Ladakh, Heaven on Earth Calling?

#1 Nov 30th, 2016, 12:06
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LADAKH, HEAVEN ON EARTH CALLING? HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW!

"If you're listening, if you're awake to the poignant beauty of the world, your heart breaks regularly. In fact, your heart is made to break; its purpose is to burst open again and again so that it can hold evermore wonders." - Andrew Havey, on Ladakh.


Have you ever wondered why Ladakh is the most beloved destination of India? The ‘Baap’ of all? What makes throngs of travelers, from both India and abroad, head there every year and some year after year? What is so special about that place that makes those who have been to Ladakh go on and on about it? There must be something right? Something that makes us fall in love madly with that place called Ladakh.

Every traveler has a different story of Ladakh! Every traveler has a vision that is different from others, when he is in Ladakh. Every traveler has an experience of his own when he is in Ladakh! Ladakh, the most enchanting destination in India for world & Indian travelers was on my list for a long time. One keeps wondering what’s so different about this beautiful place and why it’s called the Pride of India! Well there are many stories to it and certainly the ever so different and huge landscapes of various geographical terrains are a testament to it. But what’s so different from this place is the amazing culture and the most diverse and the most beautiful landscape it has to offer. You would have heard this zillion times - when you are in Ladakh, wherever you point and shoot, it is going to be an outstanding photograph. Good photography does not happen by accident, but because of it's unearthly terrain, Ladakh sure does increase your chance at that. Who wouldn't love to show off some great landscape shots - of stark blue skies, snow capped mountains, azure blue lakes and low lying clouds! and that's just to start with. Ladakh will surprise you at every angle, in every frame.

A little bit of wiki-knowledge here, for those who have basic doubts about Leh and Ladakh? Ladakh is a region situated in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir, it consists two districts Kargil and Leh, the latter being bigger and touristy than the former. Ladakh region, known as Little Tibet, borders with both Pakistan and China. It's known for it's mountainous landscape and it's unique culture not to be found anywhere else in India.

Leh-Ladakh is a land like no other. Bounded by two of the world’s mightiest mountain ranges, the Great Himalaya and the Karakoram, it lies athwart two other, the Ladakh range and the Zanskar range. The beauty of the place can not be expressed in words. Right from gompas to the sensational momos, the superabundance of attractions to visit makes this city make it heaven on earth. It is said that only in Ladakh can a man sitting in the sun with his feet in the shade suffer from sunstroke and frostbite at the same time. The place holds so many surprises together that one can’t help but be awed. Don’t believe my words? Have a look yourself on few places that I visited in Leh Ladakh!

Before all I like to mention my gratitude towards Md. Anwar, known as Anwar Madhosh (+919419520062). He was my guide cum driver for the trip. He is also a Govt. school teacher of Physical Education in Turtuk. I am his first client from Kolkata. It was impossible for me to complete entire Ladakh tour so memorably without his help. His knowledge enriches me to understand Ladakh. His sense of humor never makes me bore. He is an extremely honest person and good photographer too. He can communicate in English and Hindi fluently. A secret about him…by any chance if you are from Agra, even you ever been in Agra, then a high chance to get a special discount for your trip. Why..? Because, he completed his graduation from Agra.



Khardung la pass:
The doorway to Shyok and Nubra valleys and the world’s topmost motorable pass, ‘Khardung La’ is located on the Ladakh range which is 40 km from Leh. It is positioned at an altitude of 18,380 ft. The place offers amazing picturesque and attractive views of valleys. In addition, Tibetan prayer flags add numerous colors to the scenic beauty.Khardung La is a strategically important pass lying on a caravan road from Leh to Kashgar. In earlier times camels and horses took this trade route to supply goods and valuables. Today it is used to carry supplies to Siachen Glacier and is of high logistic importance to Indian army. Bikers from all over the world visit this mountain pass on their motorcycles and do mountain biking which is a refreshing and remarkable experience for lifetime. Also, there is an army canteen where tea and snacks are offered and there is also a souvenir shop nearby from where you can get memento of your tour.


