“You don’t have to visit Switzerland to see this beauty, you have everything in India”- A traveler from Switzerland
5 days … 2500 kms … 18380 ft … What would you call a trip traversing three of the five highest motorable passes in the world with a region touching two borders, the second highest saltwater lake in the world, the second coldest inhabited place in the world, three different terrains, three distinct cultures and five mountain ranges, possibly accessible for only three months in a year? Leh,Ladakh & glory …
Having read so many blogs and travelogues about Leh, this trip was always on the cards. Tickets booked 8 months prior, leave applied for a week and all set for one heck of a trip.
Day 1: Hyderabad to Delhi by flight. Delhi local and evening train to jammu.
Day 2: Jammu to Srinagar via Bannihal (Bannihal to Srinagar by train)
Day 3: Srinagar to Kargil (Via Zojila Pass)
Day 4: Kargil to Leh (Via Namikla Pass)
Day 5: Leh to Nubra Valley (Via Khardungla Pass)
Day 6: Nubra Valley to Leh and Leh local
Day 7: Leh to Pangong Tso (Via Changla Pass)
Day 8: Leh to Delhi by flight. Return to Hyderabad
Pictures speak louder than words.... So here is the teaser!
Day 1: Hyderabad to Delhi to Jammu
The excitement was palpable the night before, bags packed and we hit the sack early and woke up early to catch early morning flight to Delhi.
We reached Delhi by 11am, waiting for the others to join as they flew in, in different flights. It was then decided to explore Delhi local as we had almost 9hrs time before we board the train to Jammu at 8:30 pm
In the sweltering Delhi heat, strolled to Jama Masjid and spent time gazing at the beauty.
The heat was way too much to handle for us, we walked back to the railway station and spent the rest of the time relaxing in the Delhi Metro Station. We boarded the train to Jammu and retired for the day.
Day 2 : Jammu to Srinagar via Bannihal
We made our foray into the enchanting state of Jammu & Kashmir with a mixed feeling of thrill and romanticism. We were introduced to 'The Paradise on Earth' by The Rajadhani Express from Delhi to Jammu.Reached Jammu by 6 am, hired a cab to reach Bannihal via Patnitop. The plan was to reach Bannihal by 2p.m to catch a train to reach Srinagar before sunset .
The views en route Bannihal
We stopped for breakfast at a punjab hotel,Punjabi Haveli. The food was amazing and sublime!!
After a sumptuous breakfast, it was zoooommm all the way
We took a small detour to cover Patnitop
The roads opened up to some majestic views... every corner was jaw dropping
Then came the first break. The first of many traffic snarls/jams that we would come across in this trip. "common hai yeha pe,yeh sab" we were told. And the agonizing wait begins.
Time for some stretching!!
The long serpentine line of trucks started to move at snails pace!
And more views!
We reached Bannihal by 3pm, thereby missing the train to Srinagar. There was another train at 5pm, the wait begins!!
The picturesque Bannihal Station.
We reached Srinagar by 6:30p.m. The city was very much isolated by then. We could only see police patrol running amok. Our homestay/guest house manager was kind enough to arrange a pick up from the station.
The train journey was beautiful. One would fall short of words describing the beauty that we could behold. Sadly we could'nt risk taking out our cameras as the train was running chock-a-block (imagine mumbai local)
This was the first view of the Himalayas in the far ground
The Srinagar Railway Station
Lonely Guest House, was the name of the place we resided in. The set up of rooms were exquisite. The dinner was amazing , roti, egg bhurji and dal. Have a look at the typical Kashmiri traditional way of having food
After dinner we spoke to the homestay/guest house owners about their lives and livelihood. All excited about the next day, where the main leg of the journey was to begin. We had to start off by 6 a.m to avoid traffic at Sonamarg.
Day 3: Srinagar to Kargil Via Sonamarg
We woke up early and were ready by 6 a.m. Our driver/guide for the rest of the trip, Ali, was waiting with his Innova outside the guest house.
The silent,serene and somber valley of Srinagar
The plan for the day was to reach Kargil, covering War memorial and stopping 'n' number of times to take pictures
We had a quick pit-stop on the banks of beautiful Dal lake. Sad that we didnt have time for a Shikara Ride
We moved on with views being unwound.
