The stunning view of snow capped mountains of Mighty Himalayas from the air craft left all of us spell bound as we were flying from Delhi to Leh on a sunny Sunday morning of 14th May, 2006. We landed on the small airstrip at Leh at around 8.30 am when the temperature was 12 o C.
The first day was a rest day at friendly and receptive hotel Lasermo for acclimatization that was very much necessary at that high altitude of 11500 ft. This rest is a must because within one hour your body is subjected to a thermal shock (from 40 degree at Delhi to 12 degree at Leh) and a height gain of 11,000 feet (rarified air). It is suggested that if one flies to Leh then two days and if one drives to Leh then one day rest is mandatory. We spent the evening strolling in the main market.
On 15th May 2006 we started in the morning around 8.30 am for a trip to Alchi, one of the oldest monasteries of the Ladakh. Our first halt was at Gurudwara Pathar Saheb after 25 km followed by magnetic hill just 4 km beyond. Magnetic Hill is a very peculiar place where one particular location defies gravity. We tested with our vehicle and we found that the vehicle was moving very slowly uphill without and motorized power. Then we reached the confluence of rivers Indus and Zanskar just 4 km before the village of Nimmu, which is around 35 km from Leh. The spot was spectacular. From Nimmu we went straight to Alchi, which was at a distance of 67 kms from Leh. This is perhaps the only monastery in Ladakh on flat ground.
From Alchi we proceeded to another famous monastery-Likir. We saw the Basgo monastery, which is one of the 100 most endangered heritage sties in the world before we had our lunch at Nimmu. Then it was time to return to Leh. On the way back we saw Phey and Phayang monasteries. Just at the out skirts of Leh, the Hall of Fame is worth a visit to know what our defense personal does for our country. The Siachen gallery and the Kargil gallery bring tears to eyes. After reaching Leh we thought a visit to Santhi stupa would be fine. The driver Sonam obliged delightfully. It was a very serene place with the spectacular view of snowcapped mountains on one side and the city of Leh on the other.
The next day i.e., on 16th May 2006 we headed for Nubra valley. Our first halt was at the house of Kishok Bakula Rimpoche the head Lama of Ladakh. Just opposite to his residence is Sankar monastery. From there we drove directly to South Pollu followed by Khardung La (18300 ft) the highest motor able road in the world. After a hot cup of tea at Army Cafeteria we started descending to North Pollu, then Khardung village followed by Khalsar which is 100 km from Leh. Just after Khalsar the road divides in to two forks, the left side road lead us Diskit, the main town of Nubra valley. We stayed at Olthang guest house set in a small farm and garden.
The next day we went to Hundar, 7 kms from Diskit. The sand dunes at Hundar mesmerized us. We took the opportunity of a camel ride. It was a double hump Bactrian camel. Visitors are only allowed upto this point. The road further goes up to Turtuk at LOC. From Hundar we came to Tegar village via Sumur on the right fork road. We went to Panamik in the afternoon. There is a hot spring. Tourists are allowed only up to this point. Beyond this village there is another village Sasoma from where soldiers walk up to worlds highest battle field Siachen glacier. The evening storm in Panamik was at its dreadful best. We hurried back to hotel Yerab Tso at Tegar. The next day we returned to Leh. We saw Marmot, a wild mouse like animal playing on snow near Khardung La. We visited the Leh palace and Namgyal Tsemo Gompa in the afternoon.
On 29th May, 2006 we started at around 8.30 am for Pangong Tso 140 kms from Leh. On the way we visited Sindhu Ghat, Shey palace and Thiksey monastery. The mighty Chang La (17800 ft), the 3rd highest motor able road in the world added thrill to the enchanting journey. Our night halt was at Tangse (13800 ft) in PWD guest house. The very next day after breakfast we headed for Pangong Tso, the 130 kms long lake, 30 kms of which is in India and the rest in China. On the way we saw Pashmina goat grazing in a bugyal (high altitude meadow) with Chang Spa-the nomads who stay in Rebo (a make shift tent sort of thing).View of Kyang, the wild ass was another added attraction on the road. Lukung, the lake side village was lonely. The silence and beauty of the lake cannot be described with my scanty vocabulary. We drove back to Leh in the evening. We spent the evening in the main bazaar and Fort road. The next day we boarded the Indian Airlines A-320 flight to Jammu with a wish to come back again to the land of innocent Ladakhis.