Paradise on earth

Tripoto
28th May 2018
Photo of Paradise on earth by Pushpak Apte

A traveler who has never been to Ladakh is not a traveler. There's no traveler on this earth who doesn't have Ladakh on his wish list. Ladakh is all about experience and can hardly be described in words.

My journey began on a very low note. I had a connecting flight from Mumbai - Delhi - Leh. But the flight from Delhi got delayed and i had to sleep on the airport for 8 hours. Just because it was Ladakh, i had my excitement levels high.

Finally i got on the flight and after almost 1.5 hrs i could see the mountain ranges below the flight out the window. I was tired as hell, i hadn't slept the whole night, but the moment i saw that view, it was all gone and I was ready to start my trip.

Leh airport is small but one of the best airport i have been to. The airport is surrounded by snow clad mountains with clear skies overhead, simply breathtaking.

Photo of Ladakh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Ladakh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Ladakh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Ladakh by Pushpak Apte

First and the foremost thing to keep in mind when on a high altitude place like Ladakh is to get enough rest and let your body acclimatize to the new climate. I reached at my stay at around 1030 am and took rest for a good 4 hrs to get my body acclimatized. The first day of Ladakh trip should be dedicated to rest if you want to enjoy the rest of it.

Day 1

So after getting enough rest, I was ready to start exploring the place. I had to cover all the nearby places on my first day, since I had only half of the day. First stop was Shanti Stupa, which was just a km away from my stay. There are 2 ways to reach the top, one is from the opposite side where you need to trek for a good 45-50 mins on a steep slope. And the other one is a motorable road. I preferred the later option just to avoid draining all my energy. Shanti Stupa is a dome like structure which signifies peace among the Buddhist culture. Once you reach the top, you get a superb panoramic view of the mountains and the city of Leh. One can spend a fair bit of time enjoying the scenic beauty surrounding the stupa.

Photo of Shanti Stupa, Shanti Stupa Road, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Shanti Stupa, Shanti Stupa Road, Leh by Pushpak Apte

Next was the Leh Palace. It is just like any other palace, but on the hill top and with good weather. This place has been the stay for the Namgyal Dynasty for years. The palace as such has nothing left but you can still roam around and explore and the view that you get from the top is mesmerizing.

Leh Palace

Photo of Leh Palace, Leh by Pushpak Apte

Leh Palace

Photo of Leh Palace, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Leh Palace, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Leh Palace, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Leh Palace, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Leh Palace, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Leh Palace, Leh by Pushpak Apte

The next place that I visited is a hidden gem and people hardly give this place a visit. The Sankar Gompa. This monastery is fairly new with a very calm and pleasant atmosphere. This monastery being a small one, has limited visiting hours (Evening recommended). When I visited, we were the only 5 people there.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing at the stay enjoying the weather while overlooking the snow clad mountains.

Shankar Gompa

Photo of Sankar Gompa, Leh by Pushpak Apte

Sankar Gompa

Photo of Sankar Gompa, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Sankar Gompa, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Sankar Gompa, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Sankar Gompa, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Sankar Gompa, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Sankar Gompa, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Sankar Gompa, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Day 2

My day 2 started a bit late. Trust me getting up early in such a cozy weather is a big task. Still somehow i managed to get up a 8, since I had a long day ahead of me. Okay so i decided to do a reverse trip today. Covering the farthest first and then on the way back covering rest.

First stop was the Lamayuru Monastery. One of the finest monastery you will ever visit. Located on top of the hill with a superb view. This place is altogether a small colony, with small hostel, learning centre to learn about the Buddhist culture and a small cafe.

Lamayuru colony

Photo of The Lamayuru Monastery, Leh by Pushpak Apte

Vibrant colours at Lamayuru

Photo of The Lamayuru Monastery, Leh by Pushpak Apte

The view from Lamayuru

Photo of The Lamayuru Monastery, Leh by Pushpak Apte

Lamayuru Monastery

Photo of The Lamayuru Monastery, Leh by Pushpak Apte

Lamayuru Monastery

Photo of The Lamayuru Monastery, Leh by Pushpak Apte

Lamayuru Monastery is at a distance of about 120kms from Leh city, however there are a lot of places on the way to pay a visit.

Magnetic hill being one of them. So it is said that your car/bike will feel a pull when you pass from this particular area. This is due to the gravitational pull being strong in that region. However i did not feel any pull, but there is a theory which says so.

