The Leh Ladakh | Chapter 2

Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Trip to Leh – Ladakh – Chapter 2

I assume most of you, who are reading this must have read Chapter One also and if you havent i would recommend to read that 1st
before you begin with this.

So as we were done at the cafe @ Manali we picked our stuffs and got ready to go to our hotel – shimlog. As i was in a real good mood now(the good Manali stuff 🙂 ) i truely was enjoying every moment there – the chill, the heavy rain,the breeze and the fun.
We ran down and outside the cafe to get an auto, stuffed together all at the back seat as the rain was too heavy. The rickshaw wala covered the sides immediately. Only sprinkles of water touched me…and i was loving it.

We reached the hotel and after getting freshen up we spoke to the manager there to arrange for our trip to Leh. He had some options – private cab/ sharing cab and tt(tempo traveler). Private cab was pretty expensive and sharing a cab didnt make much sense. we finalized tt, as it was under budget and we thought would be better than sharing a cab for the long journey ahead.

Along with us there were 5 more guys who were suppose to travel from there.We packed and left from manali early morning by 5am. Early morning we stopped just outside the hotel to have tea, till few who were late joined us.

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View from Manali where we were sipping tea, just about to leave to conquer what we were seeing

Sipping the tea, we were watching the snow covered peak among pine trees and were enjoying the beauty of surrounding mountians. Lovable view was it.Knowing little at that moment that soon we would be crossing those peaks.

Soon we all were done and we left for the amazing road trip to Leh Ladhak. As we move away and in the valleys towards leh, the green and the scenic beauty became just amazing .It was worth the admiration of the place.

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Manali to Leh route

It became colder and we started getting chills inside the tt now.we all were enjoying every sec of our life, seeing, feeling and loving every beauty out there. In a while all in the tt started behaving less of strangers and we started some dialogues. 2 guys were from Mumbai, 1 was a chef and he was travelling from Goa, 2 army men and a driver and his conductor apart from 4 of us. The chef was pretty interesting. He used to travel back from Goa every year at this time as the shacks close down in coming months, he then works in leh or somewhere in north part of India for 6 months and then again goes back to Goa. He had been doing this since almost 6 years now and he enjoyed it. The 2 army men had base at Leh. The driver and the conductor were from Manali.

One thing i missed earlier, while we were discussing and finding ways to go to leh from manali – every other carriers told us that it would take minimum 24hrs to reach Leh.
But the gentleman who was driving us had told he would make us reach in 13hrs…we weren’t much surprised until later. As we moved ahead the greenery around started fading and we could see more valleys and mountains – becoming larger along the way.

On way the driver started smoking – weed…i was like what u doing ? he told that it was normal and does this everytime. We didn’t bother much and continued, laughing, chatting and enjoying every beauty out there. If ever you want go to leh do take the route from manali via road, you would miss a lot if you fly.

img_0162There were few amazing places that we halted for sometime, small break. Waterfalls could be seen coming from the peaks above that were covered in clouds.

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The green was just too refreshing and the breeze was now pricking on our skin. It was cold. We had started seeing ice here and there, some hidden between moutain clevage and some just lying there, still and cold. We took a small halt at Rotang Pass, ice everywhere and we were among the clouds that we saw from the lower plains.

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Mountains Ice and Cloud

We reached Sarchu by evening. In all my research and suggestions from friends, i was told that we should halt at Sarchu for the night
and then next day early morning should leave for Leh. This was mainly to adapt to the higher altitudes. But our driver as promised told he would drive whole night and there wont be much problem.

Ours was the first trip and had less idea of the altitude issues. We ate hot mutton and rice there and we all began again.

By now dark started falling and we could see only ranges now. Humungous mountains panited in various shades of brown and black. As we moved higher Suraj started complaining of slight headache and one more guy started having a similar problem.
We then realized what many had told us before our trip, that there would be pressure change and this might happen. And now we came to understand that why Sarchu was a point of night stay and why all other carriers had told that it would take 24hrs minimum.

