After a heavy monsoon and the quick slip of the short autumn, winter is almost knocking on the doors and now I am sharing my monsoon story of Bhandardara. Although I can’t feel the monsoon vibes anymore, I hope to bring back some monsoon memories through this post. All thanks to my procrastination, almost two seasons passed by. So with no further delay, let’s visit Bhandardara this winter to revive the lost monsoon charm.
Coming to Leh’s final episode, I feel a little heavy-hearted. I have been procrastinating on the sequel for so long and now, finally, coming to an end to the Ladakh series. This procrastination actually gave me the opportunity to relive the moments of my visit while drafting the posts and selecting the pictures. When today I am standing at the final episode I am suddenly feeling the same way as I was feeling while returning back from Leh. So, keeping aside all the sadness now I am getting back to the post. From Tso Moriri in my previous post, we are returning back to Leh via Puga and Tso Kar.
The weather Gods were not happy even the day. The morning began with the same gloomy sky as we left from Hanle to our next destination – Tso Moriri. Tso Moriri or Lake Moriri is yet another high-altitude (14835 ft) lake that lies entirely within Ladakh. This is another example of the endorheic lake fed mainly by spring and snow-melt water. There is a small settlement by the lake and the village is named Karzok. It is also the highest settlement in India. Basic accommodation facilities are available within this village.
A dreamy, moonlit night led to a very gloomy, chilly morning with drizzle. In such unpleasant weather, we bid farewell to Pangong Tso to head toward our next destination, Hanle (14763 ft). Hanle or Anle (known locally) is a small village known as star gazer’s paradise. The high altitude, crystal clear, very dark night sky attributes to this title. And we were heading to this destination for the same reason – to experience the night sky with stars twinkling bright and the planets glowing in all their might.
Travelling southeast we move towards the hyper-popular Pangon Tso, after our trip to the green Turtuk. I used the term hyper-popular because of the extreme popularity that the lake gained in recent years. Its popularity can be credited to its exceptional beauty, the Bollywood film ‘Three Idiots’ that featured the lake and lastly the social media posts that frequently show the lake as a background or as is. Anyone travelling to Ladakh may skip other places but will never miss visiting Pangong lake. So let’s explore this mind-blowing high altitude (13,862 ft) lake.
The morning came after a well-spent night in the cold desert of Nubra. The bright warm sunlight brought hope and happiness around. The birds were chirping, the flowers were gently waving, and the barren mountains around were keeping a watchful eye on everything below. Serenity and peace prevailed in every corner but we could not stay, we had to move on for the day. We have to explore further north and reach where the Indian territory ends.
Leaving behind Leh for the next few days we ventured North towards the once famed highest motorable road – the Khardung La Pass (17,582 ft). With a lot of excitement and the Inner Line Permit handy we began our journey in a rented car with a local expert driver also leaving behind the bike that was our companion for the days in Leh. After an initial check of the permits, our fast ascend began winding through the mountains to reach the Khardung La. This pass connects the Indus river valley and the Shyok river valley and forms the gateway to Nubra Valley.
On this 75th Indian Independence Day, I could not find a better way to express my gratitude and pay tribute to all the freedom fighters who brought us this day and to the valiant soldiers of India who risk their lives defending our nation to keep our flag unfurled. Breaking the sequence of the series of my blog posts on Ladakh, today I share my emotional experience of visiting the Rezang La war memorial in Chushul. This is where the 120 heroes of the Charlie Company of the 13 Kumaon led by Major Shaitan Singh fought a fierce high-altitude battle against the marauding PLA troops to save the Chushul garrison in 1962 Sino-India war.
There was an adrenaline rush after the previous day’s adventure and we were still on a high eager to scour the day’s itinerary. Today’s circuit did not cover much distance, and Hemis Gompa was the farthest point of it. We were brimming with confidence after the successful completion of our first long-distance high-altitude day trip on the bike. With great expectations and excitement, we began our third day of touring in Ladakh.
A day of complete rest, followed by a day of relaxed sightseeing, we were now confident enough about our health in this high-altitude terrain. So we dared to travel a little far for our second day of touring in Ladakh. Sticking to our itinerary we started for the Lamayuru circuit. Lamayuru (11515 ft) is located on the Leh-Srinagar highway at a distance of more than 100 Km from Leh. Lamayuru or Lamayouro is known for the Lamayuru monastery situated on the slope of the hill overlooking the beautiful green village within some alien landscape.