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    Pangong Lake

    “Travel is like a much-needed medicine for me to maintain my sanity. In all the chaos of the city life, traveling and photography help me gain perspective. Taking a break every now and then from the monotony of life and going on a trip to Ladakh makes me feel alive.”

    Inception of the dream called Leh

    My first tryst with Leh was obviously the posts made by people on social media. Indeed, it looked beautiful in the pictures but I never gave it a serious thought until one day, when one of my closest friends returned from his Leh trip, and elaborately described his journey. That was the time when my husband decided to go on a trip to Ladakh this very season.

    Details of our trip to Ladakh

    For traveling to Ladakh, we got the same advice universally- ‘tag along with a group’. But we wanted this trip to Ladakh to be something special. Thus, to offset this problem, we decided to book a private package for Leh so that we’d have a personalized holiday experience.

    Hence started the process of online research, examining the places to visit, best dates for a trip to Ladakh, and lastly the travel agency to go with.

    mountain view in sonmarg
    hunder camp site

    Suggested Read: 7D/6N Family Trip To Leh Ladakh: The Coolest Holiday We Have Had!

    While browsing through websites for travel packages, we came across TravelTriangle. Within a few hours of registering with Travel Triangle, we received multiple quotations from different travel agents with best of the offerings, flexible itineraries, and competitive pricing. We finalized our package with Amazing India Routes agency after carefully analyzing the details.

    Trip Cost: INR 69,500
    Trip Duration: 8 nights 9 days
    Month of Travel: August 2017
    Inclusions: Transfers, accommodation, meals (excluding lunch), sightseeing, and taxes
    Exclusions: Flights, lunch, camel ride, rafting, and medical expenses (if any)

    Therefore, the bookings were made without much of a fuss and we were all set for our vacation of a lifetime!

    However, it was important that before going on a trip to Ladakh, we talked to people who had experienced the journey because we felt that the photographs don’t completely justify the location. It wasn’t all about the beauty and charm of Ladakh, it was a prudent decision to take the temperature, altitude, and landscape into consideration while preparing for this incredible journey.


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    Day 1 & 2: Breathing in for the first time, the pure & pristine air in Leh

    Our trip to Ladakh began with an early morning flight from Pune to Leh. During our flight, we enjoyed the amazing view of the mountains while the plane flew over the snow-capped Himalayas like a drone.

    The first day in Leh was a serene affair. We checked into the hotel, followed it with an evening stroll and chai-Maggi at a local street shop. We did face some acclimatization issues like running out of breath and fatigue after a short walk, but we came prepared for it.

    temples in Leh
    exploring the rugged terrains

    Suggested Read: How To Turn A Friends’ Trip To Ladakh Into An Adventurous Affair

    This evening ended with us meeting our local tour guide, who shared local facts, tourist stories, and anecdotes with us. He became an integral part of the memories of our trip to Ladakh.

    The second day started with breakfast, followed by sightseeing in Leh to place like Shanti Stupa, Sankar Gompa, and the Leh Bazaar. Since it took us half a day to cover these places, in the evening, we decided to explore Leh a little more on our own.

    A countless number of stairs on a hill grabbed our attention as we began the hike without knowing the destination. It was only after a climbing a tedious stretch of around 2 km did we realize that we had reached Namgyal Tsemo Monastery. The beautiful view from top compensated for the gruesome hike as we spent a good amount of our evening watching the sunset from great heights. A very charming end to the second day of our trip to Ladakh.

    view of leh city

    Day 3 & 4: Eternal beauty in Nubra Valley

    This day, we checked out of Leh and began our journey to reach Nubra Valley via Khardung La (World’s highest motorable road at 18000 ft). The drive was simply mesmerizing but our helpless camera couldn’t catch a minute of rest throughout. Every other curve on the road unfolded a beautiful landscape. Unlike Leh, Khardung La top was pretty cold. After a few customary clicks, we returned back to our cab.

    • Tip: restrict your first visit to Khardung la top to 15 mins to avoid altitude sickness.
    on the way to nubra valley
    Khardungla Top

    Suggested Read: Their Family Vacation In Ladakh Was One Incredible Sightseeing Adventure

    Our next stop was Diskit Monastery. One of the largest monasteries in Leh situated in the middle of nowhere had a gigantic Maitreya Buddha statue placed right under the blue sky and surrounded by mountains and deserts of Nubra valley. At Diskit Monastery, we got the chance to make some amazing time-lapse videos.

    Since Nubra Valley is at a lower altitude (around 12000 ft), the late afternoon was hot. Our camp at Nubra (Ladakh summer camp in Hunder) was beyond our expectations.
    After a short nap, we headed out to explore the sand dunes. The desert had its own charm surrounded by majestic mountains, a picturesque stream of water flowing, and the rare Bactrian double-humped camel.

    • Tip: Try not to miss the local Ladakhi folk dance on your way back.

    Later on, a stroll after a sumptuous dinner introduced us to a star-studded night! It was an overwhelming sight as the two of us sat under the vast ocean of stars staring at the Milky Way. We retreated to the comforts of our camp as the mercury dropped.

