When you think of high altitude places in the world, the first thing that comes in the mind is the Himalayas. Himalayan ranges have always been alluring for its mesmerizing natural beauty. The mixture of lofty snowy bed and lush green pastures is an honor to witness. Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is the state known for such scenic splendor. Ladakh is a division in the state of J&K. Leh and Kargil are two major cities in Ladakh. Let me take you through my scintillating journey towards offbeat destinations in Ladakh.
Perfect time and health conditions for Ladakh:
Visiting high altitude places need some basic preparations and good health conditions. You need a better company to face this adventurous land and friends are meant to fill this gap. Some of the places in J&K can only be reached on the bike so one should have the real zest to ride a bike under all circumstances.
It is almost impossible to visit these scenic places of J&K during rains and winters, hence you are left with the only option i.e. summer. May through August is the best period to visit these high altitude places.
Things to carry for Ladakh trip:
- Bungee cord to tie your bag on the bike
- Action shoes or waterproof shoes
- Four pairs of socks
- A good waterproof raincoat & woolen sweater. You can find them in Decathlon for about 3500 INR.
- Book & Pen (sometimes your mobile may drain out)
- Medicines (go through the below list)
Medicines to be carried:
People who travel to high altitude regions can sometimes develop Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) or high altitude pulmonary edema, caused by exposure to low amounts of oxygen at high elevation. Altitude sickness usually occurs when you travel above 2500 meters or 8200 ft above sea level. Common symptoms of AMS are headaches, vomiting, tiredness, dizziness, and shortness of breath. It is recommended to carry the following medicines along with you.
|1||Diamox (Acetazolamide)||10||High Altitude (Breathing, suffocation)|
|2||Cheston||5||Cold & Cough|
|3||Nici Plus||5||Headache, fever & body pain|
|7||Antacid||9||Indigestion, heartburn & gastric|
Arrived at Srinagar on day1, we had to take a taxi as there are no other good means of transport is available here. Of course, its good to hire a taxi if you have more luggage. We had a plan to visit Dal Lake in Srinagar, informed taxi driver to help us to get a room in Dal Lake. With my three friends, we stayed in Dal Lake paying 1000 INR. Dal Lake is very beautiful surrounded by big mountains and water shines in the night due to light, hence local residence people call it as “Golden Lake”.
We took a ride on a boat which was really great. I suggest you take a boat ride as the beauty of the lake can only be sensed by taking a boat ride. The sightseeing around the lake is based on a number of points you wish to cover. For covering four points its 800 rupees and for covering eight points its 1200 rupees. We opted for four points, there is no much difference between four points & eight points apart from the distance. There are a lot of shopping boats if you wish to purchase shawl, wooden stuff, woolen sweaters etc. Don’t forget to bargain for the best price. The people near lake behaved in a good manner. There are a lot many restaurants near Dal Lake, You can find all kinds of food.
The next day we planned to reach Ladakh, as we did not have our own vehicle, we took a share taxi. For your information, there is a place where Srinagar taxis are available for 2700 INR. Enroute to Ladakh, a German & Italian tourists accompanied us who were on their solo trips. We requested the taxi driver to stop at all tourist spots.
On way to Ladakh from Srinagar, we visited the Kargil War Memorial. Kargil is a place where India-Pakistan war took place, we can see a list of all armed force names who have contributed to protecting this mother India. Also, you can purchase Kargil keychains, Kargil memento, and Kargil dresses.
If you are traveling by own vehicle spend some time in Zoji La pass. A huge amount of water flows from the River Indus to Pakistan. You can enjoy the scenic beauty of this river & glaciers.
P.S.: while traveling in taxi my friend felt vomiting, Also, continuous traveling u feel gastric & body pain. So please take the medicines.
Arrived at Ladakh:
We reached Ladakh and found a guest house near to Ladakh City. We were looking for bike options in Ladakh and we were able to find one at 3 km away from our location. We hired the beast, Royal Enfield which well suited for rough tracks.
P.S.: Make as many friends as you can in the taxi with local people so they provide you with information on guest houses & nearby visiting places.
Documents to be carried for Leh Ladakh:
We need to take permits to go pass through each tourist place in Leh. The documents required for permits are:
- DL/Voter ID/ PAN/Aadhar card (at least 2 identity proofs)
- Four passport size photos.
Hall Of Fame:
As planned we got ready and started out the first journey in Ladakh. Hall of fame is around 10 km plus from Leh city shopping. Hall of Fame is a museum constructed in memory of Indian martyrs involved in the Indo-Pak wars and is maintained by the Indian army. It consists history of our great soldiers, Siachen photos, war attacks, equipment, statues, books. To complete the entire Hall of fame it might take more than 3hrs. Its worth to visit here.
Traveling around 30km away from Hall of Fame we can find the magnetic hill. This is zero gravity place If you place a car or bike it moves. Lying at a distance of around 30 km from the town of Leh, the magnetic hill is marked by yellow signboard which reads “The phenomenon that defies gravity”. Park your vehicles in the box marked with a white point on the road, which is known as the Magnetic Road. When parked at the indicated spot, vehicles begin moving forward at a speed of almost 20 km/Hr.
