7 : Sarchu- Baralacha pass – Suraj taal – Darcha – Jispa – Keylong – Tandi – Sissu – Koksar – Layul – Rohtang – Manali (Approx 10 hrs)

Started from Sarchu at 6am. This was the last point of Jammu and Kashmir. After this point, Himachal Pradesh starts. Baralacha pass was also full of snow. Combination of snow and rock made it look amazing. We stopped there, had some fun and started again crossing all the places and few more than mentioned in route above. Reached Manali and took a bus back to Delhi.

Baralacha pass
Baralacha pass

DSC_0029Baralacha Pass

That was all about the journey.
Loved it. Will go back but with more time in hand! Though I am back, a part of me is still out there!!

“Julley! Kabhi na bhule! : D”  by Lobzang Tsering!

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For Customized Holiday Packages( Domestic and International) contact us @ +91-9784926361 or email @goaroundtours@gmail.com 

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