Leh Ladakh from Manali - 8D/7N

Tripoto
26th May 2019
Photo of Leh Ladakh from Manali - 8D/7N by Swagata Nath

...And Ladakh just happened !

I have always been wanderlust and am blessed to get a job that boosts in turning my "dreams" to reality and a supporting partner who is equally nuts about travelling.

Ladakh has always been in our minds since our wedding. But we were not able to strike the right chord in respect of an apt resource (yes, money and time) and courage.

Well, this plan happened all of a sudden when my sister Divya threw the plan at me saying she is thinking about Ladakh and whether we can join them.
Psst...just the plan was sudden though because we booked in December 2017 and travelled in May 2018 !

Our itinerary

Pune -> Delhi -> Manali -> Jispa or Sarchu -> Leh -> Nubra Valley -> Pangong Tso -> Tso Moriri -> Leh -> Pune

Ladakh - the land of high passes

La means pass and Dakh means that sits on.

Ladakh is a place that sits on mountain passes.

Day 1

We checked into our hotel at around 3:00 a.m after a road trip from Delhi.
It was chilly windy 12°C and we slept through the night for our next day.

We woke up to this !

Photo of Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Swagata Nath

Hello from Manali

Photo of Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Swagata Nath
Photo of Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Swagata Nath

After a sumptuous breakfast, we started for sightseeing. We covered Manu Temple, Shiv Temple, Vashishtha Temple and Hot springs, Hirimba Mata Temple, Manalsu River & Manali Bazaar. We kept the day a bit relaxing because we have to start for for Leh the next day.

Manalsu River

Photo of Leh Ladakh from Manali - 8D/7N by Swagata Nath

Pine forest

Photo of Leh Ladakh from Manali - 8D/7N by Swagata Nath
Photo of Leh Ladakh from Manali - 8D/7N by Swagata Nath
Photo of Leh Ladakh from Manali - 8D/7N by Swagata Nath
Day 2

The next day on our way to Jispa, we crossed Rohtang Pass at a height of 15660 feet. Oh, it was such a scenic view from Manali to Rohtang La !

Those valleys on the Leh Manali Highway

Photo of Rohtang Pass, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Swagata Nath

One of the largest Glacier on our way to Jispa

Photo of Rohtang Pass, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Swagata Nath

Us at Rohtang La

Photo of Rohtang Pass, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Swagata Nath

The route towards Rohtang

Photo of Rohtang Pass, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Swagata Nath


We reached Jispa at around 3pm. It was 7°C outside and we bathe and had our lunch at Hotel Trishul. The hotel was pretty cozy with good food and supply of hot water. As Jispa was already at a height of 10500 feet we felt some amount of breathlessness.
The night scene was just out of the world. It was close to full moon and the sky was looking incredible from our hotel window.

View from our room

Photo of Jispa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Swagata Nath

Almost full moon

Photo of Jispa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Swagata Nath

Ahh...the warm homely food was like boon after our long journey to Jispa

Photo of Jispa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Swagata Nath

River Chenab

Photo of Jispa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Swagata Nath
Day 3

The next day after having our breakfast, we left for Leh. It is very important you DO NOT SLEEP during the drive or else you are going to miss few important heavenly views and places you will cross. Also being awake will help you in gradual acclimatization.

This pass is at a height of 16043 feet.
The giant mountain ranges were covered with thick snow, at few places flanked with glaciers.
The air was quite thin here and be cautious to not get much excited and preserve your oxygen.
We were welcomed with a sunny sky, sparking mountain peaks and fresh snowfall.
Please note we did have Diamox the previous day and carried an Oxygen Cylinder just in case of emergency need.

What views !

Photo of Baralach La, Himachal Pradesh by Swagata Nath

Tiramisu

Photo of Baralach La, Himachal Pradesh by Swagata Nath
Photo of Baralach La, Himachal Pradesh by Swagata Nath

The golden rays of the morning sun on the fresh snow

Photo of Baralach La, Himachal Pradesh by Swagata Nath

Gata Loops has 21 hairpin turns and has such a picturesque view !

