Leh – Pangong Lake and Nubra Valley

February 21, 2009

Enroute to Pangong Lake

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Road to Chang La

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At 17,800 feet- Chang La

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It was snowing heavily when we reached Chang La

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Enroute to Pangong Lake

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First glimpse of the Pangong Lake

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Some photos of the Pangong Lake

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On the way back from Pangong Lake when we crossed Chang La, it was completely sunny and all the snow on road had melted till then.

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On the way to Nubra Valley, one need to cross the World’s highest motorable road through Khardung La pass at 18,380 feet. Road to the pass –

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Enroute to Khardung La

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At Khardung La pass

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Enroute to Nubra Valley

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Check out the road in below picture

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Diskit Monestery

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Nubra Valley

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We don’t want to limit imagination of the people about Leh through our posts because beauty of Leh – Ladakh is incredible. All we have mentioned through 3 posts about Leh is to make people aware of yet another unappreciated beauty of India.

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Leh – The Bike Ride

February 21, 2009

 

The first morning in Leh was very pleasant. I came out of the room to get first glimpse of Leh and to my expectations, the view was mesmerizing. I could see beatiful greenary covered by snow clad mountains all around. Even though it was only 7AM, it was sunny outside. I was feeling completely fresh and there was no signs of tiredness even after exhausting journey from Manali a day before.

The guest house owner promptly greeted us by calling out ‘Juley’ – in the traditional Ladakhi launguage. It means ‘Hello’. It is pronounced as ‘Joolay’. He suggested us to go to local market for arranging sightseeing. We heard that due to high altitude, Oxygen level is low in Leh and we realized it as soon as started walking towards the market. We were out of breath almost after every 20 steps. We had to stop, drink water and start the trek to market all over again. It took 40-45 minutes for us to reach the market which is actually not more than 15 minutes away.

In and around the market almost every second house is guest house or a hotel. There are many travel agents as well. Often you will see boards put up in front of offices mentioning jeep safaries, various treks and planned dates. We enquired at 2-3 places and found that generally 4 people are taken in Scorpio or Travera for a trip. If you are travelling in a group then that’s best as you don’t have to worry about finding people to share the trip with you. Being only two of us we found the rates on little higher side.

That’s when we decided to cover local area on bike. So the plan was ready – first 2 days for local sightseeing and in rest of the days we will cover Pangong lake, Nubra valley and some other place if time permits. Fortunately we found a travel agent where boards were kept outside for scheduled trips to Pangong lake and Nubra valley and they were searching for people to share a vehicle. This solved our problem and we booked the trips immediately.

Cost for Pangong lake was Rs.5760 and Rs. 5540 for Nubra valley for 4 people. Travel agent details are – La-Yul Adventure Tours, ph – 9419886435.

We began our search for a good pulsar and we found one at Planet Himayala, Paul House, Zangsti, Ph: 9419218249 We rented it for 2 days for Rs. 1200. First day, we went on Manali –Leh road to cover some places.

Shey Monastery, 15Kms from Leh

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View of Leh from Shey Palace

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Indus River on the way to Stakana Monastery

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Bridge on Indus River

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Stakana Monastery

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Thiksey Monastery – situated at approximately 18Kms from Leh and one of the most beautiful monasteries. The 12 storey monastery is finest example of Ladakhi architecture.

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View of Leh from Thiksey

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Inside view of Thiksey Monastery

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Beautiful statue of Gautam Buddha in Thiksey

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Prayer wheel in Thiksey – is also called as Mani wheel. The concept of the prayer wheel is based on “turning the wheel of Dharma” by Gautam Budhha. The most commonly used mantra in prayer wheels is ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’. This wheel must be spinned in clockwise direction to practice same effect as that of orally reciting the the prayers.

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Hemis Monastery is situated at 47 Kms from Leh. It is the biggest and wealthiest monastery in Ladakh.

