Sunday, 30 September 2012

The Chronicles of Ladakh – 6500 Kms, 12 High Altitude Passes, 7 Famous Lakes, 16 days and 2 Toughest National Highways

Astounding, Magnificent, Fantastic, Surreal, Incredible and many more other superlatives - we have heard that each of these is aptly applicable to a place called Ladakh.
Countless photos spread over the vast kingdom of internet confirmed that the adjectives are just. They were certainly enough to allure our wandering souls into the lap of barren and arid but gorgeously beautiful mountains, and we fell for it.
The planning for an exclusive Ladakh trip began in January when we read everything that's available on internet - especially two magnificent websites Indiamike and BCMTouring where wealth of worthy information are supplied by the veteran and seasoned roamers. They didn’t lose their temper by the silliest questions asked multiple times by an impatient me.
So the plan looked like as below initially, with sufficient (in my opinion) back-up days, covering the entire tourist circuit (a complete exaggeration) of Ladakh.
Day 1 : Pune > Delhi > Srinagar (Overnight at Srinagar)
Day 2 : Srinagar > Sonamarg > Zoji La > Drass > Kargil (Overnight at Kargil)
Day 3: Kargil > Mulbech > Lamayuru (Overnight at Lamayuru)
Day 4: Lamayuru > Alchi > Likir > Nimmu > Leh (Overnight at Leh)

Day 5: Inner Line Permits + Leh Local Sightseeing (Overnight at Leh)
Day 6: Nubra Valley Tour: Leh > Khardung La > Diskit > Hunder (Overnight at Hunder)
Day 7: Nubra Valley Continues: Hunder > Turtuk > Diskit (Overnight at Diskit)
Day 8: Towards Pangong: Diskit > Khalsar > Agham > Wari La > Tathok > Sakti > Chang La > Durbuk > Tangtse (Overnight at Tangtse)
Day 9: Tangtse > Lukung > Spangmik > Pangong Tso (Overnight at Pangong Tso/Spangmik)
Day 10:  Towards Hanle: Spangmik > Karu > Upashi > Chumathang

Day 11: Chumathang > Mahe > Nyoma > Thit Zarbo La > Kyon Tso II > Kyon Tso > Hanle (Overnight at Hanle)
Day 12: Hanle > Loma > Nyoma > Mahe > Sumdo > Korzok > Tso Moriri (Overnight at Tso Moriri/Korzok)
Day 13: Tso Moriri > Tso Kar > Moore plains > Pang > Sarchu (Overnight at Sarchu)
Day 14: Sarchu > Darcha > Keylong > Tandi > Khoksar > Rohtang La > Manali (Overnight at Manali)
Day 14: Sarchu > Darcha > Jispa/Keylong (Overnight at Jispa/Keylong)Day 15: Buffer Day (Overnight at Manali)

Day 15: Jispa/Keylong > Tandi > Khoksar > Rohtang La > Manali (Overnight at Manali)
Day 16: Buffer Day > Manali to Delhi Volvo (Overnight bus)
Day 17: Delhi > Pune
I heard somewhere that a Ladakh trip can not be complete if you don’t have any setbacks as unpredictability reigns supreme. What I didn’t know is that one can face setbacks even before he/she has set out for the journey. All of my friends, who committed to me that, they are certain for the trip – backed out one after another. Landslides at various regions of Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, forced to close the highways and made me think twice before I embark on the trip. Houses were set on fire and this was then followed by an indefinite shut-down in Srinagar – felt like a catastrophe. But we were firm on our decision – come September, we’d be in Ladakh, waving our flags on one of the topmost peaks in the world.
We visited Tadoba in between, the log of which I have already shared. But the Ladakh planning continued till the day before the actual journey – I contacted the Hanle Guest House and had a chat with Rigzin prior to the journey and all went well. Slowly but surely, the D-day neared, we boarded the Pune to Delhi aircraft and thus began the Chronicles of Ladakh.

Day 1, 8th September, 2012 – The Journey Begins
Pune àDelhi àSrinagar (2250 KM)
Our Spicejet flight landed at Delhi around 10 am in the morning and after a light breakfast and a directionless trotting of hither and thither, we boarded the Srinagar bound aircraft. The flying machine touched Srinagar around 1.45 in the afternoon, sharp on time. We already had a word with the owner of the Hotel Sahara at Dal Gate about our stay, so our pre-paid taxi dropped us in front of the hotel around 3.30 pm.
Hotel Sahara is a small hotel surrounded by numerous numbers of colourful flowers to heighten your spirit, 24/7. A little glimpse of what we found in the garden is presented below, apart from the small but clean room and courteous staffs with smiling faces.

This is also a flower!!
The Beauty of Dal Lake
Dal Lake, undoubtedly is the most famed possession of Srinagar. Since we had to get up early in the next morning to embark on our mission of Srinagar – Leh highway, we planned not to exert ourselves. So as per plan, after a sufficient rest, we found ourselves walking besides the famous lake. The weather was cloudy and cold. A gentle breeze was enough to freeze the mortals like us.
At one shore of the lake, existence of the famous (some of them are notorious for ripping off money too) houseboats galore. At the opposite bank, where we were, the road went straight towards Leh. The physical communication between these two shores takes place through the Shikaras. These small manned boats are too cute to be missed by the tourists. And there were no dearth of tourists in Kashmir.
The colours of the fading sun in the evening were visible on the ripples of the water. The lake provides shelter and food to birds and human alike. Apples were hanging from the trees on the banks of the lake – that’s the first time we saw this enchantingly beautiful scene. Mountains held their heads high in the horizon.
We were in love with the lake as everyone. Before we moved back to our hotel in the evening, I tried to capture a few moments through the lens. The beauty of Dal Lake was so attractive that we had to promise ourselves an exclusive Kashmir tour soon.

To be Continued....

Next: The Srinagar -Leh Highway Experience


  1. Kullu is one of the most obviously magnificent knoll stations in India and kullu Manali is a humble slope town arranged in northern close of Kullu Valley. Kullu Manali are celebrated around the world summer withdraw goals. Kullu and Manali are supplement to one another

  2. Complete the tour ASAP.. Ju-leh

    1. Bhavin, Julley :) Next set is in production. Will be uploaded soon.

  3. Replies
    1. Dude, will be uploading the next set soon. Have patience :)