Heartbreak over Kargil to Leh | Ladakh Mega Meet

8

The Journey so far…

I know I am little late in getting back to the story, sorry for that as I was completely bogged down in office 🙁 … But, anyways finally found time to start with it further. Well, we all had pleasant night stay at Kargil and woke up well in time. By 8 AM, all were ready and out of the rooms and some had breakfast at hotel while some skipped. We installed DoW Stickers over all the taxis and Nabeel’s bike with smiles as last day there wasn’t much time for such acts due to the emotions of rushing out of Srinagar As all prepared to start the drive to Leh from Kargil, I quickly went out in market with Nabeel to pack some confectioneries for the day’s journey. I generally buy stuff from locals in Himalayas as it helps serve two purposes, income or helping hand to locals and help me travel light 🙂 …

Day 2 | Kargil – Mulbekh – Lamayuru – Hangroo Loops – Khaltsi – Leh

The initial part of the drive was lovely bypassing the Kargil town and few other villages with some really good vantage points offering fantastic panoramic views. The landscape around was changing colours to barren from lush green surroundings and we know soon it will be completely barren yet more beautiful in sometime from now. We were waiting for it to happen. The first stop was Mulbekh where there is a rock carved Buddha statue and we reached there in no time as the road conditions were fine enough.

Kargil Town as seen from Srinagar – Leh Highway
Kargil Town as seen from Srinagar - Leh Highway
Multiple Shades of Srinagar – Leh Highway
Multiple Shades of Srinagar - Leh Highway
My Journey Companions
Saurabh, Partiosh and Shakti, my journey companions
Colors around Mulbekh
Colors around Mulbekh

A tragedy happened at Mulbekh As soon as we got down there, everyone was working towards different angles for clicking pictures of this lovely rock art of ancient times. However, I was chatting to another group known to me who were having breakfast there in their convoy of 4 cars. I was meeting them one by one but unfortunately after greeting one person in that group when he tried to move he hit my hand hard, (of course unknowingly but he did), and the camera in my hand loosened, finally got crashed on the road. OOPS, my heart said, it stopped beating for a while… and then, someone picked up and gave it me, don’t realize who but there was someone… The heart was still not beating… with heavy heart, I clicked, it clicked the picture and heart starts to beat a bit but then I realized that petals in the lens have been broken and lens is not usable. I immediately changed the lens to Prime and it worked, so at least I was satisfied that camera is intact still… But, what a Heartbreak and that too on second day of the trip with least pictures !! Those who are into Landscape Photography know how important is to have a wide angle but I only had Kit Lens to offer me a range of 18mm … That means quite a major disappointment it was !!

A Mosque on Srinagar – Leh Highway
A Mosque on Srinagar - Leh Highway

I could not talk for few hours, neither smiled but just took the use of 35mm Prime I had with me on the camera and my phone. Though it was a heartbreak but it had to continue unless I find a new kit lens in Leh because show must go on without camera and that too on this mega adventure !! So, with broken heart I continued the journey. In between, we reached the second high mountain pass of the trip, Namki La at an altitude of 3815 Mtrs. The views had started changing drastically as we descended Namki La and again ascended towards to reach our third high mountain pass of the trip that is Fotu La at an altitude of 4108 Mtrs. The journey between offered very dramatic layers of barren mountains, loved by the heart but I could only capture with 35mm 🙁 🙁 … I cheered myself up and started to smile, record/feel the natural beauty around through eyes lens then. We all were having good fun, the thrill in the air was superb especially for the first timers. Scaling any pass is always a special feeling and Fotu La was no other and also being highest point on Srinagar – Leh Highway as well.

Namki La Pass on Srinagar – Leh Highway
Namki La Pass on Srinagar - Leh Highway
The Layers of Barren yet Beautiful Landscape
The Layers of Barren yet Beautiful Landscape on Srinagar - Leh Highway
Metaled road on Srinagar – Leh Highway
Metaled road on Srinagar - Leh Highway
Prayer Flags at Passes… Showering Blessings with the Wind
Prayer Flags at Passes... Showering Blessings with the Wind

Prayer Flags at Passes... Showering Blessings with the Wind

Prayer Flags at Passes... Showering Blessings with the Wind
Fotu La Pass, Highest point at Srinagar – Leh Highway
Fotu La Pass, Highest point at Srinagar - Leh Highway

Then we started descending towards Lamayuru By the time we reached Lamayuru it was almost 1.00 PM and we just managed to get the tickets for monastery before lunch time. Had lovely time inside the Lamayuru Monastery, exploring it and chatting with lama kids. The monastery offered some nice views of Moonland too. Then we decided to have lunch at the restaurant adjacent to monastery complex itself. The cold breeze was hitting hard through the glass and somewhere back of my mind I had a feeling of broken heart for lens as I was chatting over with my wife over phone explaining the sad story… The food served was very good, unexpectedly and everyone loved it especially the veg. Biryani 😉 though the service was slow … Around 3.00 PM we left backwards to take the diversion for Hangroo Loops which offer some good high views of Moonland. Please note there is a new road now that runs along the river at the base of moonland but we opted for old route through Hangroo loops

