Finally I managed to fulfill my long outstanding wish and visit Leh.
After months of planning the road trip with friends, the plan went flat when friends opted out due to health reasons, business trips and non availability of so much leave etc. At that point I had two simple choices, one postpone the trip once again to 2015 or visit alone. So I decided to visit it alone. I signed with Make My Trip for their 7 night and 8 days trip.
I am finally very happy that I took it. The flight from New Delhi took off at 5 am and I was able to see an awesome sight, the sunrise from above the clouds.
The first day as advised by all, was a rest day lying in the bed and doing nothing. This is very important as oxygen levels are low in Ladakh and you need to acclimatize yourself.
Next day we visited the Hemis Monastery, the largest and wealthiest Gompa in Ladakh and Thiksey Monastery which is home to a 15-metre high statue of the Maitreya Buddha the morning. Post lunch we visited the white-domed Shanti Stupa, a monument of world peace. The landscapes from here are unbeliievable. Tthe 3rd day we drove to Nubra Valley crossing over the Khardung La Top, the mountain pass crossing towering snow-capped mountains standing formidably as we descended down a wide valley coloured white by pebble stones and criss-crossed by turquoise and opal-blue tributaries of River Shyok.
There were sand dunes of Khunder, where we rode a two humped Bactrian camel. We stayed for the night in Lharimo North Resort. A nice little resort on the bank of the Shyok river in the last Indian village called Turtuk.
Next day we visited Sham Valley starting with a visit to Hall of Fame set up by the Indian Army housing memorabilia from the Kargil War. This is an absolute must for every visitor to Ladakh. This was followed by the Magnetic Hill and the 16th century Gurudwara Patthar Sahib.
Later we went to Sangam of Ladakh in Nimu on Srinagar Leh highway. Here is the confluence of Zanskar and Indus rivers. On way back, we visited the 11th century Spituk Monastery that has a rich collection of antiques and also houses a statue of Mahakaal (Kali Mata Temple). Also visit the Hall of Fame, a museum dedicated to the Indian Army. Enjoyed dinner and a comfortable overnight stay at the hotel.
Next on the agenda was the incredible PangongTso lake. 30 % of the lake is in India while the rest is in China and the India China border is just 35kms from the lake. It's still water changes colours as the sun passes over it from morning till evening and offer spectacular reflections of the surrounding mountains. The treacherous six-hour drive from Leh is absolutely worth it. It passes through Changla Pass, the third highest motor able road in the world.
The nest day we spent in Leh and on the 8th day early morning came back ending the incredible Leh holiday. If you rea planning a holiday there remember no pre-paid phones work in Ladakh and amongst post-paid ones only Airtel and BSNL work sometime.