Zini, me & life in general

Lifesong asked me to do a post on my trip to Leh, so here it is….

My hubby A, who was not much into adventure became an adventure junkie after our rafting experience. and after watching a Perilous Journey series on Discovery channel he suggested that we take a trip to Leh. Though he is asthmatic, though the journey promised to be very tough & though i was not too keen on this adventure (i wanted a leisure holiday at Goa with some water sports thrown in), he couldn’t give up the thought of Leh road trip and got me on board by including another rafting experience :).

He searched a lot on the internet (Thank God for Google!!) about the road ways to Leh and realized that there are two ways to reach Leh: One via Manali & another via Srinagar. He chose the Manali way as this one was more exciting. Also, he found out a travel agent who arranged all our travels from Manali onwards, made our hotel bookings at Manali & Leh.

The challenging part about the journey is the narrow winding roads, very high altitude (can lead to breathing trouble, nausea and dizziness) and harsh weather. Some of the highest motorable passes are on these roads. And you spend 2-3 days on road and spending nights in cloth tents in less than 0 degree temperature!!!Also this is not one of the run of the mill hill stations. You don’t see many people on the road from Manali to Leh, it’s kind of out of the world experience. Small Kids, elderly and people with fragile health are advised not to travel to Leh by road!!!

Tanglang La - 2nd highest motorable pass in the world!!!

Tanglang La – 2nd highest motorable pass in the world!!!

In June, 2009 we started from Hyderabad armed with lots of woolens and hubby’s inhaler (for his asthma). First, we reached Delhi and from there to Chandigarh by train. Here, A’s friend came to pick us up and we stayed at his place in Baddi (a place near Chandigarh, but in the state HP). This way we managed to be in 4 different cities in the same day!!!

Next day, in the morning after the breakfast of Parathas and a stock of 10 parathas (Thanks to Aunti) we started from Baddi to Chandigarh to catch the bus to Manali. From here we started getting the feel of the journey. In the long way we saw small villages, apple orchards & hardworking pahadi people.

Next day we had a full day in Manali. We started the day with river rafting in Beas, though the river looked more playful than Ganga, the rafting in Beas felt more like a boat ride compared to the one we had at Shivpuri. Nevertheless, even boat rides in such beautiful places can be enjoyable.

From here, we went to Manikaran, did the Darshan at the temple & Gurudwara, but couldn’t muster the courage to go the place where the hot water spring is situated. Though it is supposed to be pious, it looked completely the opposite with stale smell, stray dogs & algae. In the evening we strolled up to the Mal road, Day 1 over.

The hotel room at Manali was normal but had a striking feature about it that I loved. There was a big glass window, which oversaw green fields nearby & faraway mountains. And at the night sleeping in this room made me feel as if i was sleeping in the open under starry sky (but on a comfortable bed!!). Next day, we started from Manali for Leh and our first stop was Rohtang pass. On the way we had deliciously hot kulcha chole.

There was heavy traffic jam on the way & we realized that in this matter this place is no different than Big cities!! Once at Rohatang, we took the rubber tube ride down the snowy slope, wandered around for some time. But Digvijay- our driver suggested we better start early, he also promised that there are better spectacles than Rohtang on the way & he was damn right.

So finally, we were on the road to Leh. After crossing Rohtang, there wasn’t much traffic & initially the roads were good. The place felt like something out of the world. The first stop was picturesque Keylong, where we had our lunch. Then came a petrol pump, which had a threatening sign board: “Next filling station 365 Km Ahead”!!! And it must have been true, as Digvijay not only filled the tank but also stocked up the petrol in a can.

Keylong Valley

Keylong Valley

Meanwhile we were enjoying the beauty of the place & eating the chips & chocolates that we bought from Manali. (And being the good citizens that we are, we didn’t throw the empty packets on the road; we collected them in a box, later to be discarded at the hotel :)). After this, we went on & on. Now the traffic was very sparse. And suddenly we were on the snowy mountains. There was snowfall at Baralacha la & beyond!! Here the road was made by cutting the snow, as a result the road was between two walls of snow and yes you guessed it right, it is the same place where Shahid drives on and Kareena sings “Yeh Ishq hayee..”.

