Monday, November 4, 2013

Three Mallus in Leh !

Note : My words below will not be able to justify the feel of experience we had during the trip to even 25%. You need to be there to understand how it feels. I recommend that every individual needs to go to Leh at least once in life time.

It was a sudden decision of us to plan the trip. All happened while we Met in Syed's I'ed party. I checked with Rithwik  and got the contacts. Rajith did his side  R&D  and we all finally decided to go with this service provider - Overland Escape. 
Tickets Booked. Purchased the gear from Decathlon.

Day 01/ Sept 06: Manali  - Srinagar
We reached airport by 1910 pm. The drop was sponsored by GI. Gulped couple of drinks in BIAL. Boarded the flight. Flight was full to Delhi. Reached Delhi on time. Spent some time wandering inside airport as our connection flight was at 0540 hrs to Srinagar. We found lots of empty space in airport to settle down as there not many like us there waiting. 
The utilisation of sleeping bag was done full extreme. Slept on the floor taking turns. 

Day 02/ Sept 7: Arrive at Srinagar airport  and drive straight to Kargil.

Reached airport by 7.30 am. Did our morning nature calls in airport only. They got only one american commode in clean and usable condition. We were picked up by a taxi which was only for 7 km. Then we changed to Leh taxi. Unfortunately it was a strike day at Srinagar and we not able to explore the city much. Had our break fast at Son Marg. Without waisting any more time we moved on to Kargil. 
Son marg-India gate-Zodjila pass-Vijay war memorial-Kargil hill
With Jidins help the Drinks supply was supported by forces. Kargil was a small town. We were scheduled for a stop to get acclimatised with the increasing altitude. Had couple of drinks and retired to our beds. Food was not so great. However basic requirements were met.

Day 03/ Sept 8: Kargil – Leh 230 Kms / 5-6 hrs

After Breakfast started for Leh by 0700Hrs. Enroute visited Mulbek, Giant Living Buddha Sculpture on Rock Mountain, Lamayuru, one of the oldest Monastery of Ladakh and enjoy the view of Moon Landscape. 

The drive was good. We had to believe the Magnetic Hill concept. The car was literally pulled back by the mountain.

Reached Leh by 4pm. We were feeling the altitude and lack of oxygen. Climbing few stairs was like running a mile. 
The tour operator representative came and briefed us about the trip plan. The altitude had pulled down Shivaram. Rajith tummy was upset due to the chicken we had last night. I had couple of drinks and we all went for dinner. Food was good. Retired to our bunkers by 2200hrs.  

Day 04/ Sept 9: Leh - Pangong Lake - Leh 280 Kms / 10-11 hrs

After early (0730Hrs) Breakfast left for Pangong Lake (14,500 ft) through Changla Pass 17,350 ft, it is the third highest motor-able road in the world. Arrive Pangong by 1300Hrs.  it is the highest salt water Lake in the World, shared by two countriesIndia & China.  Enjoyed the beauty of the lake on the Banks of pangong while appreciated the changing Colors and fascinating high altitude of the LakeThe various colours visible in lake contributed by the sand  was a marvel to see by itself. Spent couple of hours there. The lunch was packed and carried with us.The drive was ok. Lots of off-roading. Drove back to Leh by the same route. Altitude had literally pulled our efficiency levels . Had a quick dinner and retired to our bunkers. 

Day 05/ Sept 10: Leh - Nubra Valley 120 Kms / 4-5 hrs
We had to start early by 0700hrs for Nubra valley. Else will be stuck on the roads due to road widening activities happening en route. After Breakfast we started  to Nubra Valley via Khardungla (Highest Motorable road in the World, 18,380 ft) Arrive at Hundur by afternoon. Lunch at Camp. The lunch was made from the stuff produced in their organic garden. Every where apple trees. Fed up of eating apples ;-)  In the evening we went for the two humped camel ride. It was fun on the camel and interesting to see the sand dunes. We had a camp fire set for the night. Met couple of riders at the camp fire. Had a great evening. Finished dinner and retired to our camps.

Day 06/ Sept 11: Nubra Valley - Leh 120 Kms / 4-5 hrs
After Breakfast  we started back to leh. En route visited Deskit Monastery, where we had a magnificent view of Nubra Valley .Back to Leh by same Route, crossing Khardungla Pass. Reached by afternoon. Did some local shopping. Bought the worl famous Pashmina shawl.
Relaxed the rest of the day. 

Day 07/ Sept 12: Leh to Sarchu 250 Kms/ 10 – 11 Hrs 
Started for sarchu. Reached by 1500hrs. Our stay was in camps. The camp guys told us that we need to collect water in buckets in the night itself as morning it will be frozen. We took it lightly. However what we had in store was horrible. The temp went down to -4 deg cel. Adding to this the altitude was killing the oxygen.  The coldest night we experienced. If we have a choice we will not go back to this place. Old monk and Holister jackets were complete failure. Multiple blankets helped us to sleep for few hours. 

Day 08/ Sept 13: Sarchu – Manali 222 Kms / 9-10 hrs
Left sarchu ASAP. Target was Manali. Roads were really bad. Leh-Manali road was restricted until 1988, this rugged 472km road - 2nd highest in the world - is only open about three months per year. 

Crossed Baralacha La (4845m), lunch at Sissu village, later cross famous Rohtang Pass, 13050 ft. 
We some how wanted to reach manali. We passed through the Rohtang  pass which was fully green. By 1700 hrs we reached Manali. Checked in dragon guest house. A decent one. We were allocated a pent house to stay. As we were completely exhausted by the road travel we did nothing but relax. 

Day 09/ Sept 14: Manali  - Chandigarh 7-8 Hrs

The best sleep we had in the complete trip was in Manali. Woke up late. Checked out of the hotel after the brunch. Decided to go for JOHNSONS spa. Spend half a day taking care of ourselves. The massages and facials did really rejuvenate us. By 1900 hrs we left for Chandigarh. Our initial plan was to directly go to airport. However we reached Chandigarh airport by early morning 0400hrs. Flight was at 1140hrs. Decided to take a room to retire and freshen up. Checked in in a nearby hotel. 

Day 10/ Sept 15: Manali  - Chandigarh 7-8 Hrs 
Flew back to Blore via Mumbai.  

01 night Hotel D’zojila  in Kargil
03 nights Hotel Pangong  in Leh
01 night Organic Retreat camp  in Nubra
01 night Deluxe camp in Sarchu
01 night Dragon Guesthouse in Manali