Volunteering in Leh- Escape to Mountains

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Photo of Volunteering in Leh- Escape to Mountains by Dipti
Photo of Volunteering in Leh- Escape to Mountains 1/2 by Dipti
When you know better things are coming..

A month in Ladakh.. I guess every wandering soul would love to do so...

Photo of Volunteering in Leh- Escape to Mountains 2/2 by Dipti
on my way to Highest Motorable road

Travelling is the best medicine to rejuvenate my soul. We all want some break from our regular schedule, and sometimes we want to leave a place before we get stuck. I usually take short breaks in form of trips when i am unable to handle too much of work pressure. Somehow weekend gateways never worked for me especially for the places which i really want to live in and have so much to offer.

I came across a volunteering opportunity in Leh and after months of planning, thinking, discussing i just decided to take the opportunity and just go...

This place has its own rainbow

Photo of Leh by Dipti

So, instead of going to a biking trip I chose to go and work in Ladakh. Doing so, allowed me to work with the locals all week and travel around during weekends. Being part of such a humble community added a new dimension in my life. I lived in Leh old town with other volunteers from different part of the country and world. Being an introvert I thought it would be hard to survive, but things were totally different.

Snow covered mountains and these pretty flags

Photo of Chang La by Dipti

My first week was like a regular tourist- it was spent in acclimatizing with weather and visiting major tourist destinations. As the roads connecting Ladakh to other parts of the country were not accessible, there were less of tourists. May-June is best time to visit the major tourist destinations. The major destinations covered were Pangong Lake on a full moon night, Nubra Valley, Hemis, thiksey, shey & few other Monasteries, Magnetic hill, set of caves etc.

All monasteries have a unique element to it

Photo of Diskit Gompa, Diskit by Dipti

View of Leh old town from my office

Photo of Leh by Dipti

My office was located in close proximity to Leh Palace and consisted of team of locals and volunteers. we spent our coffee and lunch break looking at this pretty cityscape and discussing with our colleagues about their culture, festivals, cuisine, language and yes how do they survive during winters..

During weekdays I spent my evening in Leh walking around the vibrant streets, shopping the artifacts and trying local cuisine. Leh old town had a variety of things to offer. You can either sit at cafe at hilltop to enjoy city’s view or you can walk in the colorful streets and enjoy the vibrancy. Leh Old town market now MG road offers a huge palette of things right from super market, dry fruits, handicrafts, trekking accessories, small food joints and religious places. One can’t get enough of it.

During weekends I along with my colleagues (now friends for life) use to rent a bike and just explore. Ladakh is incomplete without the bike ride (royal enfield ride) on the most amazing roads of the country. I made sure all the close by areas could be covered on bike which gives us flexibility to detour our travel and allowed us to take our own time to enjoy the place. It has all weather roads and are well maintained, so driving is funn. And the beautiful landscape makes your journey mesmerizing. Bike and car renting is not much of an issue and can be bargained at times.

You should not miss Biking on these roads

Photo of Volunteering in Leh- Escape to Mountains by Dipti
Photo of Volunteering in Leh- Escape to Mountains by Dipti

Color changing MOUNTAINS

Photo of Lamayuru by Dipti

The path leading to major destinations had so much of stories to tell. For every two kms I saw different texture and color of the mountains.

Photo of Volunteering in Leh- Escape to Mountains by Dipti
Photo of The Lamayuru Monastery, Lamayuru by Dipti

Leh is accessible during May to Oct- Nov and then the roads connecting Leh from Kargil and other parts are shut due to heavy snowfall. We were among the 1st tourists of the season and could enjoy more cause of less rush. We started with Pangong Lake and made it on a full moon night when the temperature was lower than -10°C and it was breathtaking.

Photo of Pangong Tso by Dipti

On a full moon Night

Photo of Pangong Tso by Dipti

Sparsely populated region of Ladakh is full of people who have created their own ways of survival. Majority of the countryside houses have their kitchen gardens where they can grow their food. As Ladakh is physically disconnected for almost half of the year, these are the only means of survival.

Homestay in Nubra Valley

Photo of Nubra Ecolodge, Sumur by Dipti

Homestay in Nubra Valley

Photo of Nubra Ecolodge, Sumur by Dipti
Photo of Nubra Ecolodge, Sumur by Dipti

Close to the oldest monastery of Nubra valley in Ladakh, Diskit monastery, lies the impressive statue of Jampa Buddha. Facing the Shyok river, the statue sits tall with a height of 32 meters.

