We finally decided to go to Ladakh aka The Land of Passes. I was so excited as this trip was about to check off my travel bucket list. We were suggested not to land directly in Leh as there could be health consequences, so we decided to take the route via Srinagar. We visited many places in Srinagar, stayed in a houseboat in Dal Lake and moved forward to the next destination via NH1.
On the way to Kargil, we came across the coldest village in India - Dras. The temperature in Dras can plummet up to -35 degrees in winter making it the coldest village in India and the second coldest place in the world. Dras is situated about 60 km away from Kargil and is also the gateway to Ladakh. I got chills as we were entering Ladakh. The clear sky, wide landscapes, cold desserts, snow-capped mountains and a soft cold breeze made me fall in love with the place.
Ladakh has recently been constituted as a union territory. It is the highest plateau in India which is 3000 m (9800 ft.) above sea level. Many Buddhist monasteries are depicting the Tibetian culture, hence called the 'Little Tibet'. The topography of the place is so perfect for the bikers who wish to go on a road trip. Don’t worry if you do not have a bike, you can also rent a bike in Leh at a minimum rent of Rs.1500 - 2000 per day and check off your bucket list. The best time to visit Ladakh is in summer from June to October when the weather is more pleasant. We visited many tourist attractions such as Leh Palace, Shanti Stupa, Hall of Fame, etc and many Buddhist monasteries namely Thiksey, Hemis and Shey.
The architecture of these places is so stunning that you couldn’t resist but click as many pictures as possible. Leh Market is the main market for shopping where you will find many quaint shops selling unique souvenirs. Ladakh is known for its Apricots hence you will get many varieties of Apricots there. Do not forget to try some local food from Ladakh. Moving on from Leh, let's go to Nubra Valley.
Nubra valley is approximately 160 km from Leh which is approx 5 hours. You need to get an Inner Line Permit ( ILP ) for entering Nubra Valley. The roadway to the valley is so mesmerizing that nature will leave you in awe. Whilst reaching Nubra Valley there comes the world’s highest motorable pass- Khardung La. The height of Khardung La is 5,359 m (17,582 ft). We couldn't stay for long as the oxygen level was quite low due to the high altitude.
And we knew we reached our destination as we saw many sand dunes around. Nubra Valley is known for its double-humped camels. There’s also a place where you can ride on those camels. The accommodations in Nubra valley vary from tents to cottages to hotels. I personally suggest staying in tents as it would be a lifetime experience. We were lucky enough that we had an opportunity to get a glimpse of traditional Ladakhi Dance. The locals are very hospitable and helpful. Encounter the sky at night. It will leave you awestruck as the sky is lit with beautiful twinkling stars. Later we went to the last village of India - Turtuk.
Turtuk is a lesser-known destination yet a beautiful small village. You can see some army bunkers shown by the army people themselves. Moving on we moved ahead to the most awaiting destination of mine - Pangong Tso.
It is an endorheic lake in the Himalayas situated at an elevation of 4225m ( 13862 ft). This lake is located 222km from Leh. You need to get an Inner Line Permit (ILP) before visiting the lake. The roadway is quite scenic and you will be engrossed in the picturesque views of the mountains which will come along the way. The weather at the lake is quite unpredictable.
You get to experience the stormy rain, the clear sky and extreme cold all in one day. This is the lake where the famous movie scene from 3 Idiots was shot which made it one of the famous places to visit in Leh. There are many comfortable cottages and tents which give you an amazing view of the lake. So you can just be on the bed watching a blissful sunset and the changing color shades in the sky making the view even more beautiful. After that sadly the trip came to an end but we were going back with a plethora of memories with us.
As rightly said, Travel is still the most intense mode of learning.