The Road in the wall!!!

The Road in the wall!!!

We stayed overnight at Sarachu, the place had swiss style tents. The evening was comfortable followed by a piping hot delicious dinner. The tent manager suggested that we have some alcohol, but we don’t drink and didn’t feel the need then. But at the night when the temperature dipped and snowy wind started blowing, we couldn’t sleep at all & kept checking on each other to ensure that the other is all right. I had kept our wet cloths (from rafting) outside the tent and in the morning i realized that the water in the cloths had turned to ice!!!

At Sarchu...Exploring the place....

At Sarchu…Exploring the place, with our tent in the background!!!

The morning was a relief, followed by the breakfast. We started our second day on the road with packed lunch & soon we were in the planes of Sarchu. Here we saw some scattered tents, where people used solar panels for electricity. These are basically gypsies. I wondered how they were managing to stay here!! The planes of Sarchu are just planes; you don’t see anything but big flat land, surrounded by high mountains. It feels like a place out of the “Need for Speed” game and Digvijay must have felt the same as he was driving pretty fast by now!!

I had a bout of nausea due to high altitude & lack of sleep. After some time we were back on the curvy dangerous roads. On the way there were small hut like tents which offered a place to sleep and hot thukpa (Noodle like delicacy), Maggie & tea/coffee, which we had ;). We saw people working on the road and were told that these are not locals but come from U.P. & Bihar. It must have been very difficult for them to work in such harsh weather and high altitude coming from the warm planes. These roads are maintained by Himank (an arm of Indian Army).

By around 4 pm we were on a breathtaking road, here on one side there was a high mountain looming on us like a wall & on the other side river flowing almost at the level of the road. After crossing this we could see some villages. There were Shanti Stupas & Ladakhi style homes, which was a refreshing site after mountains. Once we entered Leh region, the roads were nice and there were bare mountains as opposed to the ones at Manali or even at Keylong. The place looked so strange. Finally we reached the hotel, a nice small place with umbrellas in the Garden & terrace. I immediately decided that one of the days we should have our meal outside under the umbrella. We were welcomed by traditional Ladakhi ceremony & a Zule (greeting in Ladakhi). At last, we were in Leh and I was sure that this part of the adventure will be as exciting as the one we had.

More about the trip in next part till then enjoy the slideshow 🙂

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Comments on: "Leh Trip – The journey…" (36)

  1. Thank you Thank you so much for posting this T2M 🙂
    Just read it hurriedly now 🙂
    Will come back and comment on this one 🙂

  2. Such an exhilarating account ! 2009 ka trip you remember so vividly? You must have really soaked it up 🙂
    Thanks to lifesong for making you post this one! and looking forward to the next 🙂

  3. I am going to ask all bloggers next time they make a plan , I want IN.. I have been all over india but here and goa and what do i read as articles , people visiting leh- ladakh or goa and making me so so so jealoussssssssssssssssssss….

    I want ot cry now … I want to Gooooo there..

    funnyly enought my TRAITIOR friends back home decide to go on a leh-ladakh tour when i came to uk , how unfair is that they will never live it down..

    • Ohh, sorry to have make you jealous, Vikram…
      But you know, now even i am jealous of my old self…After having Zini, we can’t think of going on such vacations for some years now…
      So next time when you come to India, get your friends plan for your Goa and Leh trip & this way they can pay back, what say?!??!

  4. Wow. True experience that. Now waiting for part 2.

  5. An absolutely ‘out of this world’ experience….must have been so relaxing to visit the beautiful locales on your way…..eagerly waiting for the next part 🙂

    • It was indeed an out of the world experience. The places look so different then what we usually see, even on a regular hill station you don’t get to see such sites, that too without crowds and pollution!!!
      Will post the next part soon 🙂

  6. Nice description ZM! I found Manikaran very dirty too, been there some 12 years ago. Sad it is still the same. But I loved the road trip to Manikaran – such narrow roads and the river Beas flowing down, some lovely views. Waiting to read the next part!! And wow, seems like you are big time into rafting!!

