Sometimes in life you make impromptu decisions and they turn out to be the best decisions you ever made. While that’s rare, I got lucky when I decided to go on a Nature Club trip to Ladhak, India. It was organised by my college’s Nature Club so it was bound to be reasonably priced and was bound to be epic experience.
Leh is in the far north of India and very close to the Aksai Chin glacier. I hadn’t visited this part of India before and I was super thrilled to go there. It was going to be a long journey from Mumbai to Jammu and Kashmir and I just couldn’t wait for the journey to begin.
Leh can be reached via air or over land from Srinagar. Sitting pretty at the height of over 10,000ft the air is thin and those prone to altitude sickness should be careful. My journey to Leh started from Srinagar the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir in a bus. We were a bunch of 30 people roughly of the same age and what’s more we were all friends. The winding roads and cold did get to us but it was very manageable.
Travel is about the Journey
You really can’t get to Leh in one day by road. The journey is broken down into two parts Srinagar to Kargil and then Kargil to Leh. Kargil, just to remind you is the tiny town which the Pakistani forces wrongly occupied during the 1999 war. The prospect of being a stone’s throw away from enemy territory was thrilling to say the least. We spent the night in Kargil with a bit of anxiety.
Dras is the world’s second coldest inhabited place on Earth after Siberia. Winter temperatures drop to -60C. We passed this beautiful little town when we left Kargil to go towards Leh. The famous ‘Tiger Hill’ forms a formidable back drop to the little town. For an Indian it is a moving experience to see the actual hill over which the brave soldiers of the Indian army fought a difficult battle and drove the Pakistani troops back.
The first peek of Leh
On your road to Leh, you pass a tiny town called Mulbekh. This little town has a massive monolithic carving of Chamba; a form of Buddha. You are literally in the middle of nowhere and this massive sculpture just pops out on you! It is only after you pass this point that you start getting the taste of Leh in its true sense.
As our bus pulling into the last leg of the journey, we could see the entire city from a distance. It was almost like an oasis of life that sprung up between the cold and barren mountains. As we made our way through the narrow roads inside the city, I realised how gorgeous the setting was for a city that was literally in the clouds.
It was almost as though God created this place for those seeking nirvana. Peace, tranquility and stark nature beauty make this city simply divine.
Over the next few days we travelled across Tso Moriri, Tso Pangong , Alchi Monastery , Lamayuru Monastery, Thikse Monastery, we even made a failed attempt to reach Nubra valley via the highest motorable road on Earth, Stok Palace, Leh Palace and the Shanti Stupa.
Read about each of these adventures by very soon by staying tuned to my latest blog updates.
Do you have Leh Ladhak travel stories or have you ever been to Jammu and Kashmir? Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below.