This article is dedicated to help travellers get first hand accurate information about some lovely places in Ladakh
I believe one should always travel with a free mind & be flexible enough to make the correct choices while travelling and not travel under a constraint of a package deal booked through a travel agent.
It also provides references to arrange and plan your travel at a cost effective price. I assure the readers that the information inside the blog will reduce the expenditure of your Leh trip by 50% compared to any leading Travel Portal.
It was the excitement of travelling to this lovely adventurous place that didn’t let us sleep enough to catch the morning 5:15 flight. It was at 3:00 AM that the alarm rang and the taxi was called to leave by 3:30. Of course we didn’t want to take the chance of missing the flight at any cost.
After an early morning breakfast at the airport, began the journey to Leh. The journey took exactly 45 minutes crossing over the snow covered peaks to the small yet wonderful airport of Leh. The sight of adventure tourists bringing their Kayaks as checked luggage is common here. The buzzing of several accents filled the air A quick prepaid taxi (Rs250 max) takes one to the desired guest house/hotel. Good that we had our research in place with the help of our dear friend Tenzin. Information is not only convenience but saves money too.
Guest houses cost anything from Rs 200 to Rs1500. A nice neat & clean room with hot water is available at Rs 600 approximately. (Some provide gardens, view of the peaks, good ambience & proximity to the market)
A two day thorough acclimatization is required to get adjusted to the high altitude land, which otherwise may lead to dizziness, nausea, headache etc. (One should keep antibiotics, vitamins and painkillers handy for unforeseen situations)
A quick nap for a few hours and we were out in the market fully aware not to exert our body. There are plenty of restaurants offering Chinese, Israeli, Tibetan, Continental cuisines. The market is full of beautiful Pashmina shawls, handicrafts, bikes on rent and other tours and treks offices. After capturing the moments with my camera and filling the stomach with a Pizza & Kashmiri Pulao, it was time to head back and sleep some more. I generally avoid sleeping much while travelling, however at this particular place it was important.
The first 2 days are perfect for visiting the Shanti Stupa & the Hall of fame (a museum dedicated to the brave army men who laid their lives in protecting the nation). One can also indulge in reading, writing or casual photography.
I was so excited to be in Leh, and had made a mental list of things I wanted to do, one of the things being, riding the thundering Royal Enfield through the picturesque Nubra valley.
So there we were, at Tenzin’s office carefully studying the map for directions, selecting a good bike. It is highly recommended that you do a bike trip if you can. It gives you the liberty to stop at a spot of your choice, whenever you are tired or want a snack.
One can also choose to travel by a shared taxi, however if you are not in a group, be prepared to either absorb the extra cost of the taxi fare or enjoy the company of strangers.
We started the journey from Leh by filling the petrol tank and taking 5 litres extra to ensure our return in case the fuel was not found at Diskit (the only town with a petrol pump on the way).
The journey through the Khardungla Pass was a lifetime experience with a majestic view of the mountains of different shades, snow, grasslands, and army base camps. It is amazing to ride on the highest motor able road in the world where the weather changes from sunny to cloudy to rainy, and so on.
Our destination was the Hunder village which is known for its sand dunes and the double hump camel. To make the journey more adventurous we were welcomed by a sand storm giving a scare for a few minutes before things calmed.
Hunder village is fast coming up as a tourist destination, being supported by rural tourism, a concept by the government to boost the economic condition of the villagers and promote state tourism.
Guest houses are available for as less as Rs 500, which is surprising keeping in mind the services being provided at this great height. Home cooked meals are available at a price of Rs 150.
Our guest house (Sand Dunes) also had a short cut to the dunes (2KM), where a camel ride for 15 minutes costs Rs 150.
The journey back, next morning, was equally lovely and unforgettable. After another wonderful dinner, our tired bodies needed rest.
Needed some relaxation after a tiring but eventful previous day so we decided to stroll the market, do some shopping and eat at different restaurants. Travellers interested in monasteries can visit Thiksey, Sanchi Stupa or other monasteries. The famous and expensive Pashmina shawls are made in Leh and can be found in the market at a good price after bargaining. (It is advised to check for authenticity as fakes are also available and difficult to differentiate) The running around the market allowed us to book a jeep on shared basis. (Common & effective way of reducing the cost, also gives the opportunity to interact with other tourists)
An early morning departure to Pangong lake which became popular after the movie ‘3 idiots’ is a must watch. The 59KM largest brackish lake in Asia is shared by the two Giants China & India (3/4th being in China).
The locals have made beautiful camps for a night stay that gives a view of crystal clear blue water on waking up in the morning. The water is shallow at the edges and not very cold seducing many to take a dip instantly. The water of the lake also changes colours from various shades of blue & grey. The shadow of the clouds on the mountains along the lake is my favourite view.
Due to the time constraint, we head back after a brief stay at the Pangong (which included a Maggie snack, drinks & lying down beside the lake)
It is recommended that travellers stay for 1 night at the Pangong. One night accommodation with meals is available for Rs 3000 for a party of 2
An Innova/Scorpio costs Rs 6800 for 1 day trip (5 hours journey one way)
We spent the rest of the night by enjoying a few drinks with friends before beginning a 16 hour road journey to Manali. The tempos leave at 2AM and it is recommended that you book front seats in advance if you wish to come back the same way.
The road trip can be exhaustive and also result in constipation due to the bumpy ride, especially when it is an overnight journey. We came across many beautiful valleys and landscapes, small villages and the wonderful Indus River.
Once at Rohtang Pass, we had the butterflies in our stomach looking at the valley by our side and knowing the slippery ice (‘Paala’ in the local language) underneath our vehicle’s tyres. We instantly fell in love with the sight outside. It was green; it was pleasant, a little chilly, horses and cattle on the way. “JUST PERFECT”
If you are planning to go to Manali, be sure to stay at Vashisht. The hotels are much more reasonable however it is the guest houses which are a preferred choice of youngsters from the western countries.
On reaching Manali, we couldn’t believe our luck. It was apples everywhere; we could pluck them from inside our tempo traveller. By the time we reached the bus stand it was 8PM. It was late and we had to find a place for ourselves. The tourist flow was low. The locals narrated the news of a deadly flash flood a month ago; the story was well supported by the deep cracks on the roads and houses. We chose a guest house too. I slept like a rock; wish I could do it every night.
The morning was filled with freshness and the bakery nearby was also a motivation. The famous hot spring is just a few steps away. Travellers can take a dip in the hot water and relax themselves. This water is supposed to heal the skin infections due to a high content of Sulphur. After a long bath, a nice omelette toast is what I craved for. It was delicious!
You must visit the Hidimba temple which has its importance in the mythology if you are in Manali.
It was time to go to the Mall road as our Volvo was scheduled to depart a few hours later. At the Mall road the apples were available for Rs.40 per Kilo. One could never imagine this price in Delhi.
We left Manali and a life time experience came to an end at 5AM next day at the Delhi Bus Station.