We stopped by the banks of River Sind, for some amazing Parathas.
Then the photo-session began...
Without wasting much time,we moved ahead towards Sonamarg
After having lost considerable amount of time because of a road-block due to some agitation at Sonamarg we sped our way towards Kargil
We reached Zero-Point.
The roads were getting narrower and worse as the altitude increased
The Vistas were amazing
The roads got smoother once we crossed Zojila & entered the District of Kargil
We reached The Kargil War Memorial, Drass & War museum and spent close to 3 hours just savoring the aura the place had to offer. A feeling of patriotism sets in with the ambiance.
Drass War Memorial, also known as the Vijaypath, is a war memorial built by the Indian Army, located in Drass, in the foothills of the Tololing Hill.
The Epitaphs of the Martyrs.
A giant national flag, weighing 15 kg was hoisted at the Kargil war memorial to commemorate the 13th anniversary of India’s victory in the war
Our guide, Ali, took us to a place where we could take a peek into the Pakistani neighborhood. The path on the left hand side is the trail laid by locals, carrying supplies to the Indian Army atop the mountain.
After this, we entered Kargil town. We went in search for accommodation and found this. The owner of this hotel, Mr. Feroz, had given us insights and plight of the locals during the war, treating us with the Kashmiri special tea Khawa.
Day 4 : Kargil to Leh via Namikla Pass
We woke up to this beautiful view, over looking the peak 5179 and the Kargil Town
The plan for the day was to reach Leh as early as possible to explore the town of Leh. With the customary group pic, we bid adieu to Kargil and to Feroz.
The vistas continued to amaze us, and our shutters were never silent
The avenues were smooth
A small pit-stop at Namik La
We reached Fotula top
Bikers from different countries Austria, Switzerland, Russia, Turkey. They left everything behind just to drive here.
Checked into Lamayaru Monastry enroute Leh
The Confluence, The river Zanskar & Indus
We reached Leh by 3pm,checked into a homestay and explored the Shanti Stupa
The Panoramic view of the city of Leh
The Shanti Stupa
After a long day, had a nice dinner a local restaurant and retired for the day
Day 5 : Leh to Nubra valley via Khardung La
We started early in the morning as there was a lot of ground to be covered, and the roads are very bad leading to the top of Khardungla.
The weather was chilly and there was fog
And to make things worse, a traffic jam+snow. We were stuck for 5 hours in this mayhem.
And there was this scorching sun. The nature at its full fury!
We slowly chugged along
After an 8 hour ordeal, we finally made it to the top
We met these Father daughter duo from Switzerland, a part of the bikers contingent."You don’t have to visit Switzerland to see this beauty, you have everything in India” - this is what the father had to say when we asked him if he liked the place.
It was late evening by the time we reached a homestay. We just crashed onto the bed
Day 6: Nubra Valley to Leh
We couldnt explore much the previous day, thanks to the huge traffic jam. We set out early and explore Nubra local before we headed back to Leh
The panoramic view of the Nubra Valley
The Double humped camels
The desert amidst the snow capped mountains
We started our journey back to Leh.
Day 7: The last day was dedicated to the "3 idiot" fame Pangong Tso lake
We started off leisurely and hit the road. The road was smooth and beautiful all throughout
Tangste , The only place in the world where you could get hit by a sunstroke and/or frostbite at the same time
World's third highest pass, Changla
The first look
We came back from this magnificient place only to pack our bags for the early flight back home next morning. But we didnt sleep all night. We did this.
Its was very sad that, a trip of such magnitude had come to an end. But wait, I have someone special to introduce.
Meet Ali,our very own Jackie Chan. One heck of a guy, a Ladakhi and person with tremendous agility and tenacity. Anyone planning for a trip to Leh, i recommend to hire him
Thats all folks!! Keep Travelling Keep Clicking
P.S : The photography credits are a must for such a beautiful travelogue. We had 4 DSLR camera holders in this trip. All the Credits goes to Omkar Bharadwaj, Rajesh Taladi, Adithya & Myself