It was too cold and dark had engulfed everything outside by now. The road had steep valley on the sides and now the beauty looked pretty dangerous to us.
We were in the midst of higher ranges and could see few trucks struggling to move up in the far off hills. Suddenly one of the army men jumped in front and shouted to the driver – “bhai shahab gaadi rokiye”, we all turned to the driver and to our shock he was dizzy, and as shocked as he came out of the dizziness…we all requested him to take break as it wasnt a good idea to drive in the black – one people inside started with lil headaches, second the road seemed dangerous and third the driver was on a high and now we couldn’t risk it.

After a bit of argument he agreed to stop at Pang. Though pang itself was much higher 15001 Ft above sea level, we didnt have any option now. Ideally its Sarchu at 14000 ft were one should take a halt or before that. There were tented accomodation there and we could feel the vast strectch of giant moutains surrounding us. Though the weather was damn cold and Suraj,Bhagya and Manmeet were all in bad state, i somehow enjoyed the vastness of the place, the ranges, the cold …all. We took a tent there and were provided with number of blankets to help us from cold. Suraj was in bad headache,and Bhagya and Manmeet started vomiting. These were normal reactions though, to the change in altitude.
One thing to note here – whenever planning for Leh, u need to be fit and should be doing some workouts before the trip.

For me, my yoga and mediation helped a lot here. I really felt the difference there, no sign of headache or any type of health issue. I had to handle all of them that night.
Due to the headache and vomiting no body was able to sleep properly, but atleast could rest for some hours.

Early morning we left from Pang. Suraj was still with the headache and Manmeet and Bhagya too, were not much good. we stuffed inside the tt and started with lil excitement towards leh. We were in sleepy mood and just tucked inside.

The morning shone brighly on us in those mountain ranges.After not so good night for most, we felt we were blessed with the beauty again.


This time the beauty was just too different, like one that we had never seen before, never….we were high on the ranges, very very high.

So the journey from here would be understood better with the photos which explains it all.

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Crossing the Khar dung la Pass – The highest motorable road
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32 m tall Maitreya Buddha. This statue faces Pakistan and was build for peace !!

—- Leh here we are : The 1st thing was to go see a doc as Surajs headache was continuous. When we went to the hospital, we saw n number of travelers with some problem.The reason for all was same – oxygen level decrease due to low air pressure and the solution for all was same, to get more oxygen from the oxygen cylinder for half an hour.Once done all problems were solved, at least better.

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Bikers, hi roads, valleys, mountains and more

 

From here i would share the pics of places we visited – the journey was adventurous and pleasant at all places. We drove on top of the highest motorable road
in the world – Khardungla, drove through the most dangerous and adventorous roads, walked on ice and saw people from around the world who rode through the ups and downs.Visited the famous Pangong Lake, stayed at the most peaceful camp in Jispa, visited best monasteries, stood before 32 metre statue of Maitreya Buddha near Diskit Monastery.
We had got the best driver with us and made sure we had our best time there.
Taking care of all our needs and comfort. And we learned one word “Juley”. Leh people are soft spoken and calm(mostly) and whereever you go they greet with Juley.

Before leaving leh i had to through away the stuff i had got from Manali, didnt wanted any risk at the airport.

We flew from Leh to Delhi and had an amazing time there. As we had no booze or anything else in Leh-Ladakh, we came back and had a blast party at Haus Khas
with some khass friends. Pankaj shir,Amarjit,Bhabhi,Saurabh,Varun and we four. Loved the place Haus Khas and we hopped couple of pubs finally landing at Social where we danced our hearts out.

One of the best trip was soon ending with lots of adventure,fun, amazing site seeing and loads of memories for a lifetime.We flew from Delhi to Pune the next day.

Back to the parties, work and more and getting readied for our next trip………………….

