Sunlight was never that clear before Air was never that thin before Water was never that clean before Snow was never that white before People was never that cordial before They call it Utopia, but I know it is Ladakh
High in the northern plateau in the rain shadow of the Himalaya, Ladakh (meaning ‘land of the passes’) located in the far northwestern India between Afghanistan, Pakistan and Chinese – Occupied Tibet has sat quietly for centuries behind a shield of impenetrable mountains. In literal sense, it is at such a high altitude that it pretty much unites with the heaven and in terms of beauty it is so scintillating that its comparisons with the heavens is certainly no lie ! Famous among travelers for its high – altitude trekking and traditional Buddhist culture, Ladakh is incredibly open and accepting to the open minded traveler. As one reaches Manali, the green valleys of Kullu welcomes one with splendid views and a lovely weather. Manali is the starting point of this journey.
Leaving Manali early morning to escape from the traffic on the road to Rohtang, this road winds up the hills with spectacular views of the Pir Panjal Mountain Ranges. As we leave behind the green areas of Manali and reach Rohtang covered in snow. Rohtang connects Lahaul and Spiti to the Kullu Valley.
Lahaul and the Chandra Valleys are dotted with glaciers on all the sides. Lovely views of Glaciers, watersfalls, snowcapped mountains and green fields. Nature is at its best here.
Signboards on this road are not to be overlooked but they can scare on and make them fall in love too. As in this case the signboard on the back says “Next Filling Station 365 KM Ahead”
Tandi is a small town but has a major importance, as its the place where the Chandra and the Bhaga rivers meet to form the Chandrabhaga or the so called Chenab River.
Road to Keylong is a bumpy ride but its worth the pain, the road takes sharp turns but beautiful views of the Lahaul Valley can be seen. The road is dotted with many monasteries and chortens. Kardang Monastery is one of them
Jispa a small village located besides the Bhaga River, and great views of the Himalayas. The small town has hotels, mountaineers hut, folk museum.
A small lake just off the highway know as deepak taal can be nice place to have lunch or just walk around.
Baralacha La is an high altitude pass that lies on this road. The pass s generally covered with snow on both the sides and its a picture perfect location to drive between the snow walls.
An emerald blue lake often catches ones eyes just below the Baralacha La, The Suraj Taal the source of Bhaga river. Suraj Taal is the 3rd highest lake in India and the 21st in the world.
Sarchu is a major halt point on the Manali Leh highway lying just below the Lachulung La. River Tsarap Chu flows through the region and has some of the most unique landscapes. Sarchu is used by serious trekkers as a starting point for Zanskar region.
The Gata Loops are 21 hairpin bends changing the altitude drastically but the sight from the top of the loops is worth the headache caused by the altitude.
Everything in Ladakh is a world record. At least when it comes to altitudes. And the Army does not want to be left behind on this. Pang has the world’s highest transit camp at 15,640 feet above sea level located between Sarchu and Leh.
Plains as the name says More Plains, are larger than life and way larger than anything one would have read in the Geography books. An endless 50 km of flat land at 15,000 ft above sea level. They are flat for miles and miles until they merge in the surrounding mountains. Camp here if one wants to witness the most dramatic yet beautiful pictures of sunset even a mobile camera can click, wonder what a SLR in the hands of an expert can do. More Plains are a major attraction for Bikers.
Gosh, are we really here ! are the words that come out of ones mind when we reach Tanglang La, the world’s second highest motorable pass.
Driving down from Tanglang La, we reach Upshi just 50 Km out of Leh. Upshi has been an important junction on the ancient trade route as it connects Tibet to Ladakh in the east.
Entering the Indus Valley as you see the ladakh range in the far horizon and some greed patches down in the valley. Yes that’s the Juley Land.
The City of Leh is dotted with houses overlooking the Tsemo Gompa perched on the hilltop. The most beautiful sight ever one can come across is the sun playing hide and seek with the clouds over the city of Leh.
“One day If I go to heaven I’ll look around and say it ain’t bad, but it ain’t LADAKH”