Photo of Gata Loops by Swagata Nath
Photo of Gata Loops by Swagata Nath
Photo of Gata Loops by Swagata Nath

Look at those shadows

Photo of Whisky Nala, Leh Manali Highway by Swagata Nath
Photo of Whisky Nala, Leh Manali Highway by Swagata Nath

This cute boy at Whisky Nala

Photo of Whisky Nala, Leh Manali Highway by Swagata Nath

Lachungla Pass

Photo of Lachalung La by Swagata Nath

Towards Moore Plains

Photo of Lachalung La by Swagata Nath

Stone Henges like Mountain Ranges towards Moore Plains

Photo of Lachalung La by Swagata Nath

More Plains or the Moore Plains is one of the most spectacular and serene view after Pang and Lachungla Pass.
It has table top formation of the land flanked with mountains with clouds running over them.
Seeing a place like this after the hairpin turns will reset and prepare you for facing the highest pass of the day and the second highest pass of the world - Tanglang La

The table top land

Photo of More Plains by Swagata Nath

More Plains

Photo of More Plains by Swagata Nath

The second highest motorable pass of the world at a height of 17582 feet.

You should take extra care here as the atmosphere is very thin here. The oxygen level is half of that if sea level. It is advisory not to spend more that 10-15mins here as it might cause altitude sickness.

Photo of Tanglang La by Swagata Nath
Photo of Tanglang La by Swagata Nath
Photo of Tanglang La by Swagata Nath

The colourful ranges near Rumptse

Photo of Leh by Swagata Nath
Photo of Leh by Swagata Nath
Photo of Leh by Swagata Nath

We reached Leh at around 4pm. We checked into our hotel and rested the rest of the day for acclimatization. Resting and having a good amount of water is important to avoid altitude sickness.

Day 4

We left for Nubra Valley early in the morning because during afternoon the road to Nubra at times gets crowded.
We started our ascent towards Khardungla and it took almost an hour to reach there.
We got fresh snowfall and this was special as it was the first lifetime experience of snowfall for me. My prayers were heard !

Khardungla Pass

Photo of Khardung La by Swagata Nath

Happy Me at Khardungla La

Photo of Khardung La by Swagata Nath

Diskit Monastery or Diskit Company is the oldest and the largest gompa in the Nubra Valley.

Photo of Diskit Gompa, Diskit by Swagata Nath

Nubra Valley is at an altitude of 10000 feet.
The meandering Shyok river flowing along your driveway with just take your breath away.
The silver river sediments, the beautiful valley and the yellow ochre mountain will indulge you in the beauty of the place.
Indian as well as Foreign nationals will need an inner line permit as this is very close to the borders.
Our route was :
Khardungla Pass -> Khardung -> Khalsar -> Diskit -> Hunder

Nubra Valley

Photo of Nubra Valley, Hunder by Swagata Nath

Shyok River and those cloud covered mountains !

Photo of Nubra Valley, Hunder by Swagata Nath

Towards Hunder

Photo of Nubra Valley, Hunder by Swagata Nath

The meandering Shyok towards Hunder

Photo of Nubra Valley, Hunder by Swagata Nath
Day 5

We left for Pangong from Nubra early in the morning as if you start late there are some tracks/roads along Agham Shyok which gets quite a good rush of water from the melted snow. This become very dangerous for the SUVs to cross.
Thus it is advisory to start early and cover these roads soon, before midday.
Also please note this is landslide prone and it is better if you have time, then return to Leh and then Travel to Pangong.
However, we chose the Agham -> Shyok -> Durbuk -> Tangtse -> Pangong because our driver was quite experienced and knew the route well.
So please take your call...

Photo of Leh Ladakh from Manali - 8D/7N by Swagata Nath
Photo of Leh Ladakh from Manali - 8D/7N by Swagata Nath

We reached at around 4p.m.
Pangong Tso needs no introduction and  we were welcomed by double rainbow over the lake when we checked into our tents.
Also we chose full moon for Pangong Tso, because it is said it is a worthwhile experience.
The night was intimidating yet beautiful.
We indulged into the silver moonshine at a height of 14270 feet, freezing at 2°C and I can tell you...it was Magical !

