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Temple of Hanogimata, Jahang, Kothi, Rohtang Pass, Langalacha-la - taglang-la - Chang-la Sindhu-Darshan Pangong Lake Tsomo-riri Lake.Hemis Gumpha  Nubra Valley Spituk Gumpha Jarowar Fort.


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Travelogue Ladakh - India @ Content Writer

Tour Of Ladakh - Land Of Endless Discovery ( 06.08.’08 --- 24.08.’08)

By Debashis Bose, Contributing Traveller

06-08-’08 : After many years of thinking and lots of planning, we started for LADAKH – the land of endless discovery. Our team was of 24 members, and we availed Kalka Mail from Howrah at 07.40pm. Preliminary introduction over, we discussed about Ladakh – our target now, where none of our team members  had been earlier, but the tour operator and his team had been, quite a few times.

08-08-’08 : We arrived Chandigarh at 03.27am. We managed our morning duties at the waiting rooms. Hired three cars – two Tata Sumos & one Chevrolet Tavera, for the whole trip of Ladakh, and we started for Manali at 06.30am. After having our breakfast at one of the roadside Dhabas, we visited temple of Hanogimata, one of the local deities, and then the temple of Baishno Devi (not the one in Jammu & Kashmir). Also had lunch en route, and reached Manali covering 317km, at a height Of 8220’, at 06.05pm.

09-08-’08 : We started from Manali at 10.57am after breakfast, and crossed Jahang, Kothi, Rohtang Pass, at 13,500’ locally known as Rohtang-la (here nearby there is origin of River Bias), Kotsar, Sissu, Gondla, Tandi and Stringri Kelong etc to reach Jespa covering 148km, at 07.50pm, at 10,370’. Hotel-----dinner-----went to sleep.

10-08-’08 : We started at 06 o’clock in the morning, passed through Darcha Village, Patsio, Surojtal, Barlacha-la (pass) at 16,050’, and had our breakfast at Bharatpur. Then we passed Kilingsarai and reached Sarchu, and had our lunch there. Mostly each one of us suffered from high altitude sickness, i.e., headache, loss of appetite, nausea, breathlessness etc. Thereafter, we crossed three passes – Langalacha-la, altitude 16,600’, taglang-la, alt. 17,469’, & Chang-la, alt. 15,900’, 60km of a huge plateau known as Pung Ground. We further crossed Rumtse, Upshi, Karu & Thiksey to reach Leh at 11.05pm, alt. 12,200’, covering 325km. By the time we had our dinner and went to bed, the date had switched over.

11-08-’08 : Today, two cars were to be repaired, so we could not go for local sight-seeing, and instead, we divided ourselves into small groups and went to the nearby market, Gumpha etc.

12-08-’08 : We started at 06.35am and went for Sindhu-Darshan (a place besides the river Sindhu or Indus, where according to the local custom, people have a visit prior to visiting other places). This place is a picturesque valley with mountains surrounding the area and a few structures to take rest. Next, we went to Karu, where we had our breakfast.

Valleys Surrounded By Mountains, Ladakh

We took a left from here while the road on the right goes to Upshi and then onward to Manali. We came across a green valley, result of green revolution – known as Shakti. We went on to Jingrel Checkpost, Darbuk, Tang-ste valley, Lukung etc and after crossing 147km, reached Pangong Lake at 01.45pm. Situated at 14,000’ six to seven km wide and more than 130km long, it is bisected by the India and China border. Other than the reflections of the mountains and the deep blue sky with white clouds of Autumn in the lake, there is continuous change in blue and green colors with many shades of the lake’s crystal clear water. Most of us were busy capturing the really beautiful and wonderful scenery. We had our lunch there and started at 03.10pm for Leh, and reached at 08.45pm. Dinner-----&------to bed.

Mountains In Ladakh

13-08-’08 : After breakfast, one of our team members was feeling uneasiness in the throat and since it was on the increase, we took him to the State Govt. Hospital, and he was admitted. Due to less oxygen in the atmosphere, many tourists (from all over the world) feel a little sick, hence there is a `Tourist Ward’. The hospital is quite neat and clean and doctors, nurses and other hospital staff are all very helpful. We started at 1 O’clock for Tsomo-riri Lake. Our route was towards Manali, from Upshi we turned to left, and after covering 217 km, we reached Karjok beside Tsomo-riri Lake, at 09.40 pm Alt. is 15,200’. It was raining and due to heavy cold, most of us were not only shivering but also had other complications due to less oxygen. We finished our dinner and went to bed, but the locally made rug was so heavy that though we were protected from cold, no doubt, but it was very difficult to turn the body.

