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Blade_runner 20th September 2017 05:33 PM

Ladakh: Mission Accomplished
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This is going to be a write up about a trip to Ladakh region we did this month. It was a beautiful experience,a confluence of different landscapes,cultures and types of roads. We did witness snow and desert , the best and the worst possible roads, sunny-rainy-snowfall in a day. It is my best travel experience till date which included meeting some of the wonderful people.
31st August 2017 : Bengaluru-Delhi-Srinagar
1st September 2017 : Srinagar-kargil
2nd September 2017 : Kargil-Leh
3rd September 2017 : Leh local
4th September 2017 : Leh-Khardung la-Sumur
5th September 2017 : Sumur-Pangong Tso
6th September 2017 : Pangong Tso-Leh
7th September 2017 : Leh (rest day)
8th September 2017 : Leh-Delhi
9th September 2017 : Delhi-Agra-Delhi
10th September2017 : Delhi-Bangalore
Here are few teaser pictures, day wise write up coming soon !! Please excuse any mistakes as this is my 1st try at travelogue.

Blade_runner 25th September 2017 08:05 PM

Re: Ladakh: Mission Accomplished
13 Attachment(s)
All the ratings I give to hotels/services are personal/group travelled and are based on the money we spent on them.
Few pointers from the trip.
* Do not plan your stay or destination untill you are at Kashmir,due to change in weather/road conditions you have to make changes
* Even if you tentatively plan,do not prebook hotels (we did the mistake and had to cancel those due to many factors like travel plans,hotels not good as stated in website etc,distance from city center)
* lot of accomodations available all over the place,many aren't listed online. You can get better and cheaper accomodation.
* Most of the dhabas did not have printed menus, check the price before ordering. We did pay 80Rs for a cup of plain maggi and 150rs for a single aloo paratha at two differnt places
* After Kargil,you will not get non-veg food at most of the places
* Take good care of your health,reduce smoking and intake of alcohol,listen to locals/your driver for a better experience
* We met 4 drivers during the trip and all of them were more than eager to show and stop at places to take pictures
* If you plan to do shopping/buy memoirs,get it when you get a chance. Leh city was closed for 2 days due to some issues.
* Eat apricot jam !!
* All the drivers were extreamly professional and were bang on time
* Carry govt ID proof-not PAN card
* UV protect sunglass and sunscreen a must
* Carry premix coffee sachets if you are a coffee lover,coffees not available at some places and cup noodles (this was the unsung hero)
* Smoking is prohibited at most places and also cigarette is not available
* Nubra to Pangong was one of the most deserted road,carry water and food with you
* Take a hotel near the market in Leh, even if the distances mentioned is 5-10 mins from market,try to avoid.The roads are uphill and walking 100 mts would take lot of effort
* Plan your trip around the full moon days- a full moon night at pangong or at Nubra would be best gift you can give yourself
* Please make some donations to the monasteries for their upkeeping, as entry is free
* Wear clothes in layers due to varied weather conditions
* If possible carry mobile car charger as battery drains out faster and most of the times you would spend travelling

Day 1:31st August 2017 : Bengaluru-Delhi-Srinagar
Returned early from office,did the lat minute packing and the wait started. Could not sleep anticipating the journey. Our flight from Bengaluru to Delhi was at 06:50 AM. Left home to airport by 03:30 AM, security and all formalities were over by 05:00 AM. Now the painful wait begins. Reached Delhi by 09:30 AM and got to know the flight from Delhi to Srinagar is delayed and we are to reach Srinagar by 04:30 PM.Called the hotel at Srinagar and conveyed the same,the hotel asked if we need a cab to which I agreeded .Finally landed at Srinagar and took a cab to the prebooked hotel. Initial plan was to keep the luggage at hotel and visit Dal lake but as the flight was delayed and we all being tired,dropped and plan. Called the taxi driver from Leh who was supposed to pick us from Srinagar. He now tells he cannot pick us from Srinagar but has arranged a cab from Srinagar to Kargil and he will pick us from Kargil. So all the cab related issues were resolved through call and the driver would pick us from hotel at 07:00 AM next morning. The dinner ordered were delicious particularly the kashmiri dum aloo.
Hotel Welcome Residency
Cleanliness/rooms/facilities: 4.5/5
Cost:2500 INR for 3 double room/day
Cab: 750 INR from airport to hotel

