Panamik has a natural hot water spring. There is a bath and kitchen which has the facilities so that you can take bath in the natural hot water spring water or eat food cooked with the water. There are medicinal benefits of both. Point to be noted: Skip this.Read More
How To Reach
Book a Package Tour
286 Kms from Panamik
Best time to visit - February,March,April,October
The land from where once an ancient trade route to China would be embarked on, Manali is an abode for modern creativity now as much as it for withdrawal and adventure in the majestic mountains. From offering hostels, hotels, co-working spaces to the cave where once Arjun, the Pandava king had supposedly meditated (Arjun Gufa), Manali is no less than a global village. The mighty Himalayas have inspired many foreign settlements here, giving rise to popular European and Israeli cafes, restaurants and hostels, providing one a consortium of around the world cultures. This town is a true haven for adventure junkies who can indulge in river rafting, paragliding, camping, rock climbing, rappelling, zorbing at Solang Valley and Aleo. Manali has an array of breathtaking treks and sights for its nature lovers, for instance the Patalsu Peak, the Deo Tibba basecamp, Jogini Falls and the Rahala Falls. For all the solo riders out there, cruise your way through the snowy alley of Rohtang Pass while those who wish to travel back in time, can indulge in the exquisite display of culture and heritage at the Museum of Himachal Culture and Folk Art. Restaurants and cafes such as the Khyber Pass, Johnson's Cafe, La Plage, Drifters' Inn, The Hangout attract foodies for their culinary justice to everything from Thai to European cuisines and even some live music. If all this is too over the top for you, then reconnect with simplicity at Naggar Village, which is home to waterfalls, a beautiful castle, an art gallery and locals which have many stories to share and a cultural heritage to take pride in. Read More
The land from where once an ancient trade route to China would be embarked on, Manali is an abode for modern creativity now as much as it for withdrawal and adventure in the majestic mountains. From offering hostels, hotels, co-working spaces to the cave where once Arjun, the Pandava king had supposedly meditated (Arjun Gufa), Manali is no less than a global village. The mighty Himalayas have inspired many foreign settlements here, giving rise to popular European and Israeli cafes, restaurants and hostels, providing one a consortium of around the world cultures. This town is a true haven for adventure junkies who can indulge in river rafting, paragliding, camping, rock climbing, rappelling, zorbing at Solang Valley and Aleo. Manali has an array of breathtaking treks and sights for its nature lovers, for instance the Patalsu Peak, the Deo Tibba basecamp, Jogini Falls and the Rahala Falls. For all the solo riders out there, cruise your way through the snowy alley of Rohtang Pass while those who wish to travel back in time, can indulge in the exquisite display of culture and heritage at the Museum of Himachal Culture and Folk Art. Restaurants and cafes such as the Khyber Pass, Johnson's Cafe, La Plage, Drifters' Inn, The Hangout attract foodies for their culinary justice to everything from Thai to European cuisines and even some live music. If all this is too over the top for you, then reconnect with simplicity at Naggar Village, which is home to waterfalls, a beautiful castle, an art gallery and locals which have many stories to share and a cultural heritage to take pride in.
It was finally time to leave Manali. From the comfort of travelling in flights and cars to travelling in overcrowded buses, hitchhiking, walking for miles, cycling at midnight to satisfy midnight hunger pangs and what not."Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow". I had to leave the place with a heavy heart. Backpacking alone took courage, determination and enthusiasm more than money. Looking forward to many such memorable trips in the future.
Nothing was planned for the day. The bus heading to Manali didn't stop as i had wandered far away from the bus stop to click some pictures, so i decided to hitchhike and fortunately a friendly truck driver dropped me off at Mall Road in Manali. I started exploring the markets and then came across a board sign saying "Nature walk, Manali". The Nature walk is filled with numerous pine trees and is at a walkable distance from the Mall Road.
It was a day before Diwali a couple of years ago. I was feeling particularly saddened over not being able to visit family in festivities. I had a choice in staying back in Delhi or causing a change of scenery. I chose the latter and booked my Volvo tickets to a tried and tested safe destination – Manali.So here’s a tip. When leaving Delhi a day before Diwali, keep at least 3 extra hours in hand just to reach the train/bus station. You will be surprised how covering a distance of mere 10 kilometers in Delhi pre-Diwali can be a Herculean task. As I took the metro from Gurgaon to the Bus Station, I did not know it will make me end up calling none other than the bus driver to plead him to wait 10 more minutes. God bless the driver, I eventually boarded the bus.Before I go on further, I just want everyone to know that this was my first ever recreational solo trip.With my brand new iPhone 6 plus in hand, I woke up to breath-taking scenery and a hope that this Diwali will compensate for the lost time with family. The bus ride of approximately 12 hours ended on a beautiful note when I took my first breath of fresh air next to the lovely Beas river. Another 30 minutes and I was checked in to the riverside Dragon Guest House in Old Manali.Since I reached on the morning of Diwali, India’s biggest festival, I wasn’t surprised to see the streets empty with only a few tourists in sight. What scared me even more was the moment when I realized I’m being followed by a bunch of local boys. While innocently looking around for a plate of food, I stumbled upon these hooligans who did not waste time in figuring out I was alone.One of them said – “Look, she’s going to the ATM. No worries. Let her come out. It’s gonna be a fun day, Bro..! One of them seemed to have a kind heart – “Chuck it dude, let her go. C’mon, let’s not bother her” To this, the other one replied- Why dude, is she your sister?This numbingly fearful conversation was enough for me to just pack my bags and take the next bus back home. But then, I decided I shouldn’t jump the guns and in an attempt to be around other people. I walked into a nearby restaurant, spotted a lean, kind-eyed, bespectacled white man, and sat on his table, pretending he’s someone I know or am friends with. If Bollywood had ever taught me any drama, this was the time to use my skills, and so after quietly communicating the situation to this stranger, I finally found my safe zone in the “now foreign” city.“My name is Matthias. And you?” he said, in a kind yet deep, husky voice. “I’m Suhani, I’m from Delhi. Thank you very much for playing along. I was really scared and didn’t know what to do.” I said with a sense of sheer relief. After meeting a series of jerks and experiencing all the douchebaggery, spotting the “good guy” wasn’t really a problem for me, you see. :)“Don’t worry now. You’re safe here” he assured.I thanked him for his assurance and then, it seemed, the ice was broken. I learnt that he was a French native, living and studying in New Delhi and was in Manali on a solo trip, since all his college mates had gone to their homes to celebrate Diwali.Upon hearing an equally identical story from me, he realized he wasn’t the only one alone in the city. We exchanged numbers and decided to meet the same evening if the other did not have any plans. During my time in that restaurant, I realized how effortless the whole experience was and that I could count on him to be a good travel companion during the next 3-4 days.A hearty meal riverside followed and I decided to take a nap after return to the hotel, hoping he will call. I maybe a confident woman but I didn’t want him to feel that his kindness is causing hindrance in his private time in the hills by himself. Thankfully, I was pleasantly woken up by his text in the evening and we decided to catch up. I’d be lying if I said that I did not see a possibility of travel romance in this meeting. However, he seemed so different from all the other men I had ever met or spoken to, natives or foreigners, that I remained careful in my conversations.
Day 1: Delhi - Manali (580 kms, 12 hrs)The night before the beginning of a trip is always a short one. It is almost impossible to put an over-active mind to rest and one twists and turns on the bed to fall asleep. So with limited sleep of just 3 hours, we finally left our flat in Vasant Kunj by 4 am. The high point of the drive till Bilaspur was the drive through Banur to avoid Chandigarh altogether. It must have shaved off at least an hour of our total drive till Manali. The road from Ropar till Kiratpur was also a pleasant surprise with the construction finally over and all flyovers complete. The lowest point, as is always, was the frustrating truck traffic between Kiratpur and Bilaspur. After driving non-stop for 6.5 hours from Delhi, we decided to stop for breakfast in Bilaspur. Breakfast at our usual stop, the Lake View hotel, was decent. Aarti then took over the wheel while I settled for some shuteye. Without any further incidents, we reached Manali by 4 pm. It was a record run for us till Manali, bettering our previous best run by at least half an hour. I wonder if Manali would be possible in 11.5 hours after the construction work on NH-1 is complete. As always, the next order of business was to reach Il Forno to have a late lunch. According to me, Il Forno serves not only the best pizzas in all of Himachal, but in all of India. Not to exaggerate, but the pizzas served even at La Piazza do not come close to the ones made by Roberta. You must give it a try when in Manali, if you love those thin crust non-oily pizzas like we do. The next course of action was to check in to “our” hotel, the Johnson’s Lodge at Manali. Since the HP govt. had decided to issue permits for non-HP registered vehicles to cross Rohtang, we had asked the hotel’s staff to arrange it for us. They had, thankfully, agreed to do so. That is when the owner dropped a bomb on us. She informed that Rohtang pass had been closed for a couple of days now, and that no vehicles had been crossing over. Our primary reason for doing a Zanskar centric trip via Manali, and not via Srinagar which would have made more sense, was to experience the Manali - Leh highway while going up, a thing that we had missed the last time around. Not ones to easily give up, we thought it would be best to speak to a couple of taxi owners on the Mall road before taking any further action. Meanwhile, as Aarti was busy checking in, I thought of making some good use of the light to capture the beautiful flowers in the garden near our room. A walk to the Mall road soothed our nerves a bit when we were informed that the pass is partially open with only jeeps able to make it through, and that too with much difficulty. What was reassuring was that it was at least POSSIBLE to cross Rohtang, although difficult. After arranging for breakfast and filling up the tank, we went back to the hotel to hit the sack as early as possible. We knew that we must push off from Manali early the next morning to beat the morning rush. What we did not know, however, was that we had a very long and frustrating day ahead of us.
