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A trip to heaven and back...10 days in Ladakh!


Oct 4th, 2011, 07:18 PM
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A trip to heaven and back...10 days in Ladakh!

Our Tryst with Himalayas begins!!
Our main motivation in returning back to India from the USA was the fact that we could visit the Himalayas. So clearly one of the first places on our list was Leh/Ladakh. Roopa and Giri had been talking about conducting a trip there, so we joined the bandwagon.

Despite signing up with them AJ n I got very little time to even participate in the planning or even to read up on Ladakh! We had both just changed jobs and merely getting the vacation approved had been tough enough....!! One of the weekends in July when Roopa called for a meeting in Bangalore so the group could meet up, we did manage to make it to Crosswords in Bangalore. We met with a few of the guys going with us and made a hurried exit as it was a Sunday and we still had to drive back to Chennai. So technically speaking we hardly got to know anyone who was going with us!! Roopa spent considerable amount of time and energy trying to scare us stiff about this trip and warned us about everything that could possibly go wrong!! We were a determined gang and just managed to laugh off all her 'warnings'

Surely AJ and I were simply lookin forward to this trip...expectations were very high since almost anywhere we went, I had said to AJ - "But this is not as beautiful as the Himalayas" ...I was nervously hoping this trip wouldn't let him down...it was after all AJ's first trip to the Himalayas. It had also been a loooong time since we went with an unknown group of people.. there were bound to be times when we regretted it.. so many if's and but's.. but we had signed up and we were prepared for whatever lay ahead..

So when we flew into Delhi airport we were the first ones to arrrive..the flights from Bangalore and Mumbai were coming in waaay later..we waited at the visitor lounge- picked a couple of novels at WH Smith and contd to read them. By around 2 AM on 25th Aug 2011 we met up with the 'gang' from Banglore at Gate P. We then sauntered to Terminal 39 B for our Kingfisher flight scheduled to leave at 4:45 AM

Vijay- the veteran of the gang was already proving how meticulous he was, he kept insisting we go to Terminal 39 B, but the rest of us ganged up on him and made him recline in a rather noisy aisle that had some recliners...even as the ground staff were drilling away to glory we caught some sleep. Then proceeded to the terminal where we quickly realized 2 folks from Mumbai were already waiting. So another round of introductions and all was in place for us to board the flight! Hungry, sleepy and excited is how I'd describe us.. as always I managed to sleep even before the flight took off...in half hour when I opened my eyes I thought I was already in heaven.. this is the sight I woke up to!!

Wow...simply wow!! The mountains were rising above the clouds even...the size of the peaks was already an overwhelming sight!! Slowly the sky turned a beautiful golden hue...the sun was rising! We saw hundreds of snow capped peaks all bathed in the crimson rays of the rising sun.. it is a sight I'll probably never forget!!

Even as the flight got ready to land, the views of the valleys below were fantastic! Slowly but surely the flight began its descent!

The airport at Leh is really small and cramped. SO it took us sometime to retrieve our luggage. TAG had already ensured the cabs were waiting for us and soon we reached Hotel Horizon in Leh where we would spend a good number of nights in the days to come!

Leh is not just another district in Jammu & Kashmir, infact the one thing thats strikes you about Leh is the sheer size of the district. I haven't seen any other district in India that is this HUGE! The area itself is striking in size, with mountains that have peaks going beyond the clouds SIZE does have a say in your first impressions of Leh! At an altitude of 3500m it is hardly surprising that the Himalayan Mountains are the dominant component of the landscape of Leh, what is surprising though is the variety in the landscape!! With a 'beast' like Himalayas for a backdrop and the beauty of buddhist architecture, Leh makes for a heady combination of quietitude and magnificience that is tough to define in words. For once I feel like this is a place that has me at a loss for words!! (people who know me will vouch for how tough it is to do that to me!!)

So finally our Tryst with the Himalayas had begun and we were excited!
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Oct 4th, 2011, 07:21 PM
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Acclimatization- The Himalayas tests you!