Nubra valley- Panamik - Diskit – Hundur and Turtuk :
Known for its orchards, scenic vistas, Bactrian camels and monasteries; Nubra Valley is the northernmost part of Jammu and Kashmir. Situated about 100 km from Leh, Nubra Valley is known as the Orchard of Ladakh and was originally called Ldumra which meant the valley of flowers.Surrounded by snowcapped Himalayan ranges, Nubra valley lies sandwiched between Tibet and Kashmir. The view of the valley is picturesque and breathtaking. During winter, the whole valley looks like landscape and in summer full of greenery.To reach Nubra valley, you will have to cross the awe-inspiring Khardung La, the highest motorable pass in the world. Winding channels of the Shyok and Nubra Rivers crisscross the wide and flat Nubra valley. From a distance, the valley seems parched and dry. However, the valley mainly consists of prime farm land. No wonder then that the valley has earned the sobriquet Orchard of Ladakh.It is not just scenic natural beauty of Nubra which attracts tourists. The valley is predominantly Buddhist. Diskit monastery is famous Buddhist monasteries.The cold desert between Diskit and Hundur are another attraction for tourists. Tourists throng the cold desert to watch the sand dunes and for joyrides on the Bactrian camels. Bactrian camel has two humps, in contrast to the single-humped camels found in Rajasthan and other parts of India. The Bactrian camels, found only in Hunder. Bactrian camels are a pointer to the regions importance since ancient times. A major stopover on the ancient Silk Route, Nubra is still important as it is a major trade centre for woolen textiles made of Pashmina wool and horticultural crops. Locals produce fruits like apples, walnuts, apricots, almonds and staple crops like wheat, barley, etc.

Panamik:
Renowned for its curative hot springs, Panamik is situated close to Siachen glacier, the highest battlefield in the world. About 150 km from Leh, Panamik in the Nubra valley is known for its hot water spring. The Panamik hot water spring is situated at an elevation of 10442 ft above sea level. The spring water contains high amount of sulphur and it is believed best for curing rheumatism and other ailments. Surrounded by snowcapped mountains, the green valley of Panamik is a sight to behold. The village stands on the banks of Nubra River. The scenic beauty, sulphur springs and the proximity to Siachen glacier make it a must visit destination. Panamik is the last civilian settlement before Siachen base camp (where no civilians are allowed).
Where to stay: Options to stay in Panamik are limited. There are some rest houses but there are no luxury hotels. Rest houses in Panamik are famous for piped water from the hot springs. Electricity here is only for a limited period.
My recommendation: Hot Spring Guest House.


Diskit:
It is the administrative centre of Nubra Valley, located on the edge of cold desert in Shyok Valley. The Diskit Monastery is very popular. The cold desert between Diskit and Hundur are another attraction for tourists.

Hunder:
Beautiful but remote, Hunder village sits like an oasis in the middle of cold desert in Nubra valley of Jammu and Kashmir. Seven km from Diskit which is known for its Buddhist monastery, Nubra has acquired fame for its sand dunes, the cold desert that surrounds it, Bactrian camels and its breath-taking natural beauty.The high altitude desert, with rolling expanse of sand dunes and barren landscape is the USP of Hunder village. The cold desert and sand dunes seem enigma to scores of tourists who come to visit the spectacle. To be honest, cold desert of Hunder is over hyped. In my opinion, if you like to experience real cold desert then you have to go through Pangong to Loma via Chusul, Tsaga La. Probably this is the route that will surprise you most at every angle, in every frame. You will find lots of wild life too. Bactrian camels are another attraction. Joyrides on the Bactrian camel through the sand dunes is a must do for the tourists who visit Hunder. Hunder is also the place where you can find forests of sea-buckthorn, a medicinal plant rich in bio-molecules, vitamins and nutritive properties and popularly known as ‘Leh Berry’. Though the area surrounding Hunder is arid and desolate, the village, however, is a vast expanse of green and abounds with cultivable land. Horticulture products, including, apricots, walnuts, almonds, apples and various fruits and flowers, from Nubra are much sought after.Because of its remote location, tourist facilities are limited in Hunder. However, the village is popular with campers. The tented accommodations maintained by private operators are not low in comforts.

Where to stay: Guest houses and private hotels with basic facilities are available in Hunder village. Villagers also provide home stay for nominal rent which includes food. Tour operators, mostly private groups, offer tented accommodation in Hunder during the high season. Electricity here is only for a limited period.
My recommendation: Habib Guest House. Located in a beautiful place. Habib sahab and his family members run this guest house. Irfan is the boy who will take care all your needs. Rooms are spacious and clean. Wi-Fi, delicious food and all in a nominal charge.


