Friday, July 20, 2012

Ladakh Travelogue - Part 3

... Continued from Part 2

We were to start our journey towards Nubra valley from our hotel at 10:00 am. We met our punctual driver at 10:00 am in our hotel lobby. He informed us of some blockade at K-top (that's what they call the top point of Khardung La) and we need to wait a bit since no vehicles were being let onwards from an check-post just outside Leh town. We started anyway, thinking that whenever they do start letting vehicles, we would have a bit of a head start. 

We reached the check-post outside Leh town at 10:30 am. There were several vehicles already waiting there. There was no clear news about when the vehicles would be let to proceed. A few drivers were trying to get information from other drivers who they knew were stuck at K-top. And the news was not promising. A goods truck had got stuck perpendicular to the road, blocking traffic both ways. Army personnel were trying to get the road cleared. While we waited, the landscapes around were the only solace for us and I took a few pictures here n there. We hung around, waiting, till 11:30 pm at which point, we decided that we had lost enough time that even if we were to start now, we'd get very little time to spend at Nubra valley, and that we should make alternate plans for the day. A quick chat with our travel representative and we decided to visit the Shanti Stupa, Army hall-of-fame museum, Gurudwara, Magnetic hill and Sangam of rivers Indus and Zanskar. 

Shanti Stupa was the closest to where we were and that was our first stop. A huge white-domed Buddhist stupa situated on a gentle rise, this is a very popular tourist attraction not just because of the place and its significance but also due to the fact that it provides a beautiful panoramic view of the Leh town below it. We came across a Llama who had once visited the Tibetan settlement in Bylukuppe in Karnataka and was happy to hear that we were from the same state. After clicking a few pictures, we went into the canteen for a steaming bowl of maggi and some hot tea. We thus had an early lunch.After this, we started on NH-1 towards Srinagar, west of Leh town. 

First we encounter the Army hall-of-fame museum. When  we got there, it was closed for lunch and we headed forward towards the Gurudwara. This is a gurudwara constructed in memory of Guru Nanak and is about 30kms from Leh. Again, this is situated on a small hillock and offers a very nice view of the surroundings. Strong winds are prevalent at the top. We spent a couple of minutes here and headed towards the sangam of rivers Indus and Zanskar.

The view of the confluence of the two rivers becomes visible from a road high above the valley. This is the first view point. From here, the road winds down and gets to the rivers bank also. We stopped at the view point. A clear line demarking the two rivers is visible - Indus from one side is bluish in color and Zanskar from the other side is more muddy. We could also see a few people indulging in river rafting. It was VERY windy and cold. Managing to stay out of our car for just enough time to take a few representative photos but not wanting to leave the place at the same time! We were breathless - both from the amazing view and the strong winds at high altitude!

On the way back, we stopped at the Army hall-of-fame museum. The place is packed with old photographs, interesting facts about the wars waged, operations undertaken, important gallantry award winners, etc. For anyone who loves trivia and history, this place is a must-visit.

We reached back our hotel by 4:00 pm. We decided to head towards Pangong lake the next day and visit Nubra valley the day after. For Pangong lake, we were going to have an early start - by 6:00 am. We reached our room, had and early dinner and hit the bed, after setting our alarm for 5:00 am. 

To  be continued ...