Day 2:1st September 2017 : Srinagar-Kargil
Woke up around 06:00 AM and the first thing was to call the driver, the driver promptly received the call and told he would be there by 07:00 AM and he was at hotel sharp at 07:00 AM. Left the hotel and made a brief stop at dal lake as it was raining,took few pictures and moved to our destination for the day "Kargil". 3 fellow travellers who were visiting Srinagar for the first time, they were not at all happy with the city or the scenery as the city was damp and cold. But their expressions changed once we climbed towards Sonmarg. What views !! I had been to Kashmir during the winters of January 2013 and 2014, but the greenery was a first time for me. Stopped at a Dhaba on the way to Sonmarg for breakfast. Stopped at Sonmarg for pictures. We encountered lot of guides who wanted us to visit the glacier in their pony but due to lack of time we polietly declined and moved towrads the infamous Zozila pass. Once we crossed Zozila pass, we encountered ice and a landslide which the BRO team cleared within 30 minutes. Stopped at Zozila war memorial, paid our homage. Opposite to the war memorial is an army camp and few of my friends wanted to take a picture with the soldier manning the gates,he politely declined and he later called us when he was joined by few of his buddies. We got to know that he declined as he was alone and could not leave the post for a second. Then we moved towards the Drass war memorial also known as Kargil war memorial. The soldier at the gate takes your details and tells you about the dos and don'ts. Another army personnel explains about the war. This place is something magical. Your heart feels with pride and eyes with tears. Salute to the brave hearts !!
Finally we reach Kargil by 03:30 PM and check in to a guest house, next morning we would be moving towards Leh with change in cab somewhere in-between.
Kargil :
Afzal guest house
Cleanliness/rooms/facilities : 4.5/5
Cost:2000 INR for 1 double room and 1 family room

Mathew 25th September 2017 09:48 PM

Re: Ladakh: Mission Accomplished

Originally Posted by Blade_runner (Post 549449)

Few pointers from the trip.
* After Kargil,you will not get non-veg food at most of the places

Congratulations Blade_runner.
Let me the first one to respond to this travelogue. Keep going. Post more photos.

Can you clarify the above? Why?

Blade_runner 26th September 2017 12:03 AM

Re: Ladakh: Mission Accomplished
Thank you Mathew . While at Ladakh,you may find non-veg food. Its scarce towards the interior like Nubra,Sumur, Pangong . The hotel at Sumur was ready to get chicken(frozen ones) but the chef wasn't recommending it. Even we checked few hotels around the town and non of them were serving non veg as the population is more inclined towards Buddhism, we were told.
You get eggs though [clap]

thebanik 26th September 2017 08:03 AM

Re: Ladakh: Mission Accomplished
The pictures were simply brilliant. Looks to be a very good and very hectic tour.

Blade_runner 26th September 2017 02:50 PM

Re: Ladakh: Mission Accomplished

Originally Posted by thebanik (Post 549484)
The pictures were simply brilliant. Looks to be a very good and very hectic tour.

Thank you. Yes the tour was hectic but worth every pain. Waking up at 05:00 AM every day was the most hectic part [:)]

rk0887 6th October 2017 11:14 AM

Re: Ladakh: Mission Accomplished
A very nice travelogue with amazing pictures. Ladakh is always a traveler's dream. Congratulations on completing the trip.