Of course Roopa had warned us about High Altitude Sickness...if we had driven into Leh from Delhi our acclimatization would have been quicker. But since we had flown in it was stark. Roopa handed us raw garlic to chew on the minute we reached the hotel. For the first 2 days we all reeked of garlic, she'd even added garlic to the water we were to drink... gosh after a certain point we thought the garlic would make us puke!! But she was right..that was probably our only way to a speedy acclimatization! So the day we landed it was just the garlic, food and sleep. No exertion absolutely..not that we could exert as well!! A couple of steps out of the hotel and we were all huffing and puffing as if we'd run a marathon!! At such altitudes the air was really thin and our body was made acutely aware of any exertion we subjected it to!! We headed for lunch and dinner to a restaurant called Lamayuru- the staff became very good friends with us by the time we departed!

Even as we walked to the restaurant we spotted a Common Hoopoe and a Black Billed Magpie foraging thru some litter. So AJ's birding had begun

We slept all day and all night for we knew the next day was to be a hectic one- as Roopa called it 'The Himalayan Grind' would begin!! D Couldn't stop grinning in anticipation of the trips ahead!! We packed up for the trip to Pangong Lake via Chang La. Then we slept early- alarms set for 5 AM since the call was to leave at 6.
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Oct 4th, 2011, 07:29 PM
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11 Idiots on Pangong Lake and Chang La:

So far we had only heard of Pangong Lake as the one that had featured in the hugely popular Bollywood movie- 3 Idiots!!! So this time when we set off I was mentally thinking it will now be 11 Idiots at Pangong!! ) >

Even as we drove just outside Leh the views became amazing. The first bunch of Stupas we saw really excited us, Giri had said something about how unlike what was originally thought, the Stupas had in recent times been discovered to host mummies- were they of hermits from the past??? Literally 'Stupa' in Sanskrit means 'A heap', they were just that a heap that housed Buddhist relics. I had previously seen Stupas only in Srilanka, so seeing them in Leh sure made me feel a bit nostalgic about the 2 months I'd spent in Srilanka ..!

A few kms ahead we were driving by the river Indus and we stopped to get a couple of pictures of the river that twined around some really barren looking mountains. Since these mountains were above the rain clouds, they hardly had any vegetation on them. But the valleys by the river were full of thick vegetation! The contrast was lovely!!

Slowly we passed a couple of monastries and the ascent to Chang La Pass began. This was the toughest part of the trip for us, we were all yet to get completely acclimatized and this sharp increase in altitude affected most of us...so groans about breathlessness and headaches was common. I almost felt like I had a fever by the time we reached the pass..I hardly remember what we did on this pass!

Once along the way they were laying roads and there was this huge traffic jam!!! We all felt like the cities traffic was back here in the mountains to haunt us...but it soon turned into a break by the lovely flowing waters-don't remember the name of the river though!!

A little ahead and it was the first sighting of wild horses and pashmina goats for us. The goats looked so wonderful, their coat of wool almost seemed to flow as they walked. The contrast between the mountains, the grass and a glorious sunny day made for some great photography!!

We even sighted a marmot basking out in the sun! These are such cute creatures!! Sadly they have been rather tamed by the tourists who feed them and click pictures with them.. I was guilty of the same too..only on hindsight I do regret it!!

Slowly but surely we were nearing Pangong Lake. Our first sight of the lake itself was amazing, but when we got closer it took my breath away!! The pristine turquoise blue waters against the burnt sienna back ground....gosh!!! What a sight!! Words fall short when one tries to describe this sight!!

We spent all afternoon and evening at the lake, there were moments when we sat on the shores and thought about how lucky we were to be seeing this sight! The colors of the mts kept changing with the changing sunlight, so did the colors of the water!! God must have painted this canvas with a lot of patience and skill... otherwise how else can one explain all that the eyes saw here??

As is obvious from the pics above, slowly but surely all the posing began!! Even as Roopa was getting the arrangements done for our stay the rest of us were busy trying to get 'picture perfect'. The funniest was Giri and Ashish, it was a lot of fun seeing them get pose ready!! I even pulled Giri's leg on the same, since I felt I knew him well enough to take his case...hopefully he didn't mind too much!! He was a bit miffed with me though for a lil while...

Later in the evening we headed back to the camp, settled into tents and had a wonderful dinner. This was the first time we played a game called 'Mafia'. Can't say I was a big fan of the game!! For one it had some profanity in it,albeit in a humorous way, never having been a fan of the same I couldn't bring myself to whole heartedly participate. Thankfully most of us were too sick to go on with the game for long. So we retired for the day. Some others stayed up to do some star gazing...sure wasn't me!!

The next day was slightly cloudy, so the pics weren't the same. However AJ found some birds to photograph- gulls n grebes!

