The visit to Ladakh was decided just 5 days before the trip was to start. After our visit to Andaman and Nicobar Islands in April, 2011 we were not even thinking of another trip that year. It all happened in July that year as our daughter's admission to college took place without much trouble and there was two weeks time before the college session would start. It was not only that we spent a considerable amount for A&N Islands tour, but also we did not feel the need for more outing that year. Although our daughter was suggesting that we should go to the hills for a few days but we were not in a mood. Her suggestion got reinforced when my brother-in-law's son after his engineering admission had some time in hand and wanted desperately to go to the hills. July being the month of rainy season, we could not find any place nearby where it was not scheduled to rain. Finally we found Ladakh to be that place where rain is scanty but snows a lot. So we decided to go to Ladakh. First thing we did was to book the flight tickets from Delhi to Leh and back by Spice jet. It was a 6 days program. For the next five days, I was glued to the internet for booking of accommodation, places to see, and read travelogues by traveled ones.
Our flight was at 4.50 a.m. and the airport is about 16 km. from our residence at Sarvodaya Enclave, so we had to get up at 2.30 a.m. and we were out on a taxi by 3.15 a.m. We went through the security check at at T-3 Airport in Delhi and boarded the flight at 4.15 a.m. It started at right time and by 6.05 a.m. we were in Leh. The flight over the Himalayas was really breath taking. As we flew over the clouds, we could see the vast sky and the sun was about to rise. When the sun rose the power of light was almost blinding and we had to look other way. The most beautiful part was when we could see below the himalayan ranges with icy peaks with glaciers flowing by. As our plane hovered over the Leh airport we could see the barren hills topping with ice and the valleys quite green. It finally touched down the Leh airport and stopped after a while. Little buses came to fetch us and drop us at the arrival lounge. We waited for our luggage to come. It was quite cold but I was feeling refreshed escaping the heat of Delhi. We got a cab at the airport and went to our hotel booked earlier over internet. The hotel was so so in comparison to already paid charges we felt let down. Forgetting this shock, we wanted to make best use of this hotel. We were given fresh cup of tea and after a while good sandwich breakfast. It was good.
As after breakfast we wanted to go out, the lady guest house owner forbade us to do so. She reiterated her request to stay in the guest house and relax. This is applicable for those who come by flight. After a days rest one can go out. Yes, I did feel some breathing problem at night sleep. But slowly this inconvenience went away. For lunch we went to the market walking slowly. There are a good many hotels and restaurants in Leh city. Our guest house was at a quite a height and I had difficulty walking the distance. For visiting the lakes and Nubra Valley you need to have permission. This was done through the Guest house owner and we had to submit our original ID card for this purpose. A car was booked in the evening for us to go to Peonyong Lake about 140 kms. from Leh city.
Next day, the car driver appeared at 6 a.m. instead of 7 a.m. and we were just getting ready. I told the driver to wait till 7 a.m. In the meantime, the guest house lady gave us packed breakfast - sandwiches. We had tea with biscuits and left for Peonyong lake. The road to the lake passes through the second highest morable road in the world (about 5000 meter above sea leavel) It was just drizzling when we started as we were ascending along the road it became cloudy and pitch dark. Driving was difficult but the driver being local did not bother. He continued driving in the dark with lights on. Suddenly we observed white patches all around that means it started snowing. It snowed continuously by the time we reached the Khardungla pass The cold breeze turned into a stormy wind with snow flying around. This was our first experience of a snow fall. Our daughter felt out of breath so we had to take her to a military doctor who is stationed there. She was given oxygen and rested for a while. This relieved her of breathlessness. The doctor also gave her a few pills to be used whenever she felt breathlessness. We had a good cup of hot tea served by the Indian Army Jawans. Amidst snow fall, we took a walk and enjoyed the bitter cold with a high spirit. It was time to move on. After a while as we started descending, the snowfall became less and less and finally the sun came out and it was all day light. All thorough the route, the peaks of different heights and colours and cool breeze made our journey a delightful experince. Finally we reached the lake - Pangong. This lake is at a height of 14,000 feet above the sea level and 71 kms. long. We could see only 25% of the lake the rest 75% falls in Tibet, now under China. The water I tasted was salty. There were may flying and swimming swan like birds lazily drifting by the waves while strong cold wind was sweeping across. The colour of the water of lake kept on changing with the changing position of the Sun. We kept on looking at the magical water and its chaning colours. How we wished to spend a moonlit night on the bank of this lake, if we could. There were a few tented eateries near the lake. We were quite hungry and only Jeera rice with dal was available and that too we enjoyed. Our driver also had food at a corner. We again took a walk along the lake and saw the colour of the lake water changing now and then with strong wind making waves on the waters of the lake. A few photogrpahs to freeze the time on its bank were arrested in our small camera.
Now it was time to get back to Leh again a drive of 140 km. However, this drive through the mountain ranges does not make even for a second boring as one after another mountain range comes into sight with its unique colour, shape, height & with ice topping. While the cool breeze passes through the car windows, we keep outselves delighted with the sights all around us, memories that would not fade away in ones life time.
We came back to Leh in the evening, delighted but exhausted. After hot water bath, we were fresh again and went for tea. The restaurant provided good tea with biscuits and we watched TV for a while and went back to room to arrange our rucksacks as we decided to shift to a new guest house nearby at a much cheaper cost and better. As it was getting cold, we finished our dinner early and went to bed. Very soon, sleep took us over and we did not have difficulty in breathing on the second night stay.
on the 3rd day morning we shifted to the new guest house on the second floor.
On fourth day we left for Nubra valley in the morning. We had to vacate the new guest house as we were to stay overnight at Numbra valley. Nubra Valley is about 120 Km from Leh and the route passes through the world's highest motorable road, Khardungla Pass about 5340 meters above sea level. We already had permit to go the Nubra Valley and we started just after breakfast. The route to Nubra valley is one of the best mountain path I have ever seen. On both sides the Himalayan peaks with icy top decorated the route. Every range with its unique colour and shape. For the first time in my life I could admire barren hills that had variety of colours. It was a long drive and finally we reached Nubra Valley. There were a number of options for hotels but most of them were small with little space in front and that too not well organized. After looking at a number of available guest houses, we decided stay at Karma Inn. This inn had a spread out lawns and the building looked very nice. We spoke with the incharge and took it for a night. Lunch was ordered and we sat on the lawn and soaked in the mountain weather and had a cup of tea. The sun was bright and we could enjoy the warmth the mild breeze sweeping across. The charges were on the higher side but that was the best inn we could locate there. So we did not mind to pay as it proved to be the best stay at Nubra Valley.
After lunch we had good rest and after tea we went to the Sandy area where one could ride on a double hump camels. Shivani and Rishi got one camel each and went for the ride. In the meantime we sat on the sand and looked around. We also saw the process of sand being created from the hills and how the stones getting pulverised by the natural process and coming down to the river side.
The night was cold. After dinner I did go out on the lawn to have a brisk walk. I had to return to our room before long as the cold wind was sweeping through the valley.
Next day after breakfast we left for Leh and on the way once again there was a slight snowfall but it lasted only for few seconds. We back around 4.30 p.m. and Krishna and Shivani wanted to see the palace but I stayed in the room for rest.
Next day we had booking for return journey to Delhi. We kept our rucksacks ready as we were to reach the airport around 6.00 a.m. We told the cab driver to come around 5 a.m. to pick us up for the airport. He did come on time and we reached the airport at the right time and once again we became air borne over the mountains, hills and forests on the way back to Delhi.