    • Yes, the road to Manikaran was beautiful 🙂
      When we went there was a traffic jam on the road and, we could get down and get the feel of the place 🙂
      After visiting golden temple, i thought why every place of pilgrimage can’t be maintained to be clean?!?
      After Zini, we haven’t been able to take a rafting vacation, but hope to do so when my parents visit, they can babysit Zini, while we once again go for rafting 🙂

  7. Wow! must have been the most amazing experience… and you still remember it word by word!

    • Hey Jas, it was indeed a great experience, i actually don’t remember some of the things at Manali, but memories of the road journey and journey to Khardung la and to Pangong lake are very strong 🙂

  8. Loved Loved reading this account ZM. You are really lucky to have experienced this trip… Now this is what I call a real adventure… traveling at such high altitudes, camping out at sub zero temperatures… experience of a lifetime 🙂 🙂
    That road in the wall of snow is amazing … and loved your description of the hotel in Manali 🙂
    After reading your experiences I really hope someday we are able to go there 🙂
    Waiting eagerly for the next part 🙂

    • i too feel that it was very lucky we took this trip at that time (Thanks to A), as it was the last vacation before Zini arrived. Now we can’t even think of going there!!
      Camping was especially very adventurous as the camp’s location felt like in middle of no where!!!
      Yeah, that road was amazing and it opened up to a most serene lake!!!
      Will put up the next part soon 🙂

  9. Everyone I know is posting their travelogues, it is making me happy as well as jealous. Happy because I get a free darshan 🙂 but jealous because I havent seen these places yet 😛 😛

    I would label this trip as heavenly, what say 😉

    And soaking in the views on the way to your destination has a charm of its own 🙂

  10. Woww!! that must have been a thrilling experience. U r blessed to get a chance to visit such splendid place. Now this is on my wishlist before i die to visit atleast once leh -ladakh. I ve been to manali, rohtang n manikaran on a school trip. N i second when u visit manikaran after visiting golden temple,u feel manikaran does not stand nowhere near it. n that hot water spring, ppl buy small packs of rice n put it in that spring n after tht u get cooked ready to eat rice right there. I remember how i have to finish tht rice with no salt.:( 😦

    Waiting for the next post *curious*

    • Thrilling indeed 🙂
      i too feel that we were lucky to visit Leh at that time, now we can’t think of going as Zini is too small to visit there.
      My point is that if we consider something so pious then shouldn’t we keep it clean and maintain its purity, and that is something i like about Golden Temple 🙂
      Hey, hope you get to get Leh road trip 🙂

  11. We had gone to Manali some 4 years back and had fallen in love with the place. Tabse hi Ladakh has been on our radar and we are now waiting Arnav to grow up a little so that we can start the adventure 🙂

    Loved your travellogue & pictures. Waiting to read the next part 🙂

  12. This is the third travelogue I come across in recent times which is on Jammu/Kashmir. Right now, all my trips are around South India but some day, I will reach the northern tip too… It will be good if they can bring train connectivity soon. That will make it comfortable.

    You can recollect a 2009 trip so well? That shows how much you liked it 🙂

    Destination Infinity

    • I enjoyed it very much 🙂
      Though Ladakh region is under the state of J&K, it is so different then the usual image of Kashmir that we have. Even the culture & food in this region is very different than the Kashmiri culture and cuisine!!!
      May you get that train connectivity soon and visit all the places you want to 🙂

  13. beautiful journey
    nice pics

  14. Leh seems so beautiful. I am jealous :).

  15. Hi ZM, I have something for you at my blog. Do go and check it out when time permits 🙂

  16. […] the adventurous road trip, we reached Leh. For the next three days, Leh was our base […]

  17. Hey 🙂 All good at your end? Just wanted to drop in a hi and check if all is well 🙂 Hope Zini is good too 🙂

    • Hey, thanks for asking 🙂
      yeah we are good…and finally now my comp is also good, so i’ll catch up with blogging soon 🙂

  18. these pictures are serene…I think serene also won’t do any justice to them 🙂 simply naturally beautiful 🙂

    • Yeah, actually no words or no pictures can do justice to the actual beauty of the place and the feeling of being there… you have to see it to believe it…

  19. […] You remember how i longed for a vacation, i talked about it here and here…. And how i wanted to go to Goa in place of a road trip to Leh?!? […]

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