By the time he was done, the sun was out again and we sat on the shores looking at what surely seemed like a road to heaven. We also clicked some pics of our camp and slowly headed back to pack up.

Just as we were leaving we met a whole group of people at the camp..... I sure thought they were from Nat Geo since their vehicle said that...one of the guys (not an Indian) mentioned it was his 17th trip to Ladakh and he was yet to complete seeing all of this region!! Meanwhile I got my pic next to their vehicle... This was the coolest thing ever!!

As we headed back we saw a whole colony of marmots..! Like kids we got excited, we even indulged in feeding them some apples. The scary thing is how friendly they are with humans thanks to tourists like us...now on hindsight I am feeling so guilty that we did this!!

The rest of the journey was pretty uneventful. We got back to Hotel Horizon by the time it was night.
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Oct 4th, 2011, 08:22 PM
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An unforgettable drive through Khardung La into NubraDay 4)

By the time we woke up the next day it was already late! However we quickly got on our way and the climb to Khardung La was breathtakingly beautiful!!!!!!!!! Every turn on the road brought us a view we'd wanna capture forever in our minds...at times when we saw the roads we were leaving behind it would just strike us as to how big these mountains truly were!!

The roads are absolutely gorgeous till about 8 KMS from the pass. Then begins the trek for our vehicle.. the last stretch of roads are rocky and scary. Sometimes as I gazed out of the window it almost seemed like a miracle that we hadn't yet fallen into the gorges below. By now we were very wary of the driver on our vehicle, after umpteen advice he seemed to be driving with some sympathy for the people in his car!!

Closer to the pass we started seeing many signs about how this was the highest motorable pass etc. Some of these need to be updated since the Chinese have already constructed roads that are now higher than this one. However there is no disputing that this is an experience to cherish.

The weather on the pass was wonderful and we stayed nearly 45 mins. This time we were all better acclimatized and hence the time spent was more enjoyable! There is a canteen and a souvenir shop apart from a temple. The tea and maggi in the canteen is something that is not to be missed!

After all this fun we ensured that we posed as a group with a back drop that was to die for!! D

Some more monkeying around and then it was time to drive on...the anticipation was huge as we began our journey towards Nubra Valley. Anyone who's been to Ladakh talks non stop about Nubra and it's beauty!! But there was a landslide just after Khardung La that delayed us a bit. BRO cleared it out in no time and we stopped at the military camp near North Pullu. For us just standing on our feet was a task but here the military guys were playing cricket!!!! The views were needless to say mind boggling!!

The roads were once again amazing!!

Enroute we stopped for a photo shoot. It was a lot of Masti as even Sangeeta joined the fun this time around!! I did miss her a lot in many of the places- but she had more severe high altitude sickness than any of us and so had missed out on many occasions!! Not this time though AJ was also up to his usual antics playing the quintessential romantic hero!! This was the first time this gang was seeing his act, so they took it all too seriously!! D

Once again we set off and reached the Khalsar Loop- this started with a 5KM stretch on what was once an ocean bed! Oooooh what a road!! It was flanked by the valleys, we could see the river at a distance and then these huge mountains by us!! Many of us even slept on the road and got some swanky pics!! Roopa and I did a lil dance and we tried our darndest best to get Anindita going but in vain, so we gave up before just settling by the road!! One pic of me that AJ has clicked sure adds perspective...for once in my life with the Mountain for a back drop I look TINY!!!!!!!!!!!! (I am a very all woman and with the weight I've gained I never look tiny!)

Rather reluctantly we set off again!! As we look through the rear window this particular road looks sooooooo amazing!! We keep clicking away to glory!!

Our next destination was the Diskit Monastry- perched on a mountain itslef, it offers some great views of the valley! The peace and quiet in the prayer halls make it so easy for the mind to go blank and thereby concentrate on one's breathing. We sat in meditation for half an hour- a 30 mins that proved to be life changing for me and AJ. We delved into our thoughts to such an extent that there is no more to think and soon, a sense of satisfaction at belonging to this nature and beauty replaced our thoughts- we felt truly LUCKY and BLESSED that we had undertaken this journey. All the fatigue and apprehensions were behind us, a smile crept onto us that just wouldn't go away! A small hope crept in that we would return one day to spend more time in this monastry, but until then it was time to move on so we don't delay the group.

