An August trip to Ladakh

gkapoor

Super User
Superb. Please post more pics of ranges from the flight. Which side seat did you choose this time while flying to leh and coming back?
I've booked my tickets with rights side seats this time.
 

Yogesh Sarkar

Administrator
Superb. Please post more pics of ranges from the flight. Which side seat did you choose this time while flying to leh and coming back?
I've booked my tickets with rights side seats this time.
This time around, not many were visible due to cloud cover. It is a good idea to book left hand side seat while going and right hand side while coming back, as you will face away from the sun. Sadly, all good seats on the left hand side were already taken, so I chose right hand side while flying to Leh.

Wonderful.... BTW any idea what would be the cheapest flight deal one can get for Leh (return)??
I found the flight tickets to be the cheapest on Goibibo, especially if you have Go Cash. I payed around 4k for my Vistara flight to Leh and 9.1k for GoAir Leh - Delhi flight, that I booked just 12 days before my return journey.
 

gkapoor

Super User
This time around, not many were visible due to cloud cover. It is a good idea to book left hand side seat while going and right hand side while coming back, as you will face away from the sun. Sadly, all good seats on the left hand side were already taken, so I chose right hand side while flying to Leh.
.
Yes, left side seats are best but Ive been flying on the same side for the last 3 trips. So booked right side this time.
BTW, right hand side while coming back to delhi essentially means same views as going to leh, no? since left side going becomes right side while coming back. :confused:
 

Yogesh Sarkar

Administrator
Yes. That is why I recommend it. Because unless you're flying around noon or the sky is extremely overcast, sun is too harsh on the other side.
 

Yogesh Sarkar

Administrator
8th August 2017, Leh to Lamayuru and back

After sleeping for a short while, I woke up, burning with fever and shivering as well. Even in Delhi, I had a fever, but not this bad. I could no longer sleep nor lie down, I had to sit on the bed and spend half of my night like this.

Messaged Mansi and Sonam, telling them plan for the morning drive to Tsemo Gompa was cancelled. Somehow after 3 am I fell asleep, only to be awakened by Sonam at 5 am, he hadn’t read the message and had turned up at the guest house.

Informed him the plan for Tsemo was cancelled and I had messaged him regarding that. Asked him to come at 9 am so that we could drive to Lamayuru. He, in turn, told me his brother had gotten stuck somewhere, so he would be coming with another driver.

At this point, frankly, I didn’t care. I just wanted to go back to the bed and get some rest. So told him alright and went back to bed.

I woke up again around 7:30 am to the knocks of Mansi, told her I had been sick all night, though I was feeling better now. Started getting ready and around 9am, we came downstairs to have our breakfast consisting of Ladakhi bread, jam, butter and omelet.

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Accompanying them were many stories from Sonam Uncle.

We also met Sonam Gyalpo, the driver Sonam Angdus had brought in.

It was almost 10 am, when we left the guest house and got on the Leh – Srinagar Highway to Lamayuru. At this point, I was in two minds, whether to continue till Lamayuru or stop en route somewhere. After all, we had lost precious time in the morning and Lamayuru was 120 km away.

Add to that, Sonam was driving at a fairly easy pace, taking almost an hour to reach the Magnetic Hill.

I have never really stopped at Magnetic Hill unless those traveling with me wanted to. This time was no different; while Sonam went on to impress Mansi with car climbing in neutral gear trick, I knew it was mainly due to the road actually being slightly downhill rather than uphill, as it appears to be.

On the plus side, the lighting was amazing. So apart from taking a few portraits of Mansi, I managed to take this photograph of the road.

magnetic-hill.jpg


After taking a few photographs, we got in the car and moved on, and eventually stopped at Indus and Zanskar Confluence. Where we chose to take a photograph from the above, planning to cover it while coming back to Leh.

indus-and-zanskar-confluence.jpg


This time around, Indus was a lot muddier than Zanskar River, though usually, it is the opposite. In autumn and winter both the rivers are almost completely clean. Making for a lot prettier sight.

