An Ordinary Ladakhi Tale | Day 8 | Sarchu to Manali

This was a happy day for Ram as he was to get his HP bike back! So, no more Gypsy travel for him. Pooja and I were happier as any one of us sitting in the back seat could now sit like a boss! After a good breakfast of Bread-Omelette and Kadak Chai, we were on the road once again. We stopped at a Dhaba in New Bharatpur for a quick Tea break. It was still windy and the weather chilly! “A cup of Tea is all you need at times… In my opinion, it helps restore normality…at such remote places with the harsh weather, somebody saying, “take some more Tea”, is music to ears! Ram was way ahead of us…he will have to wait for us at one of the blind turns while we sip Tea here… I am reminded of these lines from City of Bones – “I…

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An Ordinary Ladakhi Tale | Day 6 & 7 | Leh to KhardungLa To Tsomoriri to Sarchu

Skerrrrttt! The car screeched to a halt and we all turned to a far corner to spot the animal that was probably annoyed by our presence. Kiang also known as the Tibetan wild ass turned it’s pretty back towards us and continued grazing the field. Native to the Tibetan Plateau, the herbivorous animal is the largest of the wild asses. We also spotted a pair of green eyes which we thought was a Fox. The Red Fox (also known as Watse in the local language) along with Tibetan Sand Fox are among the few smaller animals you can sometimes see from the road. This was the 6th day of our trip. Our daredevil meter went a notch higher when we took a sudden turn and for the next 20 minutes or so drove on the meadows. It was 11pm…we had left from Leh a little after noon. In the morning,…

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An Ordinary Ladakhi Tale | Day 5 | Pangong to Leh

Next morning, after breakfast we headed to Pangong Sarai once again. The Lake which literally means ‘high grassland lake’ is 134 kms long and extends from India to China. The Lake changes colours – from brown to green to blue, it looks like a work of fiction. The point where the last scene of 3 Idiots was shot has been completely commercialized. From 3 Idiots café to the Yellow Scooty, this place looks like a movie studio set. We did not spend much time here. One last look at the Lake and we decided to leave for Leh. This was day 5 of our trip. On our way back, while we were sipping Tea at Chang La, we spotted a fresh Avalanche – it wasn’t that big and had stopped mid-way. Treading on narrow, snow-laden and bumpy roads, we reached Leh in the night. We were staying at Dream Ladakh…

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An Ordinary Ladakhi Tale | Day 4 | Leh to Pangong

Day 4 of our trip and we were off to Pangong! It was also Mohit’s birthday – the reason why this trip was planned at the very first place! And what a way to celebrate! At an altitude of 14,270 ft… no network… no traffic… few wandering souls… under a blanket of stars! On the route to Pangong, we crossed Chang La (17,590 ft) which is the third highest motorable road in the world. The name literally means ‘Pass towards the South’ or ‘Pass in the South’. It is the main gateway for Changthang Plateau and also has the world’s highest functional research station, established by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). We stopped here for Tea and Maggi. A little farther from the pass, there were 3 Army trucks swept away and brutally crushed by an Avalanche that had hit the area few months back. Rescue efforts were…

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An Ordinary Ladakhi Tale | Day 3 | Sarchu to Leh

Day 3 of our trip was a mix of good and bad. A little after Sarchu, Ram’s Bike had an issue. The axle that holds the tyre together broke. Bantu had not kept its spare as in his lifetime he had never heard of the axle breaking off! We stopped almost all bikers to ask if they had a spare part, but unfortunately, none of them did. Few of them didn’t even know that such a part even exists. It was heartbreaking for Ram as he had to leave his Bike here and travel in Gypsy till Leh. Between Sarchu and Leh lies two remarkable stretches of land – the Gata Loops and the More Plains. It is a series of twenty-one hairpin bends that takes you to Nakeela Top. On one of the turns, you will see a pile of water bottles. The story goes like this – several…

