Saturday, July 11, 2009

Return to Manali

We were sad , our tour was coming to end.We left Ladakh with nothing but footprints and joy on few faces.The good thing about the return was the route was equally scenic one.Deep gorges ,plains and valley and high passes and snow.we started from durbuk at 7 :30 am and crossed changla .soon mighty tanglang la was in our way and we crossed it too.The roads(plains) were very bad and few dust storms and mini tornadoes rose.At around 4 pm we reached pang and decided to move to sarchu for night halt.We reached Srchu at 7 pm.The tents are located 7 kms down the road from sarchu.we quickly rented atent and got settled.Sarchu is about 4200 mts and it was cold during night.During the dinner temperture had come down to as low as 6 degree celcius.we knew it was going to be a cold night.Morning we woke up to find the water in supply pipes was frozen and we had no supply of water.Then we arranged for bucket of water finished our morning chores and continued our jouerney.we travelled through amazing parts in himachal.the journey was so beautiful.soon we crossed rohtang pass -the dirtiest and most crowded pass when compared to its ladakhi counterparts.we soon reached manali and parted ways.

Pangong Tso

Today we decided to move from nubra valley to pangong tso.Initially our plan was to take wari la.Since the army denied us permission as we werent on 4WD ,we had to come back to Leh .During this time our tyre burst and time was spent on repairing it and getting it replaced.We started for changla at around 4 pm and reached sakthi village at around 5 pm (40-50 kms from leh).we decided to proceed.we crossed changla , the third highest pass at around 6 pm.Driving became extremly difficult as the sun directly shone into our eyes.we reached village of durbuk around 8 pm and tangtse the recommended lodging point was 15 kms away .we had no mood to travel further and we took shelter at changla queen at durbuk.I must say it was the most wisest decision we had taken.Great hotel for its price ,great food with music ,food alongside river ,food with bonfire ,solar heated water,great restuarant and great so many things to say about the place.All these at 500 for 2 rooms with double beds.Non attached restrooms of course, but you would be the only ones using them as hardly people come to this place.Worth a nights stay.We stayed there for three nights.We visited pangong tso in the morning.Its about 77 kms from durbuk and spangmik is about another 10 kims from Pangong.One Line : Its the most beautiful Lake i have everv seen .one third of it is in India and 2/3 in china .Only pictures can describe the beauty.go to spangmik village though the roads are bad.You will get some excellent shots from the village.The village and the Lake were picture perfect with blue skies and no clouds , mighty peaks with snow,blue water .we spent about 3/4 of the day there and returned to durbuk.Next we went and explored the shyok village.the valleys were beautiful and gorges were deep and narrow.we explored the region for half a day and returned to durbuk.For you information there is a new road constructed between shyok and nubra and it will be completed, hopefully.

Nubra valley

Today we left Leh and proceeded towards nubra valley going through khardung la.Khardung la is the highest motorable pass(some say its marsmik la)at 17830 feet.We started from leh at around 8:00 am and reached khardung la at around 11:00 am though it was only 40 kms drive.The landscape changed from barren to snowy land.The views from khardung la was good. It was of course snow bound and it was pure white unlike what you find in rohtang.It was beautiful.we spent some time there sipping tea and buying souvenirs.We then descended on other side of la to Nubra valley.After we crossed north pallu,south pallu and khardung villages we reached diskit around 2 pm.The scene had everything with river flowing between sand desert and high mountain with snow capped capped peaks, there are no words to describe the place.we also had the first sight of wild double humped camels.Then we proceeded to hunder for stay.We checked into hotel called Snow leopard guest house.It had decent rooms with attached baths and beautiful garden .Food was served in common dining hall.In the evening i took camel safari for 30 mins and it costed me 300.15 mins 150 rs.1 hr 500 rs.It was a different kind of experience to be on the camel and experiene desert.It was dusk when i returned back to my hotel.


Today we proceeded towards leh.WE missed alchi on the way.For those interested alchi is about 20-30 kms from lamayaru and its on slight deviation from leh road.We reached leh after our futile attempts to experience magnetic hill experience enroute.We reached leh at around 12:30 pm .We then checked in oriental guest house,changspa.Its a really great guest house and facilities are great.there are three classes of rooms and we stayed at highest A class which we were charged 1300 rs per day.Facilities include restuarant,internet center,laundry,library.In the afternoon i went for short hike to shanti stupa.Its perched at top of hill and there is about 500 steps leading to it.There is direct road connectivity to the stupa.I prayed for few minutes at gompa there and paintings there illustrate life of Buddha.Then i took snaps of shanti stupa.The paintings on the stupa are amazing.It also provides panoramic views of leh town.Recommended .In the evening i went to bazaar and bought some souvernirs.Bring some excess cash as i found a lot of copper artifacts worth buying.Besides there are goods with nice embroidery.Throughout leh i found lots of restuarants having israeli,french,german,english,chinese receipes in thier menu.SO NO FOOD PROBLEM.