From here we went on to Hunder- to see one of the highest deserts in the world. When people talk about this pace what we don't realize is how wondrous the sight is- we see huge sand dunes right next to the abundant Shyok River, flanked by HUGE mountains that are snow capped and a lush green valley by the river... surely words can't do justice to this place!! Nowhere in Ladakh can a photo capture what the naked eye sees...sighHH!!

For 150 Rs per person we got to ride the Bactarian Camels (Two humped camel- making it ideal for riding); straight away we noticed how much shorter and stouter these camels were compared to the ones in Jaisalmer!! The guys weren't too gung ho about riding a camel, Ashish was the only one who went with us. Turns out Roopa's camel was called Bipasha Basu and Ani's camel John Abraham...ahem.. surely this couple hadn't broken up as mid-way thru our trip they started cuddling up!! D We sure had a good laugh!! At the end of the ride it was time for another group pic! By now we had all also become quite comfortable in each others presence.

Some of us got our feet wet in the river. AJ and I hung around for some more time trying to capture the sunset pics before joining the others at the sand dunes.Even as we got there Roopa was allowing the sand to seep through her hands, Giri was lying on the sand and acting like a butterfly, not at all self conscious, Girish Kulkarni spent sometime in meditation! It is amazing how the Himalayas has a way of getting to you! There is something so incomprehensible about this place that sets your mind thinking...seeking desperately to understand what the eyes are seeing and the heart is loving... the beauty and glory seep into you and set you free...our folk lore about people heading to the Himalayas to become a hermit became so much more comprehensible now...

We headed to the hotel (Snow Leopard) rather late, by which time he had given away our rooms to someone else, so after a bit of drama we managed to weedle some 4 rooms which meant all the gals had to share a room. We had lotsa fun exchanging our stories... also showed me how little I knew about Roopa despite knowing her for more than 5 years!!! A night out always does that I guess, you get to know your roomies better as conversations flow through the night. Great memories stem around Sangeeta and Roopa's description around their "special"" experiences!! We sure had a good laugh...and scared the living daylights outta Anindita!! At the end of it all I don't even remember when I dozed off in the night!! The other thing was the Mafia game we played that night!! I was such a nasty brat that Anindita just stopped short of wringing my neck!! D

Was it just a day of activities this....?? Wow, I wish we'd spent more time in each one of these places!! Even as I think back there is a tug at my heart that says I HAVE to go back................
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Oct 4th, 2011, 08:26 PM
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Panamic Springs and the drive back to Leh: (Day 5)

We woke up in the morning to realize what a beautiful place we'd spent the night in!!! Just outside the window was this huge rocky mountain!! The hotel had it's own farm and dinner had been yummy, breakfast was amazing!! I fell in love with the Apricot Jam they served!! We spent a lot of time in their flower/fruit garden. The owner was a very gracious host and we promised him we'd be back for longer stays!

AJ was off shooting some macro frames... he sorely missed having a macro lens..so I know where the next dent in my pocket is gonna be!

After breakfast we left to the Panamic Springs, this was a hot hot day! The journey was tiring, but the views were fantastic as always. We drove a long distance by the Shyok River to reach the springs. But when we did it was just too hot to be enjoyed!!

Walking upto the springs with my umbrella, I did try offering to share it with AJ...but he refused to be seen under the shade of a white polka dotted umbrella!! D Can't say I blame him though!!

A roasted group of us left from here and headed back to Khardungla! This time around we met some military folk there who taught us Ladakhi dance...we had a whale of a time before finally heading back to Leh

As we began the descent from the pass a glorious sunset came upon us!! Some unforgettable views this!! It became dark and the last stretch of the drive was scary..none the less we got back in one piece with so many memories I am sure if we were a hard disk we'd have exhausted our space a long time ago!!

I couldn't help but wonder how the snow capped peaks seemed like a replica of the pic we clicked from the flight, guess our elevations were comparable!! Showed us how high Khardungla was!!! Back in the hotel we were sooo exhausted we missed a Dumb Charades session ...next was tomorrow's Leh Fest!! Hmmm....
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Oct 4th, 2011, 08:28 PM
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Leh Festival- Sept 1st 2011 (Day 6)
We had seen umpteen pictures of Leh Festival. On this hot bright day we set out at about 9 AM to reach the main market of Leh.

Everyone was set for the parade to begin. The parade began at around 10 AM, the colors and outfits were amazing!! Troups after troups came out in splendid outfits and walked the main street while also showcasing a bit of their act that was to come later at the Palace Grounds.

