Home > India > On the roof of India – Ladakh

On the roof of India – Ladakh


I dreamed of going to Ladakh since I was a child. Even the sound of the word ‘Ladakh’ evokes images of monasteries, snow peaks, fabrics of geometrical designs and yaks milk. Oh and tall mountains, and hence the roof of the world. Ladakh.

All of those images must have been instilled in my head with visits to the annual All India Exhibition in Delhi where people from all Indian states are invited to display local products, customs, foods, dances etc.

Since moving to England, I have rarely visited India for tourism purposes. This time however, along with Mr W, I was adamant to see some of the hidden India and the places of my childhood dream. So, it was decided, the state of Jammu & Kashmir had to feature.

Our vehicle

From Delhi it is an easy hour and a half flight to Leh, the capital of Ladakh – the foothills of the mighty Himalayas. All the available flights leave in the small hours of the morning.

Just as the plane starts to negotiate the peaks of the Himalayas, the sun broke from the horizon and an eerie orange glow lit up the mighty snow covered peaks, which seem to be level with the plane. It was an awesome sight!

The Leh airport is just outside the city. The first thing you’ll notice is the chill. Glad to have left the heat of the monsoon behind in Delhi and within half an hour of landing, having picked up our luggage from the carousel, we got into a pre-paid taxi and arrived at our hotel shattered from having woken up so early to catch the flight. The carpet and the thick heavy duvets on the bed at our hotel helped us to fall into a deep slumber till the call of the muezzin awoke us. We had arrived in the holy month of Ramadan.

Leh, the capital of Ladakh is at 11,500 ft up in the foothills of the Himalayas surrounded by snow covered peaks even in the midst of summer. Only three roads lead out from Leh and we went out on each to explore the area.

Our accommodation at the lake

The Pangong Tso lake was our first trip, just off the Leh to Manali road. A six hour bone-rattling ride on the Royal Enfield through some of the most breathtakingly beautiful scenery brought us to this shimmering lake at more than 14,000 ft above sea level. It’s a surreal place and after the ride on the difficult roads we found ourselves is a stuation where we needed to spend the night there and lo and behold the only life we found there was a campsite with 12 gorgeous luxury tents overlooking the lake where. The views were spectacular, we were a furlong (well, a little more than one) away from the Chinese border and we decided to stay. W were given a delicious meal of simple food for dinner cooked by the resident chef.

Returning from Pangong Tso, we stopped at the third highest mountain pass and gratefully received a cup of hot chai from the Army station. It was bewildering to see snow fall on us in the month of August but we reminded ourselves of the height we stood at.

Highest motorable mountain pass in the worldAfter the trip, returning to Leh, we spent a couple of days recovering from the colds and aches of our trip before hiring a brand new Royal Enfield. Another road out of Leh is through the Nubra Valley to Diskit via Khardung La – the highest motorable mountain pass in the world. We were told this road was in a much better condition than the previous one to the lake so we looked forward to the easier ride. Unfortunately we found that 75% of the road to Khardung Village was not only unpaved but in quite a bad shape with boulders. If we thought the previous ride was bone-rattling, this was much worse. The scenery was beautiful but we turned back after three hours of riding, and rode the same way back to Leh.

The third and final road out of Leh leads to Srinagar, a 15 hour drive through the regions of Ladakh, Kargil into the beautiful Kashmir, which will be our next stop!

  1. toogreytogrind
    August 14, 2011 at 09:14

    Fantastic that you got to visit the place after so many years.

    • August 16, 2011 at 20:57

      Yes – absolutely loved Ladakh. GOing to new places in INdia is reminding me how diverse my country is!

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