This was pending for a very long time. Sorry for the delay. This trip wouldn't have been possible without the expert guidance and help from community members.
Heartfelt thanks to community members. Without much ado I begin the chronicle of our trip to Himalayan Kingdom:
** 1st Day: Landed by 6.45 am flight Delhi to Leh. Arrival sharp 8 AM. Felt the slight Nip in air and the feeling was Wow :D Straightaway headed to our Guest house. We had not done a prior booking so just landed up at the first one we saw. That happened to be Indus guest house. Was Ok type. He was charging 1000-/ day for a spacious room with Tv (to be installed in near future). Overpriced in my opinion Anyways, slept like a log for 4/5 hours. Woke up at ~ 3 pm.....ate some dry fruits and popped half a Diamox each. Lunch at a nearby restaurant ..Food was OK . But we were famished. Proceeded to take a walk till Shanti Stupa. Yep you read it correctly, a Walk [whoa] (Ahh the exuberance of youth. The lady at restaurant did warn us. But we felt invincible after Diamox. Had hardly walked 500m when were overcome by breathlessness. So dropped the plan to climbing Stupa, instead just went as close as possible and came back.) Sanity prevailed :P That's all for Day 1. Highlights, Blown away by Leh.
Before I forget me (I and my wifey) were there from 1st to 9th May 2014.
2nd Day: Moved our accommodation to Atisha Guest house. Wow what a place [shock][shock] and we paid 800-/ day only. :D This is the view from our balcony. If he would have asked for 1000-/ would have gladly paid :D
Went out for breakfast to Lamayuru restaurant. I have to say this; free wi-fi had a lot to do with that decision ;) The food was fine, reasonably priced. Found a cab which agreed to take us out for our Local tour, covering Tsemo Gompa, Leh palace, Samkar Gompa, Zorawar fort. Skipped Shanti stupa on purpose. Started off by visiting Samkar Gompa, alas it was locked. Apparently the head Lama had taken the keys along with him. So went to Tsemo Gompa and Leh palace instead.
In Zorawar fort, the museum is a must visit.
Returned in 3/4 hours and had a brief siesta. Evening was spent enjoying Leh market Diamox was helping a lot, we did not have any signs of Altitude sickness. Our dosage was 1/2 tablet, once a day. Notes: For 2 persons, a Maruti Eeco / Omni serves the purpose well. Ample leg space and you can twist and turn to capture pictures. If interested in architecture and paintings, it's advisable to take a guide along. Our driver doubled up as a guide, but he was found wanting in many places :)
Continuing with the log.. Day 3: We had initially plans to rest but decided otherwise. So off we head to Alchi-Lamayuru circuit. We started quite late ~ 12 Pm :( Essentially it’s a Long drive, but very scenic.
Scheduled stops at Indus point, Magnetic Hill, Confluence, Bagso palace, Alchi, and Lamayuru. And unscheduled ones everywhere we felt like ;) ;) Rather I felt like :D Every time I said " Please pull over", the look on my wife's and drivers face said it all.
Visited Gurudwara Pather Sahib on return leg. Hall of fame was closed for the day, so added to backlog. Returned quite late in evening. Early dinner and zzzzzzzz
Note: In-case planning to cover the entire circuit in a single day, start Early. Its easily a 6 hr round trip. Strictly for photographers, Lamayuru looks more beautiful in evening sun.
So if possible try to make a evening stop there. very sure won't regret it. Of course, my photography stops didn't help either.
*** 4th Day: Wife down with stomach bug. Dunno the cause, maybe it was the long drive or dinner at Dreamland hotel. I am inclined towards the latter. Anyways, managed to find a doctor in Leh market. Damn crowded place :mad:. But he was able to diagnose her very quickly and gave apt medicines. Told him about our travel plans and specifically asked if we could travel. He was very confident and said "yes" :) This was a shot in the arm for my wife's. Dinner was very light.....Soups at our favorite Wi-fi hotspot ;) And mentally we were Ready :D:D
Our travel partners (Preeti and Abhay) had arrived and we were scheduled for K top. We were still on schedule with half Diamox daily. But planned to pop in 1 full tablet next day.
