Leh Ladakh - Land of high passes and lakes (Apr'18)

Since the time we watched 3 idiots, me and my cousins had a strong and long desire to visit Leh-Ladakh... over the last few years we were planning a trip with all cousins but didn't succeed... Start of this year, everyone of us was determine to go for a vacation together and have an awesome time together... After wondering for couple of days, we finalized that lets go to Leh - land of high passes still at planning phase we face couple of hiccups of finalizing the dates. Reading couple of blogs and taking guidance from the experience guys who has visited the place we finalized to travel from 21st-28th Apr'18.

We booked 11 tickets (10 adults + 1 kid) on 26th Jan'18 for our trip and got an very good deal for tickets (17.5K return per person).

Planning: After going through various blogs and travelogues on BCMT and also guidance from Yogesh bhai helped in planning the trip.

Actual plan:
21st Apr - Fly to Mumbai - Delhi - Leh and rest at hotel
22nd Apr - Sham Valley tour (magnetic hill, gurudwara, Alchi, Zanskar Indus Confluence, hall of fame and Shanti stupa)
23rd Apr: Leh - Khardung la pass - Diskit - Hunder
24th Apr: Hunder - Tangste via agham shyok river route - Pangong tso - Tangste
25th Apr: Tangste - Changla pass - Karu - Chumathang (hot water springs)
26th Apr: Chumathang - Tso Moriri - Tso Kar - Tanglang la pass - Karu - Leh
27th Apr: Leh - shey (3 idiots school) - Leh Market - Leh
28th Apr: Leh - Delhi - Mumbai

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We stayed @following places:

Leh - Hotel Tso Kar (near market) - Nice and clean place to stay with good staff. they had 24 hours hot water and electricity. Service was very good with decent food. located near market which was best as one get lots of food option to explore.
Hunder - Olgok guest house - Excellent place with good service. Hosts were so kind and generous in terms of service. They served good home cooked food which was delicious with excellent rooms n 24 hours hot water supply.
Tangste - Hotel pangong residency - Decent place with no heater though. Had an decent food during our stay. it get very cold in night but had 2-3 layers of blankets for each individual. Service was very good and people were helpful over there
Chumathang - newly built guest house (right on hot water spring) - This was newly built place and we got 1 room with 24 hours electricity + hot water running + heater which was surprise along with 2 other rooms which had hot water supply from natural springs of hot water running from indus. We had most delicious food of the trip during our stay over there. Hosts were too warm and welcoming with good food.

Day 1: 21st Apr'18:

We had booked an early flight from Mumbai @2am to Delhi via indigo. We had understanding that indigo and goair fly from same terminal but it changed... we landed on terminal 1c and goair flies from terminal t2. At 4am in the morning, we had to catch shuttle from terminal 1C to Terminal 2 which was horrible experience. As shuttle went from 1c to terminal 3 for passengers and everyone got into it with all of their luggage and blocking the route for exit for everyone. Once we reach Terminal 2, we had literally had an struggle for 5 mins to get out from the shuttle with all the luggage.

we had smooth checkin for Go air with everyone excited to get window seats and we got 9 window seats between 11 seats which was achievement for all us... after waiting for 2.30 hours at airport we boarded flight to Leh which was fully packed with no seats left. what followed after 30 minutes was awesome and we all were awestruck and busy admiring the himalayas and snow capped mountains with mobile pictures.

Once we reached Leh, we were welcomed with cold wind and clean weather. For this trip, we had Rigzin(+919469472772) as our guide cum co-traveller cum helper cum entertainer. He came with 1 scorpio ad 1 xylo which we had for entire trip. He picked us up and dropped to Tso Kar hotel. He also advised us to take proper rest for the day and may be go for a stroll to market in the evening. We also finalized our trip plan for coming days based on his experience. He was excellent guy with good sense of humor and good knowledge about the roads with safe driving.