Magnetic Hill

Photo of Magnetic Hill, Srinagar - Ladakh Highway, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Magnetic Hill, Srinagar - Ladakh Highway, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Magnetic Hill, Srinagar - Ladakh Highway, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Magnetic Hill, Srinagar - Ladakh Highway, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Magnetic Hill, Srinagar - Ladakh Highway, Leh by Pushpak Apte

It is said that, When in Leh pay a visit to Gurudwara Pathar Saheb for your safe journey. This gurudwara is no different then the rest except it has an interesting story. It is said that once a demon tried to kill Pathar Sahib by rolling a big stone at him while he was meditating. However the stone as soon as it touched Sahib, melted and stopped right at the place. That stone is something that has been put up in the gurudwara right next to Pathar Sahib for people to seek blessings.

Gurudwara Sri Pathar Sahib

Photo of Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, NH 1D, Phey by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, NH 1D, Phey by Pushpak Apte

There are 2 more things that would be worth experiencing. The Moon land, which is a hill with moon like surface. This is a natural phenomenan which makes you feel like you have landed on the surface of the moon.

Another magical thing is the Sangam point also known as the Sangam Valley. This is basically a confluence of 2 rivers - Indus and Zanskar. One can experience the confluence from the hill top but reaching there woud be a big task.

Moon Land

Photo of Confluence of Indus(right)and Zanskar(left) by Pushpak Apte

Moon Land

Photo of Confluence of Indus(right)and Zanskar(left) by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Confluence of Indus(right)and Zanskar(left) by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Confluence of Indus(right)and Zanskar(left) by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Confluence of Indus(right)and Zanskar(left) by Pushpak Apte

Confluence of Indus & Zanskar

Photo of Confluence of Indus(right)and Zanskar(left) by Pushpak Apte

Border Road Organization - BRO

Photo of Confluence of Indus(right)and Zanskar(left) by Pushpak Apte

Confluence of Indus & Zanskar

Photo of Confluence of Indus(right)and Zanskar(left) by Pushpak Apte
Day 3

Now it was time to go to far off places away from Leh city. It was time for Nubra Valley. So Nubra Valley is a valley located around 170 kms from Leh and 50kms from Diskit village.

Nubra Valley is a must visit when in Ladakh, not because of the valley or the monastery but because of the road that leads us there. The road to Nubra valley passes through one of the highest motorable road - Khardung La, which is a site that one should never miss. The pass is full of snow clad mountains and dangerous roads, but the experience is of a lifetime. Once you are through the Khardung La pass and the snow you will soon arrive at Nubra Valley which is full of sand dunes and barren land. It makes you think, how can a single place has both the terrains, Truly magnificient.

Photo of Khardung La by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Khardung La by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Khardung La by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Khardung La by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Khardung La by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Khardung La by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Khardung La by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Khardung La by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Khardung La by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Khardung La by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Khardung La by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Khardung La by Pushpak Apte

So before reaching the Nubra Valley, there comes a small village on the way - Diskit.

Calm and quaint village with mesmerizing scenic beauty and ofcourse the huge idol of Future Buddha.

Maitreya Buddha also known as Future Buddha is a huge and beautiul idol of Buddha. It is said and believed that Buddha will reappear on earth in future to teach the pure buddhism culture.

Maitreya Buddha

Photo of Diskit Gompa, Diskit by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Diskit Gompa, Diskit by Pushpak Apte

Maitreya Buddha

Photo of Diskit Gompa, Diskit by Pushpak Apte

Maitreya Buddha

Photo of Diskit Gompa, Diskit by Pushpak Apte

Finally we have reached the sand dunes of the Nubra Valley. In this vast expanse of desert, you will hardly see any snow but sand everywhere.

And ofcourse the double humped camels. Camel safari is a major tourist attraction here.

There are not much hotels around Nubra valley, so one needs to stay at either Diskit or Hunder. I preferred staying at hunder. Hunder is one of those places where one would imagine himself after retirement. With good weather, calm surroundings and slow lifestyle, this is the best place to relax.

Photo of Nubra Valley by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Nubra Valley by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Nubra Valley by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Nubra Valley by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Nubra Valley by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Nubra Valley by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Nubra Valley by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Nubra Valley by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Nubra Valley by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Nubra Valley by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Nubra Valley by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Nubra Valley by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Nubra Valley by Pushpak Apte
Day 4

After Nubra Valley and Diskit, it was time for the most awaited place of this tour - Pangong Lake.

