It is but human nature to nurture dreams. I had this one from almost 2 years. The dream to wander in the high, cold deserts of Ladakh. The dream finally turned into a reality when I started firmly to plan for this trip with my trusted travel people at Panache. After a few rounds of discussions on travel and location options, the plan was set and all necessary bookings done by April.
We got to Delhi by air from Bangalore in an early morning flight. We had for ourselves, a day to spend at Delhi. We stayed at a hotel close to the airport, for we had an early morning flight to catch the next day.
We did a bit of exploring Delhi making good use of the Delhi Metro and haggling with auto-rickshaws in between. In the blistering heat of ~40 deg C, we managed to take a peek of Qutub Minar, Jantar Mantar and went to the Karol Bagh markets in the evening to look at the old Delhi scene and to relish some fantastic Delhi chats. We retired to our room after a functional dinner.
I figured I was not really prepared mentally for Delhi. I started from Bangalore, with a mindset to visit Ladakh - the pictures I'd seen, the stories I'd heard, the images my imagination had created in my head. Delhi was just stark in contrast to all those. That would have needed a very different kind of mental preparedness.
The next day, we woke up early, got ready and headed for the Delhi airport. Even at 6:00 AM, the airport was jam packed with travelers. We got to our gate at 8:00 AM and the flight was at 8:40 AM. However, there was a delay and the ETD was announced to be 9:40 AM. We waited uneasily at the airport, not wanting to miss even a minute of time that we could spend at Ladakh! Eventually we boarded the flight. The cabin crew even finished demonstrating safety procedures. But, no sign of the flight taking off yet. On enquiry, we were told that the weather in Leh is bad and we could take off only once we get clearance from Leh traffic control. Sigh! More uneasy moments. We took off from Delhi only at 11:45 AM.
After having experienced unexpected delays, being in a rather irritated state of mind, what took me away from all those feelings and immediately made me feel excited was the look outside my flight seat window, as we started descending into Leh. We were cruising at 35000 feet, and could only see clouds down below us and nothing but blue skies and bright sun for view. Once we starting descending, as layers and layers of clouds went past above us, we are suddenly in view of mighty mountains all around us! Its exciting and terrifying at the same time! Slowly, the white snow clad terrain turns brown and barren. The mountains seem much more rough and rugged than the ones covered in layers of powdery snow!
We landed at the tiny Kushok Bakula Rinpoche Airport at Leh.There was a person from our hotel to pick us up from the airport and soon we checked into our hotel Royal Palace.
To be continued...
To be continued...