Words are not enough to describe the amount of awesomeness this trip was packed with. The unmissable natural beauty of the Himalayas is a mesmerising spectacle. I was absolutely awe-struck as soon as the journey started in Manali and went click-crazy throughout the trip. It was interesting to note the transformation of the landscape throughout the 473 km long Manali-Leh Highway. A few hours of green, then white, then green again, then brown, then white, then green etc. etc. etc. The journey was a burst of colour and every scenery surpassed the previous one in awesomeness. There was one stretch, near Pang, that almost looked like a scene from a sci-fi movie. It was totally un-Earth-ish with giant sized hills and castles and gates made of sand.
Day 3: Manali to Leh – The Himachal Tourism Bus (Manali to Leh) is the most comfortable way to cover this stretch. The bus departs at 09:00 hrs and arrives Leh at around 19:00 hrs the next day. Costing 2500 INR, it proffers a night halt at Keylong that includes your dinner and breakfast as well.Adding to the advantage pool is those 10 minutes halts at all the major engrossing locations on this stretch (Tickets can be booked athttp://hp.gov.in/hptdc/Availability.aspx).Manali – Rohtang Pass – Chenab River – Koksar – Keylong – Bara-lacha La Pass – Sarchu – Nakee La Pass – Pang - Tanglang La Pass – Karu – Leh
Day 11- The last day at Manali, we stuffed ourselves with every cuisine possible, sang songs on karaoke and discovered how these 10 days made 10 of us strangers into one gang of friends. And I an quoting, '10 of us became one'.THIS!
We departed for Sarchu early in the morning at 6:30 am and crossed the Rohtang Pass and got our first glimpse of snow. Rohtang literally means pile of corpses due to people dying in bad weather trying to cross the pass. Though very touristy and dirty patches of slushy snow, we did not really went in there as we did not had those rented jumpsuits and rubber boots. I would suggest that if you are going in the peak summers, you better wait for Baralach La pass to enjoy the snow.
151 Kms from Panamik
This beautiful town happens to be located in Jammu & Kashmir and is an abode for those who wish to pursue Buddhism. The place is surrounded by tall mountains, clear blue water, a white surrounding and many monasteries. The people here are warm and welcome tourists. Found midway between the Karakoram and Himalayan mountains, the beauty of Leh is beyond words, making it a hotspot with the tourists. Visiting the local markets here is a treat as one will get to browse through Tibetan jewelry, carpets, woolens and much more. Be sure to carry an extra bag to fit in all your purchases.
28th Septemeber 0600 hrs I was up. After a quick loo call, stepped out to the balcony with a cup of coffee. The air was crisp and cold, tempting me to spike my drink with something headier. Had it not been for the journey, I would have. Post checking emails and messages, posting the previous day pictures on social media sites, did a final bag check based on my cross examination of Arjun. Image result for leh to pangong lake road mapNo good loos on the way, so pack a roll of toilet paper, bacterial sanitizer, soap, anti-diarrheal medicines, motion sickness medicines, dry snacks including chocolate bars. I knew that 30 km of the road from Leh to Karu was great. Rest of the 120 km was "not bad" or at least not as bad as the Khardungla - Nubra road. I must confess that I hadn't done my homework as well as I usually do to be confident. My belly was sending out mixed signals, worrisome actually. By 0730 hrs we were both ready for the trip and breakfast. Had to stay light, so picked up whatever appeared to conform. Fruits and juice and a bit of cheese. After consuming it, I thought... just thought that it was possibly a big mistake. The waiting staff having discovered that we were off to Pangong, packed up a hamper from the breakfast buffet as we had hardly touched anything at all. The thoughtfulness more than the hospitality at this hotel really touched my heart. At 5 minutes to 8, I got a call, it was Arjun, he was outside. Now, that worry was ticked off from my list. "All good?" I asked. He nodded and said I should speak to "Haqqa" as Haq was addressed locally. Haq inquired if we slept well and well rested, and if there was anything that needed to be done while we were on the trip. I told him we should have dinner together and he was happy to accept. On our way, the first 30 minutes was a repeat of last evening, so I went into a light doze mode. We had to stop at Karu for submitting the permit. Arjun said that it was the last stop where one could find a decent loo. What I assumed was a 5 minute procedural stop, turned out to be a wait of 20 minutes. Arjun was nowhere to be seen. When he showed up, I asked why the wait and he said something about the road ahead being blocked for traffic until 0900 hrs. I called his bluff as I saw other vehicles proceeding and he too got in, though a bit reluctantly. Haq would hear of this, I don't like being lied to. The road condition was getting progressively worse, as was my mood. I could see road works being carried out, but that many patches of diversion and lots of mud and dust in the air. Normally, one would roll up the windows and turn on the air-con or heater as the case maybe, but in this vehicle, it was busted. Moreover, the sun rays had become strong enough to sting through the clothes. Some 10km and 20 minutes later we reached the village of Sakti. At this rate, I thought it would take longer than 5 hours to get to our destination. At Sakti, right enough, the road to Pangong was shut and the traffic was diverted to an alternate route. I say route because it was nothing but a dirt track going up hill. Windows had to be kept shut. If there was a meter to measure my angst, trust me, it would have been hovering around the danger mark. Fortunately, we were climbing and the temperature inside soon became bearable. 10 km and 30 minutes later, we were joined back to the Pangong Rd. This stretch looked well tarred and full of hope. I asked Arjun if the road from here on would resemble this surface? He responded saying mountain roads are quite unpredictable. Unlike the two days earlier, he wasn't in much of a talking mood. Maybe, bored of us, just as I was of the scenery outside. Nothing that was so exceptional for me to take pains to shoot. 22 km and 45 minutes later, we reached the military camp of Zingral. Arjun stopped the vehicle and ran to the loo. 15 minutes later he reappeared looking sick. Bad stomach he said. His disappearance at Karu could now be explained too. I gave him a tablet and asked if I should drive. He said, once we start the down hill track, he would let me drive. I discovered why soon enough. A km away, it was Khardungla all over again for the next 45 minutes covering the 12 km to Chang La (Altitude 17,500 ft 5,360 m), the supposed second highest motorable pass in India, if not the world. The climb is steep and the area an avalanche zone. That explains Mr. Arjun's "mountain roads are unpredictable" statement. Already behind time (it was 1130 hrs now), and still at half way mark (75km from Leh)I egged Arjun to drive on. There were patches of snow slush on the road, remnants the ice and snow that had slid down from a bit higher up. Arjun drove another 35 km to Durbuk, from there, I took over. There was some 45 Km of driving left, with me at the wheel 1 hr 15 min max. The road was narrow, bad in parts, but that's exactly what an SUV is born to tackle. The test of the pudding was Arjun falling asleep on the rear seat. My wife would have failed me in a driving test. She kept yelling at me to be careful, reminding us we have kids at home. I told her to focus on the scenery ahead and take some pictures. The landscape had changed and we were in what resembled a cross a cross between the Grand Canyon and Mars. We passed through a 100 mt stretch that had just been bulldozed after being shut by an avalanche a day or two earlier.At 1300 hrs, it was visible. Pangong Tso. My foot became heavier on the pedal and no amount of jumps and bumps could wake the baby called Arjun slumbering behind. Finally, we made it. Spectacular is all what I could say. One has to be an idiot to this journey, but then it's worth it. Now we had to psyche ourselves to endure the 5 hours back. A billion pictures, pee in an open to sky lav, maggi noodles and ginger lemon tea later, we hit the road. One could pitch a tent and explore the entirety of the lake. But that is for the serious adventurer. I could only set my clock backwards to take me back to Leh. Fortunately, the medicine and sleep had revived Arjun and he was back to his jovial self. The way back was just the same, except that I switched places with Arjun in the sick bay. The altitude at Chang la got me and I puked the morning fruit juice and tea that had been the cause of it. Besides that adventure, and stopping for 15 minutes on the road to act as good Samaritans to a car suffering a flat wheel, the journey was uneventful. We made it back in 4 1/2 hours. Yippee! And, Arjun was rewarded for the same. An early dinner with Haq recounting our adventure completed, we were tired and wanted to just sleep. Next morning was a flight to Srinagar, and the situation there, was reported to be too far from normal. But the hotel had called and informed us that a car would be waiting to pick us up. So it could not be as bad as being talked about - right?