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Entrance of the Monastery

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A Young Lama, studying in a school run in Hemis.

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On the way to Leh from Hemis

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Rest of the important places lie on Srinagar – Leh highway and we covered them next day. Spituk Monastery is situated at 8Kms from Leh.

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From Spituk monastery, you can see airstrip of the Leh airport

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Zanskar river enroute

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Sangam of River Zanskar and Indus in the morning (Called Nimmu)

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Sangam view in the afternoon

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Entrance of the Pathhar Sahib gurudwara

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Likir Monastery – situated at 62Kms from Leh and it has a statue of Gautam Buddha which is 70 feet in height

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Shanti Stupa

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Beautiful roads managed by BRO – Border Roads Organisation. Under project Himank, BRO has developed and now maintaining road infrastructure in Ladakh.

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Tip for travellers – The weather is very dry in Leh. On open roads, it will be very windy. Most of the times, it will be hot but at peaks, it will be very cold. You will encounter snow fall at most of the passes so carry following things with you wherever you go: lip balm, body lotion, goggles, cap, wind sheaters, monkey cap, buscuits / snacks and lots of water.

Key to the Indian Ocean – Mauritius

February 21, 2009

Mauritius, a tropical island situated in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa, is 60km long and 40 km wide, with a coastline of 160km which is completely surrounded by coral reef. Mauritius has all the beauty of the most exotic retreats, the island basking in splendid isolation of the warmest ocean. Set in the iridescent blue of the Indian Ocean.

La Coralia Mont Choicy Resort

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Ile Aux Cerfs 

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Water Sports – Speed Boat ride

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Undersea walk, corals

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Nature park Domaine les Pailles spanning 3,000 acres

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Most bollywood songs are shot in this garden

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The crater of the extinct volcano that created Mauritius

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Capital city Port Louis

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Pilgrimage place for Hindus – 2nd tallest idol of Lord Shiva. (only smiling idol of Lord Shiva)

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Ganga Talab

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Chamarel (7 Colored Earth)

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A view from Catamaran cruise

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A native preparing the fish on cruise and a ship in the sea on right

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Manali to Leh

February 20, 2009

Ladakh is a part of Jammu & Kashmir state consisting of two districts- Leh and Kargil. Leh is the largest district in the country in terms of area. The district is bounded by Pakistan occupied Kashmir in the West and China in the north (Aksai Chin) and Himachal Pardesh in South East. Summer in Leh starts from April and lasts till September. Temperature varies between 10-18 degrees in Summer. Whereas winter is very harsh, temperature may drop to -40 degrees. Therefore best season to visit Leh is between end of June to mid September.

One can reach Leh by flight from Delhi. Jet airways, Indian Airlines, Kingfisher and Air Deccan run daily flights between Delhi and Leh. We kept this option for our return journey. We decided to hit the road for Manali to Leh. This road opens from around mid-June to mid September. By road one can also reach Leh from Srinagar which is open for traffic between early June to early October but we did not consider that option due to ongoing tensions in Jammu.

We booked our stay for 6 nights/ 5 days at a place where one of our Techmighties had already stayed. The contact for stay is Mr. Sheshan – 09419178635, Shangaylay Guest House, Fort road, Leh. He charged us Rs. 500 per night. The room was decent and guest house had a family touch. Other guest houses/ hotels can be easily booked after reaching Leh.

Guest house rates start from Rs. 200 per night with shared bathroom option and Rs. 300 per night for an attached bathroom room upto Rs. 5000 per night for a luxurious stay, for double occupancy. The travel agents and local people who run guest house usually roam around bus and taxi stands offering wide variety of options. One can easily choose between these based on budget, quality and comfort one is looking for.

We were informed that sightseeing can be booked after reaching Leh as Tourism is one of the main businesses of Leh and there are many options based on places to be covered and choice of vehicle. So we left that part to be planned on the go.

