Tag Archives: Jammu and Kashmir

Traversing through Chang La pass

One of the most amazing destinations in Ladakh is the Pangong Tso Lake. The beauty of this huge multi-colored lake is that 30 percent of the lake is in India while the rest of the seventy percent is layered in China across the border that stretches from there. On our way to Pangong Tso, we encounter the Chang La pass.

It is certainly an enchanting place and something that would come very close to actually riding across Khardung la pass, (the highest motorable road in the world) and Chang La is the third highest. at  5,360 m or 17,590 ft)  The name literally means “Pass towards the South” or “Pass in the South” (Chang = south, La = Pass). It is falsely claimed that the pass is named after the supposed sadhu Changla Baba, a myth propagated by the dedication of a temple at the pass to the supposed Changla Baba. If any such sadhu exists or existed, he would have been named for the pass, rather than vice versa (since the name “changla baba” means the “baba of the southern pass”. The small town of Tangste is the nearest settlement. The Changla Pass is the main gateway for the Changthang Plateau situated in the Himalayas. The nomadic tribes of the region are collectively known as the Changpa or Chang-pa.

Pangong Tso, Ladakh, Leh, Jammu and Kashmir, India, travel, himalayas

Mountains on our road towards Pangong Tso

Snow covered mountains and greenery at the same time

Snow covered mountains and greenery at the same time

A frozen pond...

A frozen pond…

As we come close to Chang La

As we come close to Chang La

The Frozen Mountains of Chang La

The Frozen Mountains of Chang La

Chang La Pass

Chang La Pass

Leh Ladakh – Pride of India

Every traveler has a different story of Ladakh! Every traveler has a vision that is different from others, when he is in Ladakh. Every traveler has an experience of his own when he is in  Ladakh! Ladakh, the most enchanting destination in India for world & Indian travelers was on my list for a long time. Yes, I knew that there was a hype about this place and it had its own set of expectations. When I decided that this is the year that I’d go ahead and fulfill my dream of being in this land of the lost bring my sojourns from an experience that I, like any other traveler would have  a different story, a different vision and a different experience to enchant others with, little did I know that all the hype that surrounded Ladakh, was certainly something that we lived up to!

One keeps wondering what’s so different about this beautiful place and why it’s called the Pride of India! Well there are many stories to it and certainly the ever so different and huge landscapes of various geographical terrains are a testament to it. But what’s so different from this place is the amazing culture and the most diverse and the most beautiful landscape it has to offer. Such that many who have traveled the world would find it a notch above their experiences. Add to it, the Himalayan terrain being infamous for its harsh and cold weather when the landscapes are inaccessible to the common people. There’s something mystic about the place especially with its lineage of Buddhism, its tibetian history and most importantly the nomadic culture that most people live by. A perfect destination for a wanderer, a nomad and many a travelers, Ladakh has its own sense of attachment, a bond that builds around various kinds of people.

We started our journey by flying into Leh directly from Mumbai… Yeah, we flew in, unlike most folks who generally do a ride / drive from either Manali or Srinagar mostly… Maybe that’s one thing that’ll be on my list for the next time around… But yeah, usually when you fly in, one day just goes into acclimatization, which could be a good thing in a way… It was a 10 day trip, so we did have a lot of buffer time for ourselves. So yeah, it was good in a way.. And those 10 days were certainly quite enchanting and our journey was certainly something we’d cherish for quite some time. This is how our journey went and here’s a little bit of a photo essay that tells you all

A view of Leh, Ladakh while flying down...

A view of Leh, Ladakh while flying down…

A picture of Leh palace clicked from a restaurant

A picture of Leh palace clicked from a restaurant

We went to this rooftop restaurant as soon as we freshened up in the hotel room. This was the first view of something really enchanting in Leh, Ladakh and it had to be clicked!

A small prayer bell near our hotel room

A small prayer bell near our hotel room

Sangam - Confluence of Indus and Zanskar Rivers…

Sangam – Confluence of Indus and Zanskar Rivers…

The next day was reserved for local sight seeing… Our first destination on that trip was this place where we saw a confluence of Indus and Zanskar river.

Alchi Gompa - The oldest monastery in Ladakh

Alchi Gompa – The oldest monastery in Ladakh

Scenic Landscapes of Ladakh

Scenic Landscapes of Ladakh

The Indus Valley...

The Indus Valley…

Shey Palace

Shey Palace

Shanti Stupa

Shanti Stupa

Tso Moriri Lake

Tso Moriri Lake

Our next day visit was to the Tso Moriri, or Lake Moriri. They had told us that there was a landslide in the Pangong Tso area and that the route to that lake had closed down. So we were recommended this place and it took us an entire day to reach there and we stayed there overnight… But truly, it was worth it. Tsomoriri or Lake Moriri in the Changthang area, is a High Altitude Lake (HAL) with an altitude of 4,595 m (15,075 ft) in Ladakh, India and is the largest of the High Altitude Lakes in the Trans-Himalayan biogeographic region, entirely within India. It is hemmed between Ladakh in the North and Tibet in the east and Zanskar in the west; the Changthang plateau is the geographical setting with snow peaks that provides the source of water for the Lake. (Wikipedia)

Bullet to Khardung la

Bullet to Khardung la

And of course, what good is a visit to Ladakh, if you don’t take the ride to Khardung La… Although we didn’t do the dream ride or ride on an Enfield all the way from Delhi/Manali or Srinagar, this was the least we could do… Something to satisfy our amicable souls… 🙂

Enroute Khardung La

Enroute Khardung La

Snow capped mountains atop Khardung La

Snow capped mountains atop Khardung La

Atop Khardung La - Worlds Higest Motorable Road

Atop Khardung La – Worlds Higest Motorable Road

Nubra Valley

Nubra Valley

Entrance to the Disket Temple

Entrance to the Disket Temple

Scenic Nubra Landscape

Scenic Nubra Landscape

Ancient Ladakhi stone with inscriptions

Ancient Ladakhi stone with inscriptions

Statue of the Future Buddha

Statue of the Future Buddha

Pangong Tso Lake

Pangong Tso Lake

Bishal Singh – Pride of India!