Turtuk:
Turtuk is a beautiful village in the Nubra Valley of Leh district that lies on the banks of the Shyok River and greenery the likes of which cannot be found anywhere else in the region. The abundance of flora in this region, especially the apricot trees, exists because it lies at a lower altitude as compared to the rest of Nubra Valley. Landscape of Hunder to Turtuk road surprise you at every moment. So you must, must and must spend a night at Turtuk. Don’t forget to take a cup of tea and samosa at Chachu’s tea stall. Turtuk has remained unexplored for so long because it has been only a couple of years since tourists were allowed to visit it. A little history lesson will help you understand the reason behind this. Turtuk was part of Baltistan and then became a part of Pakistan after the partition of India in 1947. It was after the war of 1971 that India reclaimed this region once again and it lies extremely close to LOC in Kashmir. Turtuk, Tyakshi are the only place in the country where the Balti culture is still prevalent.The people of Turtuk are extremely hospitable and love interacting with visitors. Turtuk is one of the last unexplored places in Leh-Ladakh and is undoubtedly the best place to go if you want to escape the tourist crowd and witness a sight that not a lot of people have had the privilege of seeing.

Where to stay: Options to stay in Turtuk are limited. You can stay in one of the home stays in the village or one of the few hotels around it. Electricity here is only for a limited period.
My recommendation: ASHOOR Guest House & Restaurant. Comfortable stay with all essential facilities, located near to a small waterfall. You can hear the music of water from room. Mr.Abdul Rahman, the owner of the guest house is an extremely helpful person. Foods are reasonably good. In fact you don’t have any better option then it to stay at Turtuk.


Pangong Lake:
Pangong Lake also known as Pangong Tso is a beautiful lake situated in the Himalayas and is 134 km long, extending from India to China. Pangong Lake is situated at a height of 4350 meter and is one of the biggest tourist attractions of the country. The beauty and allure of this lake has attracted people from all over the country and beyond. The one factor that makes this Lake so popular is the fact that it keeps changing colors. Situated in the Himalayan range it is approximately 140 km from Leh. The name of the lake Pangong was got from a Tibetan word Banggong Co that means a narrow and enchanted lake. And now you know that the lake has got its name rightfully. You will know this when you visit the beautiful lake of Pangong. You are sure to be enchanted by the charm. And because the lake is a long stretch, one third area of the lake lies within our country and the other two third portion lies with Tibet and is controlled by China.The first glance of this alluring lake and its blue waters is enough to leave a lasting impression on your mind. If you are planning to visit Pangong Lake, make sure you do not visit during winters because the whole lake freezes during this season of the year. Also the region has really harsh winters, so avoid places like these during winters. This place is paradise for bird lovers. The climate is cold and after dawn it gets harsher. Do not expect any kind of boating activities here. Being situated so close o the border, the Pangong Lake is still considered to be a very delicate region to visit. Visit this place only for its beauty and magnificence. And for any kind of adventure, the only option that you got is to camp on the shores of the lake. If you love photography, this place is going to be an absolute delight. And just for a gentle reminder, the Pangong Lake has also featured in a Bollywood movie- 3 Idiots. Remember the scene where Kareena Kapoor goes to meet Aamir Khan riding a scooter? That is Pangong Lake and those of you who have watched the movie know that the picturesque beauty of Pangong Lake is unmatched for.
How to reach Pangong Lake:
Most people usually prefer taking the Leh to Pangong Tso route. This route will take you about 6 hours and this totally depends on how many breaks you decide to take on your way. This is the route that you will follow:
Leh to Karu- to Sakti- To Chang La- to Durbuk- to – Tagnste- to –Lukung-to- Spangmik-to- Pangong Lake. This route also has one of the best roads and hence it is also the fastest. It would be recommended to take a two day trip to Pangong Tso so that you can halt at Leh, before you head out to the lake. This will help you acclimatize your body to the high altitude. Another route that most domestic tourists prefer is the Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso Lake. Nubra Valley is always the best to halt at for a better acclimatization. Set out early from Nubra valley if you want to witness the much talked about sunset at the Pangong Lake.