The highway from Leh to Srinagar is changing and so is the landscape around it. A lot more houses and army camps are coming up, OFC is being laid, resulting in trenches and piles of rubble along the road. Yet, it is still very pretty and thankfully, unlike the Manali – Leh Highway, Srinagar – Leh Highway hasn’t yet lost a lot of its beauty.

leh-srinagar-highway.jpg


Though I have to wonder, how long would it last and how long until this stretch of road too loses its charm and becomes just another stretch only capable of impressing those, who haven’t been here earlier?

After Khaltse, I asked Sonam to take the Hangroo Loop road, instead of the usual highway through Lamayuru Village. As we took the turn off of the main highway, the road had rocks lying in the middle, indicating road is closed. Sonam ignored it and continued on. We encounter a bad section with landslides and he somehow crossed it. Only to discover a couple of other bad sections ahead.

road-blocked.jpg


As much as I wanted to, there was no option but to turn back and take the usual road to Lamayuru. So we did just that.

Just before Lamayuru, Sonam asked if we would like to have our food at the restaurant on the outskirts of the town. It is 1:30 pm; we have taken 3 and a half hour to cover 110 km, even though stops have been few and far between.

All of us are hungry, so we stop. The menu is fairly limited, and not wanting to trust the restaurant to make anything good except chow mein and maggi, Mansi and I decide to order chow mien.

Usually, I am not the one to crib about the price of food, however, Rs. 80 for less than half a plate of chow mien (as per Delhi standard) is something I didn’t expect and on top of it, it isn’t really tasty.

I have always trusted drivers in Leh to stop at good restaurants, but I am somehow getting the feeling, that this can’t be done this time around.

Anyhow, we finish our chow mien and head for Lamayuru Monastery. The view from there of the town is fantastic!

lamayuru-town.jpg


There are a lot many restaurants and guest houses here now. Cashing in on the burgeoning tourist economy.
People too have shifted away from their cave homes to a lot more “modern” shelters.

houses-of-lamayuru.jpg


We pay Rs. 50 per person for the entry ticket to Lamayuru Monastery and walk inside. This is the first time I am going inside the Lamayuru Monastery. During my earlier trips, I have always traveled past the monastery and never gone inside.

Now I can see, that was a mistake. Because I am getting fantastic views from the outside of the main temple of the monastery.

lamayuru.jpg


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The contrasting hues and the landscapes are what makes Lamayuru so beautiful. Sadly though, no photography is allowed inside the temple, so Mansi took a photograph from the outside.

lamayuru-monastery-temple.jpg


We go inside and the inquisitiveness of Mansi takes over. The lama present at the temple answers many of her questions about the various things present in the temple. However, when it comes to explaining the wheel of life (of which she has already read somewhat in the guidebook), he shies away. Stating, it isn’t possible to explain it in Hindi or English.

We just sit there, soaking in the beauty and tranquility of the place, until more people arrive and then, we move on.

We slowly walk back to our cab and ask Sonam to drive a little further ahead. I want to photograph the monastery from afar. And he drives further than I ask him to. We get out and take a few shots.

lamayuru-gompa.jpg


We hop back into the car and while returning, I ask him to stop at the place I originally wanted him to stop at. Without getting out of the car, I take a couple of photographs and then, we drive back towards Alchi.

lamayuru-monastery.jpg


Once again I am beginning to feel feverish, and the midday sun is too harsh to support good photography, so we just drive towards Alchi.

Once we cross the Alchi Bridge, I remember the monastery Otsal had told me about the last time and I would rather visit that, instead of the Alchi Monastery. However, Sonam does not know about it. He suggests another small monastery just above Alchi and even though I have forgotten the name, I know, that isn’t the monastery I wish to visit. So we continueto Alchi instead.

After leaving the taxi in the main market, Mansi and I walk down to the Alchi Monastery. This is the only monastery in Ladakh, where you walk down, instead of climbing up!

The narrow lane leading to the monastery is full of shops selling souvenirs to tourists. However, shopping would have to wait for now. Plus it is all too expensive for both of us. So we walk to the monastery instead.

There isn’t much to photograph at Alchi Monastery and whatever views there were, have long been blocked by the fence. Despite a large number of travelers visiting it, it is still possible to find peace here and in a way, this is what I like about the Alchi Monastery.

alchi-monastery.jpg


We visited a couple of temples in the monastery, again a first for me because photography isn’t allowed inside the temples. So we limit ourselves to observing the deities and other ornaments inside the temples and I skip the last one. Choosing to sit outside in the shadow of a tree, closing my eyes and escaping from the world around me, if only, for a while.