14-08-’08 : In the morning, though rain stopped, it was cloudy and also very cold. The temperature slowly increased with the sun-shine. Many of us went out with cameras to click snaps of the Monastery beside the lake, the lake itself and of the surrounding area.

Monastery Beside The Lake

Monastery Besides The Lake

We left at 10.40 am, had lunch en route and returned to Leh at 07.15 pm. We also visited the hospital and came to know that our friend’s blood pressure went up after bleeding from nose and the doctors were taking the necessary action.

15-08-’08 : Today is Independence Day, but, here at Leh, nothing in particular could be noticed, except a few National flags. A small group of us left for Hemis Gumpha at 08.30am and returned at 10.20am. Hemis Gumpha is one of the world’s largest gumphas. It is 35km from Leh. Inside the Gumpha, there are many temples with many deities - there is a 'Dukhang’ – where the spiritual leader Rimpoche stays. There are many paintings on the walls  - on the first temple – Lakhung, there is an idol of Buddha as Shakyomuni, surrounded by Chorten made of silver, and provided with costly ornaments. Also, there is an idol of the Chief Lama of Tibet, with thousand of hands and thousand faces - who is said to be the Ruler of the world. There is a huge collection of Scrolls, Thankas and original scriptures in the Hemis Library. World’s biggest Thankas (drawing on cloth), made by Singe Namgiyal, in the year 1630 AD, is also here. The same has been made visible to public every 12 years and the last time it was shown was in 2004. A fair known as Setchu is held for 2 days in the second half of June every year 0n the birthday of Guru Padmasomvoba or Loman Rimpoche.

Lamas in their national dresses arrive here from different countries, as well as tourists from all over the world. The main attraction is the colorful dances of the Lamas. It is said that, Jesus Christ spent his childhood in this Hemis Gumpha. There are arrangements for boarding and lodging for pilgrims within the Hemis. A large number of child lamas are trained here.

Khardung La, Ladakh

Khardung La


We started at 12.17pm, passed South Pullu – alt.15,300’, Khardung-la, the highest motorable road in the world, alt. 18, 380’. Here, we had snowfall and much cold. Though we had tea at the military canteen but it’s warmth had no effect. We also clicked quite a few photos. Then we passed through North Pullu & reached Khardungla village, to have our lunch. Next, we proceeded to Deskit where we purchased vegetables and chicken. Leaving the cold desert on our right hand, we reached Hunder – alt. 10,370’ after crossing 127 km. at 06.45pm. There were many cottages like buildings in the hotel, where we stayed, along with beautiful flower gardens, and lots of trees of apples, apricots, potatoes and even capsicums. It’s a valley surrounded by treeless mountains on all sides. This valley is known as Nubra Valley and if you look all around you, it will seem like a view of a picture postcard. We moved around, had tea etc………dinner……… bed.

16-08-’08 : It was a bright sunny morning and most of us walked around to take pictures for future remembrances. We started after breakfast at 10.30am, went to the cold desert and saw camels with two humps. There are arrangements for riding on camels as well. En route we had lunch at an open place, besides the Bias river. We were back to Leh at 07.30pm. We also went to the Hospital to find our friend in fine mood and we also came to know about his wonderful experience. A Psychiatrist attended him and asked whether he is feeling sorry for not being able to visit the places where he had plans to go to. He replied, of course, there are reasons for that. He is 62, spent quite a lump sum to come to Ladakh, and there is almost no chance to come again - his being sick, he could not visit the places about which he has heard so much. Later on, one doctor and one nurse came to him and asked him to go. He enquired - where should I go? They said – please come along, you will come to know They all went to the helipad and boarded a helicopter, had a round trip over the surrounding areas, and they even showed him – Pangong Lake, Tsomoriri Lake and Hunder valley, and in addition, The Great Wall of China, for 45 minutes. And this trip was a part of the treatment and totally free, though we paid other hospital charges etc.

17-08-’08 : Two cars were to be attended to so, we started at 04.05pm. We went to the Spituk Gumpha - the main feature of this gumpha is that the chapel is dedicated to Goddess Tara (another form of Goddess Kali of Hindu religion), with twenty-three images of her various manifestations. Wall paintings and Thankas are also noticeable. Next we saw the Hall of Fame –
where there are pictures, short notes etc. on our brave soldiers who lost their lives during the war with Pakistan, and confiscated weapons, note-books etc. of the Pakistan Army. Momentarily we felt proud of our soldiers who fought bravely and lost their lives to retain peace for the whole country. We also visited an old clay fort – Jarowar Fort. Our friend was released today from the hospital and he was back with us.

