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Ever made an impromptu travel plan? My Ladakh trip certainly was...from making last-minute plans to reading the Hanuman Chalisa for a negative covid report!
Ever made an impromptu travel plan? My Ladakh trip certainly was…from making last-minute plans to reading the Hanuman Chalisa for a negative covid report!
The second wave of COVID-19 seemed to settle down and the travel bug inside me started somersaulting. I am more of a bag-packer traveller while my husband is someone who enjoys luxury stays. I pinned him to plan a small getaway and given the weather, it had to be mountains. At least for a week or less, I could escape the heat of Delhi and the busy roads and take a nap in the arms of the mountains.
We initially planned to visit Manali, Jhibhi, Dharamshala. Even after the news came in, that tourists were invading the plane like a hungry tigress, my mind also wanted to relax. We started searching hotels and properties. Just before making the final payments, there was news on the television of a cloud burst and flood in that area. It seemed for a second that we should stick to our blankets and not plan as of now…
Two days later, my husband was still trying to satisfying his travel lust while surfing the internet. We, by chance, came across the beautiful landscapes, properties, mountains and much more.
“Can it be Ladhakh?” He uttered.
I said, “What about Papa? He won’t let us.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it.”
Inside my mind, the song, “My dil goes hmmm…” started playing!
4 days later:
1 week off (check)
Shopping (no latest one, I avoided going to the market because the bookings are non-refundable and COVID-19 test is a must).
Online shopping (I am still an old-school type and love to go to a mall or local market to waste my time on a shopping spree).
3 days to the trip: it was difficult to hide my excitement!
2 days before the trip, we called for a home sample collection for COVID-19. Those 24 hours were the worst tim until I received the report on WhatsApp.
I chanted the entire “Hanuman Chalisa” before opening the report and thankfully, it was ‘negative’ for both of us. The same day, at 4 am, we were supposed to leave the house for the airport. The baggage was still overweight, not only for me, but also for my husband.
Then, followed the comment of papa, “The less the baggage, the more the fun.”
“What about the pictures, papa? We need rememberable attire for each destination, isn’t it?”
He still wasn’t convinced, yet bid us goodbye.
The moment we were at the airport, we made the first part of the transition reels video, which I was extremely excited about. We hid one more thing at home: one of my friends was also accompanying us on the trip, as everyone would ask what she would do with a couple. My reaction to this was that we were friends!
The moment we reached there, we actually forget to make the continuation of the reel videos. We were lost in the beauty of the place.
Ladakh has been a topic of dispute between Hindustan, Pakistan and China and in past, was also a part of Tibet. Why not, it’s such a beautiful place! The local people are really happy about Ladakh becoming an independent Union territory.
When I landed there, I wanted to scream at my travel agent for lying so efficaciously that there is hardly any rain in Ladakh. Man! It rained profusely that evening. With God’s grace, it was just for an hour.
Then came our lovely taxi driver. Another realisation while on a drive with this brave guy. They drive on the flexuous roadway with utter perfection and without the fear of losing their life. Yes, you read it right. These people or anyone driving in Ladakh needs guts to drive on difficult roads,as the weather is unpredictable and the mountains are silent giants with much unpredictability.
My driver said, “Bambai ka fashion and Ladhakh ka Mausam, badalte der ni lagti (Mumbai fashion and Ladakh’s weather is unpredictable and keeps changing).” I felt the same. In a jiffy, the clouds gather above your head and in the next moment it’s all blue sky. Then, you feel like thrashing the sweater from your body.
In the first two days we were in Leh, we visited Magnetic Hill, where gravity was defied (nothing like that, it’s just a hill with this name), yet the view you have is fabulous. It’s picturesque even though there is no greenery.
We visited Pathar Sahib, the Gurudwara maintained by army people. The story behind it took us to the point opposite the gurudwara, where we were out of breath because of the altitude. The air pressure was enormous. You’ll find Nishant- Sahib flag here.
We proceeded to raft in the world’s highest rafting point, the Zanskar river. It ends at Sangam point for Indus River and the Zanskar river, merging as the lower Indus River, which flows towards Pakistan. It’s tremendously dangerous. Then Zanskar river is not that dangerous and one can easily do rafting here.
The best part about Ladakh is that it is a zero-crime city. People are genuine and you’ll not feel unsafe here. These people are preachers of Dalai Lama and follow his teachings diligently in life.
They join hands in front of God, with thumbs inside the hand, in the formation of a lotus flower. You’ll also find colourful flags everywhere and stones kept one over another, forming certain shapes as they are both, a symbol of peace and good luck and done to ask nature to be gentle on humans.
Mountains are not for experiments: Always remember no matter how adventurous you are, still, nature is always unpredictable.
This unlucky incident happened with my friend. Early in the morning, we wanted to cycle down the valley and were enjoying it, until she slipped and had bruises all over her face and hands. We crossed such giant deadly points and had a bad experience for such a petty thing.
We were taken care of by the army people; they were certainly genuine and helpful. There, at the army hospital, I saw a soldier who almost lost his leg in the landslide that happened the night before.
That was the day we reached Nubra valley, one of the most beautiful destinations. Hence, our next day sightseeing to Shayok and Turtuk, was called off.
We did not have many monastery visits. We enjoyed picturesque sights like never before. Though my husband has been to various beautiful places before, a place like Ladakh is incomparable.
You will not find Ladakh local cuisine easily. In order to make it tourist-friendly, most cuisines from all over India are available. Special cuisine is restricted to a few restaurants or it’s a mixture of both and not specifically Ladakhi.
Dog lovers will find this place amazing as the dogs are cute furry ones and would eat anything from Rajma-rice to bones. Perhaps, they will bite you too if hungry. So better love them from distance!
Ladakh people are happy in their own way and would not like the interference of outsiders even though they are always ready to help. However, questioning their way of living will not be entertained.
I was coming back from Pangong and someone in front of me threw an empty coffee cup that had me and my driver feeling furious. It genuinely hurt me that someone could litter such a beautiful place!
Image source: Still from Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani
A passionate scribbler and wishful bread earner. A working professional in an embassy and a freelancer French language trainer. A voracious reader and loves to connect readers and writers. Author of Ibiza by Geetika Kaura ( read more...
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