First View of Pangong

Photo of Pangong Tso by Swagata Nath

That turquoise blue water if the Pangong

Photo of Pangong Tso by Swagata Nath

Spectacular

Photo of Pangong Tso by Swagata Nath

Rainbow over the Pangong Tso

Photo of Pangong Tso by Swagata Nath

Our abode at Spangmik, Pangong Road

Photo of Pangong Tso by Swagata Nath

Full Moon on the bosom of Pangong Tso

Photo of Pangong Tso by Swagata Nath
Day 6


We left at 8a.m. after our breakfast at Pangong.
The route we took is considered to be the longest - but trust me...it's worth the journey.
We drove around 45km along the Pangong Tso. The color of the lake was somewhere turquoise or cobalt or lime green or bottle green. See for yourself.

Photo of Spangmik by Swagata Nath

Our route was : Spangmik -> Chushul -> Mahe -> Sumdo -> Karzok.
This route can only be traversed by India Nationals due to the sensitivity of the region.
Also you need inner line permit for Tso Moriri. Foreigner Nationals are only allowed to travel till Pangong Tso.

There was no road as such and the majority of the drive was off-road drive which will surely feel adventurous. All you have to follow if some marked road or electricity lined laid down by Army or dirt trails of SUVs.
We crossed Rezangla Memorial after a few kilometres from Chushul.

Rezangla La Memorial

Photo of Rezang La War Memorial, Tsaka La Road by Swagata Nath
Photo of Rezang La War Memorial, Tsaka La Road by Swagata Nath

You will be seeing lots of wild animals, Yak, Pashmina goats, dogs, horses. There are no roads till Sumdo and then for Karzok you will have to pass Namashang La. After Namashang La till Karzok you will only have to drive through dirt trail.

Photo of Leh Ladakh from Manali - 8D/7N by Swagata Nath
Photo of Leh Ladakh from Manali - 8D/7N by Swagata Nath
Photo of Leh Ladakh from Manali - 8D/7N by Swagata Nath


Kiagar Lake is the first lake after Namashang La. Kiagar Lake or Kyagar Tso is a saline water lake flanked by Tiramisu mountains.

Photo of Kyagar Tso by Swagata Nath
Photo of Kyagar Tso by Swagata Nath


W reached Tso Moriri after another 70km drive to our tents in Karzok.
Tso Moriri or the Mountain Lake is a saline water lake fed by the melting water if the glaciers. It is a wetland reserve which is home to birds and animals. This is 25km wide and 3-5km in width, wholly situated in India, unlike Pangong Tso.
Tso Moriri is at a height of 15075 feet and it's best to keep this at the end of the trip when your body has almost acclimatized.

Photo of Tso Moriri by Swagata Nath
Photo of Tso Moriri by Swagata Nath
Day 7

Leh is around 220km from Tso Moriri.
We started for Leh after having our heavy breakfast.
We avoided Tangland La while reaching Leh just to avoid further altitude sickness.
We took the route via Chumathang. We also visited the hot water spring at Chumathang.

We reached Leh at around 5p.m. and rested that day.
The route was quite tiring but the view and experience was worth it.

Chumathang Valley and the blue Indus

Photo of Leh by Swagata Nath
Photo of Leh by Swagata Nath
Day 8

We selected few places in Leh.
Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, National War Memorial, Leh Palace, Zanskar and Shanti Stupa

National War Memorial

Photo of Leh Ladakh from Manali - 8D/7N by Swagata Nath

Our heartfelt note for the brave Indian army

Photo of Leh Ladakh from Manali - 8D/7N by Swagata Nath

At Leh Palace

Photo of Leh Ladakh from Manali - 8D/7N by Swagata Nath

Zanskar

Photo of Leh Ladakh from Manali - 8D/7N by Swagata Nath

At Shanti Stupa

Photo of Leh Ladakh from Manali - 8D/7N by Swagata Nath


Trip to Ladakh cannot be ad-hoc and you need to do your homework - the itinerary and the measures you need to take in case of altitude sickness.

We did this trip in 2018 and we are still full of reminiscences.
We plan to visit Ladakh once more and cover the route from Jammu and Kashmir this time.

Till then Travel...Travel...Travel.

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