This place is truly paradise on Earth. The water is so clear that I can see the lake bed. This lake is situated at a very high altitude of 14,000 feet. Eleven-year-old traveller Rounak Das takes you on a journey with him through Leh and Ladakh.
This year I was eagerly waiting for the summer vacation as we had planned to travel Ladakh – Land of Passes. Ladakh is a cold desert in northern Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir.
On 17th May, 2015, we set off from Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi to Leh, capital of Ladakh. My excitement was at its peak. During the one hour journey, we had a terrific view of snow-capped mountains from the aeroplane itself.
Once we landed at Kushok Bakula Rimpochee airport of Leh, one of the highest airports in the world at 10,682 feet above sea level, we were advised to take complete rest for the next 24 hours for acclimatization and to avoid high altitude mountain sickness.
The next day we started exploring Leh. Ladakh is a region of mountain passes and is renowned for its remote mountain beauty. This place is also dotted with some famous colourful Buddhist monasteries. I was awed by the architecture and history of Hemis Gompa – one of the largest Buddhist monasteries in this region. It has a great collection of 900 years old artefacts stored in the museum.
We also visited Thiksey Monastery – one of the most picturesque monasteries in Ladakh, Shey Palace, Spituk Monastery and Stok Palace, residence of the present Nemgyal dynasty king. All monasteries and palaces were at the top so we had to go through a flight of stairs. Tibetan prayer wheels and fluttering prayer flags are very common in Ladakh.
We went to the Druk White Lotus School popularly known as Rancho’s school after 3 Idiots movie.
Hemis and Thiksey Monastery and Rancho School
Next day, we left early for Nubra Valley. The curvy and zigzag roads made my head spin a bit. The common way to access this valley is to travel over the Khardungla Pass, 18,380 feet above sea level. This is the highest motorable road in the world. The road was covered with snow.
Passing through Khardungla was a great experience for me. Temperature was around -10 degree Celsius. We got out of there as fast as we could because of cold mountain wind and low oxygen level.
After 3 hours journey we reached Diskit village and saw an open air Buddha statue atop the hill.
Nubra Valley is called the ‘orchard of Ladakh’. It is a picturesque valley with mild climate.
Shayuk river with its tributary Nubra passes through the valley.
This valley is also a natural home for double humped Bactrian camel. I had great fun riding the camel at Hundar white sand dunes.
After our Nubra trip, next day we went for sightseeing around Leh. We went to see the confluence of Zanskar and Indus rivers. It was a spectacular view – meeting of the two rivers known as ‘Sangam’ point. It’s a dream destination for river rafting.
We went to the Hall of Fame. A glorious museum constructed and maintained by the Indian army in Ladakh. The museum showcases the rich culture and natural heritage of Ladakh. It also shows the sacrifices of Indian soldiers in the Kargil war. We also went to Magnetic hill, a popular spot for tourists.
Next day we started our journey towards Pangong Lake, the no. 1 attraction in Ladakh. The road to Pangong Lake was amazing. We passed through Changla Pass at the altitude of 17,688 feet above sea level. The weather was very cold and windy. After 6 hours of gruelling journey, I had the first glimpse of Pangong Lake. It was an overwhelming experience. Snow-capped mountains all around the lake with a clear sky above it.
This place is truly paradise on Earth. The water is so clear that I can see the lake bed. This lake is situated at a very high altitude of 14,000 feet. The colour of water and overall surrounding is so pleasant that makes the place divine and mesmerizing. We had an overnight stay in a Swiss camp to experience the sunset and sunrise over Pangong Lake. At night it was freezing cold.
Next day we left Pangong Lake with sad hearts and came back to Leh. Last day we went for shopping to local market and in the evening we went to Shanti stupa. It was a gleaming white stupa standing atop a mountain from which the panorama of the Leh city can be seen. The ambiance around the stupa was very tranquil.
Since Ladakh is a mini Tibet, the cuisine of Ladakh resembles Tibet. Momos and Thukpa are the prominent dishes here. Here days are sunny and hot, nights are freezing cold. We saw nature in its very raw form, unexploited and untouched by humans. Mountains, clear blue sky, army, stupas, monasteries, sand dunes and capricious climate that make Ladakh a unique place.
Life in Ladakh is extremely tough in winter. People here are very simple, hard-working and hospitable. Words cannot explain the calm and serene beauty of Ladakh. I will cherish the best memories of this place for ever.
Juley (Bye Bye) Ladakh!!!
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