Blade_runner 16th November 2017 03:34 AM

Re: Ladakh: Mission Accomplished
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Day 3:2nd September 2017 : Kargil-Leh
The initial plan was to leave Kargil by 9 AM and reach Leh by evening. But the driver calls and informs that due to some bandh/festival we need leave for Leh by 6 AM. Originally the cab which was supposed to pick us for Leh was to meet us around 1 PM now he has to meet us around 10 AM, we notified this to the Leh driver. He tells us to take our sweet time and take as many stops as possible and he will be there by 11 AM . Works for us.We did as told, the car reaches the hotel at 6 AM and we start our journey towards Leh. We reached Mulbekh in an hour or so, tooks some pictures and proceeded. Stopped for breakfast and again stopped at Namik La. The best thing is the drivers were stopping at places for us to take pictures without us even asking. They wanted us to capture everything. Reached the place where we were supposed to change vehicles by 10 AM and the Leh car was there by 10:10 AM . The drivers shifted our luggages. Made payment to the Kargil Driver and bid him goodbye. Now we meet Tashi, our friend,philoshoper and guide for the next 7 days. A lovely chap, friendly but introvert. We had our formal introduction and asked him about our next plan. He told next would be Lamayuru>Alchi Monastery>Chiling(Zanshar confluence)>Magnetic hill> Gurdwara Pathar Sahib>hotel. We moved as planned and reach Leh by 03:30 PM and checked in to our prebooked hotel.
Tired after a long journey and having woke up at 4 AM we reached Leh by 04:00 PM and check in to our prebooked hotel. As stated earlier, it was a mistake I feel to prebook hotel. The driver was also confused as why did we book the hotel there. The hotel is almost a KM from Leh main bazaar and we thought it was fine, but the area was very lonely, no souls not even a single shop or restaurant nearby. To be very frank I booked this hotel as its name was Yangphel guest house thinking this to be a ladakhi owner's home stay and to experience their hospitality. But fate had other plans. We had 3 rooms booked 2 garden view and 1 mountain view. The garden view rooms were in ground floor and the mountain view room was in 1st floor. You could see the gardens and mountains from every room :) Any ways, asked the manager(referred as M,later found out he is the owner) if we can get rooms in the same floor. ok let me write our detailed conversation.
Me : Sir, can we get all the rooms on the same floor
M: No,you get what you booked
We check-in to our rooms
No power.
Me: Bhaiya when would the power come ( we needed to charge phones,cameras,use wifi)
Hotel boy : Sir , in next 1-2 hours
Me: Don't you switch on gensets
Hotel boy : It will be on for 2 hours during night and only for common areas
Me: Ok
Power comes after an hour or so. We try to get wifi, the boy gives us wifi password after asking him for almost 5-6 times and same as for Tv remote. No body was in a position to watch Tv, we only wanted the Tv just to watch news about Bangalore rains and the havoc it had created.
Me: Bhaiya, wifi password and Tv remote
Hotel Boy : gets both around 8 PM but none of them working
My friend: Kya bhaiya, power nahi rehta, wifi nahi hai Tv bhi nahi chal raha. Kuch to de do. It was kind of teasing him.
Hotel Boy : Sir, I will check regarding Wifi and Tv with owner. Will ask owner to recharge the TV.
Me : Done
After sometime manager/owner knocks at our door and we go to the lobby to talk
M: I heard you wanted to talk to me
Me: Yes,we wanted to check on the Wifi and TV issue, the boy told you will get it fixed
M: Wifi won't work and TV can't on as TV was not listed on our site as a part of room. How do you expect me to fix the Wifi when the entire region Wifi is down (it was a lie as we found out later)If you had a problem you should have approached me, why did you yell at my staff (it was a complete lie)
Me: We never yelled at anyone, we were just checking on things. Ok fine if TV wasn't a part of your package, Wifi was, get that to us. the boy would have told us the same that Wifi was down and TV wasn't part of the package, why did he make us wait for 3 hours for that. If there was an issue with we were fine, but someone should have told us.
M: We can't spoon feed you with all the info. You need to check with me and find out.
Me : I was like, wtf. ask him to tone down his voice and talk. he wasn't doing us a favour by giving room
then some more argument ...
and we left to our rooms. We had booking in the same hotel during last 2 days of our trip but cancelled those.
The guy nor his staffs were from Leh nor from Kashmir.

After some time, the taxi owner calls and asks us if he can meet us. We were fine and he comes to our hotel. He shares the plan for the following days and asks us to give us a photocopy of our govt ID proof to process the permits. We give him the originals and Rs.200 per head (don't remember the exact amount) for the permits. We ask him to take us to Leh market for dinner and he happily obiliges. Next day plan was to do a local sight seeing.