The only words that seem to do justice to the timeless beauty of the Pangong Lake, are 'Paradise on Earth'.With hues that range from a brilliant turquoise to a deep blue, this shimmering patch of sky on land is the highest salt water lake in Asia.These tranquil waters are a must-see for anyone visiting Ladakh.
#Adventurous Leh-Ladakh trip#bike trip 3300km#royal Enfield#college friends#highest motorable road in the world#Three top highest passes in world-khardungla pass, changla pass, taglangna pass#sonmarg ,gulmarg#kargil#Rancho's cafe and school#pangong lake#monestery#new people#manali#paragliding.Life time memories 😊
02-Sep-15 Turtuk to Leh 241 Kms driven Stay at: Jorchung Guest House, Main Tukcha Road, Leh Tariff : 1800/- per room per night In Leh, there are quite a few places to visit and these can be covered in a day. We visited Zorawar Fort where all the history of Ladakh is displayed. Shey Palace was also very beautiful and it has a Buddha Temple too. We also visited 3 Idiots fame, Rancho’s school, Druk White Lotus School. You get to see many monasteries in this region. We visited the Hemis Monastery. The experience of the peace inside the monastery and to see how they offered their prayers to the God was pleasant. You must visit Shanti Stupa for a sunrise or a sunset. It gives a picturesque view of Leh and its surrounding mountains.
After non-stop journey of 24 hrs finally we reached our desination Leh at hotel Lingzi. Next day we started our journey towards Shanti Stupa, was built for peace and prosperity and to commemorate 2500 yrs of buddhism. It is considered a symbol of the ties between the people of Japan and Ladakh as both japanese and ladakhi buddhishts helped built it. The premises of Stupa offers the spectacular views of the ladakh and himalayas.
I lost myself in Ladakh to find myself. A Walk for 5-6kms from my camp in pangong lake to some village was the best time of my life. I was alone, didn't care about anything. I was lying on the ground and looking up at the sky and all I could hear is the rhythm of breeze!!!!
LEH, is one of the sexiest place I have ever been to, people are honest, surrounded by beautiful mountains, wooden art can be seen in bulk. Leh, was the capital of the Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh, now the Leh district in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Leh district, with an area of 45,110 kilometers, is the second largest district in the country, after Kutch, Gujarat (in terms of area). The town is dominated by the ruined Leh Palace, the former mansion of the royal family of Ladakh, built in the same style and about the same time as the Potala Palace-the chief residence of the Dalai Lama.
260 Kms from Panamik
Best time to visit - April,May,June,July,August,September,October
Gar firdaus ruhe zamin ast, Hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin ast. “If there is a heaven on earth, it’s here, it’s here, it’s here.” This is how the Sufi mystic Amir Khusrow has described the Kashmir Valley, and Srinagar is at the heart of the valley. Smack in the middle of the city is the mighty Dal Lake, its placid water reflecting the vivid kaleidoscope of innumerous houseboats, shikaras (taxi-boats), and the snow-capped Pir Panjal range: a sight that will make your heart skip a beat. The city is home to the state-of-the-art Mughal Gardens, Shalimar Bagh and Nishant Bagh being the most famous of them. The gardens exhibit the Mughal taste of nature and the philosophy of disciplining nature rather than imitating it: fountain pools and canals, meticulously manicured hedges, and motley flowerbeds. Also known as the Kashmiri Venice, Srinagar is a place not to be missed by those seeking a tranquil refuge in the lap of the Himalayas.Read More
Gar firdaus ruhe zamin ast, Hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin ast. “If there is a heaven on earth, it’s here, it’s here, it’s here.” This is how the Sufi mystic Amir Khusrow has described the Kashmir Valley, and Srinagar is at the heart of the valley. Smack in the middle of the city is the mighty Dal Lake, its placid water reflecting the vivid kaleidoscope of innumerous houseboats, shikaras (taxi-boats), and the snow-capped Pir Panjal range: a sight that will make your heart skip a beat. The city is home to the state-of-the-art Mughal Gardens, Shalimar Bagh and Nishant Bagh being the most famous of them. The gardens exhibit the Mughal taste of nature and the philosophy of disciplining nature rather than imitating it: fountain pools and canals, meticulously manicured hedges, and motley flowerbeds. Also known as the Kashmiri Venice, Srinagar is a place not to be missed by those seeking a tranquil refuge in the lap of the Himalayas.
This was my most memorable trip. We were in Srinagar by night. We took a houseboat stay and it was awesome. We shared a house boat with other couple. This houseboat which named Khybar was so awesome. Food was delicious. Next day morning, we woke up with pleasant Dal lake before us. We didnot care to go into Srinagar city as we were at peace in Dal lake. We were seeing pretty shikaras all over Dal lake. There were water sports on Dal lake . We too tried our hands in one of them. Just stand on a plank with rope in hand and speedboat takes you around Dal lake. It was fun. Then at sunset, we did a Shikara ride and it was magical. We were om shikara with mountains and pine trees all around. It called it a day, had our dinner and hit the bed.
Srinagar is nothing short of paradise and the people who have visited this extraordinary valley will agree. The colours of the valley change every season. In the summers, the valley is a fresh green, in autumn you will see it painted in shades of mandarin and in winters, which start in December, you will see the valley wrapping itself in hues of grey, blue and white. Crisp-cold winds blow in the valley indicating that winters are finally here. The temperature drops down to minus degrees and all you will need is a cup of warm kahwa and firans to keep you cozy at times like these. From Kashmir, you can go further to explore places nearby, such as Gulmarg, Sonamarg, Gurez Valley. Srinagar is one of the best holiday destinations in India.How to reach Srinagar:The easiest way to reach Srinagar is through air. Srinagar is well connected by road and rail, the nearest railway station is in Jammu. Regular buses ply for Srinagar as well.
Srinagar, Jammu & KashmirIt’s’ Venice of the East’ calling this summer, and it is the retreat. Be it the Dal Lake and its shikaras or the Mughal Gardens and their state of spring – they will all leave you with many a story.
Houseboat is a wooden boat that designed in a beautiful manner to make it a perfect dwelling place for tourists over the waterways. Moored along the edges of Dal Lake and Nagin Lake, Houseboat in Srinagar is counted as one of the key tourist’s attractions of the Kashmir valley. Large numbers of tourists are attracted to Kashmir by the mesmerizing charm of houseboat, which provides ethereal experience of living on the water in a wooden paneled bedroom, with all modern amenities of a luxury hotel. Houseboats of Kashmir are not only modern, beautiful and elegant but also comfortable in all respects.
One could sense the tension on the street. Strict and frequent checks on the road; restricted traffic movement of men and machines, no shops open. Yes, the situation could go anyway as the day progressed. In the forty minutes from the hotel to the airport, numerous calls from friends. Irritating a wee bit, but touching too. Good to have such people in our lives. The scene at the airport, pretty much the same as the previous day, crowded, except much more people waiting outside to receive returning pilgrims. Security at this airport is much higher as is the presence of uniformed men and women, but all, very courteous and polite, not afraid to smile and wish back greetings as they went about doing their job dedicatedly.It was a long wait for our 3 pm flight back. Fortunately, there was shopping to keep the irritation of wife in check. Did we enjoy our mini adventure? But of course. Would we do it again? But of course, and encourage others too, to follow suit.
Day 14: Arrive in Srinagar: Explore Srinagar.Day 15: Take a flight back to your home destination (Note: If you want to save days, then be wise and book your return tickets from Leh well in advance). A humble request – Garbage disposal in the region is a major issue. Please carry your trash with you and dispose it at the appropriate place. You can view more pictures from my journey at www.unpluggedlife.inP.S – Special thanks to Vinay Shukla, Pratiksha Kapoor, Ojas Mhatre, Reeti Trivedi Pandharipande, Supreet Kapoor, Pranav Inamdar & all others who helped me with the slightest of things to make this dream come true. This trip was originally published on Unplugged Life.
