From the lush green mountains of the Kashmir valley to the multi-coloured mountains of Drass and Batalik, we marched onwards to the cold desert mountains of Leh in the Ladakh region. Not a tree could be spotted as far as the eye could see, it was only some snow covered peaks at a distance. But that didn’t mean that they were any less beautiful from what we had already seen. It was just a different kind of beauty, something you will not see anywhere else but in India. Amidst all this, we never miss an opportunity to pull our ride off-road and click a couple of shots.
This was not our first time in Leh. We visited Leh with our parents exactly a year ago. We flew then and as the flight was landing in this cold desert, we were just awe-struck then. Both of us thought that this is a place where we will come again, hopefully by road. A year gone, and here we were standing clicking the roads as if we were meant to be here, always. Less cars on road gave us an opportunity to park our ride, set up the tripod right in the centre of the road and capture the memories for years to come.
The best home stays in Leh are not available online and there are plenty of them there. We were happy we did not book an accommodation before arriving, so that we had an opportunity to choose our abode since we were there for almost a week. Gurgu Homestay, a 5-min walk from the main market was a perfect choice. With blooming gardens, large sized rooms and amazing hosts, we could not have asked for anything better. When we were in Leh a year ago, I had seen a young tourist sitting in his patio, sipping a cup of coffee and reading a book. Not sure why, but that whole setup had stuck my mind for long and I always wanted to replay it. A year later, I did it!
We tried many cafes and restaurants in Leh, but one that we kept on going to again and again was ‘The Lamayuru’. Coffee at ‘The OpenHand Cafe’ and a few meals at ‘The Tibetan Kitchen’, Leh is a food paradise for people of all tastes.
When in Leh, we had enough and more to do within and around the city, such as Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, Magnetic Hill, Hall of Fame, The Leh Palace (skip it!), the local market, Thikse Monastery, Rancho school, but that is not all. A few far off places were just amazing. We had visited the Pangong Tso (the lake from 3 Idiots movie) in our previous visit, so we thought of driving to the lesser visited but no lesser beautiful, Tso Moriri. A separate blog will talk about that in detail. Another place we had visited earlier, but we could not skip it still was the Khardung La Pass, the highest motorable road in the world at an altitude of 18,380 ft. above sea level.
If our car had any senses of it’s own, I doubt it would have ever imagined that it would drive down to the highest motorable road from Gurgaon. What a drive it is. Driving above the clouds does not remain a phrase anymore, it becomes a reality when you are driving to KhardungLa. It’s just snow all around you. You can see the clouds at your eye level. And you are still driving higher and higher. Eating Maggi and sipping coffee at the highest cafe in the world brings a sense of achievement for travellers like ourselves.
Driving past Khardungla, we were on our way to the land of the double humped camels, Nubra Valley.
1. If you are planning a trip to Leh for less than a week, apply for more leaves and extend it further. Anything less than that and you are not doing justice to the beauty of the Ladakh region
2. When in Leh, follow a few tips or else you will fall ill off mountain sickness. A couple of days before landing in Leh, start taking ‘Diamox’. The day you reach Leh, do nothing, absolutely nothing. Relax in your room and watch some television. Try to be a superman and your trip will be spoiled.
3. The food in Leh is to die for. Sadly, we prefer vegetarian food, but those who don’t, say that non-vegetarian is even better. Try different cafes, restaurants and coffee houses, but don’t miss