Where to stay: If you are looking for an accommodation somewhere close to the Lake, then tents are the only option that you can consider. You could also look for Lukung- they offer decent camping options with Eco Huts. Else, you could also look for accommodation in Spangmik; and these accommodations are standard hotels with just basic facilities.
My recommendation: Pangong House is a one of the best accommodation options that you can consider. Pangong House has an ideal blend of both modern and local architecture. The reason why many tourists prefer this hotel is not just for its facilities, but also for its close proximity to the alluring Pangong Lake. The tranquil surroundings and the picturesque landscapes make your stay in this hotel a memorable one. The staff is very forthcoming and they ensure your stay with them is a comfortable one. The interesting part about this hotel is also that they provide medical aid ranging from Oxygen cylinders and doctors on call. Electricity here is only for a limited period.


Tso Moriri Lake:
Encompassed by snow-capped mountain ranges from all the sides, Tso Moriri is situated slightly off the Manali-Leh road. A sandy road passing through the Rupshu Valley leads to Tso Moriri. One can also access Tso Moriri directly from the Pangong Tso via the Changtang plateau. At a staggering altitude of 4595 Meters or 15075 feet above sea level, higher than the Pangong Tso or Pangong Lake, this serene saltwater lake is about 7 KM wide at its broadest point and about 22 KM long. In fact, it is the largest high altitude lake in India that is entirely in Indian Territory. The area around it attract a range of wildlife, including migratory birds, marmots, wild asses, and Tibetan wolves.Compared to Pangong Lake, Tso Moriri gets less number of tourists. The peak tourist season is from May to August. From September onwards the cold begins to set in. From January to March, Tso Moriri remains mostly frozen with extremely cold conditions making it difficult to stay. In April, the snow begins to melt. A one night stay helps to watch sunrise and sunset over the picturesque landscape and to truly witness the mesmerizing beauty of this blue-coloured salt water lake. It also accommodates a trip to the Korzok Monastery.

Where to stay: Most visit the lake with an organized tour from Leh, which usually includes camping equipment and a cook. It is restricted to pitch tents or construct anything near the banks of the lake. Tents can be pitched near the other tented colonies just before Korzok village. Since it’s a remote place, when there’s no accommodation available at the camps/tents during the tourist season, the nearest place to stay or find food is either in some home stay type guest house at Korzok village.


Hanle:
Another less explored place in Ladakh, Hanle is located in ancient Ladakh - Tibet trade route in Hanle valley. Known for Indian Astronomical Observatory & 17th century Hanle Monastery, is also home to birds like Black-necked Crane, Tibetan Lark, Upland Buzzard, Great Rosefinch & mammals like Tibetan Wild Ass, Tibetan Wolf, Red Fox, Tibetan Gazelle etc. After Loma or Mahe towards Hanle, the landscapes changed completely, only similarity was the aridness. The mountains became too colorful gradually, vast patches of sandy valleys appeared and remoteness was too strong. As far as the eyes could behold, no symbol of human civilization could be found. That’s why perhaps this region was the abode of many wild creatures – one of them was the Kiang (Wild Ass), we saw many of them grazing in hordes. The Kiangs were too colorful as well. The remoteness of the route was so appealing that we wanted to stop our car at almost every nook and corner, we did so at many occasions. We drove past the village and started ascending a hillock, on top of which the Observatory was located. When we reached the parking at the top, the village houses seemed tiny little boxes from there. The monastery even looked a house of the Lilliput, a 360 degree view of the gorgeous surroundings. The observatory curator explained the functionalities with eagerness to us, we saw how the telescope functions, how the dome above actually slides during the night in order to watch the night sky and how the mirror feeds the data to the computers. We were too proud when we learned it was the 3rd highest observatory of such kind in the whole world.

Where to stay: Options to stay in Hanle are limited. You can stay in the Padma Guest House in the village or in Hanle Monastery. Electricity here is only for a limited period.
My recommendation: Padma Guest House.