LIFE IS A JOURNEY AND WE ALL …TRAVELERS !!

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The Leh Ladakh | Chapter 1

 Chapter One – The most awaited journey begins…

After not so good week of being homeless for few days( thanks to my wonderful frds who made things easy and not so uncomfortable for me. Its another story, let that be for the time being), we started on with one of the most wonderful and exciting trip of my life till date.

Yes I am a traveler and love being with nature, admiring its beauty and comfort, sharing an amazing connect with everything natural borne around me. Have been to places and now was the time to explore one of the most talked about places – Leh-Ladakh!

Had been seeing a lot about this place on internet, media and television. Time had arrived when it was to be felt and admired in person . The trip was planned in a manner to cover at least 2-3 places other than Leh. So we planned it like Pune-Delhi-Manali-Leh-Delhi.(8th to 18th of July) and probably this was one of the best thing we did for the trip.

So in short we were flying from Pune to Delhi, Volvo bus from Delhi to Manali. A day stay @Manali. Booked a traveller from Manali to Leh(take personal cabs only when you are ready to pay good).

NOTE: You are recommended to take a halt between Manali and Leh(ideally at Jispa or some similar lower altitude area).

Leh, we had a package booked from 11th to 16th .Then again we flew from Leh to Delhi(a day stay). and from Delhi to Pune. So that was just a brief to understand how we went about the trip.

So the nite before our flight from Pune to Delhi, I told myself– f*** everything happening and get ready for the trip. Till late evening I had no clue about my luggage /clothes/ essentials to be taken for the trip. I was completely messed up with my house shifting tragedy and my belongings were in 4 different location of Pune, with me having little clue where what was.

At last I decided – Damn all, I will just collect what I have near me and some clothes that I need for the trip and leave everything as it is, as I didn’t want my trip to get messed in all this.So finally took whatever I could find from my frds place where some of my belongings were and left for Suraj’s place. We were supposed to leave together from his house next morning 5 am.

We reached his house at around 12 mid-nite and did my packing for the trip(whatever I could).

Morning 6 we had our flight to Delhi. We started our day at airport with clicks and pics(you understand girls were with us). Reached Delhi at around 9 am. I have a lot of good friends and I make a point to meet them whenever I am in their city. So I called few of them after we landed. Some were in office so told they would meet in the evening or may be while our returning as evening we had our bus to Manali.

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Delhi

Two of my other friends who are in sales (yes we guys do have time ), told they would catch up with us @lunch. One of them told we could have breakfast in a nearby mall- Ambience, till he comes. We stayed there for sometime, as the weather outside was humid and hot(usual Delhi), so we decided to better be at the mall and wait for my frnd.

As I got only few wearable, I did some shopping at the mall and bought a bright blue jeans there. (remember it was blue.)

After a while my friend Varun came. It was good to see him after long. We had spent amazing days together in our previous stint .We were the only guys who had got a chance to have a back to back trip to Singapore due to our performance and so we shared a lot of memories together.

He advised us to put all our luggage in his vehicle and hop in his car. We were worried earlier as to where should we dump the luggage. So now that was resolved . It was time for lunch, so we decided to have lunch before anything . Also there was this other friend, Saurabh, who was coming to meet us at lunch.

Varun, is a foodie, anyone would agree after seeing him. Anyways, that was good for us, as he took us to one of the most authentic Indian restaurant – Kareems – The original Kareems. Other Kareems in different cities only carry their name, not the food. Yes if you have been to Kareems anywhere in India and anytime if you walk into the original Kareems you could feel the difference right at the 1st place. Well if food is considered, the original kareem serves way too good, authentic and delicious chicken you could ever have. Not only chicken but their mutton, desserts all were equally delicious.