Previously it was not possible to reach Pangong directly from Nubra. You had to come all the way back to leh and then another route. However they have opened uo a new route which takes you directly from Nubra to Pangong.

Pangong lake is a salt water lake located at a good height of 14200ft. Despite 60% of the lake being in China, the lake looks huge and clean with blue waters. The weather at pangong lake can get really nasty at times, but the place has its own beauty to cherish. This place has gained a lot of attraction lately due to the bollywood hit movie, however it is our duty to preserve the natural beauty of the place.

After Pangong, we had a long way back to Leh city. The next day was for another beautiful lake - Tsomoriri Lake.

Photo of Pangong Lake by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Pangong Lake by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Pangong Lake by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Pangong Lake by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Pangong Lake by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Pangong Lake by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Pangong Lake by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Pangong Lake by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Pangong Lake by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Pangong Lake by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Pangong Lake by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Pangong Lake by Pushpak Apte
Day 5

The distance from Tsomoriri to Leh is almost 230kms. So most of the time is spent traveling. The road that leads to Tsomoriri is not actually a road but a lake in itself. The road is open only when the lake dries up. The road is scary and one might get lost but the destination is worth taking the risk.

Tsomoiri Lake is a very secluded lake in the interiors of the plateau of Changthang. This place is untouched and still has the natural touch to it.

Only people of Indian Nationality are allowed to visit this lake due to security reasons, also a permit has to be made some days prior to your visit. A checkpost is set up to check for the people entering. Luckily when i reached there, it was already snowing and we were the only one's on the lake. The weather at Tsomoriri is crazy, so you need to take good care of youself. Tsomoriri is a must visit place, one could skip Pangong but not Tsomoriri.

Photo of Tso Moriri by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Tso Moriri by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Tso Moriri by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Tso Moriri by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Tso Moriri by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Tso Moriri by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Tso Moriri by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Tso Moriri by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Tso Moriri by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Tso Moriri by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Tso Moriri by Pushpak Apte
Day 6

The weather at Leh was already giving us new sleeping goals. But the weather at Tsomoriri was encouraging us to even sleep more. But somehow we got up at around 9, since we did not have to stop anywhere on the way back, we decided to take our time. We left from Tsomoriri at 11 and reached Leh at around 8. The distance is only 230kms, but the hilly terrain makes it look long.

Once we were back to Leh, we had the local Ladakhi tea and some good dinner at La Piazzeta (Recommended or breakfast as well).

Photo of La Piazzetta, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Day 7

This was technically the last day of my trip and i was left with some nearby attractions. One of them was the Shey Palace.

Shey palace was another stay for the Namgyal dynasty. Leh being the Winter while Shey the Summer stay for the Namgyal King. This palace is mostly ruins now but still the beauty of the palace is worth a visit.

Photo of Shey Palace, Shey by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Shey Palace, Shey by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Shey Palace, Shey by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Shey Palace, Shey by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Shey Palace, Shey by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Shey Palace, Shey by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Shey Palace, Shey by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Shey Palace, Shey by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Shey Palace, Shey by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Shey Palace, Shey by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Shey Palace, Shey by Pushpak Apte

Last but not the least was the war memorial. The original war memorial that was built still stays in Kargil. However they recently made a replica of it in the outskirts of Leh city.

The war memorial is a good and informative structure to understand the wars that took place and the bravery of Indian soldiers. It gives you a good insight of Indian Army.

After i was done with this, i went to do some shopping on the mall street. Buying souvenir to keep the memory of that place intact is something i do on the last day.

Photo of War Memorial, NH 1D, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of War Memorial, NH 1D, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of War Memorial, NH 1D, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of War Memorial, NH 1D, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of War Memorial, NH 1D, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of War Memorial, NH 1D, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of War Memorial, NH 1D, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of War Memorial, NH 1D, Leh by Pushpak Apte

After a good relaxing last day, it was time for the last meal in Ladakh. The place where i stayed was a home stay and the people were kind enough to prepare a authentic last meal, with ladakhi roti, dal, rice and ofcourse ladakhi tea.

After the authentic dinner, it was time to wrap up. Going back home after enjoying for 7 days is big task. On the way back in flight i was already planning my next trip.

P.S. Carry Diamox tablets and have it regularly after breakast to acclimatize your body to the high altitude.

Photo of Nathula Guest House, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Nathula Guest House, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Nathula Guest House, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Nathula Guest House, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Nathula Guest House, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Nathula Guest House, Leh by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Nathula Guest House, Leh by Pushpak Apte
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