Captivating weekend in Leh! 

Tripoto
2nd Jun 2018
Photo of Captivating weekend in Leh! by Amaiya Khardenavis

During a humid Sunday afternoon in Mumbai, I was scrupulously cleaning my shelves and to my utter delight I managed to find a few complimentary flight coupons which I had won via an online contest earlier. My languid memory had again come into action. But God decided to be kind and to my luck, the coupons hadn't expired.

To make the most of my newfound luxury, I decided to head to Leh but only for two days as I had to get back for some urgent work.

...and my excited soul couldn't wait for the day to arrive.

Leh is a quaint little town in the Ladakh region of Jammu & Kashmir, it is located at an height of 11,562 ft (yes, you can catch AMS).

There aren't too many options to get to Leh, it's either via road or flight.

Delhi-Leh via Manali is around 1000 kilometers. The journey is picturesque but pretty tiring too. If you're quite the adventurer getting a bike is the best option. I didn't travel by road due to my acute shortage of time, but I hope to do so one day.

Leh is well connected from Delhi. Flight tickets are cheap if they're booked well in advance. I flew from Mumbai to Delhi and then onward to Leh.

Landing at the Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport is quite a serene sight. The airport is right in the middle of the mountains and the flight descends onto the runway in no time.

Photo of Captivating weekend in Leh!  1/2 by Amaiya Khardenavis
One of the many views from the flight
Photo of Captivating weekend in Leh!  2/2 by Amaiya Khardenavis
Leh Airport

As the flight begins to near Leh, the clouds disappear, skies turn blue and barren lands with no vegetation greet you. This amalgamation of colors gives you the feels!

The Ladakh region is a cold desert, there's a paucity of water, bright sunlight and cold winds. Yeah, it's quite a combination.

Day 1

After getting to Leh, Norbu (driver) picked me up at around 0900 hrs and headed to the Zostel. I had contacted him via a reference

Getting around Leh is quite a task, the public buses are very few and distances are long. The best option is to get a car or a bike.

Since I didn't have too much time at hand, I wanted to take a nap and begin exploring around.

The nap ended up being really long and finally woke up at 1600 hrs. I decided to head to Spituk Monastery and just enjoy the vibe. Spituk Monastery is around 8 kms from Leh town and requires a trek to get there.

Spituk Monastery Entrance

Photo of Leh by Amaiya Khardenavis
Photo of Leh by Amaiya Khardenavis

I really enjoyed the location and sat there catching the cold winds. The sun rays at sunset cast a shadow onto the valley. The blend of colors was a mesmerizing sight to watch.

Sunset at Spituk

Photo of Captivating weekend in Leh! by Amaiya Khardenavis

All the Buddhist monastery's around the world are beautifully constructed and painted with detailing, the monks are friendly and most of them wouldn't mind striking a conversation.

Sunset looked fabulous

Photo of Captivating weekend in Leh! by Amaiya Khardenavis

It was just getting dark by the time I decided to leave Spituk, I headed to Leh market for a light meal after which I decided to call it a day. The sky was crystal clear and the stars were shining in all their beauty. I wish I could've slept out in the open.

Day 2

I woke up around 0745 hrs and knew that the day was going to be long. After a quick breakfast I headed out to Hemis Monastery, which is 45 kms from Leh.

Enroute Hemis Village

Photo of Leh by Amaiya Khardenavis

Hemis Monastery is in the Hemis National Park region. The park is known for spotting snow leopards during the winters.

Hemis Monastery Entrance

Photo of Captivating weekend in Leh! by Amaiya Khardenavis

The monastery was constructed in the 17th century and still looks amazing. The calm and peaceful feeling of being in a Buddhist monastery is extremely satiating. The scented incense sticks and cold winds suddenly make you feel spiritual.

Photo of Captivating weekend in Leh! by Amaiya Khardenavis

Panorama of the courtyard

Photo of Captivating weekend in Leh! by Amaiya Khardenavis

The paintings within the monastery depict Lord Buddha's teachings and his life. The contrast of colors complimented by the intricate carvings make it a eye catching sight.

Kali Temple

Photo of Captivating weekend in Leh! by Amaiya Khardenavis

After a pretty tiring visit to all the temples and terraces in the monastery complex, I was craving for food. I decided to go to relatively new and popular eatery, Cafe Cloud.

Photo of Captivating weekend in Leh! by Amaiya Khardenavis

Post a extremely filling lunch the driver decided to take me to Thiksey Monastery, which is one of the most popular and oldest monastery around Leh.

Thiksey Monastery Entrance

Photo of Captivating weekend in Leh! by Amaiya Khardenavis

The temples within the monastery can be reached by climbing onto the stairs, which takes around 15-20 mins. It is taxing task especially when the oxygen in the Ladakhi air is extremely sparse.

Thiksey Monastery Complex

Photo of Captivating weekend in Leh! by Amaiya Khardenavis

I would recommend to not start clicking pictures during the climb as the view just keeps getting better and better.

Decorated Prayer Wheel

Photo of Captivating weekend in Leh! by Amaiya Khardenavis

View from the top

Photo of Captivating weekend in Leh! by Amaiya Khardenavis

The monastery is the most popular among the tourists and is well known because of the visit by the 14th Dalai Lama.

Photo of Captivating weekend in Leh! by Amaiya Khardenavis

After clicking numerous photos during the descent, I headed to the Army War Memorial.

Photo of Captivating weekend in Leh! by Amaiya Khardenavis

The Army War Memorial is a museum and memorial maintained by the Indian Army in order to apprise the visitors about the operations and battles of the Indian Army. The stories of undying courage and unwavering patriotism are etched onto the the walls of the museum.

Army War Memorial

Photo of Captivating weekend in Leh! by Amaiya Khardenavis

I would surely recommend everyone visiting Leh to pay their respects to these brave men. By the time I decided to leave the Memorial, I was completely drained. Travelling over 200 kms in one day had its toll on me. I went back to get some rest.

After waking up at 2000 hrs, I went out for a meal to gorge onto some Asian food at Chopsticks Noodle Bar. I relished the meal and was surprised with the variety of food they offered.

Photo of Captivating weekend in Leh! by Amaiya Khardenavis

Reality struck and I knew I'd be heading back to the hustle the next day. I was glad that I had made it all the way to Leh for my second visit.

Although, it felt like my trip ended before it began, it was a great break from the monotonous city life.

The mountains never fail to impress me and I'm always awed by their sheer size. The picturesque landscapes and the friendly people made it this a trip full of fond memories.

Photo of Captivating weekend in Leh! by Amaiya Khardenavis

Leh, I'll be back soon. Until then may the winds fare you well.

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