Ladakh , the beautiful land of high passes, is situated in Jammu and Kashmir state of India, Leh being its largest town. I didn’t know Leh stood for “Last End of Himalayas” , until I got to know it at “Hall of Fame”, a museum dedicated to martyrs of Indian army .
We did our journey in early October, although it is not the recommended month as it is the start of winters and the temperature starts going down and water starts freezing, as was told by most of the hotels when we enquired for booking. April to July are considered the best months for visiting Leh -Ladakh.
Well apprehensively we decided to go ahead with our journey. First doubt came when our 6 am flight, from Delhi, finally took off at 9 am due to bad weather condition in Leh. After about 1 hour we were flying above beautiful snow clad mountains.
As soon as we reached Kushok Bakula Rimpochhe airport in Leh,which is one of the highest airports in world at an altitude of 10,642 feet, we were greeted by the chilled breeze . Our driver Toshi, a forty something cheerful ladakhi man, was waiting at the airport, he recommended us to take rest for the day to acclimatize with the environment, though I couldn’t wait to explore the place. People often face breathing problems in Ladakh due to low amount of oxygen.
Due to excitement and curiosity we couldn’t help but visit local places like Leh Palace, Shanti Stupa and Leh market. Contrary to what we were told that October is not the idle time to visit, we found quite good number of tourists including foreign tourists.
The next day we decided to ditch our Innova and take Bullet instead, and that was one of the best decisions that we have made, as we drove through the mesmerizing terrain and amazing weather towards the 1000 years old Alchi monastery, witnessing Gurudwara Patthar Sahib, magnetic hill , confluence of Zanskar and Indus on the way.
Advantage no 1 of travelling in group: you can have your picture clicked
After visiting our destination Alchi, we came back through the same route, though tired by evening, we couldn’t miss visiting the local market for food and shopping.
We started early for Nubra valley next day. We were advised to take an oxygen cylinder with us, as we had to pass through one of the highest motorable roads “khardugla pass” and yes travelling to Nubra valley can be a bit costly which includes taxi charges, stay, double humped camel ride etc.
Advantage no 2 of travelling in group: cost will be distributed among group members.
The route of Nubra valley was beautiful. Curvaceous routes, snowcapped mountain, picturesque valleys. Those who associate mountains with greenery (like I used to do, before visiting Ladakh) can be wrong here, as here, the mountains are not covered with green forests, trees and waterfalls but rocks, sand and snow.
After visiting Dish-kit Monastery we headed for Nubra valley. Nubra valley is famous for sand dunes and double humped camel ride, which was really amazing. We stayed overnight at Nubra and came back next morning.
Out last and most amazing destination at Ladakh was Pangong Tso. “Tso” in Ladakhi means Lake. We had to start early morning from Ladakh to Pangong. The route again passed through Chang La pass. Rockey terrain, Villages, Himalayan Flora and Fauna gives you beautiful experiences. If you are lucky enough you might see some local animals like Himalayan Marmot, Yak etc
Advantage no 3 of travelling in group : Unlimited fun
The first sight of Lake Pangong gives you ethereal feelings. As we have heard it is one of the most beautiful sights. Blue water, clear sky, mountains, changing color of water. We spent maximum time in the scenic, serene, environment of Pangong, had maggi at one of the shops there and came back in the evening.
What not to miss in Ladakh :
Local food, even apple and carrot, they taste different and you will find them with local vendors in evening market
Some local shopping-you should be able to bargain
Bullet ride -At least for the local sightseeing, it is economical and amazing, and you can get them easily on rent
The passes – It feels amazing to be on the highest points on earth
Visit to monasteries- There are a number of them at Ladakh.
New words that we learned :
Jule –means Namaste or Hello
Tso – means Lake
La – means pass
One might face breathing problems due to low oxygen content ,
availability of rest rooms may be a problem at places