My other friend, Saurabh had also reached Kareems by that time. So Saurabh was also from my previous company and he too was the part of the same team. So in our last job,all(not exactly all) the regional guys did have close connections. It was nice to meet these buddies after long. We had some mouth watering food there with lot of chatting and gossiping. Saurabh left after the lunch as he had some work to finish. We all got into Varun’s car and left from there. So next came the girls demand for shopping , they cannot think that they were in Delhi and they didn’t do shopping. That’s against the Universal rule, right…hmmm…hmmm..k

But before that, thanks to Varun again, he told us that he would show us a bit of Delhi and it would be worth. We agreed and so did the girls(Thank God).He started from the embassy area. He showed us all the state embassies. The place was neat and clean unlike most areas in India. Maharashtra had the largest and most beautiful embassy and every state had a figure depicting their culture .

Then from there we went to see the Rashtrapati Bhavan, India Gate, Lal Killa,All these I had only seen on TV, that too on Republic day specials. Well it was really nice to see the make there. Apart from the weather everything was just nice and just perfect. Varun was our angel at Delhi who had given us a very memorable start of our journey. He took us for a complete ride, being a perfect guide anyone could want there. We spent the rest of the day going around with him seeing more of Delhi’s beautiful places that he could show us in that limited time.

Evening 6:30 we had our bus to Manali. Varun dropped us at the bus stand giving us an amazing start to our trip. As we all were tired, we just sat in the bus; relaxed and watched Delhi as it passed from the bus window, showcasing its old and new structures.

While we move out of Delhi, we all went asleep. It was almost mid – night when suddenly a jerk broke my sleep and I happened to see the deep valley (not too clearly), and the best I thought I could do is sleep again. It was too steep to see and the road was damn narrow, I felt some flashlight of trucks coming from opposite direction right into my face. I closed my eyes and just went to sleep again, just went off to sleep.

We took an auto to the hotel. On the way we saw apple trees..almost everywhere. First time I had seen apples like this. One could have easily plucked it .Anyways we didn’t do that and went straight to the hotel.A sudden change in the color of sky, bright light bluish, clouds here and there in the sky and dense fog above the ground, oh, it was an amazing sight.Yes we were entering Manali. A lovely place, with nature flaunting its beauty all around. White rivers flowing gracefully with long stretch of clouds above it. As we neared to the hotel, we could see ice-caped mountains. It was a sight to remember. The snow covered peaks, peeking from the trees simply a picturesque view. The air was as fresh as it could be. I closed my eyes took a deep breath and felt the calmness in the air. Peace!! It was amazing .

A second awe was awaiting us. The hotel was beautiful. Bright blue colored with grey colored brick designed walls . It was a small, cozy hotel. Bhagyashree had booked the hotel via some online site,guess Trip Advisor. Thanks to her. The hotel had a small garden full of flowers and it also had one or two apple trees.
The best part was the hospitality. We just loved the people out there. They were nice, polite, caring and humble. Ok..the name of hotel is Simlog . Their desk showed us the love of their customers. There were n number of mementos from customers to them, which read all about their good hospitality .

Pine trees, mountains and clouds, all in love with each other and we were completely in love with everything that we could see and feel. The trees stood calm and lovable, touching the sky above.We were there around 9 am or so. Once we got the rooms we all rested a bit, got fresh and went to the top floor for lunch. The view was fabulous from the window of the restaurant at the top floor.

The best time and place for a perfect lunch.

After the lunch we planned to go around Manali as we just had that day for Manali. We took an auto and went to see a nearby forest reserve. We did some photography as there was not much to see there. There were hawkers who all were selling “Shilawati” and some were also offering kesar.

It reminded us that Manali is one of the top Honeymoon destination.After some photography session we went to see the hot geysers, all who had been to Manali had told us to visit there.

