Leh - Ladakh Travelogue

17 June 2016, Places I explored Leh City, Pangong Tso (Pangong Lake), Turtuk

Gone are the days when one used to dream of travelling around and exploring various places; going on a vacation, but for some it was like just a dream, while others were lucky enough to get the opportunity to travel. Over the course of a few years, travelling has become the buzz. I would say social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter and many more have played a major role in it. 

People who go for a trip or vacation posts the status like check in, pictures and other things to share the same with their family and friends. While checking the posts, one sitting back in the office or home feels tempted and start planning of taking a trip.

Travelling has become as vital as other things in life. More and more number of people are joining the long queue of passionate travelers. How could we expect ourselves from the travelling bug which has not bitten us recently instead I would say it, we are travelers from the core of our heart. Since my childhood days, I used to dream of exploring different places, living a nomadic life, always wanted to be in the laps of mother nature, go to the mountains and see the world.

My wife too is bug bitten and is one restless person who always has a travel plan in her mind. Guess what, we met on one trip where we planned to get married not to settle down but to satisfy our unsettling desire. Ever since we began our journey together we have been exploring different places in India. There are many places that we have explored together and many more left.

Our all trips have memories that are left unshared. One such trip, which has changed our thought process, made us learn new things; one that will always be close to our heart and we would love to talk about anytime is that of Leh Ladakh.

It is one memorable trip that we will remember for ages to come and have so many stories, moments, experience worth sharing. Here, we thought of sharing the travelouge with you all. Jaipur is our hometown from where we have started many journeys.

Planning of Leh Ladakh trip started long before we finally hit the road. Being passionate about biking, our group started kicking their bikes from Jaipur straight to Banihal (Jammu). Yes, this entire stretch we did in one go! Two of our friends were to join us from here. Did I miss out the Patni Top where we had our dinner, but as there was no snow so we decided not to spend much of our time there and proceeded further.

We took a halt at Banihal. One night stay there was like recharging our batteries. Next day, we were as fresh as new and all set to hit the road again. But we had planned to explore the nearby places that particular day. On our bikes, our gang of buddies started for Verinag and Titanic Point.

Verinag is one of the most beautiful places in Anantnag district and is 26 KM from Anantnag. It is named after Nila Nag who was the son of the wise saint, Kashyap Rishi.  It is the first tourist spot in Kashmir Valley which you come across while on a road trip from Jammu towards Srinagar. We had to cross Jawahar Tunnel to go there which is situated between Banihal and Qazigund on NH 1A known as NH 44.

Titanic View Point is a spot (2KM from the tunnel) from where one can enjoy the serene beauty of Kashmir Valley. Infact, it is the first spot from where the magnificence of Kashmir Valley can be witnessed. We did get pictures clicked in Titanic pose, had Maggie and tea there in the laps of mother nature. It was fun!

Next day, we started rolling our bikes and our journey to Le Ladakh kicked off. Full of curiosity and excitement, we were hardly thinking of the cold we would feel at Drass where the temperature dips to...... On the way, we witnessed real beautiful landscapes of Kashmir and crossed the market of cricket bats. Yes, cricket bats are made and supplied from this place.

Next we took a halt at Drass Glacier, which was not to be missed spot and our cameras deserved to be taken out and used. Despite chilling cold, we were busy getting the pictures clicked. Having ordered Maggie and tea which was so delicious.

One thing you can be sure of while in Leh ladakh, I don't know what's the magic trick, is the water or the magic in the hands of the shop keepers there, you'll get to taste the best Maggie out here. By the time you finish reading the travelogue, you'll understand our love for Maggie which drastically increased and each time we took a break we ordered Maggie.

After the expected short break, which was actually the biggest break of our journey, we started our bikes as we wanted to reach Drass before dark and we had to cross Sonamarg and Zoji La Pass where you get traffic as the pass is too narrow and cannot be maintained as its a pass and snow doesn't enable the road to be constructed.

Did I tell you that we were travelling with our Colonel friend who was the one who made our trip all the more memorable for the fact that because of him we got to meet army perssonels of various ranks, got to know about Kargil war, working of the Indian army, enjoyed delicacies and drinks at army mess.

One thing that I always wanted to convey to the world which I will do through this article is pay a salute to the Indian army. During the entire trip, our conversation revolved around, army, and beautiful landscapes. Trust me guys; our Indian Army does and struggles far more than we see on our television sets.

At Dras, it was chilly cold and when we came out of the army mess it was around 9.00 PM and trust me it was giving the impression that its just 7 PM. Later we witnessed the starry night which was stunning. Countless stars, stroll around in the dark; marvelous experience it was!

The next morning we headed for Kargil and on our way we went to see the Drass War Memorial. It is also known by the name Vijaypath built by the Indian Army in the foothills of the Tololing Hill. The war memorial is located about 5 km from the city center across the Tiger Hill, which is located on the Srinagar Leh National Highway,

kargil war memorial drass

Aircraft at Kargil war memorial

Later that day, after we spent hours in the war memorial knowing about the Kargil war memorial and soldiers who lost their lives in the war and how India won the war we resumed our journey to Batalik which has been the center of all Indo-Pakistani wars. Also, Operation Safed Sagar was launched primarily in this region and was one of the main regions in which Kargil war was fought.