We followed the parade through the markets to the grounds, it was fun to see everyone having so much fun!! We also crept between the groups and took some close up pics!

Once at the grounds we managed to sit right upfront, however other last minute entrants got to sit even ahead of us!! The events started with a speech by the J&K tourism minister. It was a pleasure to listen to his speech. He spoke about how Ladakh always welcomed suggestions for improvements, however in recent times people had suggested they bring cable cars and amusement parks to this region!!! He thought it was ridiculous to even suggest such things. He also spoke about how Ladakhi culture that was on display through this festival was a thriving one, not one from the past that could be showcased. He signed off by saying that wwe would best enjoy the culture if we participated in it as opposed to merely watching the show! Well done, I say!!

His speech was followed by class dance acts that were truly amazing and colorful!! The 7 directions dance and the bridegrooms dance were my favorites for the day.

The grounds itself was scorching hot and without shade of some sort we soon became very tired and moved out to the areas that had some shade. Once we moved out we walked through the markets again and did some shopping. For AJ and me this was our last chance to shop so we waded thru the markets shopping until almost 9 PM!! A great day, we changed things up a bit by having lunch at the German Bakery...the pizza was to die for and the Apple Pie simply superb!! Dinner was at Lamayuru as always! This time around they were so crowded they didn't have people who could take our order...so Giri came to the rescue and ensured the orders were all in line and delivered Another memorable day came to an end!
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Oct 4th, 2011, 08:41 PM
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Tsomoriri and Tsokar- Where Nature is a painted canvas!! (Day 7)
This was the last leg of our trip...can't believe it came upon us so soon!! But then no regrets, this was indeed an HIMALAYAN GRIND! The drives were taking a toll on our backs...we surely had to get fitter if we had to go on like this for another week!! The route was in the same direction as our trip to Pangong except after the place where we stopped for breakfast we had to take a right! Everywhere we stopped for breakfast or lunch we'd be surrounded by dogs- rabies is endemic in Ladakh. So it would be better to avoid getting any closer to these strays!

On our way to Chumathang we chanced upon a student who wanted a ride with us! It was so much fun talking to him, schools are apparently closed from November to March. In other months they were taught everything from sciences to Math. They also had lessons on tennis, cricket and volleyball!!

We dropped him off just before we reached Chumathang- another place where we could see hot springs. I didn't head out myself, but AJ went and took some pics so I knew what I had missed! I took some pics from the car unable to get out in this unbearable heat!

Soon we realized this was the last place where we'd get some food. So despite a late breakfast we all had a quick lunch. The Lamying restaurant served up some pretty decent white rice with dal and subzi. Our friend Girish had apparently missed out on some fun the last time he'd traveled with TAG due to High Altitude Sickness. So this time around he was back with a vengeance..when we all stopped at the hot springs he walked on !! But because of this he missed out on the lunch!! We packed some for him, but I knew that without his favorite 'curds' there ws no way he was having this lunch!! We soon picked him from a bridge ahead.

We drove along the river this entire drive to Tso Moriri! It was a divine drive..the landscape kept changing and some of what we saw was mind boggling!

The colors of the mountains varied from orange to white to purple (a bed of flowers) suddenly to yellow!!

ANd then we'd chance upon some lush green pastures- it almost looked like a painting....in fact so many times I had dismissed paintings such as these saying "see how improbable they are!!"

Here we found a Yak family- 2 adults and 2 juveniles peacefully grazing in the meadows!! Such lovely creatures these! Till I saw them I always thought Yaks are only Black in color!! Turns out that is not true!!

We went on through the winding roads up the mountains, thru roads that didn't exist to reach the peaks only to realize that a storm was brewing! This was the first instance that we had extreme weather!! High up at these altitudes even nature's fury looks beautiful! A small lake that precedes Tsomoriri looked amazing as it bathed in the sleet rains!!

The place is so vast that though we could see the storm we were not in it yet! Another half hour of driving brought us to Tsomoriri- a high altitude lake set amidst the snow capped mountains! The proximity of the mountains and the storm that was raging made the whole setting seem all the more majestic and alive!! If Pangong had seemed pristine, Tsomoriri seemed to heave in the heavens!! I caught my breath, was I dead and was this heaven???? Lush green meadows flanked the lake, straight away we spotted some brahminy ducks and bar headed geese! But the sleet was pelting away at us and we couldn't get any shots! Hopefully Giri had gotten some in the vehicle ahead of us! The rocky roads ran dangerously close to the lake but the beautiful turquoise waters kept our attention arrested.

