August 2007 trip to ladakh - long delayed triplog

#1 Sep 5th, 2008, 14:06
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#1
Ladakh had always been a dream destination for me (atleast since I had watched Dil Se in college ). The dream came true last year(2007) when we went for a 9 day Ladakh trip during the 15 August week. As the trip was heavily influenced by triplogs of Natasha Chandra Acharya and Mountaingirl in IM I have been feeling guilty over the last year about not writing my triplog for help of future travelers. Well…. Better late than never…

We took the 10th august(Friday) late night Indigo flight from Hyderabad to Delhi, rested for a few hours in the airport benches and then took the morning 5:30am Air Deccan Delhi-Leh flight. This flight had a lot of special security requirements. No hand baggage is allowed and every piece of check-in baggage has to be identified by the passengers before boarding the flight. Within half an hour of take off we were flying over the Himalayas and everyone – camera in hand – was at the windows clicking madly, ignoring all instructions of the flight crew to remain seated. Soon we were over a moonscape with barren mountains dappled in light and shade. As the plane landed (rather bumpily) in the tiny airfield of Leh, a huge cheer went up from amongst the passengers.

We were expecting breath-less ness (to be expected in such high altitudes) from the thin air. We were left breathless alright but not from the air! We gaped open mouth at the scenery around as we walked the few steps towards the terminal building. The hotel had sent a pick up car and we reached Hotel Cho Palace in 5 mins from the airport. It was a nice place, just outside the town, away from the bustle of the market yet within easy walking distance. The views from our room and the terrace were amazing. For acclimatization purpose we spent most of the next two days resting in the hotel and watching the views all aound.

The second day(Sunday 12th august), after lunch, we hired a taxi and did some local sight seeing in Leh town. The leh palace(the ancient royal palace – Potala in Lhasa is said to be modeled after this one), Sankar gompha(a small local monastry) and Shanti Stupa(for amazing views all around Leh) are the must see places in leh town.

Next day would be my first brush with adventure sports. We were to go for white water rafting in Indus river from Phey to Nimmo (about 25 kms, 4hrs for Rs 900).We were picked up from the hotel, driven to the starting point in Phey and given a preliminary training in using our paddles, life jackets, ropes etc. The most important point seemed to be not to let go of your paddle at any cost. We were part of a very interesting group including a couple in their fifties(very competent rafters), their twenty year old son(almost as bad a rafter as me), a young female travel/adventure writer(the most competent in the group), my husband(ok performance) and myself (the less said the better). We were accompanied by our excellent guide(who did the bulk of the paddling). Very soon my arms started aching and I stopped all pretensions of paddling. I spent the time fruitfully in watching the Indus frothing through the wall like mountain gorges, getting drenched and shivering in the chilliest wind I have ever experienced. On reaching Nimmo (at the Indus – Zanskar sangam) a grand lunch awaited us and we were then driven back to our hotel.

The next day – early morning we started for Pangong Tso, a 134 km long lake, two- third of which lies in China. The qualis was shared by six people. The road is sharp zig- zags all the way up the mountains. Enroute we crossed Chang-La, the third highest motorable pass in the world. It had snow in the month of august! The army post treats all the travelers with free hot tea. We reached Pangong at mid day. I will not try to describe the beauty as you can see lots of photos by simple googling – but just say seeing ever changing colours of the sky, the clouds and the mountains reflected in the clearest waters I have ever seen was a once in a lifetime experience.

The next day was meant for an expedition to KhardungLa – the highest motorable pass in the world at 5602 metres. Fortunately our vehicle developed a snag about 15 mins out of leh and we spent a blissful half hour frolicking among mountain streams and photographing yaks, while waiting for the replacement car. The road is every adventure and Enfield junkie’s dream come true. It just goes up, up and up through stomach cringingly steep curves. Buddhist Prayer flags are hung from every turn to protect against evil spirits. The day being 15th august, there was quite a crowd on top of Khardung La. Loads of adventure, biking and trekking groups from all over India were getting their snaps taken with the plaques. The army post was treating everyone to tea and samosas. And - it was snowing !!! All in all, an unforgettable experience.