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An Ordinary Ladakhi Tale | Day 2 | Jispa To Sarchu

Next morning, we started our day with Yoga and some basics of Kalaripayattu (the ancient martial arts). This was day 2 of our trip and we just had to cover about 86kms. We crossed Darcha, ZingZing Bar, Suraj Tal and Baralacha La to reach Sarchu. Situated at an altitude of 16,040 feet, Baralacha La is a high mountain pass in the Zanskar region. You could get a peculiar type of headache because of the altitude. And to cure it, you could either take Diamox or just have another cup of Tea and relax! 😊 Sarchu lies on the boundary of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. Also known as Sir Bhum Chun, the barren grandeur of this place is similar to the Ladakhi landscape. The weather here was cruel to the core…the people and the tents were the victims of it! After dinner, we were strolling around, talking about love,…

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An Ordinary Ladakhi Tale | Day 1 | Manali to Jispa

We left Manali a little after noon… Crossing Rohtang Pass, we entered the beautiful Lahaul and Spiti Valley. We stopped at Koksar for Tea and a plate of juicy Mutton Momos. The temperature had started to drop and we decided to add beanies and gloves to our warm clothes’ stock. We stopped at Tandi to fill-up fuel but unfortunately the petrol pump was closed. This petrol pump is the last one on the way to Leh. But we were hopeful that we will be able to get some fuel arrangement done in Jispa. We reached Jispa around 9pm. The host at Nomadic Camps welcomed us with the warmest of smiles, interesting stories and good food! The tents had all basic amenities and was comfortable. We also tasted the local alcohol made of Barley, known as Aara. As we gulped it down, we could feel ‘strong’ written all over it! I…

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An Ordinary Ladakhi Tale | Day 0 | An Intro

The Epic Route

Please don’t kill me for the title! But to be honest, all the blogs and notes that I have read that talks about people’s experiences and trips in/to Leh-Ladakh has such fancy words… This was my 3rd trip to Leh-Ladakh and I don’t think any of those big, fancy words is able to justify what one feels! So, instead of browsing through the dictionary to come up with a better and bigger word, I have decided to call that feeling as ordinary. At times, just an ordinary feeling is what you need… The way one gets up early just to take a walk around the town…to steal the morning sun rays and the ghost-town sort of a look of the valley…the first cup of Tea…the way the river dances when it pours…the way the words of a book make sense…the sparkling lakes, the majestic mountains, the tricky roads…every second acting…

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An Ordinary Ladakhi Tale | Day 9 | In Manali

Next morning, we headed to The Lazy Dog for breakfast. But surprisingly, the staff was extremely rude and we left the place but not without giving them an honest feedback of their behavior. We were back at our favourite place, Café 1947. We had to wait for 20 minutes for the café to open but it was all worth the wait! After a delightful brunch, we were back in our rooms, happy and excited to find 2 tattoo artists waiting for us! It was one of the most random decisions that we took… I think somewhere during the trip, Pooja mentioned it in the passing…we should get a tattoo done…. And a week or so later, we were staring at Ankur and Vikas from Yama Tattoos arranging their equipment in our room. It was already 3pm and we had a bus at 4:30pm…for a second, we didn’t mind missing the…

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An Ordinary Ladakhi Tale | Day 10 | Back In Delhi | Rewind

How I long to be in the hills again… the city life, the 9 to 5 ordeal, is a web of complications… How I long to be with simple, uncomplicated beings… the madness, the chaos, the competition, it gives that adrenalin rush at times – to achieve things, to do the work better – I have often heard the city dwellers call it as passion…. How I long to be in the lap of nature, staring at the mountains and sipping Tea, not many souls around… A traveler tempo passes by, honking – it reminds me of the traffic in the city, the obsession with excuses and phones…. How I long to be treading unknown paths, meeting strangers, exchanging stories…. For now, the city life seems inevitable… Until next adventure… How I long to be in the hills again with all of my secrets, my scars, my sorrows…. How I…

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