Boasting DoW Sticker…Our Car in Convoy
Boasting DoW Sticker...Our Car in Convoy
Lamayuru town as seen from Srinagar – Leh Highway
Lamayuru town as seen from Srinagar - Leh Highway
Informational Display at Lamayuru Monastery
Informational Display at Lamayuru Monastery
Paintings at Lamayuru Monastery
Paintings at Lamayuru Monastery
Moonland as seen from Lamayuru Monastery
Moonland as seen from Lamayuru Monastery
Chortens at Lamayuru Monastery
Chortens at Lamayuru Monastery
Jiwesh having candid time with Lama Kids at Lamayuru Monastery
Jiwesh having candid time with Lama Kids at Lamayuru Monastery
Lama Kids at Lamayuru Monastery
Lama Kids at Lamayuru Monastery

Everyone was liking the lovely vistas offered on that route and then we reached a point from where moonland was clearly visible in front of us. Well, there were small pointed peaks around that point where everyone posed and played in different notions 😀 … Rigzin showed his heroics by almost walking over a thin ledge barely with one foot thickness and having more than couple of thousands feet drop 😯 … As he walked everyone was like holy sh** and had their mouth wide open in dis-belief as after reaching how he posed with such poise, ease and smile 😀 !! We requested him to come back safely and he obliged seeing our worried faces… All well and we resumed the drive, finally we reached the place to descend the Hangroo loops down towards river for reaching the Khaltsi bridge. We descended down to NH-1D and the aqua coloured Indus greeted us with its freshness. Soon we reached Khaltsi and were stopped by people sitting by administration office to pay for Environmental Fees for entering Leh region. We paid the fees, got the coupon and were told to submit it while applying for permits so that we are not charged twice for it. Same is sometimes charged at Upshi when you are coming from Manali – Leh Highway.

Rigzin, showing some heroics and then posing
Rigzin, showing some heroics and then posing
Moonland as seen from Old route of Hangroo Loops
Moonland as seen from Old route of Hangroo Loops
Hangroo Loops at Srinagar – Leh Highway
Hangroo Loops at Srinagar - Leh Highway
Khaltsi
Khaltsi at Srinagar - Leh Highway
At Khaltsi, right goes Batalik and left goes Kargil
At Khaltsi, right goes Batalik and left goes Kargil

Then it was easy drive towards Sham Valley along the Indus River and as we reached Alchi bridge, everyone decided not to go towards Alchi and Likir to save time and we moved towards Basgo Plains where we stopped by the famous point just before Basgo of a straight road leading to heaven, Leh. Everyone posed and got his picture shot in the way they liked, on road, off road, sitting, standing, lying down and what not 😀 :D… Bypassing Basgo fort ruins, we stopped for Samosas & Tea at Nimmu Do check out them as you rarely find such snacks in Himalayas. Some of us had momos, some thukpa, we had samosas with tea 😀 and we moved towards Magnetic Hills Everyone tested the phenomenon over there and to surprise the boards were dis-located, not sure why !! Everyone had their own confusion and theory, I smiled and let it be. Soon after that we reached Gurudwara Pather Sahib where most of us paid visit for darshan, got Prasad and resumed the final leg of journey to Leh where we reached at 6 PM just before the last light of the day faded away.

Alchi Bridge, the right side road goes to Alchi Monastery
Alchi Bridge, the right side road goes to Alchi Monastery
Leading to Heaven
Leading to Heaven, Leh - Ladakh
Basgo Fort and its ruins
Basgo Fort and its ruins
Confluence of Indus and Zanskar River
Confluence of Indus and Zanskar River
Gurudwara Pathar Sahib
Gurudwara Pathar Sahib
Indus Valley View Point
Indus Valley View Point

Now, it was a question of finding right accommodation for such a big group. Searched quite a few decent guest houses I knew but none was ready to accept 18 odd people that late in the season for decent rates. We were looking for no more than Rs 800 with extra bed. Finally, we got one at Shanti Stupa road that is Hotel Panorama which was quite nice to stay barring the slow service at the end of season and the fact that you need to get out of complex walk the garden at cold night to ask something to be cooked in Kitchen 😀 😀 … Though it was equally a very loving exercise 😉 … You can check my detailed hotel review in DoW Community at the link: Hotel Panorama – Leh, Ladakh | Review

Gagan and Neha had also arrived at the hotel, lessening our worries of loosing them including the biker Benjamin. After relaxing for couple of hours we received a call from Lokesh and group (Shekhar and Bhupinder), who had reached early in the day from Lamayuru and checked in a different hotel near Fort Road. They came up and we all went for dinner at Changspa road together. It was night, off season and most of the restaurants at Changspa road were closed. I could not remember the name of the restaurant (sorry) but I had also ate before over there on my first trip, so knew the food was decent. We ordered a lot of things and all came out well except for Bhupinder the lassi could not tasted the way it tasted for him in Punjab 😀 😀 … There was a bit funny drama which we all enjoyed but then Bhupinder realized it is Leh not Punjab 😀 😀 !! Finally, we had the walk back in the darkness again without any torchlight despite knowing it is always dark at Shanti Stupa road… But, after gasping for breath a bit, we finally managed to reach hotel and crashed onto beds in no time hoping for a good night sleep without any AMS issues…

The Journey ahead…

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About Author

You can call me an Avid Traveler, a Day - Night Dreamer and a Passionate Lover of Himalayas who has a high zest for driving whilst exploring new places in Himalayas & sharing back those Himalayan Travel experiences with the other fellow Travelers... I am in love with Spreading Smiles in Himalayas through DoW Causes & currently enjoying life as Happy Traveling Soul at DoW Community. You can read more about me in detail at the link here ...

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