We had booked ourselves into camps and to be honest I was extremely nervous about staying in the tents given this weather. The locals threatened that temperatures would go sub zero in the night!! We checked out some guest houses that were still being constructed, however the group was very enthusiastic about staying in the tents!! Giri n Roopa were open to just me an AJ staying in the guest house if we wanted to..but then this being the last leg of the trip we decided to go stay with the rest of the gang in the tents!! I was a lil disappointed to miss out on the fantastic view that the guest house had!! But as AJ said this was probably a trip where we spent more time with the group rather than with a view. I am so grateful to have married someone as sane as AJ when it comes to these things, otherwise I'd have let this small thing ruin my trip am sure!!

The camps turned out to be surprisingly nice. We put our bags there and headed out for a walk by the lake. The drivers were really nasty, first they fought with us and then agreed to take us till the lake. They dropped us there and unceremoniously came back without picking us up. We walked back to the camp...I think they were expecting a little tip...The time we spent at the lake was very precious, I thoroughly enjoyed how close to nature I felt at this time!! This was the best place of all in our trip...again such a shame we spent only one night here...have to come back for more!! The birding opportunities made AJ think likewise
The proximity of the mountains as we walked the edges of this lake really hammers into us the fact that we are tiny components of this earth... AJ and I spent a lot of time in silence and slowly we became cognizant of the fact that there was a lot of life on these shores! SO many birds were nesting here...gosh I surely hope we didn't step on any nests...there is shockingly a lack of signs to make tourists aware of this. So those of you meandering around the lake please keep this in mind! This is a nature preserve..

So in the night, despite the cold I got to sleep very well... I think once I make up my mind to curl up and sleep nothing can really stop me!! Dinner was good and another game of Mafia and Dumb Charades did the rounds. AJ stayed up for some star gazing...I was too tired so I slept off! Before dozing off I couldn't help but rewind into the sights we had seen this day... wowow!! how can we absorb so much in one day? Very aware that most of our trip was over I was mentally thinking how we need to plan another trip just buy ourselves so we could take a more leisurely trip of Ladakh...I think both AJ and I are beyond the ability to make any more group tours..another thing is we have never really had the need to 'belong' to a group to have fun.. And definitely a trip back with good friends like Pranava/Manoj; Hamsa/Shyam & Adhi/Bhavani made sense.. now they were folks we loved traveling with D

Thus ended our last but one day of the trip!
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Oct 4th, 2011, 08:54 PM
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The very last day: Tsomoriri to Leh:

As we left Tsomoriri many thoughts were doing rounds in my head. This had been a fantastic induction to Leh for us, clearly this was a place we HAD to return to over and over again, so we could explore this wondrous place at our own pace in leisure! As we headed out of the village, the lake offered us perfect reflections. We couldn't help but stop and click!

We had spent very little time with Roopa, so we shifted into their car for this last drive. As we drove to Tsokar they prepped us for some more perfect reflections, but sadly the Tsokar Lake itself had shrunk since the last time they had been here!! The Himalayas seemed to be mocking us saying "Don't think you know me well, I am anything but predictable!!" But this didn't undermine the beauty of Tsokar in anyway! Anyways before that there were more sulfuric hotsprings enroute. We also saw a herd of yaks, donkeys and pashmina goats! They were beautiful!!

Then the most wondrous thing of all happened, we noticed a herd of wild ass!!! Such beautiful creatures and they looked so magnificent in the backdrop!!Apparently these creatures are hunted in China and thats why they come running into Ladakh. When we stopped they were herding up and peering at us. When our car started moving they set off into a gallop, their sheer power and speed was awe inspiring!! We will never forget that sight as they ran next to us!! Seemed like a scene from a bike ad...!!

Finally we reached Tsokar. The stones at the view point had some Tibetian inscriptions in them. The sight was beautiful and breathtaking! The lake had shrunk it seems since our organizers had last been there, but flanked by nine snow capped peaks it offered some picture perfect reflections!! The guys also found a yak carcass that they posed with, buy did they stink afterwards!!! There was a pit full of carcasses their, our driver was convinced this one had been killed by a snow leopard!! Wonder if that was true!