Day 1 & 2 - We left Pathankot early in the morning by 8. The next stop Srinagar, was only 360 kms but it took us almsot 17 excruciating hours on the NH1 to reach Srinagar later in the night at 1 which led us to bunk in our traveller for the night till it was 6 in the morning when we set out to look for a place to freshen up. That's when we were told that since the Rohtang Pass (Leh-Manali highway) is closed, the traffic from Leh has to be diverted down through Srinagar and that has led to the traffic being closed for that day from Srinagar to Leh. In the planning of the whole trip we had included 3 days as buffer, in-case these kind of events take place. In order to utilise the whole day we went to a place called Yousmarg near Srinagar, which is just 47 kms from Srinagar. It is an alpine valley which invloves a mild trek to the base of a tributary of river Jhelum, called Doodganga.
I decided to do Ladakh along with Kashmir and I'm so glad i did it. Two weeks of this beautiful place made me believe in "surreal We left for Srinagar on a Saturday early morning (approx 4:40am) as it normally takes a good 12-14 hours via road. We passed by the beautiful Sonamarg and headed towards Dras- a small town in the Kargil district. On our way we stopped for some hot aloo parathas and kawa chai (Kashmiri tea) at Sonamarg!
Going down from Patnitop to Srinagar is like skydiving. You get the best view of the valley when you are higher up. By the time you get to the bottom of the mountainous path, it would have gotten to you - the imposing aura of a gargantuan gimmick of nature that wouldn't budge until all hell broke loose. The build up is perfect. We stopped at a roadside shack for breakfast. As the two of us settled into the crude comfort of a wooden bench facing the fireplace where our chaiwala boiled tea leaves, a herd of mountain goats marked in saffron, made their way through the crawling traffic. While relishing the roti and dal he offered us, little did we imagine that our next meal would be at ten in the night. We got to know from the news that a harthal was declared in Srinagar to protest against the beef issue which was at its peak at the time. Just before we entered the city, there was a blockade on the way. Azal unintentionally followed a truck that took a diversion moments before the road we were on, got closed. We simply got lucky. At Lethapora, a village on the outskirts, we stopped to buy some saffron (kesar) and dry fruits from Gulistan Kesar House. The price is half of that back home and the quality is impeccable. We reached Srinagar a little after three in the afternoon. Our stay for the night was booked at New Jersey Houseboat on Nigeen Lake. Nigeen or Nagin is one of the four basins of Dal lake, referred to as the 'Jewel in the crown of Kashmir' due to its popularity and commercial significance. We checked into our room - a maroon, richly embellished, carpeted space with a Kashmiri getup. A sit out was fashioned around the foredeck of the boat, from where we could gaze at the waters mirroring all that stood on its surface. Living and dining rooms, adorned with antique furniture, transported us to the interiors of an affluent mahal with a Persian influence. The houseboat could easily accommodate a large family in its many rooms. Sammy hopped on the boat, raring to go in. We had to lock her up in the carpeted washroom for fear of her fur soiling the carpets and upholstery. As a welcome gesture, we were served a cup of homegrown Kahwah, lightly fragrant and exotically spiced to tantalize the senses.
288 Kms from Panamik
Best time to visit - March,April,May
Himachal is the throne of a number of 'mini-Switzerlands' and Dalhousie is widely known to be one of them. Named after the British Governor-General of India (1848), Lord Dalhousie, this place remains a popular summer retreat mainly for the charming walks it offers around the pine-sheathed valleys with views of distant mountains. There are a few British-era architectural sights here worth visiting. For instance, St. John's Church, or the Rang Mahal, an 18th century monument of British and Mughal style architecture with paintings dating back to the very same era with a souvenir shop. One can delve into Dalhousie's Deodar-enveloped natural habitat in the Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary, home to many animal species such as the leopard, deer, bear, serow, barking goral and jackal and many streams flowing into the river Ravi. Nature and adventure enthusiasts should also try boating in the calm waters of Chamera lake or try the easy-level Dainkund trek. Tourists must visit the Tibetan Market to buy exquisite Himalayan handloom. Some popular restaurants for North Indian, Mughlai, Chinese and other multi-cuisine dishes are Moti Mahal, Kwality Restaurant and Hotel Mount View. Dalhousie is well connected by road and train, the nearest station being Pathankot, which is 80km away.Read More
Himachal is the throne of a number of 'mini-Switzerlands' and Dalhousie is widely known to be one of them. Named after the British Governor-General of India (1848), Lord Dalhousie, this place remains a popular summer retreat mainly for the charming walks it offers around the pine-sheathed valleys with views of distant mountains. There are a few British-era architectural sights here worth visiting. For instance, St. John's Church, or the Rang Mahal, an 18th century monument of British and Mughal style architecture with paintings dating back to the very same era with a souvenir shop. One can delve into Dalhousie's Deodar-enveloped natural habitat in the Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary, home to many animal species such as the leopard, deer, bear, serow, barking goral and jackal and many streams flowing into the river Ravi. Nature and adventure enthusiasts should also try boating in the calm waters of Chamera lake or try the easy-level Dainkund trek. Tourists must visit the Tibetan Market to buy exquisite Himalayan handloom. Some popular restaurants for North Indian, Mughlai, Chinese and other multi-cuisine dishes are Moti Mahal, Kwality Restaurant and Hotel Mount View. Dalhousie is well connected by road and train, the nearest station being Pathankot, which is 80km away.
Dalhousie, perched at the end of a dusty backbreaking road through Himachal Pradesh, is perfect to disconnect from the world.
Retaining not only the colonial looks but also the name, Dalhousie is a hill station with beautiful surroundings and weather.
Buses are very easily available from Dharamsala to Dalhousie and take less than four hours.(If you want to head straight to Khajjiar take a direct bus.)You can start your journey in Dalhousie from Subhash Chowk and proceed to either of these three small hikes. Enroute Lakkad Mandi, the road diverges towards Kala Top Wildlife Park, Khajjiar and Dainkund Peak. So, before heading to Khajjiar, you can take easy hikes to both Kala Top and Dainkund. These peaks provide a great panoramic view of the Kangra Valley.
Dalhousie is palpably more colonial in flavour as compared to the strongly Buddhist feel at Dharamshala and Mcleod.The journey back to Dharamshala the next day was uneventful. After a hearty breakfast at the hotel we did not even need to stop for lunch but one member of our party who was sick on the way from Delhi decided to skip the bus jorney and fly back. We said our goodbyes at the Dharamshala airport and then made our way back to the very same cottage we had occupied a night ago as the caretaker had very kindly agreed to rest there for an hour or two before we caught our bus back to Delhi.The return journey to Delhi was much smoother than the onward one, not least because the hairpin bends and ghat roads were over by 10p.m. and after that it was just any other normal bus journey. I wanted to record the dinner stop on this route. The bus pulled into an imposing driveway and in front of us stood a palatial building called Haveli built in sandstone. It was eerie and weird...exactly the sort of setting for a low-budget horror flick where a bus-full of passengers disembark in the middle of a lonely highway and one by one inevitably they die. As we walked up the 50 or so steps into the grand main hall and had our dinner the feeling of eeriness and unease never left us for a second. As I kept teasing my friend, it seemed as though many skeletons were literally buried in the closets of this house. We felt infinitely better when we were back on the road.The bus reached Delhi at around 4:30a.m. and dropped us off at ISBT Kashmiri Gate. This was the end of our trip and we headed homewards. The memories, however, will stay with each one of us.
Next morning we set off for Dalhousie in an upbeat mood. First stop was the Dharamshala Cricket Stadium which is the highest stadium in the country. Beautifully kept and fringed by mountains, it provided numerous photo-ops for tourists.On the mountains every hairpin bend, every curve, throws up a different dimension of the view. The scene keeps shifting so there's never a dull moment. The movie business churns out hundreds of songs each year but all the hill-stations in the Himalayan region of India are caught in a time-warp of 1990's Bollywood cheesy romantic numbers. Unfailingly, if the taxi/car you hire has a stereo, the driver will play these almost-forgotten songs. One such ditty stuck in our heads like chewing gum would not come off till we recorded a dub-smash duet rendition of it. A bit of crazy on the trip!
Amritsar to Dalhousie (Punjab to Himachal)We started at 7am in morning from Amritsar to Dalhousie through batala, Gurdaspur, Pathankot. We reached at about 1pm so we decided to move to Khajjiar. It was really a beautiful place for mountain lovers. We return back to Dalhousie in evening, it was started raining and guess what it was an ice rain. Beautiful rainbow comes up in sky. We took rooms for 1000 bucks. And it was a hell of scenery from the balcony of room. You can see mountains range.
29. Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh -Dalhousie will transport you to another world. Although located at Kalatope, the spread of cedar and pine paint a different picture. The magic of the forest coupled with the wide expanse of the grasslands will make you feel isolated from the world. If you want to skip the more touristy places in the area, you can. Instead, you can choose to stay at the forest rest house situated in Kalatope. You will find a golf course, a temple and a lake surrounding the area. What more can you hope for when you are on a romantic escapade?
16. The picturesque hills of DalhousieAnother beautiful destination in Himachal Pradesh is the hill station called Dalhousie. Named after the British General, Lord Dalhousie, this hill station once a summer retreat for the British, still retains its popularity. Situated at an altitude of 2,400 metres, Dalhousie spans across five hills and is one of the most picturesque hill stations reflecting plush green hills dotted with ancient Hindu temples and Scottish and Victorian architecture as seen in its quaint bungalows and modest churches.
Dalhousie- Named after Lord Dalhousie. Well this is place is for those who seek peace and look for space within themselves. Beauty of this place can not be explained in words. A must visit destination in Himachal Pradesh. Paanch pula is the main attraction of the place. You can enjoy shopping on the Mall road and the tibetan market.
281 Kms from Panamik
Best time to visit - N/A
This is as valley as well as a town in the Dustrict of Chamba. Situated on the banks of the Ravi River, Chamba is a beautiful place and a popular tourist destination of Himachal Pradesh. The town was founded in 920 AD by Raja Sahil Verma, after he moved his capital from Bharmour till here. The temple of the Chamba valley are also famous for theire beautiful wood carvings. The main influence is of Hindus here unlike most of the other hill valleys of Himachal. The Raghuvira Temple is the most famous temple here. The blooming flowers all around is a blissful sight. The Chowgan Field is the place for the traditional Minjal Festival of Chamba Region.Read More
This is as valley as well as a town in the Dustrict of Chamba. Situated on the banks of the Ravi River, Chamba is a beautiful place and a popular tourist destination of Himachal Pradesh. The town was founded in 920 AD by Raja Sahil Verma, after he moved his capital from Bharmour till here. The temple of the Chamba valley are also famous for theire beautiful wood carvings. The main influence is of Hindus here unlike most of the other hill valleys of Himachal. The Raghuvira Temple is the most famous temple here. The blooming flowers all around is a blissful sight. The Chowgan Field is the place for the traditional Minjal Festival of Chamba Region.
The trek from Dalhousie to Chamba takes you through the valleys of Kangra and Chamba. This route is a beautiful way to enter the Chamba Valley on foot, and is best enjoyed during winters. The camping sites on the way are on comfortable terrains, making them ideal for families.The starting point or the first basecamp of the trek is in Dalhousie. From there you trek for five hours to reach Kalatop, a picturesque mountain peak, and then camp again at Khajjiar the next night. You will spend more than a day exploring the Mangla Village, and then head back via the same route.
Early next morning we woke up and got ready for the long Journey awaiting us .We had to reach Gangotri which is 300 km from Haridwar, by night Since there aren’t any straight buses to Gangotri from Haridwar, we were to go to Uttarkashi first and then take another bus to Gangotri. So we took a bus to Uttarkashi via Rishikesh around 5.30 am. We reached Chamba around 9 am where the bus stopped for quick refreshment for the passengers and driver. From there we saw the snow covered tops of theHimalayan peaks from the distance for the first time in our journey. The tallest mountain ranges in the world, the natural barrier of our great nation was shining so bright in the sunlight. But disappointingly that was the last time we saw that magnificent view till we reached Gangotri. The driver of the bus rushed through the narrow road which snaked across the valley. Soon after crossing Chamba you will get a companion up to the destination, it is none other than the mighty 'Ganga'. But at that point its name is Bhagirathi, the river which came to the earth from the heavens because of the prayers of King Bhagirath! It becomes Ganga after joining with Alakanandha at Devprayag which is not quite far from Chamba. Bhagirathi looked like a lake in those areas because of the Tehri dam which is constructed across the river at New Tehri, I thought. But as we passed a few kilometers we could see the real face of Bhagirathi. She is very thin but flowing really fast, cutting the mountains into two parts. One of the things that astonished me was that there are countless numbers of small streams joining Bhagirathi from its source in Gaumukh but still I felt the water level of the river is the same as its beginning. May be it is because she flows very fast! There are huge rocks in the river that got there probably because of landslides.
I reached Chamba as I planned. I booked a room nearby bus stand to leave for Bairagarh the next morning. It's 130kms and HPTDC runs only 2 buses in the morning. I interacted with locals and roamed the streets. There wasn't much to do.
18. The stunning mountains of ChambaThe Chamba Valley in Himachal is a mysterious place dotted with a number of temples dedicated to Lord Narayan. Considered to be a paradise for those who love to connect with nature, Chamba provides one with an awesome view of all the mountains around the valley.
211 Kms from Panamik
Best time to visit - May,June,July,August,September,October
Fondly called the 'meadow of gold', Sonamarg is situated on the banks of a tributary of river Jhelum in Kashmir. A spellbinding valley 80 km from Srinagar, en-route to Ladakh, it is on every traveller's list for its colourful views, serenity and charm. Much has been said about the beauty of Kashmir and one may wonder what the hullabaloo is about. But a visit to Sonamarg is all you need to understand the ways of nature! From Sonamarg, you can trek towards Krishnasar Lake and Vishnasar Lake, amongst others. A perfect place to camp and also to enjoy leisurely afternoon picnics, it would be best if you have a local showing you around. Though there are no well-defined touristy spots within Sonamarg, there are umpteen spots around it. Depending on what you'd like to explore, do gather information and then plan your day here. Read More
Fondly called the 'meadow of gold', Sonamarg is situated on the banks of a tributary of river Jhelum in Kashmir. A spellbinding valley 80 km from Srinagar, en-route to Ladakh, it is on every traveller's list for its colourful views, serenity and charm. Much has been said about the beauty of Kashmir and one may wonder what the hullabaloo is about. But a visit to Sonamarg is all you need to understand the ways of nature! From Sonamarg, you can trek towards Krishnasar Lake and Vishnasar Lake, amongst others. A perfect place to camp and also to enjoy leisurely afternoon picnics, it would be best if you have a local showing you around. Though there are no well-defined touristy spots within Sonamarg, there are umpteen spots around it. Depending on what you'd like to explore, do gather information and then plan your day here.
This day , we took a horse ride to Thajiwas glacier in Sonamarg. Almost everything in Sonamarg will be closed for 6 months because of snow. As I said guide is important for us to enjoy, this time we were not at all lucky. We got a very cranky horse which I first sat on, got panicked and made my husband sit on it. Scenery was perfect but because of our horses and guide we were not enjoying anything. We asked guide why the horse was cranky and the answer we got was these two horses donot get along well. We were ascending a mountain. Route was very scary too! And at a point there was only one way for horses and other way horses were standing beside a huge valley. My horse almost slipped its leg into valley and my head was spinning with fear. We reached Glacier and it was murky ice too and didnot seem like a glacier. And yeah it was a bit irritating seeing guides following us. This happened because our guide was not good else you will truly enjoy. While return , we got down of horse after sometime and started walking and that was when we started enjoying the beauty of Sonamarg. We were so tired after all this and were sleeping the next moment.
SonemargNext morning, we were introduced to Sonam (a ‘Ladakhi’ as Mushtaq bhai called him) to drive us to Leh. We passed by lush green valleys, rippling streams, lines of conifer trees & finally reached the picturesque Sonemarg. Glacier laden mountains, green fields, fascinating ponies made for a perfect backdrop of a Yash Chopra song – only the chiffon saree was missing!