Photo of Diskit Gompa, Diskit by Dipti

Happie Soul

Photo of Diskit Gompa, Diskit by Dipti

And you'll find a new breed of camel's here

Photo of Diskit Gompa, Diskit by Dipti

Double Hump camel

Photo of Hunder Sand Dunes by Dipti

Hunder is the last point for tourist and road beyond leads to the army base for Siachen glacier and it serve as base for tourist exploring the Nubra Valley. Hunder is known for its sand dunes and with that it offer camel rides on these double Hump camels which most of us have never seen. A pleasant drive further east to Hunder road brings you to the village of Sumur and Panamik, famous for its hot springs and beautiful village bazzar.

From Hills to sand dunes, leh has a lott of offer to every visitor. Things that made my journey different from others were the decision of residing in old town. The warmth of the people staying in the neighborhood, trying local cuisine, listening to their mythological stories, being part of their local festivals, learning their language, star grazing in a shivering cold night, and a set of friends for life is was I brought back with me in the end.

Must do things and Must visit Places:

If you are travelling in may-June then take your time to acclimatize and finish local site-seeing. Leh city has City Palace, Shanti Stupa, MG road (market street best place to buy souvenir ), good restaurants to explore local cuisine, a set of Museums ( Asian Central Museum) and set of Monasteries, Temples, Gurudwara and Mosque. If you are travelling for shorter duration, avoid drinking normal water cause that might affect your stomach. Leh City market has shops that provide you with filtered water for 8-10rs/lt. As Leh is situated on higher altitude and oxygen levels are less, you won't feel thirsty but still body is to be kept hydrated. The best way to do that is to drink fresh juices- Seabuck berry juice, apricot juice etc.

Photo of Nimmoo, Leh by Dipti

When in Leh you can't miss tasting Tibetan cuisine- The Tibetan Kitchen, Bon Appetite are few restaurants to name. If you are bored of boiled food and want some spicy food then Leh main market has a Punjabi restaurant that will offer you Chole bhature and delhi chat. On your way to Lamayuru and Alchi (Towards Kargil), you can stop by at Nimmoo to have some really nice momo's and samosa's.

You just can't miss the cityscape from topmost floor of city palace

Photo of Leh Palace, Leh by Dipti

Local Carnival

Photo of Leh by Dipti
Photo of Ladakh Jo Khang Temple, Main Bazaar Road, Leh by Dipti
Photo of Magnetic Hill, Leh by Dipti
Photo of Alchi, Leh by Dipti
Photo of The Lamayuru Monastery, Lamayuru by Dipti

Moonland of ladakh.. This place will take you back in time.

Photo of The Lamayuru Monastery, Lamayuru by Dipti
Photo of Hemis Gompa, Hemis by Dipti

The RANCHO school

Photo of Druk White Lotus School, Shey by Dipti

I am happie that children were not around... #Chaturpose

Photo of Druk White Lotus School, Shey by Dipti
Photo of Khardung La by Dipti
Photo of Khardung La by Dipti
Photo of Chang La by Dipti

You will find Military base at various places on your route and they'll be more than happy to help you.

Photo of Chang La by Dipti

Located right on the edge of Pangong Lake, these cottages are one of the best places to spend a night facing the crystal clear water.

Photo of Pangong Camp Resort JKTDC by Dipti

All over Ladakh you will find shrines dedicated to the three Bodhisattvas Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara and Vajrapani, who deal with the three evils: Delusion, Passion and Wrath.

Photo of The Lamayuru Monastery, Lamayuru by Dipti
Photo of Shyok River by Dipti

The best way to explore any place is by BEING LOCAL. Ladakh has luxurious hotels to local homestays all over the place. You can choose your stay as per your pockets. Homestays are safe, comfortable and i find them a better place to stay as it supports the local economy.

Homestay in Leh

Photo of Leh by Dipti

Coffee under Apricot Tree

Photo of Leh by Dipti
1 Comment(s)
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Hey Dipti, this looks amazing! :D I was planning to volunteer in Leh this summer as well and have found a few suitable options but would like to know about your volunteering organistaion/opportunity where you enrolled. Thanks!
Sun 05 27 18, 07:17 · Reply · Report