Trip Date: 2006-10-01 - 2006-10-04
We visited Leh in October 2006. It is supposed to be end of tourist season but we were determined to see Leh atleast once in our lifetime. Its worth it. Its the most amazing place to visit. So story starts here..... We took Indian airlines flight from Delhi in the morning. There are flights from other carriers too and lot of scehemes are there throughout the year for Leh. Flight took approximately 2 hours. Fun starts from here itself.
You first see brown-green shades on the ground from air, then some to green plains, then green mountains start, then after sometime u see snow on the mountains, then you have lot of brown-white mountains for somtime, and lasty you fly over barren brown-sandy mountains. Then plane takes a right turn ( better to sit on left side of plane, you get better view ) and you see vast planes of leh along the indus river. Its amazing, you first time see such vastness and emptiness. Its a very large flat region along the river. Everything is brown and river is dark blue along with some green due to vegetation along the river. You just dont want to land, you will wish you can fly over these mountains for a while. you can easily see the airport and leh city below. Plane takes a sharp turn over a mountain and you suddenly see the runway, it lands smoothly. You can start feeling the vastness of the place. No crowd, no buildings ... only mountains. And the temperature you feel once plane doors are opened. A sudden gush of cold wave comes. You run for your jackets.
Leh airport is a small place, you wait for your luggage and get out of the aiport in no time. There is large board in airport displaying things to do or not to do in Leh. Its useful to read the board and remember things. Next thing you look for is a taxi to main city. We took a Sumo, I think it took 200 rupees. During this time of year there are few tourists and one gets taxis easily. We asked taxi driver to take us to some economical accomodation. He took us to his known person. It was a small guest house. We luckily got a glass house room. It had 2 sides with glass windows. It was beautiful and economical too.
We were told to take a rest at least for that day as the body takes some time to adjust to Leh's height after flight. We couldn't resist roaming around and after an hour's rest went outside. It was cold. We went to local market. Telephone and internet are readily available in local market. You can see the Palace up on the hill from throughout the city.
Next morning we went upto Taxi stand (located at bus stand itself) and hired a taxi for Pangong lake for Rs 5000. We strike a deal with him for 3 days. Road travel from Leh to pangong is very interesting. One comes across remote villages, sees different shades of mountains. Its 5 hour drive along river valley. We went through on pass named "Chang la". One can find good collection of photos at http://www.cse.iitd.ernet.in/~suban/ladakh/Mighty%20Chang%20La%20and%20Pangong%20Tso/.
Next morning we went to Rizong monastry in same taxi at Rs 2500. Its to other side of leh opposite to panggong lake side. I think its to east side of leh not sure. We started early morning, it was dark. Our driver spotted some animals in the dark and showed to us, these were like dogs but not actually dogs, we could only see a rough image and glowing eyes in dark. Drive was beutiful thru vast flat valley, with various shades of mountains, brown, grey, green, red etc etc. Most of the time we travelled along the river indus. We went thru juction of indus and zenskar river. There were lot of villages on the way. Few times a large brigade of army trucks were there on the road. Rizong monastry is beautiful small monastry perched high on a mountain. Its very peaceful there. We gave lift to some monks on the way back. They are so peceful type of people.
We came back from Rizong monastry and started our journey to Manali. It costed us 10k Indian rupees. This is experience of lifetime. We started around 10 AM in the morning. We followed indus river and one of its tributeries. Drive alongside is beautiful, one can most of the time get down the car and go into river. We corssed lot of small villages on the way, dont remeber names. On the way we had breakfast just before we left Leh region on river indus banks. Drive in october is risky as roads have torned down, and smallbridges on the way are very risky to cross.
Main stops are Darcha, Kullang, Gushai, Sissu, Koksar, Marhi. We stopped at Darcha for night. There are roadside restaurants having cots (small beds) at Rs 25 per night stay. As we were tired we slept hard. There are no toilets on the way at any place and thus one has to go in open. Be prepared for this.
After Darcha, scenary starts to change gradually to green. On reaching Gushai we are into green mountains overlooked by white snow peaks. We felt very happy to see people and greenery but we missed the tough terrain you left behind. It was early morning around 8AM. We noticed the potato fields. People have placed their potato heaps alongside road. We reached Koksar around breakfast time.
Koksar is a beautiful place before Rohtang. There are lot of waterfalls here. There are beautiful water streams where one can rest and relax for a while before moving on. We had our breakfast here gazing at far away waterfall. I found Koksar very beautiful green mountain place ( ;-) , after seeing Leh, i hv categorized hill stations into: green, brown and white ).
After Koksar its steep drive to Rohtang pass. We saw a brigade of military trucks crossing us. Beware of quality of water of small water springs here. We found out that the spring that we enjoyed was actually flowing through the road far above. Its only when you reach top you realize that its being polluted at lot of places.
Rohtang was not a pleasant site. Lot of tourists, shops etc has ruined its beauty. May be we have seen more beautiful scenary before Rohtang on the way that we were not able to appreciate it. After Rohtang the road drops down to Manali valley.
We reached our hotel around noon. It was a great feeling to have travelled from Leh to Manali by road. We came out of taxi (toyota qualis) and saw the taxi and driver for last time. Taxi was all in mud and dust. We thought how lucky is this taxi and driver who travel through these mountains.
things to take care:
- sit on left side of airplane to get better view. A seat in the front or rear of plane is best.
- keep a heavy jacket ready with you in plane. You will need this as you get off the plane in leh
- While travelling in ladhak/mountains sit on front seat of the car, this is best position for best views and also you will feel least nausia.
- Carry a waterproof handbag always with you having a swiss knife, lot of toilet paper, wet tissues, moisturizer creams, band-aid.