Road to Leh, Lifetime experience

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The best part of visiting Ladakh could well be the mesmerising, serene journey on road. Two roads connect Ladakh to the rest of the India. Of these, the Srinagar – Leh highway, or National Highway 1 ( Srinagar Leh route ), is easier to handle, and more convenient than the Manali – Leh highway.
The terrain is not so challenging, the Srinagar – Leh route is also dotted with scenic, ethereal spectacles, that transport you to another world altogether.

Coming More, keep visiting my site.

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the mess of Rohtang

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Road to Leh, Hunder

Sun-kissed apricots and pink apples from the trees entice visitors. Many guest houses even have these fruit trees growing in their courtyards. You can ask your hosts and feast on a few, straight from the tree! The Nubra river paints this village in rich strokes of green although this place is in the middle of a ‘cold desert.’ The desert is the main attraction, with its long stretches of sand dunes and camels. People can view and experience the desert while staying at the green and comfortable Hunder village. Don’t miss a ride on the two-humped Bactrian camels that can be seen there.

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With : Harish Bhargava, Letsleh.com

Photograph : Jassi Oberoi

Road to Leh – Lamayuru

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Lamayuru, the first view as you approach from Kargil on NH1 towards Leh.

While Manali Leh highway is adventurous. The Srinagar to Leh road is scenic, has a better support system, great stay options and is easier in terms of acclimatize.

With : Harish Bhargava & LetsLeh

Leh, Ladakh–Little piece of Heaven

The roof of the world, the land of the lamas, LEH, LADAKH– India’s cold desert amidst the majestic Himalayas, has some of the most beautiful landscapes on earth. Situated at the  northern tip of the country and nestled at an altitude of 3500 meters above sea level,  the small and bustling town of Leh is one of the highest habitable places is the world. Ladakh is nature in all its glory and the beauty is awe inspiring.

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The Road to Leh is legendary and traverses through some of the highest passes in the world within the Himalayan range. The rugged beauty all around, it’s winding roads, blue rivers and green valleys, skies that create drama with ever changing weather, sunrise and sunsets creating an array of colors, monasteries hanging off cliffs, will draw you into a trance. Words can barely do justice to describe this magical place and the records stand testament. Lonely Planet has rated Ladakh one of the Top 5 destinations in the world for photography.

Two of the must see places in Ladakh are Pangong Tso and Nubra Valley. These locales are close to heaven on earth. En route Pangong you will see breath-taking panoramic views and the first sight of Pangong Tso is unforgettable. It’s a pristine blue saline lake, 125 KM long and by the hour the water takes on the color of the sky. The cloud formations on the mountains create stunning shadows and water holds the reflections of the surroundings. The lake is completely frozen in the winters and is a sight out of a fairy tale.  Nature’s miracles are bewildering and Pangong Tso is one of them.

On the way to Nubra Valley you drive through the Khardungala Pass, the highest motorable road in the world at 18380 feet above sea level. It’s an exhilarating experience to be at such high altitudes; the air is thin and crisp and makes you literally feel “On top of the world”.  Nubra valley is a desert with sand dunes, two humped camels and the flowing river cuts through the mountains. Taking a fun camel ride across a high altitude cold desert, where else in the world can you do that? An oasis called Hunder in the midst of the desert houses nature camps where you can experience wilderness, peace and quiet.

Also known as Little Tibet, Ladakh boasts of a rich and ancient culture where Buddhism is prevalent as a religion. Some of the Buddhist monasteries are centuries old and are situated at the most stunning locations, usually at the edge of cliffs creating a surreal feeling. The architecture of the monasteries is unique and the murals on the walls are beautiful works of art.  A feeling of divinity sets in when you see the monks during their prayer session.  Leh is an abode of Dalai Lama and he spends few months of the year in Ladakh preaching Buddhism.  The monasteries host festivals each year to showcase their culture, tradition and the local artifacts. These festivals are marked by colourful dancers with masks, local folk music and food.

Ladakh has something unique to offer to all kind of tourists and does not fall behind on the adventure quotient.  The land of bikers – its every ardent biker’s dream to ride their mean machines on the highest, most rugged and picturesque roads in the world. The adventurous riders travel more than 300Miles to get to Leh and ride within Ladakh to Pangong, Nubra and many other unexplored destinations equipped with their camping gear. Bikers from across the world come to Ladakh just to experience this high.