We came out after the small visit and now we were hungry. Before we could find a decent place to have lunch I saw some jattadhari babas. Curiosity and excitement both pulled me towards him. Had heard Manali had had the best stuffs, so thought of taking a chance .Soon we were there. The hot gyser water was a part of a temple. Manno pretended to do some worshipping gestures for photography. There was small section where hot water was being used by all to bath, and there were number of soaps lying around that place. Not much of an interesting place – everyone was bathing in the same pond water. Didn’t understand at that moment what was there to visit – naked people all bathing in one pool, haha.

The baba was fair with shining brown eyes, his long stiff jatta circled neatly on his head, it did show years of effort to grow them. He wore a single saffron colour cloth around, like the ones we had seen being worn by some sexy girls in some sexy wet scenes in bollywood movies.

I approached him with a bit of cautiousness as I had no clue what I am going to ask him and how would he react. I walked towards him and gave a smile as I neared him. In return I got one, so it made things easier, a bit.

I asked him “Baba, Prasad milega ?” he smiled and said “Zaroor beta” .

To my surprise he opened a steel tin that he was carrying and told me to put my hand in it and grab the stuff.

Yes the steel tin was full of leafy things. Though I took some, but my interest was something else.

So now I openly asked him “Baba, kala hai kya”, this time he smiled looking straight into my eyes, he had caught my expectations. “Beta, mere pass toh bas yahi hai, unse pooch lo”, he pointed to another baba nearby.

My heart said –“mil gaya”, I asked him – “baba Prasad milega.” Without anyword he gave me the white Prasad, I told “baba, yeh nahi”, he gave a stern look, stern enough for me to understand to shut up and get lost from there. I did what I understood, no more words and I walked away.This baba seemed more yogic and more authentic. He was sleek, you could count his ribs, but at the same time strong. Longer and stiffer hair than the earlier baba had. Sharp looks, seemed to be aged 70 + or probably more . He sat in a very small hut just near the temple. As I went towards his hut, I saw some things being cooked inside and another baba was also sitting there.

As I moved away from there, I saw my friends entering a shop where a man was showing some antiques and shawls, etc. I went inside and saw him showing the ring play with the pashmina shawls.

Pashmina or Kashimiri cashmere wool also known  as “soft gold” in Kashmir , is a special wool from special breed of Himalayan goats. Its known for its warmth and feel. The pashmina shawls are such that a large enough shawl could pass through a ring. And this was the antic that the shop keeper was showcasing.

Not much of my interest, I saw his antics and stepped out. Also when he told that the cost for it was aprrox 15k + he did some numbering and came to a 4k figure, I guess we all lost interest and came out. If it was for real he wouldn’t be discounting that much…or whatever, we were now hungry.

To my surprise it was a place much like a café you would find in Goa (Ahh, I love Goa ).Suddenly the weather became more cloudy and it started drizzling. We ran out from the shop to the café just above it. Only place that looked good to have food there.

Bob Marley, Shiva and psychedelic paintings around. I could smell something nice there. It had a nice seating arrangement inside and out in the open terrace, which was half covered.We decided to sit outside as the weather now had become extremely beautiful.

The moment when it was showering with light water droplets, a mist of cloud around and mountains surrounding , manali once again was flaunting its amazing beauty and love to us. We did enjoy few drops of the rain in the terrace until the food came.

By that time a guy walked in the café. The inside was cozy. With seating arrangement on the floor, cushions and pillows lying around it looked one of the favourite place for the evening get together . They did what I had on my mind since a while, they rolled some paper . I wasn’t too surprised as I was expecting this to happen. Lucky me !!

I walked in and as it happens they gave me a favour. Good ! real Good Manali !

I even bought a small lump of it. It was one of the famous known thing there.

The rain now was heavy, it became cold and dark. We were done with everything there and now it was time to return to the small, beautiful Silmog Garden (our stay), as we had to rest before the long and exciting journey ahead – to Leh Ladakh.

To be continued……the adventurous ride in an tempo traveller with strangers and friends……leh we are on our way……

most beautiful, adventurous and mesmerizing  road trip to Leh from Manali, just begun….