High point: When the doctor measured her Oxygen levels, was pleasantly surprised 98% :D Story of the day, Rested, rested and rested.
A big big day was coming up.. Spent the night with butterflies in my stomach, rather Butterflies is a light word, Horses stomping inside would do justice :D Was worried about how She would handle it. She was still sick. Agreed the medicines were doing their part, still it was first time we were going to at 18000+ altitude. Visions of her throwing up were haunting me. My head was swarming with all this, and I had to present a calm face to her, lest she panics :(
Have no idea when I fell asleep. Woke up early feeling strangely peaceful and Fresh :) Even wifey was up in a few moments, and she too was feeling far better. And at sharp 7 we started off. Had a very light breakfast, and popped in 1 full tablet of Diamox each. Also, had pouches of Smelling camphor handy. They aid in relieving breathlessness.
The uphill ride was Ok. Ohh I forgot to mention, our driver was supposed to be Rigzin, but he sent his son Abraham with us. He is fairly young so comes with a full package of 'bravado or foolishness' I dunno. Was very rash on turns :mad:, rather took turns at high speed. To his credit, he was always under control. I guess he was used to it, but we all weren't. So it was painful for us.
Our first snow stop was just after South Pallu. Enjoyed a lot over there. She saw snow for first time, and it was showing on her face :) That was the first time I felt happy having brought her to Leh. There was sheer joy on her face.
And with no untoward incident reached K top. Had a 10 min stoppage and left. Strangely we did not feel much chill, even at the top. At fag end of 10 mins she started feeling a bit nauseous, but it was expected. Did not take many pictures at K top and also the souvenirs shop was closed. So no incentive to stay :) Strangely we did not feel much chill, even at the top!! Guess must have been lucky.
The other side of Khardung-la was more beautiful and had lot of snow. Patches of white interspersed with brown were making a beautiful canvas. We stopped before North pallu to take more pictures. Even saw Yak over there :cool:
The driving was so atrocious that food goes in at South pallu and comes out 1 km after :) Now that we were going downhill he was swerving even more. So finally needed to have a word with him. Told him in no uncertain terms, that we are here to enjoy the beauty of Ladakh and not to rush into a hospital. After that he drove at a saner speed.
The landscape was so beautiful. Camera will never do justice to it.
After few photo-stops we were on route to Panamik. Were stuck there for some time. Road construction, rather metalling was going on. At Panamik I saw Chukur and a herd of double humped camels.
Being stuck was a good thing. For, when we returned to Diskit, it was evening and cloudy. A Dream come true for me :) Trade off was could not stop at Yarab tso and Sumur :(
At Diskit monastery, we saw winds cook up a minor sand storm. And it was mind blowing :D
There were clouds too. Dark ominous clouds. And before we knew, it rained. And you do know what comes after rain, na ?
Reached Hunder sand dunes. We were afraid would miss Camel safari, but Abraham made a few phone calls and ensured they would wait for us.
The safari spot can be smelled from afar. Yep smell, not See. The camels, they Stink. I have ridden camels before but this was special. Gosh it was a horrible..horrible smell. As an added bonus, the rain had made their coat wet. Now it was intolerable. Now I was hating the rain.
But it was all forgotten the moment we started riding. It was a fresh feeling like sailing. No wonder it's called 'Ship of the Desert'. And indeed a 'Ship' it was.
Sun was about to set, so it was….. (I have no words to describe it)
Put up for night at Habib's in Hunder. Simple delicious meals and very comfortable place. Was scared about my battery life so did not venture out for night photography. In hindsight I should have, missed opportunity.
Notes: Camphor really helps. ILP not required for nubra, pangong, But that's old news. You don't need printouts of your ID docs. Just present the original at check points. Reach Hunder by evening and Stay for the sunset.