Rafting the Zanskar and Indus rivers with views of the hills in the backdrop is an adrenaline rush. This is one of the most famous and sought after rafting destinations in Asia and the rafting tours can range from 3 hours to 16 days where rafters travel downstream, camp and stop to explore the terrain and the varied landscape.  It is a trekker’s paradise as well and the trek to the Stok Kangri summit at 20,182 feet is a dream climb and is known to be achievable by amateur mountaineers as well.

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Ladakhi people are extremely warm and hospitable and they live a life of simplicity and honesty driven by the Buddhist way of life.  The food has a Tibetan influence as well and you can try the local cuisine at some of the lovely restaurants in Leh town.  The locals play a lot of competitive Ice Hockey in winters and Polo in summers. These sports are very unique to this region due to the climate and terrain.

Inputs : Harish Bhargava

Photographs : Harish Bhargava , Amit Vakil

About Harish Bhargava

The tranquility of the place grows on you and one such person who was awestruck and drawn to the beauty of Ladakh is Harish Bhargava.

He is from Delhi, India and his family hails from an Indian Army lineage. His first visit to Ladakh was in 1977 and he has been in love with the place ever since. Studied at the Air force school and being from an army background, he was exposed to many remote and rugged locations in India. On the professional front he has spent considerable part of his career working with the best multinational brands and before founding his passion ‘LetsLeh.com‘ was the IT Director of Adidas in India.

Over the years, he has travelled the world and still feels Ladakh is one of the most magnificent and beautiful places incomparable to any other.  His passion for the place compounded with every visit and 35 years hence decided that he wanted to do his bit for Ladakh and founded LetsLeh.

Letsleh.com ‘s vision is to provide the most accurate and upto date information and to guide people on how to plan and make the best of their trips to Leh, Ladakh.  The motto is to grow awareness about the place and its incomparable natural beauty. He wants others to experience the passion and excitement of the place that he feels even today after he has been to Leh crazy number of times :-)

One could be lost in its serenity, awestruck by its natural beauty and Leh, Ladakh could leave you longing for more.  History speaks for itself; most people that visit Ladakh want go back. The passion is in the air and spreading far and wide so LetsLeh.

Do visit www.letsleh.com for more details .

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Do visit www.letsleh.com for more details .

Pangong Lake



lake, a photo by bArfaNibAbA on Flickr.

Situated at an altitude of 4,350 meters above sea level, Pangong Lake lies in the northeast of Leh. This famous blue blackish lake of Pangong is 5-6 km wide and over 144 km long with half of it running to the other side of the Indo-China border.

LOCATION

The 160-km trip to Pangong Lake from Leh is an experience of its own. The first stop on the way is Thiksey village famous for its huge monasteries, which cover an entire mountain ridge. Beyond this remote village, there is nothing but the extreme mountain ranges for company. The second stop is the Changla Pass (17,350 ft.), which could test ones lungs, for the lack of oxygen.

TOURISTS ATTRACTIONS

At Darbuk village near Tangste Valley stands a chain of war memorials with regimental insignias in commemoration of the soldiers who lost their lives during the Indo-China war of 1962. Some of the army bunkers and trenches are still in use. Villagers can be seen here along with their large herds of Pashmina sheep and long-tailed yaks.

The placid Pangong Lake is not just a tourist’s paradise but a geologist’s domain too. Travelers can enjoy the solitude for a day or two, zoom their cameras to shoot the black-necked Siberian crane around the Mahe marshes which are the only breeding ground for these migratory birds. At times, they are seen swarming in the cool colorful water of the lake.

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The long and narrow lake lies in the neighborhood of the famous Chushul Mountains. The size of the lake is best inferred from the probable etymology of its name, Pangong, which means extensive concavity. The mirror-calm water is cold, clear, and extremely salty, holding sufficient quantity of lime to form a calcareous deposit, which cements the pebbles together in patches of concrete on its bank. It is believed that there is a large amount of minerals in the basin of the lake, which result from the melting of the snow. The water sparkles in distinct shades of blue, green, purple, and violet, being transparent to a good depth. With ease, one can pick pebbles from under the water, and if one is lucky enough, a fossil shell in the clay deposits may be a rewarding find.