LEH – City and around Leh town:
I will introduce you about the places to see around Leh town or in other words local sightseeing around Leh town. It is almost inevitable (at least for people flying directly to Leh) to skip the local sightseeing of Leh town, so it becomes really important to know what all places are there, either in Leh or nearby Leh town so that you can spend a day or two easily without getting bored and utilize them effectively.
Monastery Tour: East of Leh towards Manali on Manali – Leh Highway, Monastery tour includes a day trip to Shey Palace, Thicksey Monastery, Hemis Monastery. Depending upon the time in hand and your interest, you can also choose to visit Stok Palace a bit ahead of Stakna Monastery and complete the circuit while exiting towards Leh from Stok.
Leh Palace, Tsemo Castle, Namgyal Gompa: Leh Palace, Tsemo Castle and Namgyal Gompa on the same hills which houses this complex. The museum houses collection of ornaments, jewellery, thangkas and paintings about 450 year old but still look as new as it can.
Shanti Stupa: Built on a hilltop in Changspa region of Leh at an altitude of about 14K feet (4267 Mtrs), Shanti Stupa was built in 1991 and is considered to be the most favorite tourist destination in/around Leh. The visit to Shanti Stupa would greet you with wide panoramic view of entire Leh town in foreground and with breath-taking landscapes in the background. You can reach it either through a drivable road all the way almost to top or you can choose to ascend about 500-600 stairs, which I will not advice if you are just landed a day or two back.
Leh Main Market: Most attractive place for tourist of Leh is Leh main baazar where you can have local cuisines and even shop for variety of accessories for your mother/sister/wifey/girl friend(s) or woollens for yourself and family or contact some travel agents for money exchange or planning your tours/treks etc. In fact this is the only place where you will find most of the hustle bustle of life in Leh – Ladakh and may be the most busiest part of Ladakh.

Where to stay: Due to its growing importance as a popular tourist destination, there is no shortage of places to stay in Leh. Various hotels, guest houses and budget hotels, home stays, are scattered throughout the region to cater to the large number of tourists who make the journey to this wonderful place every year.
My recommendation: Thupwang Guest House. A full day is enough to complete sightseeing around Leh city. But next time I like to spend at least two days in Leh City, not for the palace, gompas or monastery, just to stay in Thupwang Guest House. It is a sweetly memories that the day I spend in Thupwang Guest House. The gust house is surrounding by organic farm. If you are in the month of September – October, you will find apple trees with full of apples inside the compound. All this maintained by Mr. S. Norboo Shalak (+919419819797) and his family members. They are extremely hospitable. Rooms are spacious and clean, 24 hours hot water supply, Wi-Fi. Added advantage that they serve delicious home cooked food from organic farm and all in a nominal charge. It gives you a feeling of being home away from home.
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Travel Without a Return Ticket .......
#2 Nov 30th, 2016, 12:19
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Here is few more images……
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#3 Nov 30th, 2016, 12:24
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Few more images……
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#4 Nov 30th, 2016, 12:27
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Here is few more images for you……
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#5 Nov 30th, 2016, 12:29
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LADAKH - few more images……
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#6 Nov 30th, 2016, 13:42
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A snap from our trip with Anirban.........!!
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#7 Nov 30th, 2016, 16:13
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elaborate TR , which month did you go in? Your photographs have many dust-bunnies , a cleaning of the sensor must be in order. Also use some imaging software to "clone" the visible dark spots out, that will make them more appealing.
Cheers
#8 Dec 8th, 2016, 13:50
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Smile Itinerary of Our Trip ( 10-10-2016 to 23-10-2016)


Day 1: KOLKATA - DELHI - LEH

Day 2: LEH - SUMUR - PANAMIK ----------> 138 KM

Day 3: PANAMIK to TURTUK ----------------> 161 KM

Day 4: TURTUK

Day 5: TURTUK to HUNDER ----------------> 85 KM

Day 6: HUNDER - AGHAM - SHYOK - PANGON --> 165 KM

Day 7: PANGON - CHUSUL - LOMA - HANLE -----> 184 KM

Day 8: HANLE to TSO MORIRI -----------------> 179 KM

Day 9: TSO MORIRI – TSO KAR - LEH ----------> 253 KM

Day 10: LEH

Day 11: LEH –LAMAYURU – KARGIL -------------> 225 KM

Day 12: KARGIL - DRASS – SONMARG - SRINAGAR --> 205 KM

Day 13: SRINAGAR

Day 14: SRINAGAR - DELHI - KOLKATA

______________________________ ____________________________

ANWAR has taken for LEH to LEH (for Scorpio in 9 Days) Rs. 30,000/- and
ALI (another Driver ) has taken for LEH to SRINAGAR (for Xylo in 2 Days) Rs. 15,000/-

#9 Dec 28th, 2016, 19:07
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#9
An awesome trip
#10 Dec 29th, 2016, 11:13
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Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by arjunrobert We are total 4 ( 2 are under 30 year and two senior citizen (65+)

Jodi Kolkata Delhi Direct Flight jaai .. acclimatization problem hote pare ki ?

amader plan June 1st week 2017 . Apnar contact no /skype kichu share korte parben ki ?

