I’m back home after an amazing trip to Leh-Ladakh. It was a wonderful holiday and I got to tick an item off my bucket list. We had initially planned to go to Leh during May and we were eagerly looking forward to the trip. However for some personal reasons we had to cancel the trip. We were extremely disappointed. We wanted to go on this trip to celebrate our anniversary (in June), but decided it was for the best. Fortunately for us, a few weeks later we were in a position to postpone the trip to June rather than having to cancel it altogether. No wonder they say everything happens for a good reason.
This was going to be my second time in Kashmir and I preferred to be a tourist than a traveller given that weather could play spoilsport to even the most meticulously planned itineraries in Kashmir. We did all the touristy stuff and hey, I experienced snow for the second time in India (previously at Gulmarg). With such picturesque landscapes, no wonder Ladakh is considered a visual treat. I absolutely loved the place and the people there are hands down the best when it comes to hospitality. The roads, not so much.
We were apprehensive at first as this was a group tour, but all our worries were cast aside when we met the group and it they made our trip all the more memorable. We got along very well as most of us were in the same age group and we would talk about anything and everything throughout the week. It also helped that everyone was fun loving and open to ideas. Absence of Internet access proved to be a blessing in disguise as it helped to bond with the other people in our group tour and to live the moment better than wanting to share everything on Social Media immediately. I am not sure how different the group dynamics would have been if we had had access to the Internet. I’d like to believe it wouldn’t have been much different but my heart says otherwise.
The highlights of our trip, in my order of preference, were –
- River rafting on the Zankar-Indus valley (and jumping from the raft to go for a swim,for a few minutes in in Indus), something that has been on my bucket list for a long time. AMAZING!
- ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) ride on the world’s highest sand dunes, at the Nubra Valley. TOO GOOD!
- Experiencing -4 degrees at Pangong Lake, admiring its gorgeous view and the different shades of blue. AWESOME!
The scenic views all over Leh were mesmerising , especially from Sanchi Stupa- the Sun, the clouds, the sky, the mountains and the snow made a very pretty picture. We also saw the majestic 32m tall statue of Maitreya Buddha statue near Diskit Monastery on our way to the Nubra Valley. We also crossed Khardungla Pass, one of the world’s highest motorable roads and it was a wonderful sight with snow capped mountains, snow and snowfall. And so was Chang La pass. We stayed at these gorgeous tents (ahem, tents with double beds, 4 layers of quilts and mattresses, attached bathrooms and with a TV) at Nubra Valley and Pangong lake and it was cozy amidst the freezing temperatures. We visited Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, Magnetic Hill, Shey Palace, Shey Monastery, Thiskey Monastery, Sindhu Ghat and of course the school from 3 idiots fame.
Our guide kept telling us that Ladakh was not a luxury holiday and while basic food and accommodation would be provided, he warned us not to expect more. These words were drilled in our minds and we were in for a surprise everywhere when we saw the spread for us at every meal. I ate the best spaghetti and butter chicken there was, and the food in all those highway Dhabbas were delicious. Apparently Zeera rice is a favourite there and for me that is had best with Dhal tadka or Kadai Chicken. I tasted their Chowmein & momos and they were so delicious I could have it all day. But I’m not sure if I liked the Butter tea. Their standard ginger-lemon Masala tea was a life saver 😉
As I mentioned earlier, the people there are so warm and friendly. Right from our driver, to our guide and all those people we met on our way to Nubra Valley and Pangong lake and the guides who were on the raft during the river rafting and the local people who were enthusiastic and proud to tell us about their city, we felt pampered everywhere. Everyone had a smile for us, no matter where we went.
Overall it’s one of the best trips I’ve been on. Thanks to Thomas Cook for organising it so well. I’ve been around North India when I was young. I often complain to my parents that I don’t remember Taj Mahal or Shimla, Mussoorie or Nainital but Kashmir will remain etched in my mind for a long time. India has such amazing places to visit 😎 and I’m glad I have the right company to explore all these places.