Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Details and photos of our Ladakh trip

We flew in to Leh from Delhi with Air Deccan. In addition to Air Deccan, Jet Airways and Indian Airlines also fly on this route. All the flights are in the early morning, so we had to spend the night at Delhi airport.

We had booked ourselves at the Hotel Shambha La, in Leh. This is one of the more expensive hotels in Leh, situated about 2 kms from the centre of the town. Our room looked a bit worn, and definitely not worth the amount we were paying. The food and service was quite good. However, after resting for a couple of days to recover from altitude sickness, we moved out to a far cheaper Guest House, right in the middle of town.

I strongly recommend 'Khan Mansil Guest House', for travelers looking for a mid range place to stay in Leh. The rooms are clean, the family very helpful, and the location central. It is a no frills place, but well worth the money we paid.

There are quite a few good eating options in Leh town. However, being the end of the tourist season, many of the places were closing down. I would recommend Pizza de Hut and Leh View restaurants. There is also a Tibetan family run small restaurant at the corner opposite 'Aluya' restaurant, which I believe, stays open the entire year. We also spent a fair bit of time at the Desert Rain Cafe. A very relaxed place, which serves a good variety of teas and coffees.

Getting around is expensive. We did not try the local bus service, but hired a taxi to get around. Our first day trip was to Hemis and Thikse monasteries, and Stok and Shey palaces. These 4 places can be covered in about 8 hours, which gives you an hour at each place, and an hour for lunch. Our second day trip was to Alchi temples, Likir monastery, and Basgo fort ruins. On the way, we saw the confluence of rivers Indus and Zanskar, and magnetic hill. The latter is a very interesting phenomenon where our idle car gets pulled up an incline, due to the influence of a hill across the road! Again, this trip can be covered comfortably in 8 hours. However, there are hardly any decent eating options along the road, so it is recommended that one has a heavy breakfast, and carry some snacks for the trip.

Our third, and final, day trip was to Pangong Tso. Tso means lake in the local language, and this lake is a beauty. It is situated on the border with China, so ones needs a permit to visit this place. Any Guest House / Travel agent can
arrange this permit. It is a 4 hour drive one way to the lake, and the road crosses Chang La. At 17,800 feet (5,340 metres), this is the third highest motorable road in the world!

But the lake is well worth the time, effort (and money!) to reach. The waters of the lake shine green and blue in the sunlight, reflecting the mountains all around. The lake is long and narrow, with one third in India, and the rest in China (Tibet). Again, being the end of the tourist season, the staff at the small restaurant there were packing up to leave that same day, but they still managed to rustle us up some Maggi noodles.

I have uploaded some photos at Flickr. You can view them here.


Anamika said...

I saw this post only today. This post gives me all the details I need. Thanks for that.

I had a look at your photos. That lake looks so beautiful. That photo has so many different shades of blue in it!

Rups said...

Thanks for these useful info. I would request you for more info like hotel rates, local taxi hiring charges etc. I feel one should have an idea of what can be termed as fair price for bargaining.

Ranjit said...

Hi Sanjay,

I head and executive search firm. Last year we did a 0 day trip across Tibet and came very close to the pangon Tso from the China side. It is remarkable how similar Tibet is to Ladakh but let me tell you that the beauty of ladakh where hills and mountains change colours everytime you get into the valley is not visible in Tibet. My wife and I have been to Ladakh earlier and there is no doubt that one feels as if one is in the land of the gods whenever one goes there. You must do the Lhasa onwards trip that we did before stopping over at the Everest base camp and driving back to Nepal.
Ranjit Jatar

Ranjit said...

Oops - I meant a 20 day trip to Tibet