Day19:-Leh to sonamargWas really very happy to hear the news that the roads of srinagar were open. I wanted to create a loop of the route by entering through Manali and exiting from srinagar and in no way I wanted to return by the same roads to Manali. The actual plan was to visit tso moriri and tso kar but I was already short of days because it took additional days to reach Leh . Skipping tso moriri and tso kar was a toughest decision but had to take it. Travelling through Srinagar was a risky thing as for the last 50 days Srinagar was under curfew and around 100 people were killed because of their conflict with army. I left with a thinking that I will meet some other bikers on the route so that I can travel with them till we cross Srinagar. Finally I was leaving Leh . But there are few places to see enroute. Initially planned to reach Kargil and next day cover Srinagar but changed my stopover from Kargil to drass the worlds second coldest inhabited place as it will be easy to cross Srinagar the next day. Few kilometres from Leh reached magnetic hill where the stationary vehicles moves uphill defying gravity. So I turned the engine off to try it. It really worked so I tried again just to confirm and it worked again. Small fear was there in my mind as I was still alone. Next I stopped by sangham which is the confluence of zanskar river and Indus River after which it flows through Pakistan before reaching the Arabian Sea. After sometime came across a group of riders who were traveling all the way from Kerala to Leh and back. Initially when I saw them they were having their breakfast I didn't stop there and moved ahead thinking we will meet ahead. On the way I crossed fotu la pass and reached a place called moonland, the place was good and scenic the surface of that place resembles a moon surface. On the way I met on of the biker from the Kerala group and had a word with him and asked where are they headed today for which he said by night they are planning to cross Srinagar,so at first I was planning to reach drass by evening and halt. Now decided to travel with them. I went ahead of them and reached Kargil and started looking for the Kargil war memorial. Upon asking found that it is located in drass and not Kargil. Had my lunch and reached drass in few hours. Spent some time in the war memorial looking at the sacrifice made by our soldiers during the Kargil war. I waited there for the Kerala guys to reach as I wanted to travel with them till we cross Srinagar. After a wait of around 45 minutes they reached. Finally we all left and planned to cross Srinagar at night, thinking that it would be safe to cross at that time. Though the situations were not good in Srinagar. By the time we left drass it was already near 7 pm and it was getting dark and we had to cross zojila pass. And by the time we reached there it was pitch dark with hardly any soul around. As we proceeded the road were rough and it started raining. We were driving on no roads and due to rain it was covered with slush and under darkness for several kilometres by 11pm we reached sonamarg. The army stopped us at the checkpoint and said they will allow us only by 5am. So we had our dinner for which we got only dal and rice , after requesting he made some omelettes. Then found some accommodation nearby the checkpoint and decided to ride early in the morning.
I had never seen snow, the very first glimpse of the snow laden heaven in Sonmarg brought twinkles to my eyes! Many tourist were gathered to ski in Tazivas glacier which made the highway jam. We were surrounded with snow. It was up, below and around us. There was a beauteous brown landscape when we climbed towards the most vicious and precipitous ‘ZojiiLa’ Pass’. I wonder, I crossed it and still alive. The narrow road (let’s call it road) had hardly any space to cross even one car. And just when I thought it could not get more adventurous than the 6km truck jam happened and we had to cross those trucks side by side, it took nearly 3 hours to cross that road.
If Gulmarg and Sonamarg makes you feel warm and fuzzy, Sonamarg is exactly the opposite. Don’t take me wrong, the beauty of Sonamarg is indeed breath-taking, but the grandiosity of the snow mountains make you feel like a Lilliput, someone without any power.The changing weather further adds to the mystery of ‘what’s next?’ The Sindh River cutting across the Sindh valley brings glamour to this hill station. Sonamarg is a contrasting beauty; green meadows on the banks of the Sindh River and the cold rustic mountains leading to Kargil.Instead of following the crowd to a snow field, I would advise you to rent a guide and ask him to take you some place which is less commercial. Yes, I particularly stress on hiring a guide because snow is dangerous (partly because there are melting glaciers). If you fall and cut yourself, you can bleed to death before any help arrives. There is also a trekking route that you can take that reaches the Pahalgam Valley. The trek is strenuous and the weather conditions determine whether you can trek that route.I would suggest an overnight stay at Sonamarg valley. Once the one day tourists leave, the place becomes quiet and it reveals true beauty to its night audience. The Sonamarg market is about 1 km. long. Most of the places serve fabulous food and like I always say, always order what the locals eat!
Sonamarg is named so because when the sun's rays fall on the mountain cliff it appears bright and golden, hence a road of gold, Sonamarg (And not Sonmarg). Beware that the tourists are not allowed to Sonamarg in their own vehicle. They are forced to use the local transport which is basically business for the local residents. We again came back to Srinagar for the final stay.
One of the prettiest hill stations in Ganderbal, Jammu and Kashmir, Sonamarg really is a meadow of gold considering its picturesque landscapes. Its lakes, glaciers, alpine flowers and imposing conifers will enthral you and coerce you to stay. The icing on the cake is the fact that it is the gateway to our beloved Ladakh.
290 Kms from Panamik
Best time to visit - May,June,July,August,September
Some say that Kaza is the most beautiful place in all of north India, yes that includes Ladakh! The capital of Spiti Valley, Kaza is every traveller's dream. Mostly unexplored owing to its inaccessibility, it has gradually found its place in the 'must visit places in India'. Overwhelming mountains, sparkling rivers, gurgling streams and a landscape unlike any other – Kaza needs to be seen to be believed. As you make your way from the city to this unknown land, you realise the disparity between urban living and simple life. And appreciate it. For miles and miles, you may not come across another human being but will certainly have sounds of nature to accompany you. Yes, Kaza is as poetic as travellers make it sound. The town is divided into parts and also serves as a pass to Ladakh. If you have visited Ladakh, the cultural similarities of both places will not surprise you. Though Kaza is not a typical holiday destination, it offers travellers much more. The base point for many treks, Kaza is where expert trekkers find solace. Do visit Tabo Monastery, which is considered to be one of the Buddhist centres in the Himalayas. The hotels here offer you basic but warm and well-maintained rooms with local meals that you just can't say no to! Reaching here isn't a problem either since buses from Manali run regularly, though the roads here are a little tricky! Perfect for adventure enthusiasts, Kaza is not everyone's cup of tea so if you are looking for a relaxed, no-hassle holiday, do think again!Read More
Some say that Kaza is the most beautiful place in all of north India, yes that includes Ladakh! The capital of Spiti Valley, Kaza is every traveller's dream. Mostly unexplored owing to its inaccessibility, it has gradually found its place in the 'must visit places in India'. Overwhelming mountains, sparkling rivers, gurgling streams and a landscape unlike any other – Kaza needs to be seen to be believed. As you make your way from the city to this unknown land, you realise the disparity between urban living and simple life. And appreciate it. For miles and miles, you may not come across another human being but will certainly have sounds of nature to accompany you. Yes, Kaza is as poetic as travellers make it sound. The town is divided into parts and also serves as a pass to Ladakh. If you have visited Ladakh, the cultural similarities of both places will not surprise you. Though Kaza is not a typical holiday destination, it offers travellers much more. The base point for many treks, Kaza is where expert trekkers find solace. Do visit Tabo Monastery, which is considered to be one of the Buddhist centres in the Himalayas. The hotels here offer you basic but warm and well-maintained rooms with local meals that you just can't say no to! Reaching here isn't a problem either since buses from Manali run regularly, though the roads here are a little tricky! Perfect for adventure enthusiasts, Kaza is not everyone's cup of tea so if you are looking for a relaxed, no-hassle holiday, do think again!
We went through Kaza and reached Kibber soon after. I was sitting on rooftop once again. If you get a chance to sit on car rooftop in Spiti, do that! It leaves one exuberant!
The place of our stay was located on the outskirts on highway to losar. Th hotel was " The Cliff Palace" a standard stay. We moved our luggage and got settled by 9:00 am. Requested the owner to open the terrcae for us and to cook the maggi what we were carrying.They fulfilled both our request. We again did the same setup as Chango and sat on terrace with drinks and maggi. Th dinner was kept in our room for late night snacking. We were lucky in every respect as the sky was clear with milkyway and stars more brighter with great setup behind it. With music playing in background and some old stories in hand we celebrated birthday of my brother in law with magi cake and drinks.Sat there till 2:30 pm and slept off on site of bed. We knew while going for sleep that morning will definitely bring more cheer to our adventure.Day 6: Kaza- Langza-Komic-Kibber-KazaDistance: 86 KmsTravel Time:10 hrs
We woke up early at 7:30 am and went for local sight seeing. We reached Seven Stupas. Offered our prayers and again walked for few meters for Sakya Tengyud Monastery. This newly built monastery has maintained all the sanctity and holiness of Buddhism and makes every effort to keep its vicinity clean and fresh. The moment you enter, you breathe-in spiritualism. we arrived at 7:45 am and the gates were closed. We sat on the long stairs just enjoyin the view when one of the monk passing by informed that te monastery will open in 5 more minutes . The gate opened at dot 8:00am and all the monks started arriving from there in campus stay. The hustling one were the younger monks followed by aged disciplined older monks.s They all sat on the seatings provided for offering prayers on left and right hand side in line. In the center was the statue of Buddha with many wall paintings, statue, and colourful flags. We sat on the rearest line and enjoyed the prayer and the interior of Monastery till 8:30 am. They served us hot tea which was to be consumed after the prayer. The red and yellow attire was amazing. And it was amazing to know that they have all the modern accessories to prevent cold but that too in red or yellow colour :-)We had our breakfast at 9:00 am and started by 9:30 am.. We reached Langza by 10:30 am.LANGZA: known as "the fossil village". Fossils of marine creatures and plants are found in plenty under the sedimentary rocks. These fossils are around millions of years old. Although possession and collection of fossils are illegal in India, the locals in the village sell these collectibles to the travellers visiting their village.. Langza is also famous for its huge Golden coloured Buddha statue which is believed to be around 1000 years old. Langza is also considered to be one of the highest villages in the world with a motorable road. Owing to its proximity to Tibet in China, the population of the village is predominantly Buddhist and belongs to the Sakyapa sect of Tibetian Buddhism. The village has a population of about 137 people living in 33 houses.
