Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Short Report on visit to Leh, Ladakh

My wife and I visited Leh (Ladakh) for 8 days from October 6th - 13th. The trip was a suddenly planned affair, but thanks to the numerous low - cost airlines, we managed to get travel tickets. And being the off season, finding accommodation also was not a problem.

The place itself is magnificent. It is hard to imagine that one is still in India, one feels more like it is Central Asia / Tibet. At an altitude of 3,500 metres (11,000 feet), the oxygen levels in the air are lower than what we are normally used to. It takes between 24 - 48 hours for the body to acclimatise, and it is imperative that one rests till one is fully acclimatised. We took it easy the first day, but it still took us till the third day to be comfortable.

It was also extremely cold, with the temperature being around 5 degree celsius in the night. But the days were clear and bright. Interestingly, though it is cold, because of the high altitude, the sun feels extremely powerful. It is said that Ladakh is the only place where if one sits in the sun with his feet in the shade, one can get both sun stroke and frost bite at the same time!

We were also lucky that we had a full 8 days, so we were in no hurry to see the sights. We visited all the famous monasteries around Leh, but the highlight of the trip was a visit to Pangong Tso, a lake on the boundary of India with China (Tibet), and situated at an altiture of 4200 metres. To reach the place, we had to cross the world's third highest road - Chang La - at an altitude of 5,340 metres (17,800 feet). At that altitude, it is an effort to even stand and walk. And it is recommended that one does not spend more than 10 minutes there to avoid falling seriously sick. We took the mandatory photographs, and left the place.

We really enjoyed the place, and the time we spent there. When I started the journey, I was excited thinking that it would be a once in a lifetime journey. But I am not so certain that I would not be traveling there again. The next time, we plan to go in summer, and do some trekking.