Road to Batalik is not much taken as there are many curves and bent. But, we love such roads that are not much taken or travelled. We had another reason to take that route, our army friend wanted to meet his friend there and wanted us all to enjoy the serene beauty of the road and beautiful landscapes besides meeting another person of the Indian army.

Friends seating in Leh valley

Guess what, this was one another experience which added more to our journey. The family was so warm and welcoming, I remember the chit chat session and how we were in love with their welcoming nature. Besides, we got to know about how Indian Army works, what conditions they face and also we got a chance to see the Pakistan check posts through telescope.

In between Batalik and Leh there are two spots that are not to be missed out-Magnetic Hill and Pathar Saheb Gurudawar. Magnetic Hill is also known as gravity hill is located near Leh in Ladakh and is surrounded by slopes that creates an optical illusion making the spectator feel that the downhill road is actually an uphill road. While Pathar Saheb is a beautiful Gurudwara which is 25 miles away from Leh on the Leh-Kargil road and 12000 ft above sea level.

We had plans to stay at Dha which is the village of Brokpa of the Leh District and is comparatively warmer than Leh. Did you know that people in Dha and Hanu village practice polyandry, which means groom pays the bride price and women out there have rights of divorce.

Our rooms out there in Dha were already booked. After good chit chat session with the army people there, we had our dinner and went to sleep as we had to reach Leh the next day.

Next on our list was Leh where we stopped for a night and went to Pangong Tso Lake the next day. Remember the scene of Kareena Kapur, R. Madhvan and Sharman Joshi meeting Amir Khan after long years in the climax scene of movie 3 Idiots? Well, it was a Pangong Tso lake where the shoot was done. To tell you frankly, it is one of the most beautiful lakes we have seen in our different journeys.

Before reaching Pangong Tso Lake we stopped at Chang La which is the highest mountain pass in Ladakh and claims to be the second highest motorable road in the world. After a short break, we resumed our journey, but alas, we had to stop at Tangse as one of our friend suffered from altitude sickness problem. Due to which we missed the sunset and sunrise at the Pangong Tso lake. Well, there is always next time!

Bikers driving in Leh Ladakh region

It is the endorheic lake in the Himalayas that is situated at a height of about 4,350 m (14,270 ft) and is 134 km long extending from India to China. Sadly, approx. 60% of the length of this beautiful lake is in China. We learnt that in winters the entire lake freezes and could imagine the chilly cold at that time.

rest at pangong lake ladakh

bikers at pangong lake

The same day we returned to Leh and for the next day we had planned to explore Leh. We shopped at Leh bought souvenirs and went to Leh palace. After we had our lunch some localities told us that it was snowing in Khardung La Pass. Who would want to miss out that beautiful scene? So, we instantly planned to go there. The pass is maintained by BRO and is important to India for the fact that it is used to carry supplies to Siachen Glacier. It is at the height of 5,359 m. Don't be mistaken when people say that its is somewhere around 5,602 m and is the world's highest motorable pass as it is not. Nonetheless, it is a superb experience to be there at such a height and enjoy the snowfall.

khardung la pass leh ladakh

It was a 13 day trip and trust me, you feel you are out of this world. None of us wanted this trip to come to an end, but finally, the day had come when we had to  start our journey back. We took the same, Kargil Srinagar route, but the vistas seemed to be different as you never feel bored of the beautiful scenes around and you felt last time you missed many spots.

During the journey to Leh Ladakh, whether you travel by road or by air, you feel there can be nothing more beautiful than the scene you are witnessing right now and the moment you reach the next spot you are like you were wrong. What I mean to say is that the vistas, beautiful landscapes you get to witness in Leh Ladakh make you drool over. The camera can capture a bit of them, but what is captured in the pixel of our eyes is the experience that you believe you should suggest to everyone to enjoy at least once.

No exaggeration promised, but trust me, once you are there, at one point or the other, you are sure to talk to yourself and promise that you are going to be back soon. I have promised myself this and I am sure all those for you who have already been there will agree with me.

Last but not the least, I feel this travelogue will help if you are planning a trip to Leh Ladakh anytime soon. I have tried to put every bit in simplest form, still if you have any questions, feel free to ask.

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Comments

Yogesh Mankani ( June 27, 2016 )
Hi Jignesh, Thank you and I'm glad you liked the travelogue. As we were riding with LT.Colonel posted in Qazikund (Jammu), all our stays were taken by him in army guest houses which which a different experience all-together. We thought to do camping in 1-2 places but plan couldn't take off. As far as female safety is concerned, all these places up in the mountains are safe for anyone. However, we avoided to travel in the night and reached at max 7 to our stay places. Thank you, travel more & more :-)
Jignesh Gohel ( June 18, 2016 )
Just loved reading your travel journey which reminded my last trip. Yogesh, I would love to learn more about how you plan your stay? I mean did you booked in advance or did camping? As you were traveling with female; do you took any extra care? Thank you.