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Ladakh – My Mountain Love!


If your bucket list does not have Leh-Ladakh in it, it’s time to revamp it. Add the experience of getting stirred by the extreme diurnal temperatures of the barren land, of drinking water of the Himalayan rivers and of walking for kilometers into bliss – to your bucket list.

Here are some reasons why Ladakh was special for me:

MANALI-LEH HIGHWAY


To acclimatize to the dynamic landscapes of the Manali-Leh route, travel at a higher altitude and spend the night at a lower one to abide by the pressure rules. After snow-gaming at Rohtang and enjoying the mandatory Maggi at Khoksar, you can stay at Keylong, travelling through the narrow roads of Jispa, eating parathas by the Darcha river and if you’re lucky – experiencing a tender snowfall at Baralacha la. Don’t forget to breathe, sip water and pop nuts if you want to cross this heaven-hell. Before reaching Leh, you will have travelled the second-highest pass in the world (Tanglangla), a series of 23 hair pin bends (Gata Loops), a 40 km stretch of breathtaking Morey plains and a small village, Upshi. This journey from Himachal to Ladakh has said to have stirred souls with its elements of bare sky, pure snow, harsh winds, haughty mountains and transient roads.

LEH

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Jullay! Says the city of Leh welcoming every visitor like it’s their home. Barath Guest House is your place if you want to experience the true hospitality of a Ladakhi family, see the khardungla pass from your room and eat some of the best food (made from vegetables of their own garden!). Let your body soak some fresh air of Leh for a day as you relax and acclimatize to this highland. Trekkers- one way to prep for your treks is to climb the 400 steps of Sanchi Stupa from where you can see the whole of Leh. After this tiring expedition, you deserve some binge eating at the pizzerias of the city or on the roadside kebabs. Rest well before you head on to exploring the wild areas of Ladakh.

THE TREKPERIENCE

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The Markha valley trek is that perfect combination of ease and adventure that every trekker dreams of. Starting from the base camp at Chilling (10,000 feet) you start walking the endless arid mountains of Ladakh. The company and guidance of the sherpas and the horse riders is like having the mountains guide you into safety, comfort and beauty. They bring more than you need on your pallet- from pitching your tents, cooking Thukpa and telling stories of the mountains to waking you up with black tea. Grasslands or mountains? The trek confuses you till you lay down in the cold to sky-gaze and see shooting starts amidst the silhouette of mountains. It is not until you reach the summit (Thochunske) that you realize what your trek has taught you; most of all about yourself and about how important is the descent from a height of 17000 feet or more towards your base camp.

THE HEMIS LOVE

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The biggest monastery in Ladakh, Hemis Monastery is worth visiting if you want to get a taste of the Buddhist culture and religion. You can witness the lives of monks, their routine practices, visit the Hemis museum and buy souvenirs. The mesmerizing sound of the gong will teleport you to the ancient times of Gautam Buddha.

SALT WATER LAKES

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If only language could describe the waters of Pangong Tso or Tsomoriri Tso. These mystical mountain lakes are cold, salty and are in all shades of blue. The brown mountains cup the reflection of the sky in the clear waters of the lakes. They create a heart-touching harmony and some amazing pictures!

Pangong Tso is a six hour drive from Leh, via the third highest pass in the world (Changla Pass).

To get the best experience of this paradise, a combination of good health, sensitivity towards the region and its community and an open mind is all you need; and around 40,000 rupees to do these five things (if travelling with a group of 10 people in a shared car). Get a sturdy 60-70 liter backpack, pack some warm clothes and put on those raybans once you book your flight to Leh or train to Chandigarh. Oh! And do not forget to pack lots of nuts, body lotion, a good torch and power bank (if you want to capture every moment of your trip). That is only how far you are from stacking stones next to the fluttering prayer flags of your summit.

Jullay.

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– Written by Ayushi Limbachiya

Ayushi Limbachiya is a freelance writer based in Mumbai, India. When she’s not scribbling ideas in her multiple diaries, binge-drinking tea and practicing yoga you’ll see her hopping around places and crafting content about her experiences. Currently she’s using her social media stockpile quite recklessly.

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