Ever since I had visited this magical place of the world, Ladakh in 2010 (trip report here), only I know how much I desperately wanted to visit this place again in search of the part of my lost soul. Since, then I have written so many articles over Ladakh just to re-live those beautiful moments spent in this region. And now again after visit in April 2012, I feel the same “There is no other place in this world like Ladakh!!!”… For me, it has become like an annual pilgrimage that I had to undertake once a year for the rest of my life 🙂 …
After a long long wait, Ladakh trip finally happened again in April 2012. The mantra of he trip was to explore the remotest part in Ladakh known as Changthang and the initial plan was jotted here: Itinerary for My Ladakh Trip in April – 2012. The trip was JUST AWESOME … I had some most amazing adventure of my life. The trip had everything I could ever imagine even after traveling so much … The snow run to Khardung La and getting stuck every odd few KMs at 18K was some serious fun…. Tangste to Nubra via Shyok isolated route was major highlight of the trip. At couple of places we had to almost cross a part of Shyok river and crossing landslides on that route was a super adventure, even army men were shocked to see us on the other side. The Shyok route was really beautiful. Photography wise trip was disappointing due to overcast conditions and dark clouds. Also, riding a Bullet Classic for the first time up to Chilling and Basgo was fun in itself too and finally getting stuck again due to cancellation of flight but witnessing the snow white Leh town was treat to the eyes… Aahhh so much, in so little time!! Well, that is Ladakh for you 🙂 and My Journey to Ladakh Begins Again!!
Day 1 | Delhi – Leh By Flight
After a long day in office, seeing off my little kiddo and lovely wife, packing all the luggage and finally replying to all the comments/emails on the blog, I finally went to sleep at 3.30 AM. The flight was scheduled for 8.30 AM which meant not much time to sleep. Well, the excitement was such that I hardly slept though ;)… 6.00 AM sleep broke with the three alarms and with no friction I was ready by 6.40 AM. Taking blessings of the family, off I went to Airport where I had to meet my friend Himanshu and a boy Tejas coming from Mumbai, who joined two of us at the last moment through my blog online. He was waiting at the Airport only and after all the formalities we were ready to board the flight.
The views from the flight were a bit disappointing because of overcast conditions and cloud cover. Flight took about 1.5 Hrs and we finally landed in the heaven, Leh – Ladakh. I cannot express my feelings through words and for a moment I was lost in myself. My soul belongs somewhere here, it is lost somewhere here in the heaven only!! Well, a bit of setback to me as GoAir attendant came running to me handing over the broken piece of my Tripod which meant no night long exposures, no panoramas 😥 … I was so desperately wanted to take them this time. But, never mind it did not kill the excitement of being in heaven. Rigzin (taxi guy) was waiting for us at the Airport and with one look I knew who was the charming and bubbly personality :)… There was one group of ten members who got in tough with me at the blog was also there and shaking hands with Deepak, who contacted me off we were towards our Hotel/Guest House.
Once my nerves got settled finally I realized that it was cold, extremely cold. There was one friend who was already in Ladakh for last 7 days and had booked a room at Glacier View Guest House, Upper Tukcha Road which was in front of his Guest House (Dorje Guest House). Rs 500 buck for a nice, cozy room with extra bed was a deal to steal ;)… Rigzin dropped us at the hotel and told us to meet at DC office to get the permits arranged. After checkin and taking tea with our friend at his place, we went to DC office. Today was very important day to take rest and get our body acclimatized but guess the excitement was such that I could not held myself back in hotel and decided to start walking to DC office for getting the permits. It was long walk to the DC office from hotel and slowly, steadily we walked all exhausted very quickly. This was not a good sign and I suddenly realized my mistake, so just sat down at the stairs of polo ground to watch the Cricket match being played between Kashmir Club and Leh Club. Not sure, but Leh Cricket club was getting some battering from the Kashmiri boys with almost 15-16 runs every over :D…
Sitting there for some time let our breath come back and we decided to head to DC office upstairs where the lunch was over. Rigzin in the meantime had gone off to market for some work so we decided to do it ourselves. As I handed over the ant written places permits to the clerk, he appeared disgusted and told us to remove some of the places. I knew he is an idiot and do not know how people are sent back from places if you do not write all the villages which have checkpost. So, we removed few places where we knew checkpost was not present and again handed over the permit to other guy. This meant one walk down all the way to photostat shop and back again, taking more energy out of body. I cannot tell you how much the Inner Line Permit article on my blog had proved helpful in stressing down the fatigue caused in running up-down the photostat shop from DC office. Finally, the guy accepted the permit and signed and asked us to get it signed from ADC on duty. Sadly, ADC went into meeting few minutes before and would not be back for next 1.5 Hr 😥 …
I realized that since morning none of us had eaten anything so we checked in the canteen of DC office where lunch was over but Maggie was present. So, we ordered one Maggie and tea. Ladies present there served us the Tea + Maggie and asked why aren’t we taking rest on the first day. Sadly, I had no answer because of excitement I forgot it as I could have asked Rigzin to get these permits for us while we had taken complete rest. The problem was weather which was turning bad with little snow flakes falling down and lowering to temperatures further. It was getting colder and colder and some kind of uneasiness had started to set in. So, I handed over the permit form and fees to Rigzin who was there to take other groups permits and requested him to arrange the taxi to drop us back to hotel since walking down could have produced some ugly nightmares of AMS at night :)… He asked his cousin to drop us back to our guest house where we drank some good amount of water and rested for the day. In the evening, we woke up and was feeling much better. The weather still was overcast and it was very cold outside. Soon we realized that we had to go out for dinner because guest houses in Leh had not started to serve dinner or food due to lack of cooks who comes only after roads get open.
I was aware of few good restaurant names Lamayuru and Gesmo who serve really delicious food in Leh but since it was almost dark a shop in the market said they would be closed by now. Then, we found a restaurant named Little Italy and walked up to it. Cold was getting colder but thanks to the people who served hot water as well 🙂 … Again many of the restaurants lacked cooks so had not started serving chapatis, only rice was available. It had to be the first meal of the day at least for me and Tejas, so we ordered three plates of Rice, Dal and Kashmiri Dum Aloo. Among he three, Kashmiri Dum Aloo tasted so great and overall the food was very nice. On the way back we bought biscuits, snacks, some chocolates in case we might need at night.
The road to guest house had gone dark and we forgot to take the torchlight with us but thanks to today’s smart phones, which had an Flash light android app installed. We already had heard the story of a man eaten by stray dogs in Leh while he was out for a morning walk. So, we were already scared of them at first place but our smart phone came to rescue 😉 … Sometimes small things seems very helpful!! We managed to reach back our hotel and realized that from next day we had to take torchlight as well as a stick with us wen we go out for dinner or take the dinner within day light. Finally, I took a portion of ORS and went to sleep praying none of us get hit by AMS at night.
The Journey ahead-