Next day – a trip to Lamayuru (Ancient monastery, halfway between Leh and Kargil), Alchi and Likir. We were traveling along the Leh-Kargil-Srinagar highway and visited Gurdwara Patthar Sahab on the way. Guru Nanak is said to have meditated here and a miracle occurred and saved him when a demon attacked. The entire journey to Lamayuru is along the banks of Indus and the mountains have all possible hues - red to brown to grey to purple to black. Listening to the lamas praying in Lamayuru was a nice experience. On the way back we visited Alchi and Likir monastries. Alchi is famous for its tenth century frescoes and Likir is one of the largest gomphas in ladakh.

Our holiday was coming to an end. We had just one more day in Leh. After a short half day trip to Hemis and Thiksey monastery(built like huge forts on tops of hills) we spent the rest of the day walking in the Leh market and buying colourful locally made T-shirts. That evening, when we were walking back to the hotel, I looked up to the sky and saw a million stars and the milky-way. I vowed to come back.

Now for some practical information

1. I have not mentioned any prices as there has been an appreciable increase since last year. The hotel we stayed was for Rs 1400 a night. There are lots of cheaper accommodation available too, starting from Rs 300 basic guest house rooms. A day long qualis trip to pangong/lamayuru/nubra will cost around Rs 5000. You can team up with other tourists to share the cost. This teaming up is very easy as all travel agents in the leh market have bulletin boards outside their shops where the tourists can post/see info.

2. The hassle of touts, bargaining etc that we associate with tourist places is almost absent in Leh. Everything is fixed price – from hotels to vehicles – and only upto a 10% discount is possible.

3. The adventurous among you can hire an enfield for day trips instead of SUV.

4. Inner line permit is required for places like pangong/khardungla/nubra. Your hotel will get it for you(for a small fee) or you can do it yourself from the DC office in Leh for free.

5. There are a load of places to visit in Ladakh. Its not possible to see all in a single trip. Do some research and choose the ones which appeals most to you.

6. Acclimatization is most important. Complete rest for 36 to 48 hours is required on reaching Leh(specially for those flying in). Being sloppy here could cost you your trip and, in extreme cases, your life.

7. Lastly – be very, very cautious before you decide to go for Ladakh. Once you see Ladakh, no other place on earth will wow you.


Photo link had already been posted earlier....
http://picasaweb.google.com/koustav....hSelectedPics#
Last edited by nayan; Sep 5th, 2008 at 14:11.. Reason: included photo link
#2 Sep 8th, 2008, 12:20
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Thank you, Nayan, for a wonderful trip report. Ladakh has long been on my wish list!

Questions: Is August the best time to visit? A friend of mine went a few years back at that time of the year and it rained solidly, spoiling her trekking. Which brings me to the next question - as neither I nor my husband are trekkers, are there easy walks to do which you can organize once you arrive? Do you need a guide to go anywhere the least bit remote?

I like your "Once you see Ladakh, no other place on earth will wow you" - perhaps then it is good to see the rest of India first!
#3 Sep 8th, 2008, 12:37
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#3
The season for ladakh is from June(or maybe end May this days)to October(again.... streched to november this days).

The place is fabulous all through this months... well its fabulous all the year through but rest of the year the tourist infrastucture will not be in place.

We went in august due to leave constraints. If you donot have such constraints you can try June.... More snow on the mountain tops.

Ladakh, being in the transhimalayan region, recieves very little rainfall. But some years ago there was freak heavy rainfall and a cloudburst situation. But very little probability of that event recurring every year.

About Trekking - Am not a trekker myself. I donot even climb stairs if I can avoid it.
Most of the treks that I saw advertised in travel agents offices in leh market seemed to be long ones - at least 3-4 day each.
the place is very sparsely populated and most destinations are spreadout. So dont know how the logistics of a "soft" trek of 1 day will pan out.
you can contact any of the trek agents once you reach there.