    The next morning, I got up quite early to capture the sunrise. It was beautiful to hear the sound of birds, the gushing water and soft snores of my love. To our surprise, the washrooms had running hot water and the breakfast was simple but tasteful. After that, we checked out from Hunder and began our journey back to Leh.

    Diskit Monastery
    camel ride at hunder

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    Day 5 & 6: Pangong Tso- The mother of all lakes

    The next day of our trip to Ladakh began with a stop at Shey Palace on our way to Pangong Tso. The Gompa provides a beautiful view of upper Indus Valley.

    After that, we made a stop at Chang La Top, which is claimed to be the second highest motorable road in the world. We spotted a café on our way to Pangong adjacent to a shiny blue lake in a green patch of land. It was so serene, it felt like a painting! We pulled over for a break, had our first taste of Kahwa (Kashmiri beverage) and the best Maggi of our trip!

    • Tip: Have a break here. It’s called Mid-way Café
    Chang La Pass
    Mid way cafe
    first view of lake pangong tso

    Suggested Read: Exploring The Beauty Of Himalayas On An Adventure Trip To Ladakh

    Moving on through the mountains, river basins, and marshes we got to see exotic Ladakhi fauna – marmots, Yaks, horses and much more. There’s a milestone (a few miles short of the lake) that said “First view of Pangong Tso”. On a clear sunny day like ours, the lake looked like a shining sapphire surrounded by golden mountains.

    Beholding the splendor of this vast lake was refreshing enough to forget the tiring journey (yes, these roads are in pretty bad shape). We were lucky enough to witness multiple shades of blue as the sun shifted. No matter how many times I saw it in pictures or movies, I was stunned by its charm.

    After crafting some fond memories here, we proceeded to our camp. Our tour guide had arranged a visit to a local Ladakhi home at Spangmik village! We enjoyed some homemade snacks and their famous butter tea.

    • Tip: Do visit a local household if you get a chance

    Our camp ‘Shambhala’ was neat and furnished with basic amenities. The lake was about 10 mins walk from our camp. We moved towards the windy and cold lake for an evening stroll when we observed a Japanese tourist keenly building Cairns (balanced stack of uneven stones). It was spellbinding to witness the sunset at Pangong through beautifully stacked columns of shining stones.

    Like Nubra, night sky here too was dazzling with countless stars. After soul-satisfying hot dinner and a long stroll under the stars, we called it a night.

    Thiksey Monastery was the only attraction in our itinerary the next day, so we decided to have a relaxed journey.

    incredible cairns at pangong tso
    thiksey monastery ladakh

    Day 7: Remembering the fallen heroes of Kargil

    The next day, we began our journey back to Leh by visiting places like Hall of fame, Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, and Magnetic Hill. Next up, we proceeded on NH1 towards Lamayuru. Also known as Moon-land because of its terrain, Lamayuru is the oldest & the largest Monastery in Ladakh.

    For miles, Suru river ran parallel to NH1 offering picturesque landscapes. We crossed several small villages before eventually reaching Kargil and stopping there for the night

    lama yuru monastery
    mountain pass near kargil

    Day 8 & 9: Heavenly valley views in Srinagar and Sonamarg

    The next morning, we checked out of Kargil and made our first stop at the Kargil War Memorial in Drass.

    • Tip: Attend the briefing given by soldiers on the timelines of the war while displaying the actual hilltops where the war took place.

    While crossing the Zojila Pass near Kargil, the weather and landscape changed drastically- the temperature fell and rocky mountains turned into green, snow-capped hills. This was the sign that we were approaching Sonmarg.

    Before finally checking in our houseboat at Dal Lake, we visited the famous Mughal Gardens of Srinagar, – Shalimar, Nishat, and Chashm-e-shahi. It was nothing extraordinary, but undeniably a relaxing setting.

    Another thing checked off our list was the stay at the houseboat on our trip to Ladakh. With an exquisite setting and a warm host, our one-night stay turned out to be unquestionably memorable.

    Before heading back to the airport next day, we concluded our trip in the morning with a short Shikara ride at Dal Lake.

    kargil war memorial
    zojila pass
    dal lake boating

    Suggested Read: Best Places To See On A Friends Trip To Ladakh

    Leh, Ladakh was a vast ocean of beauty to cherish, I wish I could get a piece of it back with me. We were so glad that we did this trip over any other international trip which we had been planning for ages. The beautiful mountains, the serenity, warmth of local Ladakhi hosts and the ‘No Network zone’ for more than a week- all these factors and much more made this trip to Ladakh unforgettable.

    All in all, there’s no right time to visit Leh (well, except April to September) ! Go escape the ordinary and Happy Wanderlusting!

    Best Memories:

    • Midway café (on the way to Pangong) was a beautiful break on a tiring journey.
    • Camp stay at Nubra was made even better with the luxurious amenities (Ladakh
      Summer Camp).
    • Cairn making at Pangong was incredible as it was something I had never seen before.

    Low Points:

    There weren’t any!

    There is no greater reward for a traveler than these incredible sights in Ladakh. Book your Ladakh tour package and witness why this rugged terrain is like no other!


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    Category: Adventure, Ladakh, Romantic Travel, Travelogues

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