We visited Shanti Stupa, which is a white-colored domed-shaped structure, located in Chandspa which looks extremely beautiful during the night when it is illuminated. This peace pillar was built as ‘peace sect’ of the Japanese Buddhist organization to celebrate the completion of 2500 years of Buddhism and for the promotion of world peace. It was inaugurated by his Holiness, the Dalai Lama in 1985.
Leh city shopping:
Need not to worry if you have forgotten to carry some things, Do any kind of shopping in Leh. You can purchase a Ladakh t-shirt, mask, etc.
Since J & K is a separate territory visitors sim will not work. Please purchase Postpaid BSNL sim card as the network is reachable to most part of the Ladakh. Sim cost depends on the plan you want to opt for.
Day-1 ends with horrible bike experience:
We purchased a bike with an agent A. the bike was not even able to go 40km/hr. Yes, it’s better to try after taking the bike. So I suggest you go at least 30 km away from Leh and test the bike properly. Once the bike is purchased it’s difficult to return the bike, As a seller will already know that for how many days you required the bikes. So be careful.
Bike Permits :
Bike permits need to be made as soon as possible. Permit costs 700 for each person. Permit cost depends on the places you are going to cover.
The Adventures trip continues – Day-2:
All set to start our day by the glamorous Royal Enfield BS4 engine. We filled the full tank in Leh & carried 20-liter petrol with us. The journey begins now. On this day2 I covered Khardungla pass, Nubra Valley and Hunter desert.
We started our journey from Leh at 8.30am. Khardungla is 40kms away from Leh. Have breakfast before leaving to Khardungla, as the journey will be tough. As we move ahead after 10kms muddy road started. In Journey, we saw a baby snow leopard. Some part of the road will be filled with snow water, as snow starts melting water accumulates on the road. Snow covered mountains look very beautiful. We expected a Royal Enfield speed to be at least 60 km/hr, but due to steep and more air, the bike speed reduced to on an average of 25km/hr. Take as many breaks as possible to enjoy the beautiful nature. Because of chilled weather, while driving your hands may get numbness. Remove hand gloves, make a little movement to your hands, drink more water as you may feel breathing problem because of high altitude. After 3.5 hr we reached Khardungla. It is at a height of 18,380 feet. Wow, it’s amazing! Wait for a few moments and capture a good picture as there will be more crowd. You can find some hotels at Khardungla, take rest if your health is not adjusting to the climate.
After Khardungla peak, we started enjoying the ride much more as Nubra has its own beauty. The real ride enjoyment is driving the side of the valley, Nubra River flowing across the valley and driving with high speed around 65km/hr. Many foreigners visit this place, not to compete with anyone while driving, go with your own speed, enjoy the ride. Diskit is the capital of Nubra, which is 6 km away from Hunter.
At the time we reach Nubra it was 4:30 PM. We were tired because of continuous bike riding and needed some rest. We started searching for the room and bargain is a must. The first room we enquired was Rs. 1500/- for three people. The next room we got it for Rs. 1100. The room was good, we enjoyed strong tea and its time to go for Desert, which was near to 10 km from our room. There was more crowd in Hunder as everyone came to enjoy a two-humped camel ride. The camel safari person charges 200 for one round (around 1 km). Enjoy this safari. We were back to the room at 8 pm. Important Note: this is one place if you want to buy petrol and petrol pump closes at 6:30 pm, so please carry can fill petrol as in between journey you won’t find any petrol pump.
Journey on Day-3:
We had a good breakfast before heading to Pangong. we need to travel 1/3 of the same road that we already enjoyed to reach Hunder from Nubra. There is a board, we need to take a left which heads to Taksar, from this road it’s almost one road that heads to Pangong. The road is little tough as high mountain opposite vehicle not visible, you can’t ride fast but 40km/hr is fine. You won’t find any hotels in this region as its valley. So have sufficient parcel, water & fuel. Also If your bike gets a puncture, very rarely you find someone to help you. You cross many bridges, make some nice videos while crossing them! Once we came down from mountain, Straight Road around 10kms, drive her as fast you want, My top speed was 85km/hr. At 4 pm we reached Pangong. Note as you reach Pangong Lake, there is a 3 idiots point, but this is not really shooting point, So head little inside, the next point is the 3 idiots shooting location, this avoids less crowd and lake looks much more beautiful. Pangong is a salt lake and only 30% is in India.
We stayed in front of Pangong Lake. The tent cost Rs. 1500/. It was too cold, so we took a middle tent. We can take photos on yak, Horse for Rs. 100 & ‘3 idiots’ film spot photos for Rs. 50.
Journey on Day-4:
I would say a trip would have not been so memorable if I miss visiting Hanle. Hanle is beautiful, It has Indian Astronomical Observatory (IAO). It is the country first robotic telescope and the first one designed to observe dynamic or transient events in the universe. Hanle is 235 km from Pangong Lake. We took 8.5 hrs to reach Hanle. There was no proper road (complete Adventures road) by looking at the tyre marks on the mud, sand road we reached a good tar road after driving 68 km from Pangong. But we enjoyed this driving. We were competing with a wild horse, which was running parallel with us. Hanle has less population around 1000 people and its 70 km away from the China border. We reached Hanle, made a room, paying rs 1200 for 2 people. At 6 PM we went to see IAO. One more IAO unit was under construction. We can find varieties of animals & birds near Hanle Lake.