For Manali to Leh journey, we searched a lot of sites but no one was ready to block the seats based on a mere call. Same happened for Delhi to Manali journey. All we could book is Rajdhani express to Delhi. The most suitable option for us was Rajdhani express starting from Vasai road, Mumbai at 12.40AM and reaching Delhi at 5PM next day.

After reaching Delhi at 5PM, we rushed to ISBT Kashmiri gate for a bus to Manali. Apart from HRTC buses, there are many private buses to Manali. All buses start in the evening around 6-6.30 and reach Manali by 8AM in the morning. We took a bus leaving at 7PM from Delhi and it cost us Rs.1100 per head. Condition of the road is good, almost like pune-mumbai express highway. Since it was a luxury bus we had a quite comfortable journey. The road was beautiful, specially as we were nearing Manali. There were many streams of river Beas and greenary all around. One of the biggest stream was frozen and there were birds sitting on ice, it was a beautiful scene.

We took a halt in Manali for that day and did local sightseeing in the evening. There is nothing much in Manali. Kullu may be having some good places but we had no time for it. On the way back, we booked a bus to Leh. Mostly buses from Manali take 2 days and they arrange for overnight stay in tent or 2 star guest house, the cost of which is included in the fare (Approx 1600 per head). There are also some travel agents who run buses to reach Leh in a day (11 seater mini buses). We booked our bus at Valleycon travels. They have a office right in front of the main bus/ taxi stand. Address – Shop No. 40, N.A.C. market, Manali – 175131, Phone – +91-1902-253776 / 253043, Cost Rs.1400 per head. It was scheduled to start at 2AM in the morning and supposed to reach Leh by 7-8PM.

Tip : When any local mentions there is a bus please enquire about the number of seats in it. All vehicles having more than 10 seats is a bus. Try not getting last seats as the ride from Manali to Leh is bumpy. Eat light. People with altitude and motion sickness should not take a bus. Take direct flight from Delhi.

The bus arrived at the hotel at 2.30AM and journey started immediately. There are several tents and small shops on the way which offer snacks, tea for travellers. Often you will see army and tourists vehicles stopping by. Tents offers the best snacks and comfort. Our main stop for breakfast was at a tent in Keylong at 10AM. As we entered the tent, it had tables all around and a small kitchen in one of the corners. The cook and maid were very friendly and immediately offered us a seat. The main menu in all such tents (There are quiet a few on the way) is Maggie, Aloo paratha, Omlette, Dal-rice and tea or coffee. While the hot food is served, you can lie down on the mattress covered with blankets inside, for your comfort. It was a different experience. Eating maggie was never so exciting.

Due to altitude shift/ moutain sickness, many were falling sick and throwing up. It is recommended to take with you lots of mint, chewing gums, basic medicines and lots of water if you decide to travel by this road. Throughout the day, we ate only a bowl of maggie and an aloo paratha. May be due to altitude change, we were not feeling hungry at all. However we were feeling very thirsty. We almost drank 4-5 litres of water by evening.

We crossed many passes in this journey including Rohtang(3980 Mt) near Manali- it is on the way to Kullu and is a famous tourist spot, Baralacha La (4650 Mt) – this is a historic pass which crosses the main Himalayan chain, Lachalang La(5019 Mt) – this is little ahead of Sarchu. Taglang La (5494 Mt)- the highest pass on this road and second highest motorable road in the World. On crossing this pass, one enters central Ladakh valley.

We reached at last crossing junction at Upshi at around 8-8.30 PM and finally the road conditions improved. Starting from Manali, the road conditions were really bad. It was a complete roller coaster ride. 

It took almost 20 hours to reach Leh from Manali, covering 474Kms. Due to road condition, the journey was really very tiresome. I would definitely mention here that though the journey was tiresome, whenever we looked out of window it was a visual treat. So many snow clad mountains, streams of water, greenery that you just forget about your tiredness. We could have reached Leh in an hour by flight but we don’t regret travelling even 30 hours for that.