Manali Leh road trip is filled with hidden gems such as Baralacha La, which are often overlooked from the Must-See-and-Experience list. As an avid fan of the road less traveled, I enjoy the glory of places people often don’t speak about and travel. That element of the unknown, the discovery of unadulterated joy, is what attracts me to travel. Baralacha La is filled with such an experience – just open your tired eyes and enjoy the ride!
“No matter how sophisticated you may be; a large granite mountain cannot be denied – it speaks in silence to the very core of your being.”– Ansel Adams
*Disclaimer: This post picks up from where we ended the last time in Leh Ladakh Road Trip – Living the Ultimate Dream.
From Part 1 of the series, it
should must be amply clear to you, fellow wanderers, that I am a mountain child (#PahadiKid). The wanderlust runs deep in this soul!
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Expectations vs Reality
The top 5 thoughts/feelings/musings/daydreams prior to embarking on my maiden Ladakh road trip were:
- Excitement for spending the full-moon night at Pangong Tso
- The nervousness and jitters of driving on one of the toughest terrains
- The dread of AMS (for which we were sadly not prepared at all!)
- Experiencing a high-altitude desert in Nubra Valley
Yes, this is all I thought about for months! Never in my wildest of dreams did I imagine the fairy-tale that awaited us after ZingZing Bar.
When we left Zingzing Bar, it was almost dusk. Somewhere around 6:30 PM and our resolve to not drive in the dark was out the window! It was freezing at Zingzing Bar, and we were glad to be back in our car after the pit-stop for some hot soup. The bikers we met at Zingzing Bar and their warnings about AMS long forgotten; we were on our way to our home for the night, Sarchu.
Obviously, we were aware Baralacha La was going to be the highest mountain pass of our journey for the day, but our exhaustion was winning the battle over excitement. Since the roads were smooth, we were feeling especially sluggish due to the minimal requirement of being alert, apart from the driver and the navigator!
If you’re planning a trip to Leh Ladakh by road, do refer to the Ladakh Common Itinerary by road for easy planning.
You know how every 100 ft, the world changes? Well, we weren’t expecting the knock-your-socks-off, take-your-breath-away (and not due to the AMS) experience that awaited us!
I always thought the change in the world is gradual; it changes enough to make you notice, but not enough to be a stark contrast to where you just were. But, nature surprises and boy, oh boy! do you start believing in miracles.
Describing the indescribable – Baralacha La
Okay, enough build-up!
Zingzing Bar is already at remarkable height, and there is hardly any ascent from Zingzing Bar to reach Baralacha La. Subsequently, upon one of the mountain bends, the panoramas of brown, desolate mountains disappeared. In its place, pitch-black mountains with their peaks in hazy mist lay before us.
As a pahadi kid, I have always associated the mountains with givers of life, the protectors of our land – thus, my imagination of the Himalayas takes me luscious green, snow-capped beauties. This trip was no such peak. She was black and beautiful, intimidating, and in-your-face. The only thought in your mind when you first see Baralacha La is Oh my goodness – what am I experiencing – is this real life? Am I dreaming?
Himalayan Lessons: The most beautiful memories are made from the things you can’t factor in. Go with the flow and enjoy the ride, there are happy things waiting for you out there! Trust and you shall be rewarded!
The tale of Himalayan inspiration
Driving speed- negligible; our eyes could not soak in the views fast enough. All traces of tiredness long forgotten, we turned off our tunes to enjoy the music of mother nature – silence. At the highest point of the Baralacha La pass, it was cold, and we were completely isolated from the world. In awe, speechless, and in a trance-like state, we turned another turn to start our descent further on Manali Leh Highway!
If we were in shock before, what awaited us merely 100 ft ahead was out of this world. There are no words to describe the beauty. We were engulfed by mist at the peak of the mountain we saw earlier and then turned at the top-most point of the Baralacha La pass, only to be greeted by FRESH SNOW FALLING!!!!!
How to be rich!
My little heart could not absorb the expanse of feelings, I wanted to burst out and cry (side note: THAT is how women express emotions they can’t express in words!). Experiencing fresh snow falling, in June, all bundled up, on our way to the middle of nowhere – all of this was just lavish! This experience is the kind of rich I want to be – in experiences that make my soul feel full!
Water is your best friend, don’t forget. However, carry your own water bottles and refill as many times as needed.
The fresh soft snow, the starkly contrasting stern black mountains, and the grey and gloomy skies – what perfection!
Himalayan Lessons: Even the softest of creations can cover the most intimidating mountains with enough willpower to shine. Do your thing, and you will achieve your purpose!
Moving onward from Baralacha La was proving to be difficult, and there was no way we could soak it all in, at least not to the extent of our heart’s desire. Thankfully, a couple of us started feeling AMS symptoms, and we were sucked out of tranquility.
Himalayan Lessons: There are blessings in disguise everywhere. Learn to appreciate the hardships and you will move ahead (literally!)
We did not notice much afterward, partially because it had gotten dark, but, mostly because we could not. The thing with the Leh Ladakh road trip is that you’re bombarded with new imageries, each more beautiful than the last, that it becomes difficult to take it all in at once.
This was a common point of discussion in our group, that it was becoming difficult to reflect on all that we were experiencing. In the time that has followed, after returning from Leh, it still is teaching us lessons! #TMI #InformationOverload.
It took us nearly 3 hours to reach Sarchu from Zingzing Barover Baralacha La, and boy, oh boy, it was freezing. Shivering, barely breathing, we made our way in – only to be engulfed by headaches, nausea, and doubts!
More on this in the next post!
The most common FAQ includes things to consider for the Ladakh trip. However, if you have any other doubts, please comment below!
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Do share your most memorable, life-defining Himalayan Experience, I would love to know! What kind of Himalayan lessons have you learned on your journeys?