Journey on Day-5:
Tso Moriri Lake:
We left Hanle morning by 8.30am. Need to show permit for Tso Moriri for our brave soldier. The distance between Hanle & Tso Moriri is 160 km. Tso Morriri Lake measures about 28 km in length and 6 km in breadth and about 100 feet in depth. The water is crystal clear and not much salt as Pangong Lake. The road is not that good, but okay for the ride. Because of landslide and rocky mountains, the stones were fallen on the road. The road is a little hectic need to manage. As we reached Tso Morriri, we had lunch and took a local car and driver to the lake. We paid him rs 250. The local person said as 3 idiots shooting the last scene was started in Tso Morriri, but due to winter entire film screw was not able to sustain cold, they waited for 3 months & shot a scene at Pangong Lake. Also during winter entire lake turns to hard rock ice burgs, and sheepmen carry their sheep on this solid Ice.
Journey on Day-6:
After covering all main places around Ladakh, we packed our bag to return back to Leh. There are two routes to return from Tso Moriri Lake to Leh.
- First route: Tso Moriri to Leh via Tso Kar and Taglang La. The advantage of traveling through this route is – Adventurous road, Petrol available in near villages and you can rest at places, have snacks, enjoy natural beauty.
- Second route: Tso Moriri to Leh via Chumathang. This road joins Leh Manali highway, If Petrol is unavailable & bike problem, Its difficult to find a shop. But this route will help you to reach very fast than the first route.
We took the first route, by the end of day-6 we reached Tso Kar. Tso Kar is a small place, you will find very fewer places for accommodation. We paid RS 1400 for 2 people.
Journey on Day-7:
The day-7 journey was to reach the third highest motor-able road in the world Taglang La, which is located at 5,328 Mtrs or 17,480 Feet above sea level. (after Chang La – 5,360 Mtrs or 17,586 Feet and Khardung La – 5,359 Mtrs or 17,582 Feet). The entire mountain is covered over snow, good road, the average speed of Royal Enfield was 40km/hr due to high altitude. After reaching Taglang La peak we had bread omelet (nothing was available) and reached safely back to Leh.
We reached Leh at 2 pm, packed our bag, settled our bike. We took one Royal Enfield base4 engine for 1300/day & Bajaj Avenger 220cc for 1000/day. We went to Leh taxi stand to book our return ticket to Manali.
Journey on Day-8:
From Leh to Manali, we reached in overnight. The journey was tedious as the road is not that proper. We made room near Manali city. We paid rs 1400/- for 2 people.
Manali is a beautiful place with high mountains, covered entirely with Cedrus deodara trees (Cedrus is a genus of coniferous trees in the plant family Pinaceae). Manali has small houses present on the top of the mountains. It has Beas River, which rises in the Himalayas in central Himachal Pradesh, India, and flows for some 470 kilometers to the Sutlej River in the Indian state of Punjab. Its total length is 470 kilometers and its drainage basin is 20,303 square kilometers large. This facilitates a large tourist for river rafting.
We first visited Vasishta temple, known for hot water spring. We can take bath in holy hot water. After visiting the temple, we did shopping and took a rest.
Note: If you are interested in Vasishta temple history, please read it here
Journey on Day-9:
Next day we visited Solang valley, known for its adventurous activities like zorbing, paragliding, parachuting, and skiing. Solang means nearby village and Valley means water stream. The para-gliding costs rs 3200/ person for 10mins. Request rider for more minutes. Buses will be more rush as due to more tourists, so better take a two-wheeler for rent. We rented Avenger 220cc for rs 700.
Journey on Day-10:
With the bike in hand, we started a journey in the early morning to reach Manikaran. The single road for to & fro. So the road was rush and it took almost 5hrs to reach. We found a room nearby for rs 1000/ two person. It has many temples and a gurudwara. This is a pilgrimage center for Hindus and Sikhs. There are temples of the Hindu deities Rama, Krishna, and Vishnu. The area is well known for its hot springs. We visited the temple and the gurudwara. Shopping is too good at this place.
Came back to Manali & booked a ticket to Chandigarh.
Journey on Day-11:
We reached early morning to Chandigarh, an Auto driver took us to the OYO hotels, booked a room at Rs 1500. We got fresh up and visited Sukhna Lake & Rock garden.
- Sukhna Lake: its big Lake with Boating facility and garden.
- Rock Garden: A beautiful imagination garden built by a retired army man without informing the government. Later the government undertook to make a tourism place. The beauty of this garden is that it is constructed by waste materials of tiles, Bangles, a variety of small stones. Its big garden, built in 3 stages. The story of this is projected within the premises. The next day we boarded return flight directly (GO Airline) from Chandigarh to Bangalore.
Bye, Bye Ladakh. It was mesmerizing 🙂