We woke up early morning and prepared ourselves by 7 am for 770 kms during the whole day and only to hear that the petrol pump won’t open before 9am.We only had petrol to serve ourselves for 8-10 kms and the next petrol pump was 25kms away. So we requested the petrol pump attendants and they got ready to open the petrol pump by 7.30 but again we have difficulty as the power is off. So we finally are able to leave by 9.30am as we start riding towards Shimla which was 421 kms far. We see the roads were good and motor-able and discuss amongst ourselves that if we are able to reach Shimla even by 14 hours then we can easily reach for my office the next day morning. As we ride on the roads started detoriating after a few kms. We ride non-stop but the unending roads and numerous villages continue. We even skip our breakfast but time flies away as we pass through the apple gardens and the dusty NH-505 and its afternoon. We ride on as we don’t see a single hotel open wherein we can stop and have some breakfast. After riding at a stretch we find that the road has ended and there is a “mummy” temple in front of us. So we ask the local people the route to Shimla and they inform us that we had taken a wrong turning and have come 8 kms off route. So we turn ourselves back and soon after we realize that our bike’s rear break isn’t working anymore. So we have no other way but to stop at the edge of a cliff, with no civilization in sight let alone a mechanic. We tried repairing the breaks there but didn’t work out so we choose to continue with the ride depending just on our front break as it was already 4pm by then. As we come back and take the road we were supposed to, we find it to be all broken. At one of the toll gates the army informs us that it was going to take at least 18 hours to reach Shimla further. We again choose to ignore them and continue. The journey was getting more and more difficult without the breaks and roads all broken. Sometimes we skit in the stone chips and pebbles all around, sometimes we lost control and ended up right at the edge of one of the cliffs. But soon after to our relief the rear break starts working and we ride on. We keep on riding but the roads don’t seem to have any end. After few more hours it starts getting dark and we have no idea where we are. The same unending hills and rivers continue and suddenly we realise that our bike was sounding weird and we turn back to see that the silencer pipe had fallen back somewhere. So my brother rides back in search of the silencer pipe and I stand there at the edge of a cliff as several vehicles pass by. After 15 minutes as I don’t see him coming I start getting tensed about his safety so I start walking back and soon I see him coming. So we resume our ride with the broken silencer pipe fit somehow and the darkness falling upon us. After few more hours of riding we reach a place called ‘Poh’ and it was dark. As we ride in the shown direction towards Shimla preceded by Rampur and Tabo we see that the road has ended. So we ask the local army cadets from one of the barracks and he says that due to a recent landslide the road has got blocked and the only way to cross this was riding through a hill. The hill was nothing less than 5000 ft above from where we were standing. So basically we had to cover odd 40 km instead of 9 km crossing that steep hill in dying darkness with our bodies totally given up. Nothing was working in our favor and we were devastated. We had literally lost all the senses and we knew that taking that ride of the steep hill would mean nothing but committing suicide. So after a blank gaze at each other we restarted riding over the hills. Just after two turnings at one of the steep turnings my brother almost lost control and we fell down. As we lifted the bike, we found that the silencer pipe that my brother had somehow managed to fix had fallen down once again. So there we were in the dying darkness standing at one of the corners of this mountain with no clue how to fix it, no idea what to do next, no physical or mental strength to get back up riding. After few faint attempts at fixing the silencer pipe we saw a small truck coming from down. So we had some light of hope but the truck took a sharp speedy curve and hit our bike’s luggage carrier bunk and stopped going ahead to check if that had broken something. As we waved for help the truck ignored us and moved onwards. So we were there alone once again with lights visible right at the top of the hill which were approximately I don’t know how far away. We could just faintly see round and round curves that had led to it. I, at a point felt as if we were not even alive anymore and all this was happening to our souls. This trip was no more an adventure for us. My brother was frustrated and was screaming on me and blaming me for the situation. Had we returned from Manali this would not have happened. We could have easily spent another beautiful pleasant night under the moonlit sky. But here we were struggling with our life against an 11000ft mountain. His hands looked burnt now by the continuous accelerating of his bike. But I managed to keep my cool. The person who was crying out of fear on the highway was now, way more matured. I knew that whatever was happening might be tough but was something we would cherish for the rest of our lives. So we somehow put the bike in a piece and resumed our riding through the dark broken mountain which had been through a landslide just a few days ago. We moved closer and closer to the top, the faint lights we could see were clearer now. So after riding for more than an hour we reached a small village at the top. After few honking a person came out so we asked him if there was a place nearby where we could sit back and relax. He pointed down and showed a place called ‘Tabo’ and instructed us to go there. We saw the village and it was a sight of relaxation after a long time. The village looked very beautiful by the local hydroelectricity project that was going on. It was like a garden full of white flowers. So we gathered all our courage and rode down to Tabo. It was 11 in the night when we reached Tabo and no part of our body was ready for any ride further. So I spoke to the HR person in my new office and postponed the joining to the 2nd half of the day and targeted to leave Tabo by 4 in the morning and reach Delhi by 2 in the afternoon.Day 5
First kind, then cashFor places which thrive on tourists, to ensure tourists buy their goods is essential. However, on our trip we did find some kind hearted souls, who put kindness first and cash later. We had decided on purchasing silver jewelry of about more Rs.2000 in Kaza's market, but realized if we paid all of it we may run out of cash. While we were still contemplating, buying the stuff and thinking about finding an ATM later, the shopkeeper advised otherwise. Concerned we may or may not find cash at the nearest ATM, he first asked us to go check if the ATM had cash withdraw it and then come pay him. He was not worried about the ATM not having cash and he losing out on a customers. Kindness first. To reward his kindness, the ATM did have cash and I am glad we could buy the silver jewelry.Himachal Diaries is a series of some short and some long blogs from my recent 10-day trip to Himachal with four of my friends. These blogs will cover places we saw, people we met, funny experiences and some instances which amuse us at a personal level. This is the fifth part of the Himachal Diaries series, Hope you enjoy, feedback is welcome!
30th June :- Fortunately my leg was much better next morning and I was excited to continue my journey. Bus departs from Kullu at 4A.M and reach Manali at 5:00 A.M. Bus was already full when it reached Manali and there were lot of passengers to board from Manali too. Conductor told me that all the sitting passengers are going till kaza so i have to continue without seat for 14 hours. I was little hesitant because of the cramp but decided to continue. I met two foreigners in the bus. They were also travelling Solo. I am an introvert person so I don't talk much with strangers. But in this trip I made sure talking to many people and also made some good friends. I started talking with the two foreigners and soon we were conversing like old friends. I talked to almost half of the bus in this ride, including some natives of Spiti. Two people boarded from Batal, they were coming from Chandratal and were going to Kaza. We talked and decided to take the accommodation together in Kaza to make it under budget. Finally we reached Kaza at 7P.M & after taking accommodation we walked through the village. It was totally different landscape compared to Manali.
It was supposed to be a day with the shortest ride. Our plan was to visit Dhankar, Key and Kibber monasteries and come back to Kaza for night stay.However, when we reached Dhankar, first we had breakfast then visited the monastery. I asked the dhaba owner about Dhankar lake trek, he showed us the flag on the top of the mountain and said it is easily doable, trek is not too hard and you can return in just 3 hrs, by the time it was already 11 am. We all decided to go up for the lake; we all were very excited especially Amit bhai “2 kms hi hai naa, ye to 30 mins mien ho jaayega”. So, we asked the dhaba owner if we can leave our bikes, riding gears and bags on his shop until we return from the lake. He was very kind, just smiled and said & "haanji bhaiya ji, koi baat nahi&".
129 Kms from Panamik
Best time to visit - May,June,July,August
This beautiful district in Ladakh has been part of many significant moments in India. Its close proximity to Pakistan makes Kargil an integral part of India's geographical dominance and its awe-inspiring beauty makes it a must visit for travellers. If you are making your way from Sringar to Leh, Kargil is a definitely stopover. The Sani monastery here is one of the oldest monasteries in the world and is home to a 20 feet tall Stupa and a Buddhist shrine. Other notable monasteries here are Mulkbeh Monastery, home to a laughing Buddha sculpture; Phugthal Monastery, Zongkhul Monastery, Stongday Monastery and Karsha Monastery. If you are here for a day or two, do walk around the villages to experience life in one of India's coldest regions. The people are warm and welcoming with myriad intriguing stories to share.Read More
This beautiful district in Ladakh has been part of many significant moments in India. Its close proximity to Pakistan makes Kargil an integral part of India's geographical dominance and its awe-inspiring beauty makes it a must visit for travellers. If you are making your way from Sringar to Leh, Kargil is a definitely stopover. The Sani monastery here is one of the oldest monasteries in the world and is home to a 20 feet tall Stupa and a Buddhist shrine. Other notable monasteries here are Mulkbeh Monastery, home to a laughing Buddha sculpture; Phugthal Monastery, Zongkhul Monastery, Stongday Monastery and Karsha Monastery. If you are here for a day or two, do walk around the villages to experience life in one of India's coldest regions. The people are warm and welcoming with myriad intriguing stories to share.