Can we rely completely on Anwar ?

Thanks
Projjwal
comfortably you can go, just stay a day or two in Leh. In the month of June you don't need sweater all the time. My suggestion you must go up to Turtuk & PANGON to Tso Moriri Via CHUSUL - LOMA - MAHE, for that you need ILP. Anwar ke trust korte paren. You need to contact him as early as possible.

-Anirban Saha
#11 Dec 29th, 2016, 13:12
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Arrow My Suggestion

@ arjunrobert

Quote:
Originally Posted by arjunrobert View Post Hi , We are planning Leh for June 2017. Total 4 .Age : two senior citizen (63+) and two are under 30.

We are from Kolkata.We would like to go with travel agent.
Could you please suggest any reliable travel agent. Is the below plan doable for senior citizens.if not please suggest alternate plan.

Day 1 Delhi - Manali
Day 2 Manali - Keylong
Day 3 Keylong - Leh

Day 4 :Leh – Indus Valley Tour – Leh (90 km round trip / 7-8 hours)
Hemis Monastery- India’s wealthiest monastery, Hemis is the biggest one too and the site of an annual festival.

Overnight stay in Leh.

Day 5 Leh - Nubra Valley (Valley of Flowers) (125km / 4-5 hours)
Stay overnight at the camp.

Day 6 Nubra Valley - Leh (125 km)

Day 7 Leh - Pangong Lake (135 km)
Overnight stay at the Camp.

Day 8 Pangong - Tsomoriri Lake (240 km / 9-10 hours)
Stay overnight in the camp.

Day 9 Tso Moriri Lake - Toskar Lake - Leh (235 km / 8-9 hours)
Overnight stay.

Day 10 Leh - Uleytokpo (82 km / 2-3 hours)
Alchi and other monastery.

Day 11 Uleytokpo.Overnight stay at Uleytokpo.

Day 12Uleytokpo - Leh (70km / 2-3 hours)
indulge in some last minute shopping at the popular markets of Leh such as Moti market, Balkhang chowk for apricot and Super Market.

Overnight stay at Hotel.

Day 13 Leh - Delhi. (Departure) transfer to the airport to board flight for Delhi.
Suggestion:

1. Directly u can go Nubra Valley to Pangong. From HUNDER to PANGON Via AGHAM - SHYOK 165 KM / 6 Hours

2. Nubra Valley means Panamik - Diskit – Hundur and Turtuk. You must go Hundur and Turtuk.

3. If possible must go to Hanle.

4. Night stay @ Pangong is must & must.
#12 May 11th, 2017, 16:35
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#12
@Anirban saha
Was the high altitude passes & Shyok river bed road completely open during mid October?
Was it very cold on high passes during day time?
I like October because of yellow colour of Popler tree leaves.

Thanks in advance
#13 May 11th, 2017, 17:52
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#13
Khardung La has no seasonal closure even in the winter , where it at worst can go out for a few days in rare snowfalls. This is from a mid-November visit :

http://vistet.blogspot.se/2010/11/severe-weather.html

October means no rain , little chances of snowfall , and first frosty nights : the Shyok and other rivers are at a low point.
#14 Jun 29th, 2017, 16:46
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#14
My recommendation: Thupwang Guest House. A full day is enough to complete sightseeing around Leh city. But next time I like to spend at least two days in Leh City, not for the palace, gompas or monastery, just to stay in Thupwang Guest House. It is a sweetly memories that the day I spend in Thupwang Guest House. The gust house is surrounding by organic farm. If you are in the month of September – October, you will find apple trees with full of apples inside the compound. All this maintained by Mr. S. Norboo Shalak (+919419819797) and his family members.

Dear Anirban Saha,
Very nice photography & report.
Did you find apples on trees during mid October?

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