LADAKH

Ladakhi Trails: A journey through Ladakh

Ladakhi Trails A journey through Ladakh

We covered Ladakh in September last year and the top 3 things I brought back with me were: a frozen bottom from using outdoor toilets (there are no public toilets and holding it in would have resulted in my insides turning to ice), photos of extra-furry animals, and a bunch of mini prayer flags.

Since Ladakh was ushering in its winter season, the climate was wonderfully unique, with the gleaming sun and the glittering snow playing hide and seek.

This is how our trip looked:
Leh > Khardungla > Nubra Valley > Leh > Pangong Lake > Leh
We spent the first night in Leh, at a darling little place I cannot bring myself to remember the name of. It held a cosy courtyard in its center, with giant blossoming trees of juicy apples and velvety apricots. I think I went slightly ballistic as I sabotaged their fruit, trying to knock off the little devils with a walking stick I found. The owner was visibly relieved when we left.
LADAKH
LADAKH
Khardung la pass (18,380 feet)

Once we were acclimatised to the altitude (they advise complete rest for the first 24 hours), we set out for Nubra Valley, passing Khardungla on the way. Khardungla is widely considered to be the world’s highest motorable roadway, but this is debatable with some laying claim that there are roads at higher elevations in some parts of Tibet. At Khardungla, it was painfully cold and so we bolted out of the van just to click pictures in the fairy-tale snow, before huddling into the only café that the pass has to offer, for Maggi (this was before the ban was lifted, so they probably had a secret stash).

Vaishnavi at Khardung La Pass
Vaishnavi at Khardung La Pass

At this point, we had set out with one SUV and one motorbike (there were 7 people + 1 tonne of luggage). As we took turns on the bike, I reckon we were trying to cross biking in unthinkable altitudes off our bucket list, though I can’t be sure why we decided to risk losing our appendages to godforsaken frostbite. A theory I’ve developed over time is that the reduced levels of oxygen affect one’s ability to make a sound judgement with respect to transport options.
Just saying.
On the way back, we dumped the bike into a lorry, to bring back to Leh.

Vaishnavi with the camels of Nubra
Vaishnavi with the camels of Nubra

Pangong lake: the last stop

Our last stop was Pangong Lake, which I found spectacular; the waters were virgin and iridescent, and sparkled under the blazing sun. Of the 7 of us, 3 of us decided to brave the sub zero temperatures by spending the night in a tent, on the edge of the lake. I prepared by wrapping myself in 7 layers of clothing. I thought I’d done a splendid job keeping the cold at bay, until I realised that I couldn’t sleep because I’d paralysed myself into a mummy.
Pangong Lake
Pangong Lake
Of course, I found Ladakh a mystical, enchanting place. I have never seen a landscape so barren, yet so diverse. From sand dunes to snow, it’s like the whole world’s elements have been packed into its boundaries. If I could have, I’d have cut out a piece for myself and brought it back with me.
Hey Travellers!
This post has been written by Vaishnavi, a badass wanderer!
She travels like she writes – with an open heart. Do visit her blog!

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