We reached Kargil shortly and first visited Kargil memorial. My husband was wearing a shawl and behaving like he worked in army. It was Kargil diwas few days later and all preparations were going on. We were happy to see whole army preparing for the event. We saw Vijay path, we were shown tiger hill where attack took place. Then a shop for souvenirs where we picked two. There was a museum which displayed all things used in war and all paper cuttings after victory. Then we came to our hotel.
Kargil & the story of warThe Kargil memorial built in the memory of all those who lost their lives during the 1999 war, is a vast space in front of the Tololing range. Vijaypath, a long walk way, leads up to the lit up torch, under an Indian flag. A wall with the names of the Shaheed from various gentries stands right behind. In the vicinity, you will notice an MiG that was extensively used during the war, captured Pakistani bunkers & possibly a 100 grave stones of the buried soldiers.There is a small museum built exhibiting details of the war, including photographs of the soldiers, scenes from the war, weapons used, a salutation poem by Harivansh Rai Bachhan & a wall for people to leave messages onMore than the museum, it were the stories from local people that kept us mesmerized for hours when we halted for the night at a hotel in Kargil, overlooking the valley with the Batalik range around it and the LOC just 20kms from it. Clearly, the locals took pride in the fact that it was because of them that the war was won...”koi Madrasi army mein pahaad kabhi chadh payega?”Kargil is a story of valour & heroism. One fine summer morning, a shepherd while walking his sheep, noticed some strange looking faces – ‘alag’ as the locals called them, comfortably staying in the bunkers up on Tololing Range. When he reported this suspicious activity to the army, little did he know that this information would be the start of a war that will go down in history as one of the first conventional warfare between 2 nuclear nations at a high altitude in mountainous terrain?The Pakistan army had infiltrated into the LOC & had occupied the Indian bunkers in the peak of winters, when the Indian army had receded back to the base camp owing to severely cold conditions. What ensued was Operation Vijay, which lasted almost 3 months - surely leading to some wins - recapture of 4 mountain peaks, but many losses – of lives.While there were these heroic tales at one end, on the other, the locals gave us their version of the story of war. Lots of locals had volunteered to help during the war – some carried ammunition & food for the army as they could climb mountains easily, some worked for them in the kitchens & bunkers, some even agreed to fight against the army risking their lives – all in the hope that once the war was over, the government or army would appreciate their effort & provide them an opportunity to serve in the army, ensuring a sustained profession. However, it was disheartening to hear, how none of them were even recognized leave alone any kind of appreciation or a permanent job! This left some bitterness among the locals who therefore weren’t ever as over-awed as us, by the great effort that the army put in for our tomorrow.What if the shepherd hadn’t noticed anything suspicious, what if the Pakistani army had moved closer, what if they had bombed & captured NH 1D, oh what if there was no partition at all – would we have saved thousands of lives, would we have had more harmony, would the Indian map have changed completely & would we have ever been able to travel to Ladakh today – with a million questions cropping in our minds, we silently sat in the car, staring outside the window as the landscape changed gradually – the lush green valleys of Kashmir, giving way to the barren, rugged, desolate, yet colourful rocky mountains of Ladakh.
Not too many people are aware that Ladakh forms the third region of J&K after Jammu & Kashmir – wonder why the state isn’t called J, K & L? Despite, Ladakh being over-shadowed by its more popular cousin Kashmir, it’s still been in the to-do list of travellers from all over the world. Indians however, began to throng this place, only after it was made famous by the Kargil war in 1999 & of course Aamir Khan’s ‘3 Idiots’.
Day 3 - The next day was perhaps the most crucial days of the trip, as we couldn't afford to miss out on the highway timings for upward traffic due to the closure of Rohtang Pass. We left Srinagar at around 9 am with an aim to reach Kargil by the evening, which is approximately 213 kms on the NH1D. Once we reached Sonmarg, which is approximately 80 kms from Srinagar, we took a preordained halt for an early lunch because of the upcoming Zoji La Pass, which is considered one of the most dangerous passes in the world, with roads covered with slush, mud etc from the melting of snow of the Himalayas. As we left Sonmarg at around 11.30 am, with Kargil just around 120 kms, the situation went out of hands when we saw a traffic jam at-least 10-15 kms, starting from upper Baltal till the end of Zoji La Pass. The road was filled with trucks carrying good and supplies to Leh and beyond. With hardly any movement for 2 hours, the ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police) came to our rescue and helped our traveller move ahead instead of the trucks (which apparently were officially stopped because of high load intolerance of the Zoji La Pass). The ITBP contingent kept on moving ahead slowly but surely and along with them our traveller and all the other tourist vehicles. It was almost 5 in the evening that we were able to cross the Zoji La Pass and that's when we decided not to move ahead to Kargil and instead bunk for the night in Drass, which is approximately 60 kms before Kargil.
Due to the ongoing riots in srinagar I decided to make my trip back to delhi via manali itself.Hence i decided to travel to kargil. Kargil is 240 km from leh so I started early so as to reach kargil before dusk.I started my journey by seeking blessings at Gurudwaara Sri Pathar Sahib.Situated 23 kms from leh,this place is a gem of a place to be at.This place is completely maintained by our own Indian Army.Three cheers for them for such great hospitality and warm welcome there.I was fortunate enough to enjoy that delicious langar there.After some great food i had some interacting session with the armymen over there and then i asked them to tie a sikh turban for me as well.I was a bit anxious as i didn’t want to offend them but they were so generous that they instantly agreed to my request and Mr. Sarmukh Singh ji turned me into a sardaar..:)Now was the time to start my journey further after a few kilometres came the famous magnetic hill. This place is said to defy the properties of gravity but the fact is that it’s an optical illusion. I tried some off-roading there and then went on to carry on my journey towards kargil.The road is excellently maintained by BRO. Kudos to them for executing such a great effort at such height. I reached kargil by 5 in the evening and took halt for the night.
Since our initial plan had changed, this was the most awaited day in the trip for me. We were to visit Kargil war Memorial. My friend had visited this last year and said to me “no matter if you don't visit any other places but you got to visit this one. This place give you Goosebumps when you come here.”Well on this note, we had decided to move out around 9 so that we can reach Kargil in time. There is a place in Nimmoo which is famous for Samosas, The Puran hotel. Tasty samosa, chole bhature, Namkeen and Tea was a great start of the day.
We reached Kargil in the evening. kargil is just another small town in the region. There isn't much to do in Kargil but there are some great war stories to be heard. One such was about Plateau Nath Baba, ingeniously named after the topographical feature said baba resided on. Story goes that enemy shells refused explode around him, but did so when immersed in the river; leading the troops to believe that the nameless mad man was indeed a divine being. Presently a Shiva temple, maintained by the Army, stands near his hut with an ante-room dedicated to him.Kargil to Leh
Srinagar to KargilThis is the moment we are waiting for. The real hugeness of mountains starts from here. We left before sunrise. By the time of sunrise, we reach sonmarg. During sunrise this place became my favorite places in Kashmir. From here we move towards dangerous road in India Zojila pass at altitude of 11649 ft. this was the really most adventurous road of my life. We finally reached the place where you won’t find any vegetation on mountains unlike green lush mountains in Kashmir. There only mountains, rivers, cool breeze, Open Road, your car and you. And no traffic, horn, pollution, mobile networks. We reach drass at 1pm. We had a visit to war memorial and Highest battle field in the world. It is always proud to be Indian. We reached kargil at 5 pm passing through Fotla pass 13479 ft. we got hotel with suru river in backyard, room cost us 1000 bucks. This is the coldest night I had in my life.
Nothing much, last point where you can stand and view the mountains and the road that lead to the highest battle field on earth- The Siachin Glacier. You can visit natural hot spring here and have few roadside restau. While returing you will find a small group of cliff to your right after passing Trisha village. Between those cliff has a beautiful Yarub TSO least exploited. I was there alone for 1 hour totally cut off from the out side world. Calm peace... You have to cross a dry river bed to get into this.