HOW TO REACH

Regular flights go to Leh from Delhi. Once in Leh, one can hire a taxi to Pangong Lake. Otherwise, one can make arrangements with some travel agencies, which are ever ready to take one on a trip to the saltwater lake of Pangong Tso.

One can also take the motor route of Delhi-Manali-Jispa-Darcha-Sarchu-Leh-Khardungla-Pangong.

Pangong Lake Circuit :

Leh – Karu – Chang-la- Durbuk – Tangse- Luckung- Spangmik and return.

This route takes the visitor past picturesque villages of Shey and Thikse, and turns off the Indus valley by the side-valley of Chemrey and Sakti. The Ladakh range is crossed by the Chang-la (18,000 feet / 5,475 m) which despite its great elevation is one of the easier passes, remaining open for much of the year even in winter, apart from periods of actual snowfall. Tangse, just beyond the foot of the pass, has an ancient temple.

But the main attraction of this circuit is the Pangong Lake, situated at 14,000 feet (4,267 m). A long narrow basin of inland drainage, hardly six to seven kilometer at its widest point and over 130km long, it is bisected by the international border between India and China.

Spangmik, the farthest point to which foreigners are permitted, is only some seven km along the southern shore from the head of the lake, but it affords spectacular views of the mountains of the Changchenmo range to the north, their reflections shimmering in the ever-changing blues and greens of the lake’s brackish waters. Above Spangmik are the glaciers and snowcapped peaks of the Pangong range. Spangmik and a scattering of other tiny villages along the lake’s southern shore are the summer homes of a scanty population of Chang-pa, the nomadic herds people of Tibet and south-east Ladakh. The Pangong Chnag-pa cultivate sparse crops of barley and peas in summer. It is in winter that they unfold their tents (rebo) and take their flocks of sheep and pashmina goats out to the distant pastures.

Pangong Lake in Kashmir is the world’s highest brackish lake at 14,256 feet above sea level. A few years back the government decided to open it to tourists though the lake and its surrounding is under army surveillance. The tourism department intends to develop the infrastructure and facilitate the route leading to the lake.

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A place too easily arrived at is scarcely worth traveling to at all. Consider the ‘tired tourist’ who simply seeks solace in much talked about destinations, where he tends to relax and stroll the evenings away, buy a few souvenirs and sample the cuisine from the endless menu. And there’s the ‘tireless traveler’ the learning by living person who opts for a destination in order to explore and experience the unknown.

The 160 km trip to Pangong Lake from Leh is one such experience. It begins with Thiksey village famous for its huge monasteries covering an entire mountain ridge. Beyond this remote village there is nothing but the extreme mountain ridge. Beyond this remote village there is nothing but the extreme mountain ranges for company.

The topography throughout the journey shoots up so abruptly that they throw off all calculations of distance – what looked to be a ten-minute crossing easily required an hour or more. At times, it appeared as if so many of nature’s forces were warning us away at the steep slopes and uneasy bends and not to forget the great chunks of ice appearing static and frozen in time. At Darbuk village near Tangste Valley stood a chain of war memorials with Regimental Insignias in commemoration of the soldiers who lost their lives during the Indo-Chinese war of 1962. Some of the army bunkers and trenches are still in use. Villagers can be seen here along with their large herds of Pashmina sheep and long tailed yaks.

The placid Pangong Lake is not just a tourists paradise but a geologist’s domain too and if one is to brush up with political history, the place is a melting pot of confusion and for sure it in no fun for the army in the biting cold to take care of the strategic landscape.

Travelers enjoy the solitude for a day or two, zoom their cameras to shoot the black necked Siberian crane around the Mahe marshes which are the only breeding ground for these migratory birds. At times they are seen swarming in the cool colourful water of the lake. If one has boating in mind, one is heading for disappointment. Very few boats are available and they belong to the army who may consider your request but won’t allow you to go beyond half a kilometer though one third of the 150 km lake belongs to India. The remaining 100 km stretch of water belongs to China. The lake was once divided between Ladakh and Tibet as early as 1684 under the Treaty of Tingmosgang signed between the king of Ladakh, Deldan Namgyal, and the Regent of Tibet. As of today it is shared by India and China.