I went to Leh-Ladakh with five of my friends in late April 2016 and it was a trip like no other. We traveled by air and many would argue that you couldn't have gotten the full Ladakh adventure because you didn't go by bike, now we only finished school recently and were nowhere near physically able to drive a bike on the rocky terrains of Jammu and Kashmir with heavy gear. Going by air has its own delights, in the midst of clouds as we were over the The Great Himalayas it was a sight to see which cannot be seen on a bike, we can argue which means of travel is more delightful for days and we won't come to a conclusion both have their own pleasures and they serve up to their purpose fully. The Mountains looked like snow cones from up above which really opened our eyes to the beauty of nature and was a sight that seemed utterly mesmerizing. As we landed a cool gust of wind welcomed us which refreshed us. We were wearing T-shirts and the wind forced us to take out our jackets, as we checked the weather it was near to 0'C, it was a miracle. Trust me, it was when you come from scorching heat of Delhi with 40'C to ice cold 0'C inside a mere 2 hours, it is a miracle.
We took a cab and went to our hotel, Singge Palace one of the best hotels of Leh. On the way the temperature was slowly taking its toll on us. We reached the hotel and the manager there instructed us to take a nap and rest the whole first day to let the body get adapted to the surroundings, breathing is a problem that occurs there and people have had problems so, for first-timers this was the first measure. Our room was great and the outside view was wonderful
On the First day we enjoyed the weather by strolling outside in night and drinking hot coffee first day pretty much summed up by rest and enjoying the weather.
On second day we meant business and the manager there prescribed us places to go in Leh and we were off with our cab. We first went to Pathar Sahib Gurudwara which holds a great piece of history for sikhs.
Next we went to Magnetic Hill which is an unorthodox road, it pampers people to see something which is not your regular surface. It is actually an Optical Illusion. The hills surrounding the road were a thing of beauty, dry mountains which just attracts you with their sharpness.
The Mountains there are all like this and this was new to see because the types of mountains i have always seen are the lush green ones of Himachal and Uttrakhand.
The roads were all smooth and tidy, one particular reason can be because of the Army Base camps there, there are whole lot of base camps which is what the outer area of Leh comprises of.
We also went to the Sangam where 2 rivers meet Indus and Zanskar, it is a place you must not miss like many other places there. We were hopeful we could get a boating experience but to our miserly it was out of order at that time but it happens there, that was one thing we missed.
We stopped in between the way always to take pictures because the scenery always roped us with its beauty.
In the city there is also Shanti Stupa, it is a Buddhist dome built by the Japanese. You have to remove your shoes and socks to go up and i still remember that struggle, bare feet on such cold steps.
The final place that was visited on our 2nd day was the Leh palace which is situated in the city, the prince of Leh used to stay there but now has changed places but the palace is open to visitors. It has rooms which showcase its history. We went to its roof and took a pano shot from there.
The temperature at night goes to -5 and yeah the cozy blankets never did their job so good. Either way while coming back near our hotel there was market place and we got an ice cream, you might think what idiots but if you go there try it you will see the irony.
Next day we made our way to one the most famous places of Leh-Ladakh the Pangong Lake most famous because the last scene of 3 idiots was shot there, yeah now you know what am i talking about. It was almost a 5 hour drive one way and mind you it is not for the faint hearted because the roads are rough and the drive is long but once you reach there it is all worth it. The lake is also said to have 7 colors and i swear i had never seen such clear water anywhere, it was transparent and cold.
There are many eating dines there mostly by the name of 3 idiots and there are whole host of tourist buses there. It was one of the best sights i have ever witnessed. Our 3rd day was Pangong lake only which took 10 hours only in travelling but without any doubt if it would have taken a day i still would have visited it, it was that amazing.
On our final day in the morning after breakfast we went for some shopping and we had to come fast because there was this final place for us to go the most harsh and cold place there, Khardungla Top, the highest motorable road in the world.
The picture above is on our way to it, the view was terrific we stopped in between several times to click such pictures. The road was smooth till the snow came our way.
The snow was shining there quite literally shining. The road becomes slippery and drivers pull out chains and fit it on the tyers to avoid slips.
Just few km's down of Khardungla there is one stop shop, a tea maggi point, only one in the whole way many cars and buses stop there and people refuel themselves but temperature is very low so you have to hurry.
My friend took the picture above, all these local dogs from along that tea maggi shop came at the entrance of the shop smelling the goodies, they seemed furry and cute.
After refueling we took the final stretch and made it to the top, the temperature there was -25 and you cant stay out for long, not more than 20 minutes the pressure is so much that your head will start to ache, i suffered that so we stayed there for around 25 minutes and started our engines for home.
While we were there we talked to jawans who were posted there, we asked them how is it here and they simply said we feel nothing its like they had almost adapted to the wild temperature, their captain coming out of his camp was simply wearing the uniform and nothing else, no jacket nothing, we asked him sir don't you feel anything? he said this is good we thought of the same too when we heard next that he and his men stay at Siachen in -50 for half of the year, we were shell shocked but proud at the same moment. We couldn't get a picture with them as it was not allowed but we did the next best thing...
The picture above was taken by a soldier who was posted there, he is from Tamil Nadu being posted up north. Being from south, top north he was. Incredible India.
This was our last place and we rounded off the trip next day. This place was Lotus in the marshy lands of Jammu and Kashmir. Absolute incredible no less than Alaska or Greenland. Before going to foreign places we Indians must first respect and see what our country holds in it.
I will never forget this enlightening trip and the memories it gave me.