Leh :
Yangphel guest house
Cleanliness/rooms/facilities : 3.5/5,4/5,2.5/5
Food: never ordered-found it to be very costly
Cost:3600 INR for 1 double room and 1 family room per night

Day 4:3rd September 2017 : Leh Local
Got ready by 9 AM and saw Tashi waiting for us. Boarded the cab and moved towards our destinations for the day.
Shanti Stupa > hall of fame > Leh palace> Thiksey Monastery > Leh market
3 idiots school was cancelled being it a Sunday and school being closed. Tashi told us he will take us there while returning from Pangong. Returned to hotel by 7 PM.

bhvm 16th November 2017 11:37 AM

Re: Ladakh: Mission Accomplished
These are some god awesome pics of some god awesome place!
What camera was this and what settings/Tricks have you used?

Blade_runner 16th November 2017 10:50 PM

Re: Ladakh: Mission Accomplished

Originally Posted by bhvm (Post 553980)
These are some god awesome pics of some god awesome place!
What camera was this and what settings/Tricks have you used?

Thank you Bhvm [:)] Almost all the pictures were captured through iphone 7 plus in auto/default setting. Few pictures having date/time stamp were captured by Nikon S9900.

Akash1886 16th November 2017 11:02 PM

Re: Ladakh: Mission Accomplished

Originally Posted by Blade_runner (Post 554046)
Thank you

Can you share some pics of the local cuisine buddy? I always feel a travel-log is complete if it has some pics of the local food and dishes.



Blade_runner 17th November 2017 01:32 AM

Re: Ladakh: Mission Accomplished

Originally Posted by Akash1886 (Post 554051)
Can you share some pics of the local cuisine buddy? I always feel a travel-log is complete if it has some pics of the local food and dishes.



Sorry Akash . We could not try any local cuisine even though we had planned of visiting the famous german bakery and the restaurant at Leh main bazar to try the Thupka,pizza and the eclair. My wife still curses me for this [frustration] Most of the places we had the normal north Indian cuisine. Kashmiri dum aloo at Srinagar was one of the best veg dish I have ever tasted in my life.

Akash1886 17th November 2017 01:37 PM

Re: Ladakh: Mission Accomplished

Originally Posted by Blade_runner (Post 554055)
Sorry Akash . We could not try any local cuisine even though we had planned of visiting the famous german bakery and the restaurant at Leh main bazar to try the Thupka,pizza and the eclair. My wife still curses me for this Most of the places we had the normal north Indian cuisine. Kashmiri dum aloo at Srinagar was one of the best veg dish I have ever tasted in my life.

On your next trip do check out the Namkeen Tea made of the Yak Milk as well.



Blade_runner 23rd January 2018 11:40 PM

Re: Ladakh: Mission Accomplished
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Day 5:4th September 2017 : Leh- Khardung la- Sumur

This day was going to be very exciting, reason being our ascend to one of the highest motorable road to experience snow fall and leaving the hotel. So we were up and ready by 8 AM and enquired about breakfast with the hotel staff. They told it would be late as we did not order it last night and quoted 200 INR for 2 pieces of aloo paratha. Skipped those and planned of having breakfast some where on our way to Khardung la. Tashi suggested to have light breakfast and drink lots of water. Took breads and jam on the way. We were bit sceptical about taking Diamox but ended of taking it. Just before khardung la we stopped for maggi and tea. Snow fall welcomed us once we got down from the car, it was a first time experience for 3 of our friends. It was a moment to cherish. Tashi was cautioning us not to spend more than 10-15 mins at Khardung la. Any ways reached khardung la and saw it covered in fresh snow fall of almost 1-2 feet. Made a queue to take the Khardung la customary picture and moved towards north pullu. Had a wonderful lunch of steam rice, dal and cabbage curry somewhere after north pullu and reached our homestay at Sumur around 4 PM. Tashi asked us to freshen up and our plan was to experience sunset at the Sumur sand dunes. We somehow got ready and dragged ourselves. What a sight it was, sunset at a desert. With those dunes and mountains changing colours. Did i Say it was a full moon night too.
We did experience snow fall and desert on the same day. The magic of Ladakh !!
Hotel Namgyal Villa,Sumur
Cleanliness/rooms/facilities : 4.5/5,4.5/5,3/5
Food: 4/5
Cost:4050 INR for 3 double room per night

