Getting clicked at the Pangong Lake is in my wish list. Bollywood does impact wishes and desires. After Ladakh is shown in many movies like “3 idiots” and “Jab tak hai jaan” I started loving it more. The pristine blue water is a rare vision in India. The lake is heavenly and huge. It extends from India to Tibet. Ladakh means “land of high passes.” It is in the state of Jammu and Kashmir inhabited by Indo-Aryans and Tibetans.
Leh is the largest town of Ladakh. Reaching Ladakh via road is challenging. People who go on a trek to Ladakh carry heavy luggage which comprises of huge canvas tents and collapsible string beds as well. Trekking to Ladakh is the most adventurous trip in India. People residing in Delhi and nearby areas travel to Ladakh even on bikes. The journey is naturally challenging due to dangerous and slippery narrow roads flanked by ice chunks on the sides, reckless driving by many due to steep lanes and foggy vision but if you go by bike you may get a chance to find unexplored hamlets and people. For instance my friend went on a bike along with a group and they could stop where ever they wanted to and explored many new places.
People frequently suffer from illness due to acute mountain sickness. I have experienced it during my trip to Rohtang Pass. The same highway connects to Leh. It starts from Manali. Other than the Manali-Leh highway two other roads which connect Ladakh are Zoji-La Pass and Kargil route from Srinagar in the Kashmir Valley. The below pic is taken by my friend who went from Srinagar to Ladakh along with fellow bikers. It was clicked on the way.
They had faced many challenges during the journey due to bad roads, flat tyres and mountain sickness but they made it to Ladakh. The sense of accomplishment which one experiences on reaching Ladakh can’t be explained in words. It’s more special when you travel all by yourself on road. If you take the road from Srinagar you get a chance to visit dal-lake, Kargil and many more beautiful places which you would have seen in TV all the time. In peek winters the roads get closed due to heavy snow fall. Khardong-La Pass to Nubra valley has an alternate day schedule. It is closed on Mondays and it usually gets closed by snow for several days in winter and spring. Nubra valley is to the north east of Ladakh valley. We were told by our driver that even in Rohtang pass snow falls up to a height of five feet from the ground level in winter. Biking surely rushes the adrenaline and the trip becomes more exciting. Bikers can explore many areas leisurely. For instance my friend visited a village called Gondla and had to stay in a hospital as there were no hotels or rooms to stay! They interacted a lot with villagers and made friends.
The above image is of a gorgeous girl from Gondla village!
I am listing down few things which one has to do during their trip to Ladakh:
Don’t miss visiting the monasteries of Shey, Hemis, Alchi, Thikse and Lamayuru and many more. A visit to monastery is always peaceful.
White water rafting and trekking are the major adventurous activities.
Watching the sunset at Nubra valley feels divine.
Drass war memorial in Kargil is a must visit. After all saluting our jawans should be in our to-do list. It will surely be a heart-warming experience and a moment of great pride!
There are many lakes other than Pangong Lake. Tso Moriri is one such heavenly lake!
There are many valleys and highest passes to trek in Ladakh.
Each spot in Ladakh looks like God made it with high concentration and precision. Divinely places are tough to reach but once you reach them you forget your hardships!
The trip will surely make you experience another dimension of Mother Nature. At the same time you will also realise that it is intertwined with many challenges. Altitude sickness, frost bites and getting migraines is common. You will learn patience and co-operation during such strenuous trips. While climbing to Khardungla top my friend’s palms were frozen. A local Nepali boy helped him recover and offered him tea and biscuits free of cost. Hospitability is something you can experience only when you visit such places. Even at Drass when their bikes broke down an army unit offered juice, biscuits, jalebi and even invited them to stay there . Great travels always give you great experiences!
Lastly a click of the majestic Pangong Lake.
Images courtesy: My friend Piyush’s album at – “ Piyush's Ladakh Trip “