In evening we went to market for stroll and had our dinner at gesmo (had decent range of food with good taste). After sunset, it became extremely cold and chilly due to which we had to rush back to hotel for warmness and we called it a day.
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Day 2: 22nd Apr'18:
We got up early in the morning and got ready by 8.30 to leave for Sham valley tour...
We visited following places in order:
Magnetic hill: Awesome place for photo-op one can see the logic behind vehicle moving in neutral mode due to slant roads
Sangam (Zanskar-Indus Sangam): Excellent view point on the way to Alchi with option for river rafting but this year there was lack of water for rafting so no rafting for us but one can see different shades of blue with water
Alchi Monastery: one of the oldest monastery with lots of statues which are more than 900 years old and also has indus river view point which was calm, silent and serenity to the place. (Entry fee - 20 rs)
Gurudwara pathar sahib: built by military and we had langar hear which everyone of us enjoyed a lot.
Hall of Fame: Kargil war museum with lots of history and artifacts. After going through stuffs over here, I wondered how does an Indian soldier survive on siachen or other higher plains with limited options.
Shanti Stupa: we went here for sunset and had a view to Leh city from here which was pleasant and serene.

few pictures:
Day 3 23rd Apr'18:
We left Hotel early in the morning as we wanted to scale Khargung la pass and experience the pleasure of being at the top of one the highest motorable road (this can be debated). Roads from Leh to top was alright with lots of twists n turns... people with motion sickness are advise not to eat while travelling. As a precaution we had carried 4 bottles of oxygen from Leh just in case if anyone requires. We face an huge traffic over there as there was a military convoy which was waiting to go from both ends which allowed us to enjoy a bit more over the top. (note: washrooms are pathetic with most of them closed)
We got into conversation with couple of military guys and they were so humble to share their experience and were happy about serving the nation at the coldest living places on earth. After spending an hour over at the top we proceeded to Nubra valley to reach diskit which had an huge statue and awesome view of mountains from there. we were all busy clicking pictures and enjoying the natural beauty. From there we went for camel rides and only place in India where we see double hump camels and then we ended our day travelling by reaching olgok guest house. I must say it was well maintained with 24 hours hot water supply and bouy we loved it. Had dinner over there which was yummy and home made stuff after which we called it a day as anyway electricity in this part of world only stays for 4 hours i.e. from 7pm to 11pm.

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Day 4: 24th Apr'18:
Today's plan was to reach Tangste, book a place to stay then visit pangong tso and night stay at Tangste. We started @8.30 from Hunder, Nubra valley and took agham shyok river route for pangong. The road condition here were not so good due to river erosion and landslide roads were patchy while few areas it was work in progress by BRO but mostly drivable roads and secluded one with almost no vehicles on the route (we only saw 5-6 vehicles for almost 3 hours). We reached Tangste @1pm and had a look at pangong residency hotel for stay. It was decently built hotel with no heater, electricity for 4 hours and hot water via bucket on request. Food here was nice and homely which everyone enjoyed. After resting a while we left for Pangong @2.30 and it took little more than a hour to reach there and we were awestruck... Here is the place which we wanted to visit from last 10 years and we have finally reached the place. It took us a while to sunk that feeling... as usual we started clicking pictures with lots of birds around for accompany us. The different shades of Blue were visible in the lake in sunshine and shades.

We got kinda lucky as there was a group of bikers from Leh had come which were kind enough to allow our group to click pictures with Royal enfields which they rode. My nephew was having fun over here with no signs of cold and he was just having fun with not wanting to go back. For this occasion we had special Tshirts designed for cousins which we wore and clicked few pictures... as sun was coming down the temperature was quickly getting cold... The best for yet to come once we reached hotel @tangste... By night, the temperature for sure gone down below 0 degrees and it was freezing cold. We called night by 10.30 with 3 layers of clothes + 3 blankets to avoid cold (which was still there). It was during this time we realized how our soldiers survive extreme temperatures to serve nation and keep everyone safe.

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