Ladakh, in the pursuit of happiness

23rd Jul 2016
Photo of Ladakh, in the pursuit of happiness 1/11 by Dishita.1210
Shanti stupa
Photo of Ladakh, in the pursuit of happiness 2/11 by Dishita.1210
Pangong Tso
Photo of Ladakh, in the pursuit of happiness 3/11 by Dishita.1210
Camping at Pangong Tso
Photo of Ladakh, in the pursuit of happiness 4/11 by Dishita.1210
Photo of Ladakh, in the pursuit of happiness 5/11 by Dishita.1210
Photo of Ladakh, in the pursuit of happiness 6/11 by Dishita.1210
Camping at Nubra Valley
Photo of Ladakh, in the pursuit of happiness 7/11 by Dishita.1210
Camping amidst green fields at the Nubra Valley
Photo of Ladakh, in the pursuit of happiness 8/11 by Dishita.1210
Pangong Tso a shade of grey due to an overcast sky
Photo of Ladakh, in the pursuit of happiness 9/11 by Dishita.1210
Thikse monastery
Photo of Ladakh, in the pursuit of happiness 10/11 by Dishita.1210
Nubra Valley
Photo of Ladakh, in the pursuit of happiness 11/11 by Dishita.1210
Enroute Leh

Ladakh popped up on the travelling radar after a scene in the bollywood movie '3 idiots' forever immortalized Pangong Tso in archives of 'must see places in India', and rightly so.

To say that Ladakh is beautiful, would be a gross understatement. Think of the most beautiful thing that you've seen in your whole life and imagine the most content that you've ever been, now multiply the amalgamation of those feelings by hundred, now that's how ecstatic this place will make you feel, and no I'm not exaggerating. The colors, hues, scenery etc. that you see in photos do not do justice to this place. When you first arrive, this place will make you overwhelmed with a rush of emotions and leave you breathless (quite literally)!

Day 1

Leh city has become a bit more commercialized than I'd have liked it to be, but hey that comes with the popularity I guess. It's a quaint little place situated amidst snow clad mountains and winding roads, straight out of a movie. Shanti Stupa, Thikse monastery and Leh market are the places to go to. Shanti Stupa is a white dome shaped monastery atop a small hill. The soothing sound of the drums coupled with the chiming of the bells and the view from the monastery grounds, provides unparalleled peace. The white stupa shines brilliantly at night, across the black horizon dotted with a million twinkling stars. Thikse monastery has a lot of drum shaped structures lined up along the stairs leading to the meaning prayer hall above. Buddhist culture involves rotating those drums in a particular direction for inner peace. There is a two floor big Buddha statue inside. The peace and tranquility that these places offer is what I love about this culture. Leh market is like any tourist market, nothing special. There is one place in particular that I love, Gizmo, it is a cute multi cuisine restaurant in the center of the market. The food there is mouth watering, especially the mint flavored mock tails, yak cheese sandwich and the chocolate cake. Yummm!!

Day 2

The route from leh to Zanskar rafting is dotted with a lot of mountains and an endless road in between. The mountains are of varied colors. Ya you read that right, mountains with stripes of different colors - purple, green, goldenish yellow. It is because of the minerals and stones and the rain that washes them down. Rafting at the zanskar is a unique experience unto itself despite not being the best rafting in India. What makes it unique is the sub zero temperature water. The water and the climate are so cold that you're required to wear a bodysuit. Jumping from the raft into the cold water is something you must try!

Day 3

Words fall short to describe the alluring Pangong Tso. It is different shades of grey, blue, turquoise at different times of the day. The surface of the lake also shimmers with a golden bluish hue when sunlight hits it directly. Camping at the lake is a privilege in itself, as you get to see the marvels of nature firsthand. At night when there is barely any source of light, a thousand stars shine down on you from up above. It is as poetic as it can get.

The route from leh to pangong (or vice versa) should be tried on bikes. It's amazing is all I can say. Tiring but completely worth it. Chang la pass is one of the most difficult routes to be traversed (specially on a two wheeler) in Leh. But these are the experiences that make every journey unique.

Day 6

Nubra valley is another delight. It is just huge stretches of cold desert filled with white sand, as far as the eyes can see. Our camping site in the valley was at a beautiful location, it was amidst lush green fields. That's the wonder of nature, cold barren desert and green fields existing quite close to each other. I especially loved the night we spent here because I got to see millions of stars and a dozen shooting stars! Vast stretches of pollution free land and an open sky above and me! It is the most content I've felt in a long time. When you see yourself in the large scheme of things, you realise how small you are in the universe's grand plan. You begin to realise that very few things truly matter, and that's when you feel liberated. It's surreal.

Overall, I'd only like to say that Leh Ladakh is an experience of a lifetime and do not miss it. Right from the moment you arrive to your last minute here, this place will leave you with a thousand cherished memories.

PS: while you're there, remember to leave it as clean (if not cleaner) as when you found it. It is our responsility to preserve these natural marvels.