Journey to Ladakh – experiences and memories !!

Why Ladakh?

Ladakh, these days, has become one of the most sought-after destinations for nature and adventure enthusiasts. Nestled in the trans-himalayan region, in the beautiful state of Jammu and Kashmir, it offers one of the most breathtaking views. Ladakh is inhabited by people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent and is one of the most sparsely populated regions in Jammu and Kashmir. Its culture and history are closely related to that of Tibet and at times is referred to as “Little Tibet”.

One of the many snow-capped mountains in Ladakh

 

Shanti Stupa, Leh

Although, I have always been a photography enthusiast, however, it was my first visit to this wonderland that really got be hooked.

I would love to use this platform to share some of the photographs I clicked during my trip and also share my experiences that might help you plan your own.

So, primarily, there are 2 routes that one can take to reach Leh:

  • Srinagar – Sonamarg – Dress – Kargil – Leh
  • Manali – Keylong – Jispa – Zingzingbaar – Baralacha la – Pang – Leh

During both my trips, I took the Srinagar to Leh route, simply because it helps you acclimatize better. Why? The climb from Srinagar to Leh is a little gradual as compared to the Manali – Leh route. This helps your body get used to the low oxygen levels.

However, I would strongly recommend traveling the Leh – Manali route. It will be a journey of a lifetime.

Srinagar to Sonamarg:

The 1st leg of the journey, from Srinagar to Sonamarg, is one of the most picturesque routes you will travel on. The landscapes are so breathtaking that you will not be able to stop yourself from getting off your car and capture such amazing moments. Although the journey from Srinagar to Leh is not very long, stopovers at such locations does make the trip a little longer, but it is totally worth it.

One of the many picturesque pitstops on the Srinagar – Sonamarg route

 

Sind River on the way to Sonamarg
The very beautiful and scenic Sonamarg

As far as the stay at Sonamarg is concerned, I would strongly recommend the JKTDC guesthouse. The stay is pretty economical and location makes it totally even better.

Distance: 80 kms

Travel Time: 3 to 4 hours

Route map:

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Sonamarg to Kargil:

This journey starts via the mighty Zozilla pass. The quality of the road here is not too good and might lead to delays owing to traffic jams. However, the road post that is pretty good and the views keep getting better.The Zojila pass rise to a height of around 4,000 meters above the sea level. The rugged road is chiseled out on a steep rocky mountain and is one of the most narrow and difficult passes in India. The pass is integral to the success of Kargil war and the control of Kashmir. The pass also connects the rest of India to the rather isolated valley of Ladakh. The road witnesses innumerable landslides and glaciers.

The dusty and treacherous roads of the Zozilla pass

The next stop-over before reaching Kargil is the very famous War Memorial, which is an hours drive from Drass. It is believed to be the 2nd coldest inhabited place in the world, where temperatures go as low as -45 degrees celsius.

The Kargil War Memorial

 

Tiger Hill

 

Distance: 200 kms

Travel time: 4 to 5 hours

Route map:

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Kargil to Leh:

The last leg of the journey from Kargil to Leh is an serene and picturesque as it can get. This is the part of the journey where you begin to realise barren is indeed beautiful. A testament of this is the simply amazing natures piece of art Lamayuru or Moonland. It is a small village on the Kargil – Leh route and it every bit worth spending quality time at. The moonscapes carved in the mountains are its major attraction.

Moonscapes at Lamayuru
The Lamayuru Monastery

Next destination on the list – Magnetic Hill. Although, a very tourist heavy location, one has to halt here to capture some beer-seen-before shots. The location as defined by Wikipedia – “The layout of the area and surrounding slopes create the appearance of a hill. The right hill road is actually an uphill road. Objects and cars on the left hill road may appear to roll “uphill” in defiance of gravity when they are, in fact, rolling downhill.” 

Magnetic Hill
A photographers delight

Distance: 220 kms

Travel time: 4 to 5 hours

Route map: garden seat

Travel Tips & Precautions:

  • First and foremost, respect the traffic rules in the mountains. In case, you happen to get delayed on account of traffic jams owing to landslides/accidents, please maintain lane discipline.
  • If you plan to trek in the beautiful mountains, make sure you carry all the safety gear and are accompanied by an experienced guide OR a team of fellow trekkers. Avoid going solo.
  • In case, you are traveling on a bike, ensure that you get the bike Ladakh-ready and carry the required spares and fuel.
  • Ladakh is a politically sensitive area, which requires you to procure access permits. Make sure you procure them.
  • Carry adequate cash during your journey, as ATMs are hard to find and plastic money is not really an option.
  • Regarding medical facilities, you should find them in Leh and Kargil. Stock up the medicines you might need.
  • There can be no place like Ladakh when it comes to photography. Make it a point to keep additional batteries and memory cards and never get tired of clicking.
  • Finally, please keep this pristine natures gift clean by not littering the surroundings. Lets make it a point to keep this treasure worth visiting, for our generations to come !!

 


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