Then we walk back towards our taxi, stopping in between to look at the stuff on sale and also to search for Alchi Kitchen, something Otsal had recommended to us for traditional food.

We spot it at the very beginning of the market and walk inside. They not only have an open kitchen, where the food is prepared in front of you, they also conduct cookery classes!

alchi-kitchen.jpg


We choose to order food for now. Knowing fully well, we have little day light remaining and there is no way, we would be able to make it to Likir.

I order Cinnamon Tea along with Mok Mok Cheese (processed cheese, cottage cheese, and mixed veg dumplings) while Mansi orders Kahwa and O-Skyu in milk sauce with potatoes and peas.

I know from experience, Ladakhi food doesn’t really appeals to the tastebuds of us North Indians, unless it is prepared in a non-traditional way, like most Mok Moks (momos) these days. I let Mansi discover that for herself.

food-at-alchi-kitchen.jpg


Soon our food is served. Cinnamon tea and Kahwa are superb! O-Skyu (homemade pasta) is good if you like that raw feeling and milky taste. And after a while, Mansi sticks to eating just the sauce :D.

Mok Moks, on the other hand, are superb! Served with spicy chutney (non-traditional), they are about the best momos I have ever had!

Food at Alchi Kitchen costs us Rs. 360, which isn’t too expensive and tasty as well. We thank them for their hospitality and get in our taxi and head for the Indus and Zanskar Sangam.

The sun is going down and with it, the landscape around us takes on an almost magical persona. Forcing us to stop multiple times for photographs.

srinagar-leh-highway-sunset.jpg


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We eventually reach Indus and Zanskar Confluence at 7:30 pm. Sunset has already occurred and there is no one else, except us. So we decide to just relax there, the water level had risen quite a bit by now. So Mansi could dip her feet in Indus while sitting on the steps of the Confluence.

indus-and-zanskar-sangam.jpg


Jupiter is shining bright in the sky, directly above the Confluence and all of it appears oh so serene and magical!

jupitar-at-indus-and-zanskar-confluence.jpg


After spending around 40 minutes at the Sangam, we decide to get in our taxi and drive back to Leh.

Initially, the plan was to drive back directly, without stopping. Add to that, I was feeling fairly heavy in the chest and a little feverish as well. So I didn’t really want to stop en route.

However, the moon was shining brightly ahead, giving out god rays like the sun. With Mansi pestering me to stop and take a photograph, I eventually ask Sonam to stop. Took a disprin and then, setup the tripod and shot these photographs.

the-moon-rays.jpg


moon-and-the-stars.jpg


Around 9 pm, we reach Leh and after quickly depositing luggage in our rooms, we go out for dinner. Even though, I am not really hungry.

We walk to the Oh Lala Café on the Changspa Road. I had eaten food here couple of years ago and at that time, it was good. This time around, Mansi ordered pizza and I decided to order khichadi, thinking of eating something light.

While the pizza was fine, a little too crispy due to the thin crust.

pizza-at-oh-lala.jpg


Khichdi, on the other hand, was anything except light! It was a bowl full of rice, dal, and vegetables. Sort of like thukpa with rice and dal!

khichadi.jpg


Thankfully Mansi liked it and I order a banana shake for myself and eat a little bit of pizza. It is more than enough for me, AMS for now has killed my apatite.

Walking back to the guest house afterward was tiring due to our bodies still not acclimatized to the high altitude.

However, tomorrow we were traveling to Nubra Valley, so a lot of packing needs to be done.

Otsal’s uncle had already delivered a crate of water in my room, so at least the water situation was solved for now. Otsal had gotten the Inner Line Permit for us, so all we had to do now, was to rest our tired bodies, for the long journey tomorrow.

Click here to read the next part ->
 
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vikas_unzip

A Terrible Traveler!
=D>

One question how did you get such beautiful night shots even you had fever. Trust me I could not get sharp focus if I was at your place.

These Ladakh travelogues are always special. No matter how many you have read.
 
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