Next we headed to Taglang La- the third highest pass in the region. Another hectic drive near the pass, but this time we were all prepped for it

The route from Taglang Lato Leh was splendid!! The mountains changed from aubergine to green to majenta!! The river didn't change color though as it apparently had the last time Roopa and Giri were here. Again I guess it was wrong to presume we could predict the Himalayan scenery!

We stopped at the river to get our feet wet even as roads were blocked for some widening.

Next stop was Shey monastry, we had many more places to see but we got too absorbed in this monastry to make it on time to the Shey Palace etc. The monastry and the stupas were beautiful and fitting last place of visit for us.The monastry was colorful and the views were to die for!! We went all the way up to the terrace too! Vinod clicked a beautiful picture of me n AJ on the terrace! Inside the monastry we again spent some time meditating. Both Vijay and I couldn't stop exclaiming how beautiful this place was and how all places of worship need to be like this- where spiritualism is automatically invoked!! We stopped for a breath of air after all the climbing and I got a picture of the others! At the golden buddha temple we sat for some more meditation, the calm and quietness never ceased to amaze us!! By the Stupas we stopped for some great pictures, again Vinod was with us and he got one of me n AJ The last stop was Sindhughat...somehow many of them didn't want to get down there...so only Sangeeta and I walked in for the views. It turned out to be pretty good, so I ran back and brought AJ along...some of them were miffed I was delaying their return to the hotel...I just ignored the grumbles, i thought the several times we'd been kept waiting by the others would make up for it !! It was our LAST day here... we wanted to make the best of it!!
So the day ended and we headed back to Hotel Horizon to pack up for once and all! Once done with the packing we played a game of Dumb Charades that was again fraught with some judgmental moments...not the best of end to a wonderful trip I must confess...as always AJ said "why do you bother about what others say?" and began snoring away to glory! Another moment when I was glad he was my husband A good sleep and the next day we bid our goodbyes to the rest of the group... and we flew out of Leh! We had met some very interesting people- Vijay with his 6 foot long aquarium was most like us I think. We even exchanged shopping notes!! That was fun...surely a visit to his house was due the next time we were in Bangalore; Anindita was a fun loving person, hopefully we will get to bike together sometime; Girish Kulkarni has promised a trip to Kabini sometime in the next couple of months; Vinod -who brought some yummy snacks from Bangalore for all of us; Sangeeta- whose laugh was sooo very infectious; Hansveer- whose kaaley ghaney reshme baal will forever give me a complex and his ability to yaak with any tom dick and harry is sooo unique;Ashish- shared AJ's passion for photography and helped with all our shopping, he always struck a good bargain!! Of course Roopa, my dearest friend without whom this trip would have been impossible and likewise Giri...

It was a heavy heart...but we knew this was just the right number of days....adieu Himalayas, we are leaving behind a small bit of us with you..but then you have surely left behind a greater part of you in us!!
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Oct 4th, 2011, 09:51 PM
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Wonderful trip report. Thank you soooo much for sharing this.
And take your friend up on offer to visit kabini--
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Oct 4th, 2011, 10:13 PM
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Thanks CaliNurse, will surely do!
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Feb 1st, 2013, 02:24 AM
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Hi abi_maha, thanks for a lovely TR. We're looking at 7/8 days in Ladakh this August, can you please give me details of how you put this package together? Thanks in advance! And I do hope you made it to Kabini
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Feb 1st, 2013, 02:53 AM
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Wow, how did I miss this the first time around? What a great and detailed trip report from Ladakh! It certainly is a gorgeous place...and the acclimatization is tough, indeed, after flying in.
There really is something very special about the Himalayas.
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Feb 1st, 2013, 07:52 AM
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I missed this too first time around. Amy, there is another report here on Ladakh that I also enjoyed.
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Aug 2nd, 2013, 01:17 PM
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Hi Geetika,

I am sorry I haven't logged into Fodors in ages! But I hope you are all set for your August trip?
Most reservations can be made over the phone with hotels in Leh. Your very first hotel will help you get permits wherever needed.They will also help you with car etc
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Aug 2nd, 2013, 01:18 PM
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Amy & Kathie, thanks for reading!
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Aug 2nd, 2013, 01:42 PM
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I just found this, really enjoyed reading abi-maha. I am hoping to get to Ladakh some day in the not too distant future. Maybe trip #3 to India...
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