18-08-’08 : Today, we are on our way back home. Our return route was via Dras, Kargil, Srinagar and Jammu, but as there were disturbances in those areas, we had to change our route and return by the same route by which we came to Leh. We had our reservation by train ex Jammu to Delhi, and Delhi to Howrah and was changed to Chakkibank to Delhi, and Delhi to Howrah, so that we could entrain the same train at Chakkibank. We started at 7 O’clock in the morning, again to Sindhu-darshan, then to Upshi, where we had our breakfast, then passing through Tanglang-la, Pung ground, we had our lunch at Pung village. We also crossed Sarchu and after 5km from Sarchu, our night halt was in tents in a valley, alt.13,780’, 06.25pm. There were 10 tents in a row, two rows facing each other, double-bed tents with attached bath and there are two bigger tents for Kitchen and Dining. Though it was too cold, due to cold winds, inside the tents with the flap doors fastened with zippers, it wasn't so cold. We had dinner at the dining tent and to cosy beds.

19-08-’08 : Morning was bright and full of sunshine. After breakfast, we started at 10.14am and passed Bharatpur, Surojtaal, Jingjing-bar, Darcha, Jespa and Kelong – where we had our lunch. Finally after a journey of 222 km, we arrived at Manali at 10.45pm and we bid farewell to our three drivers, companions for the whole  trip. As usual, dinner and to bed, but it was past midnight.

20-08-’08 : We had saved two days by not going towards Kashmir. We strolled here & there in small groups and also shopped etc. In the evening, we, a small group went to Vana-Vihar, a Forest department endeavour having Garden, childrens’ park, boating in a pool etc beside river Bias near the Manali market. Dinner was on time and to bed and we had complete rest.

21-08-’08 : After breakfast, four of us hired a car and started at 08.25 am to go to the Ashrama of Bashishtho Muni, where there are hot-springs, temple of Rama. We then went to the temple of Hirhimbaa and God Ghototkoch. We passed through Kulu, where many of us purchased Kulu Shawls etc. Thereafter, we reached Monikoron, a place on one bank of river Bias, where, main temple is of Lord Shiva or Mahadev and Parvati. There is one seven storied Gurudwara, where boarding and lodging is free, but, anyone can donate any amount. There are many hot springs on both sides of river Bias. We had our lunch at the Gurudwara. We, returned to Manali at 05.10pm. Then…dinner & to bed.

22-08-’08 : We left Manali at 08.45am, and passing through Kulu, Bhuntar, Out etc. we arrived at the Chakkibank Railway station at 07.25pm,  covering a distance of 306km. Our train for Delhi started at 08.05pm.

23-08-’08 : We reached Delhi at four O’clock, got freshened up in the waiting rooms and left by Kalka Mail at 07.05am. The entire day and night was spent in discussing our experience of Ladakh.

24-08-’08 : We reached Howrah at 09.15am, took leave from each other and to our respective Homes, Sweet Homes.

Footnote – Beauty of Nature at Ladakh – I’m unable to describe, even then, just a trial --- we the residents of plains describe the sky as sky blue, but in Ladakh, on a sunny day the sky is deep blue, and now in Autumn, pure white clouds floating hither thither, resembles photos on picture post cards. Mountains are of various colors – Black, reddish, grayish, blueish and brownish and sandy etc. Rock formations are also varied viz. solid, loose, pieces as if cut by geometrical designs, stacked together etc. Red colors on the stones were found near hot springs. The climate was completely merciful to us, we had sunny days, rainy days, snowfalls – both as powder and flakes, shivering colds, less cold days etc.  Once again, I would like to mention specially about the continuous change of colors in Pangong and Tsomoriri lakes, which would be a joy forever. Waiting for the next trip ----------- Good Bye.

About Contributing Traveller: Mr. Debashis Bose is a 72 year old retired Railway employee whose hobbies include travelling & tourism, photography and amateur radio. He is a nature lover and prefers to visit little known places as opposed to big cities with the aim of enjoying nature in abundance. Before going on his regular tours with family and friends, Debashis spends time in studying different places and collecting information about them. On returning from the visit, he prepares a travelogue, with sketch map & photos, so that he can inspire others to visit these places and enjoy nature. [email protected]

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