Journey of a lifetime

Writing a travel blog was never part of the agenda when I went on a trip to Ladakh. Attribute it to the beauty of the place, ever since I caught the first sight of the lands, rather call them mountains, from the window of the plane, I knew that I would not be able to rest myself until I pen down those experiences.

Ladakh has been my dream destination thanks to many of our Bollywood movies. Travelling is not new to me; I have been to almost all the places of natural beauty in South India, thanks to my husband and daughter who share similar interests. But, Ladakh will remain the only one of its kind. Be it the towering mountains with rustic villages in their abode, the grand Indus river, and the serene Pangong Tso,  the Stupas and Gompas giving a humble welcome everywhere, Ladakh offers excitement as well as peace at every inch.

Our journey started with the first view of the snow-capped mountaintops from our flight window.

flight_view

The view left us hungry wanting for more; however, we spent the first day resting in the coziness of our hotel room giving time for my daughter to acclimatize.

Our second day started with a visit to the Hemis Monastery. Gompas and Stupas form an integral part of Ladakh’s culture.

stupas

Anwar, Our driver, shares his knowledge of the place and the significance of small Stupas that one can find in every nook and corner of Leh. We give lift to an old monk on our way to Hemis and he blesses us with long life.

 

old-monk
our new friend – Monk with prayer wheel

 

Anwar addresses curiosity of my daughter and explains the significance of prayer wheel in the monk’s hand. She, of course, returned home with some prayer wheel key chains for herself.

Hemis, Thiksey and Shey are the most important and oldest known monasteries of Ladakh. Hemis museum and Shey palace also have in store many historical artifacts of the King’s times. There is a lot we get to know about Ladakh culture from these places. My daughter was fascinated seeing the royal robes, jewelry, swords and utensils of the Namgyal kings. The most appealing fact of Ladakh is the way Buddhists and Muslims have lived and continue to live in harmony.

 

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prayer wheels – a common sight at Leh

 

We got the first glimpse of the Indus River on our way to these monasteries. Sangam, the confluence of Indus and Zanskar rivers is a breath-taking sight. Going rafting in these waters flowing in the beautiful valley leaves one with memories to be cherished forever.

 

sangam
Sangam – confluence of Indus and Zanskar

 

Pangong Tso is the crucial part of our journey with Mother Nature. While much is talked about the brackish water lake and the hues it offers to delight one’s eyes, Our timing made the experience much more perfect since we could enjoy the snowfall of the season that had just started.

Temperature drops quite low in the nights here. Hot Chai and Thukpa come to the rescue. This was my first experience below freezing temperature. All my thermals and wools were out of the bags!!

 

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The serene Pangong Tso

 

If I was with the impression that journey to Pangong Tso would be the most hectic, visit to Nubra was waiting to prove me wrong. Having heard a lot about the highest motorable pass in the world, I did prepare myself for the journey with a good night sleep. But, no sleep prepares you well for a journey on 18000 feet high mountains,  especially if the roads are as narrow as 10 feet and are covered with snow.

 

khardungla-road
our vehicle before its tires are secured with chains

 

My heart lost a beat or two when our vehicle skid for the first time when we were a little far from the highest point. Our driver was well prepared. What he does next is my first experience in life. However, I get to know later that it is a routine affair for drivers there. My driver fits tire chains around the vehicle tires and proceeds with the journey to the highest point and ahead.

 

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On top of the world – the colourful Buddhist flags greet us everywhere

 

White sands, yaks, and double humped camels wait to greet us at Nubra. The expanse of the shiny white desert  leaves me wondering if there is any part of nature that does not exist here in Ladakh. Right from rivers, ice-capped mountains, valleys, lakes, cold desert and wetlands, this place has it all.

yak

Bactrian camel - unique with two humps
Bactrian camel – unique with two humps

If you think that Yaks, Camels, Sheep and Goats are the only furry ones here you are wrong. Even stray dogs are furry here. All thanks to the blessings of Mother Nature!!

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Ladakhi people respect this fact and thank Mother Nature through their simple yet beautiful song and dance even today!!

dancers

 

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