The next day we went for local sightseeing of Shey,Thikshey and Hemis gompa.Shey Gompa was top of a small hillock and nothing special.It was touristy and lacked the effect as in Lamayaru monastery.Next we moved to Thikshey.In Thikshey there are two entrances.we took the back entrance and had to climb a lot.But the Front enterance probably had less climbing as people of all ages came through that way.We were charged rs 30 for the gompa and museum visit.It had a huge Buddha and the statue was magnificent.It would be more beautiful in night i guess.The museum contained artifacts of various buddhist gods.We proceeded to Hemis then.The gompa was had fairly large number of visitors and it lacked the atmosphere we found in Lamayaru.They charged 50 rupees per person for entering and it included the visit to the museum.the museum was quite big and informative .In my opinion if you visit lamayaru and alchi you can very well skip these monasteries.

Third day we went for rafting arranged by splash adventures.It was my first time and ride from leh to chilling took about 2 hours.most of time we rode parrallel to the road and river sometimes looked tame but in certain spot it looked ominous.The rapids were frightening and deep inside fear started to engulf me.We finally reached the rafting point and after wearing the safety equipments we were given instruction.Then we started rafting 12 am .Its only the first raide you fear the our case it was flowing with quite some force.our raft went down and i amost fell into water and one side of raft went high with water and other side low.iwas on the lower side.I managed to keep my balance and soon we managed to cross the rapid.we were six in number and people of age groups.In between rafts we would chat and enjoy the calm water but when rapid came we followed the instruction and throughout the journey of about 1:30 minutes nobody fell into water.we went through many number of rapids in level 2 -3 and everytime it was a great experience .The raft would would sway with the water and sitting on its sides , we had to maintain balance.we also went through gorges and scenary was amazing.It was great experience rafting an i would raft everytime if i get a chance.


Today we departed from panikar towards ladakh.We First went to Tangole village to get snaps of Kun and Nun peaks.Then we started our way back to kargil.we reached kargil at around 4:00.We had about 200 kms to go to Leh and we knew couldnt make it today.So we planned to stop at Lamayaru or Alchi.We continued the journy and arrived at Mulbek (3200 mts) at around 5:10 pm. We took pictures of Maitreya Buddha.After passing settlements of Namikala and Kasikot we managed to reach Fatulla at 7:22 pm.It was snowing at the pass and we took some pictures and started for Lamayaru.we reached lamayaru around 8:00 pm and took shelter in Niranjana guest house which was next door to monatery perched high on hill.Its excellent place and food is great.recommended.From here we got an excellent view of the town.Next morning we visited the lamayaru monastery which is 800 years old.It was peaceful and quite .I felt some divine energy in me when i was there. Great place which should never be missed.The paintings were great and llamas there were kind and guiding us to various parts of monastery..Noteworthy,we were the only visitors at that time.The views from lamayaru monastery was stunning.after excellent breakfast we started out to Leh.


Today we entered Ladakh district.Atlast my dream of visting Ladakh was turning to be a true experience.We skipped sonmarg sightseeing and proceeded to Zojila pass.The roads were'nt good and we reached Zojila(alt 3405 mts) at around 8:45.Reached Drass at around 11 am.Had a short photography session.After we proceeded and reached kargil at around 2:30 .Since we had time we decided to proceed to panikhar in suru valley.The valley was fertile and it was greenery everywhere.The roads were extremely bad and we (sumo grande) rode at 20 kms/hr.But scenary was amazing.The fields bore a yellow look and now and then we would cross a village.But we seldom passed another vehicle on the route.The suru valley is definitely worth a visit if you have a chance to come to these parts.We reached Panikhar at around 6 pm.The setting of j & k guest house was great.We then went for a short walk.The horizon was deep blue and time was perfect for a stroll as we had just enough light for visibility.We passed through houses and fields and small waterfalls.The views of snowy peaks was amazing.Throughout the ride the road was lined with wild flowers, yellow and red and it resembled like we were kings being welcomed with flowers.

Start of the journey

Day 2 : 14- 06-2009

Today we departed from Srinagar towards Gulmarg(60 kms).The route to Gulmarg was one of the beautiful roads i have ever seen.We reached Gulmarg around 9:30 and soon we were surrounded by touts.we went to j & k info center to get information.Its 300 for first hour of horse ride and 200 for second hour and 100 for third.We managed to a get a better deal worked out at 600 for ride till gondola and entire Gulmarg sight seeing.The distance from information center to gondola is about 1.5 kms .We got there by 10 am, the time they start issuing tickets.Get there early to avoid crowd else you will be stranded in huge line.The first stage of gondola(rs 250) was good but nothing special.Then we purchased tickets for second stage and here it was crowded.It took us almost 45 minutes to get ticket and sit in gondola.It costed us 500 per person.The second stage was good but it was bit foggy.It was snowing when we landed there and we had a great time there.Then we proceeded to sonmarg.Reconsider going to Leh via Srinagar in June and July during Amarnath season as Amarnath traffic was diverted through Sonmarg route and we were blocked at at three places.I almost gave up hope of reaching Sonmarg that night but when we showed we had accomodation at Sonmarg and were'nt going to Amarnath and bit of persuation we were allowed to go further.finally we reached Sonmarg aroung 9 pm in night.thank god the jk tourism held our reservation.we quickly jumped into our beds and soon i was asleep.