Thanks for reading
#4 Sep 8th, 2008, 12:41
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Thanks, Nayan, I will store this in my memory for the future. No Ladakh trip on the horizon as yet! But one day...
#5 Sep 8th, 2008, 12:44
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Best wishes for the future trip
#6 Sep 9th, 2008, 20:40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theyyamdancer View Post Thank you, Nayan, for a wonderful trip report. Ladakh has long been on my wish list!

Questions: Is August the best time to visit? A friend of mine went a few years back at that time of the year and it rained solidly, spoiling her trekking. Which brings me to the next question - as neither I nor my husband are trekkers, are there easy walks to do which you can organize once you arrive? Do you need a guide to go anywhere the least bit remote?

I like your "Once you see Ladakh, no other place on earth will wow you" - perhaps then it is good to see the rest of India first!
Just back from Ladakh. August is def. the best time to visit Ladakh. Good news for your this year no heavy rains / floods.

For foreign visitors keeping Ladakh in the last leg would be an ideal farewell gift.

Ronak.
#7 Sep 11th, 2008, 08:34
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#7
Thank you, Nayan, for a wonderful trip report, hope to see lot more from you

Guys, September is the best time to visit Ladakh to be honest as I had been to Ladakh in June, July, August & September before.... I felt that the Temp is most moderate more over, the entire experience would be almost Cloud free... Clean Blue Sky
#8 Mar 24th, 2009, 00:29
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#8

Leh (Ladakh

Hi Nayan,

Thanks a lot for sharing your wonderful experience. it is so articulate, pictures are so breath taking ( i was lost in a differnt world and it took me a while to settle down to where i am now...) this has urged me to visit this place sooner than i had ever imagined.

Thank you for making this place come closer to my list of priorties..

Happy travelling,

Cheers!
#9 Mar 25th, 2009, 13:34
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Thanks Annitya. Hope you have as wonderful a trip as we had.
#10 Apr 6th, 2010, 21:19
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#10
Thanks Dear, Very informative useful description but Pls add comments on:-
Trip To Nubra Valley and Living condition and hotel option to spent a night there, as we have small children in our grop.
Trip To Pangong lake--- is it possible we cover in a day or have to spent night there

Thanks Dear
#11 Apr 6th, 2010, 21:56
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#11
Trip To Nubra Valley and Living condition and hotel option to spent a night there, as we have small children in our grop.

I have not been to Nubra valley. we went till khardungla.

Trip To Pangong lake--- is it possible we cover in a day or have to spent night there

Yes, it is possible. That is what we did. it will be a whole day trip starting at around 6am and returning to leh around 6pm.
#12 Apr 7th, 2010, 10:45
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#12
If We prefer to cover Khardungla same day is it possible. Because we have children with us and it is very hectic to move with luggage from one destination to another.But We can if worth.
Is it possible if we stay at Leh and cover sightseeing around.
Like:-
Day 1-2..... Rest to acclimitize
Day-3......Pangong
Day4........Local sightseeing
Day5........Khardungla
Pls add more FOR 2 Days BECAUSE 3RD DAY OUR RETURN FLIGHT.

Thanks
#13 Apr 7th, 2010, 14:31
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#13
If you want to visit just khardungla and donot want to venture further into the Nubra valley then its a half day trip from Leh.
khardungla is about 2-2.5 hrs from Leh.

You can have a day trip to lamayuru(and see Gurudwara Pathar sahib and Alchi and Likir monastery on the way).

The last day can be a half day/full day trip to nearby Hemis, thikse and stok.

Like you, I too preffered to stay in leh and do day trips from there. That is why I gave a miss to Nubra valley because it would be almost impossible as a day trip.

Read my trip report once more
you will get lots of ideas about daytrips from Leh. My trip was very comfortable and not at all hectic.
#14 Apr 8th, 2010, 00:33
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#14
I had a bad experiance last year, very 2 days north goa, 5 days south goa, 2 days mabaleshwar and 2 days mumbai,,,,very hectic trip thats why We plan to base in Leh and day trips to surrounding.... You post is very useful...will add more quaries later

Thanks
#15 Mar 11th, 2011, 15:38
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#15

Ladhakh trip in April last week?

Hey guys, do you think it is a good idea to go to leh/Ladhakh in the last week of April? (22nd April-1st May)

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