Blade_runner 27th January 2018 02:10 AM

Re: Ladakh: Mission Accomplished
5th September 2017 : Sumur-Pangong Tso
We were supposed to return to Leh and go to Pangong on the next day. But our driver checked with his contacts and told us that we can go to pangong via Shayok as the road is open. We then decided to go to pangong from Sumur and return to Leh on the next day. This was we could have an extra day with us and can take rest. The road or what ever you may call doesn't exist. Its actually a river bed and you must be a very experienced driver/rider to use this road. The other and most important thing is you won't find a single soul for distances, You should carry enough water and food items when taking this road. And God forbid in case of any emergencies you should wait for a vehicle to cross your path, there will be no phone signal available.
So after a very good breakfast, we started towards pangong. The only thing that was going on in my mind was the lake should look blue and we should see a marmot on the way. And our prayers were answered. Tashi stopped the car few KMS before pangong and asked us to wait for the Marmots to come out of their holes. The creatures were very shy. Tashi even told us not to touch them or feed them and we agreed to it. Reached Pangong around 3 PM and the photo shoot started. The lake looked like a dream. You must see it to believe it. You can spend hours and hours just sitting on the lake shore. We enquired about stay options and were told 1000 per tent per night and 1400 for the cemented accommodation. The rooms were pretty decent and were bit uphill overlooking the lake. It was a view to die for. We bargained and got 2 rooms for 2400 and bonfire was given as a freebie. The night spent at pangong was the best night during the entire trip. I learnt to play cards :)

6th September 2017 : Pangong Tso-Leh
Woke up pretty early around 7 AM and went to the canteen to get tea. Standing on a cliff overlooking the lake, sipping tea and watching the Indian Army hoisting our Nation's flag on a tall mast was the best thing I had seen till then. 7-8 Army men were pulling the ropes to hoist the flag on the mast. Any ways hot water was provided to us, got ready to move towards Leh. Here we had maggi costing 80 bucks. Stopped a place where jab tak hai jaan movie was shot. Met few Army men there and had a chit chat. Offered them few home made cookies which they politely declined but took when we insisted. They asked us if we would like to travel with them in their truck to which we said we would be late to Leh and had few places to cover. I feel i missed an opportunity. Our next destination was Chang La, 2nd highest pass after Khardungla. We again experienced snow and had super awesome coffee and maggi at the cafe there. As we could not visit the 3 idiots school earlier as it was a Sunday and as Tashi had promised, he took us there. It was completely out of our mind to visit that place. The school is really maintained well and a guide takes you around explaining about the school.
Finally reached hotel around 5 PM. This was a walk in hotel not a pre booked one. It was near the city centre. the owner was a great guy. he even offered his bike if we wanted to visit market or any other place. We took his bike and rode in turns just to fulfil our wish of riding in Leh. It was a RE 500.
7th September 2017 : Leh (rest day)
We did nothing. Just stayed in room and watched TV. Went for a stroll outside hotel.
8th September 2017 : Leh-Delhi
Our flight to Delhi was scheduled at 9 AM. Tashi could not come to drop us at the airport but had arranged for a cab. Finally left Leh with a heavy heart and a promise to come back soon. Reached Delhi and checked in to our pre booked hotel around 1 PM. The first thing to do was order a non veg proper food and sleep for some time. Evening we went to karol bagh for some shopping. As we were planning of visiting Agra the next day, I checked for cab from Delhi, the amount quoted by the hotel was 8000 roundtrip, tolls etc extra, even the other travel agents were quoting 5500-6000 for it. I knew of a travel agency based out of chandigarh, Eknoor travels, those guys had provided me cabs for my manali trip and also when my brother and his friends had visited north. His quote was reasonable that time. I called him up to check if he can arrange a cab, and he told yes and quoted 4800 including everything. So the plan was confirmed, the driver has to pick us up from hotel around 08:00 AM the next morning.
9th September 2017 : Delhi-Agra-Delhi
The driver was near our hotel by 07:00 AM and we told him we will meet him by 08 AM. So we get ready and see a PB ertiga waiting for us. Boarded the car and moved towards Agra via Taj expressway. Reached Agra by 11 AM, visited the TAj and were back to delhi by 07 PM.
10th September2017 : Delhi-Bangalore
Today myself and wife would be going back to our native, a sweet surprise would be waiting for us. Rest of the friends would be returning to Bangalore. pic of the surprise is posted at the end.

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