Indian Army, Pakistan, India Pakistan, Kargil, Border Military, Armed Forces, Border, Air Force

Bishal Singh

It was my first trip ever to Darjeeling. One of the best hillstations of the country, no wonder it’s called ‘The Queen of Hillstations’ After a tiring 36 hours of train ride in one of the worst trains that I ever sat into, my this journey was certainly one of the worst ever if you consider the quality of the travel, the amount of time spent in the train and the worst toilet arrangements. Started from Old Delhi, possibly one of the stinkiest stations in our country to the North East of India towards New Jalpaiguri. Sad to say that, but Old Delhi station did need improvement and has been for ages. To add to that, I was sitting in Mahananda Express. Before I boarded, my fellow passengers who welecomed me with a grin, looking at my backpack and fancying me for a ‘so called adventure traveler’ had already warned me cheekily that this train will reach NJP next year. A couple of them were regular travelers.

But I told them smilingly at that time that it doesn’t matter as long as I reach the destination… And after all I always keep telling everyone now don’t I, ‘It’s all about the journey and not the destination.’ So yes, they were right, being regular travelers and I was wrong this time around… I did more than a few times think about the destination and when we possibly would reach there… Frustrated at times, toilets didn’t have water, food wasn’t that good, a lot of time was spent sitting on top reading or just lazying around…

After arduous and laborious journey of 36 hours, we managed to reach, but we reached at midnight. Which meant, the hopes of the jeep that we had to take from New Jalpaiguri to go to Darjeeling was as thin as ray of light… Maybe even slimmer. So a few of us decided to head to a lodge, split the cost and move next day…

While we didn’t enjoy one bit of our journey and a couple of them were cribbing about the whole problem we went through, there wasn’t much we could do. All we did was enjoy the dinner, which by the way was a saving grace. ‘All you can eat’ for a paltry 40 bucks per plate… We were so impressed that the next day, when we decide to set for Darjeeling we had breakfast there again, though we were disappointed that breakfast wasn’t eat all you can. After all, every day isn’t a Sunday and of course, they also need to do business to serve people like us.

Anyways, now comes the most interesting part of the story. After all the trouble we had gone through I decided to take a jeep to Darjeeling while the fellow passengers headed in another direction taking a bus. I was waiting in the Jeep when I met this lean and atheltic guy. Wearing an olive green, track suit jacket on top of khaki pants he wore green spotted military canvas streakers.. Looking at his outfit I could immediately figure out that he most certainly was from the Army. Yes a lot of times, there are people who wear such outfits or caps for décor, but looking at his spic and span outfit and the way he carried himself, my mind was sure that he was a defense personnel.

While we both waited for the driver to get in more people in the jeep, I started talking to him. He introduced himself to me with a smile on his face. Very down to earth and most certainly looked like someone who was content with his life. He told me his name, Bishal Singh, from Section 2 IC of the Indian Army. He said that with a hint of pride gleaming in his eyes.

“Aap kahaan posted ho?,” Where are you posted I asked him, trying to find out

“Kargil, No Man’s Land near the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir” he said.  One of the dangerous terrains, facing war threats day in and day out. He lived life by the minute, hour and days…

“Now I’m on a leave, going to meet my family in Darjeeling.”

“Nice.” I said with a smile. It must always be a great feeling for soldiers to get such leaves. He had taken a leave after two years and it showed with the smile he had on his face.

“I can’t imagine how difficult it would be.” I said in Hindi…

He just smiled.

Many of you might have seen the ‘Shiachen glacier’ in a national anthem played in one of the theatres in the country. Yes, the Bharatabala productions of national anthem that brings goosebumps to your entire body. Bishal, told me that he was posted there a few years back. He told me about the stories of how they just have to patrol for a few hours, cook their own food, exercise in that biting cold, cook for others, do rounds of the entire area and scout for any dangers if emminent. He also shared with me how hard it is to even find anyone to talk to. How hard it is to even breathe, due to the freezing below 0 degrees centigrades. But now, he was happy that he got time off to visit his parents and his brother in Darjeeling. At the end of the conversation, everything just made sense to me. The problems that we faced were like a miniscule drop of water from the very ice that surrounded his tents for more than 6 months. Suddenly it all made sense to me. I was awe inspired by the amount of overwhelming sense of appreciation I had now for life.

Here I was cribbing about a 36 hour journey and the pitfalls of not having water to clean myself while there was the Pride of the nation, who took great pains to protect us from those very militants who made a difference to my breath and my life… I truly Salute the Soldier who makes our lives worth living each and every moment of the day! Jai Hind! What do you think?