Ladakh Diaries - A Trip to Remember

Discussion in 'Travelogues' started by Jack Dcosta, Jul 3, 2018.

  1. Jack Dcosta

    Jack Dcosta New Member

    A trip to Ladakh had been on my plans for quite some time and finally this year, this plan took shape. Itinerary that we followed for the trip was as mentioned below.

    Day 1 – By train from Bandra TT to Jammu tawi
    Day 2 – Reached Jammu tawi with 1 night stay at Jammu
    Day 3 – Jammu to Srinagar by road
    Day 3 – Small shopping at Srinagar near Dal lake& night stay
    Day 4 – Leave from Srinagar to Leh Ladakh by road

    [Above trip includes sightseeing of Srinagar – Gund - Sonamarg – Baltal – Zozila – Drass War memorial – Kargil – Lamayuru – Fotu La - Phey - Magnetic hill -Leh]

    Day 5 – Local Sightseeing in Leh City of few below places and arranging permits & getting acclimatized

    · Shanti Stupa
    · Leh Palace
    · Namgyal Monastery

    Day 6 – Leh to Nubra valley via Khardung la, Diskit Monastery, Hunder (Sand dunes)
    Day 7 – Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso and back to Leh via Chang La pass
    Day 8 – Rest/Relax with Shopping within Leh city
    Day 9 – Flight from Leh back to Mumbai
     
  2. Jack Dcosta

    Jack Dcosta New Member

    After arriving at Jammu by train, we stayed at a hotel nearby called Le Roi. It was a good hotel and our stay was comfortable. If you want to stay at Jammu, I will recommend this hotel.

    We went to inquire at the bus stand near railway station for Srinagar bus. There weren’t any and we were told that there were no JKSRTC buses to Srinagar from that particular bus stand. For a bus from Jammu to Srinagar, we would either have to get it from Main Bus stand Jammu; or else go to a place called Raghunath temple somewhere near there.

    Buses from railway station only ply to inter city like Katra, Banihal etc

    So we went to the General bus stand which was really crowded. After inquiring , we were told that during day, only shared cabs leave for Srinagar; fare of which would be around Rs. 700 to Rs. 1000 per person. Luxury buses always leave at night; making the entire travel to Srinagar a night journey for which you have to book your ticket with the private bus operators near the General bus stand.

    So on Day 3, early morning, we took those mini buses that leave from Jammu station to General bus stand, ticket of which is Rs. 20 per person. After reaching the bus stand, we inquired for Srinagar taxi and bargained to 750 per person. It was a Qualis cab. Someone came to us and said that we should go to Banihal Railway station and from there we could get a DMU to Srinagar for around Rs. 50 per person. Fare for shared taxi from Jammu to Banihal is around 400-500 per person.

    So we could either pay Rs. 750 for a shared cab all the way to Srinagar. Or we could get a shared cab for Rs. 400 - Rs. 500 till Banihal Railway Station and from there board a train for Srinagar for Rs. 50 per person.

    I wasn’t sure whether Banihal train to Srinagar was operational. Because of all the unrest that takes place here in the valley, trains often get cancelled. Hence we decided to go all the way from Jammu to Srinagar in the shared cab itself. We started from Jammu at around 9 am. The Jammu - Srinagar highway was under construction for most of it, all the way till Srinagar. There was a lot of traffic from both side for which we had to wait nearly 2 hours. You will also find multiple army convoys on this route which will also cause delay in the journey.
     
  3. Jack Dcosta

    Jack Dcosta New Member

  4. Jack Dcosta

    Jack Dcosta New Member

    By the time we got to Srinagar, the clock was already showing 6 PM. We stayed at a hotel called "Hotel De apple". It was not too far from TRC stand; and at about 10 to 15 minutes of walking distance from Dal gate. The hotel was decent enough and our stay here was comfortable. Both of the hotels I had booked in advance on MMT, because roaming around searching for a hotel upon our arrival with my dad accompanying me would have been a hassle which I wanted to avoid.

    For our stay in Srinagar and the journey to Leh, I had already booked a taxi driver by the name of Noor Mohammed. Private taxis in Srinagar are on the costlier side. Depending upon the number of travelers, the Dal Gate Taxi Union Rates can be starting from anywhere between Rs. 15k to Rs. 18k.

    Anyways, Noor was not available on the day of our arrival so he sent his brother Murtuza to pick us up who charged us around Rs. 13k to 15k. For Day 3, we stayed at Srinagar and did some shopping. On Day 4, Murtuza sent another one of their brothers, Vidayat Ali, to pick us up from the hotel at around 5 AM. He was driving a Mahindra Xylor and hence our journey to Leh started with small stops for sightseeing as per our itinerary.
     
  5. Jack Dcosta

    Jack Dcosta New Member

    At Zojila Pass


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  6. Jack Dcosta

    Jack Dcosta New Member

    We traveled all day that day and arrived at Leh at around 7 PM. The entire city was crowded with tourists and I was surprised to see so many people here. For our stay at Leh too, I had already booked our a hotel in advance. It was Hotel Nezer View Guest House which was just about OK, nothing too great about it. It was around 15 to 20 minutes of a walk from Leh market. Some roads in the Leh were under construction and due to the sewage lines it was a horrible in the air all around.

    The owner of the hotel informed us that the next day, 15th June, was going to be Eid and the permit office will be closed; or open for just half a day. This kind of was a hitch in my plans as I wanted to go to Nubra valley on 15th. I thought of changing the plans then to get the permit on 15th in first half but then getting shared cabs at last minute too was going to be a problem.

    So the hotel owner actually arranged the permits for us. We paid Rs. 1400 for 2 people for 3 days ( I guess their commission was also included). Budget trip to Ladakh now a days is really not that great an option. The hotel owner himself arranged a private taxi for us for Nubra on 16th, Pangong on 17th and then back to Leh. Amount was paid for this 3 days trip was Rs. 9600 + 9500 + 3000. We really had not many options and agreed on the same.

    So next day on 15th , we roamed around in Leh market and went to see the permit office. There were hardly any people there and the office too was closed. People there said that it will open by 10 AM but I didn't bother since we had already paid Rs. 1400 to the hotel guy for the permits. Then we inquired at taxi stand for shared taxis. The drivers said that to go to any agency like K2 travel agency if you want to travel in Ladakh on sharing basis.
     
  7. Jack Dcosta

    Jack Dcosta New Member

    Private taxis are always ready to go on sharing basis since there are more tourists coming in and less taxis. Another choice is to go to the bus stand for any tempo travelers.

    I on the other hand wanted to see the best view, so we didn't like the idea of sharing and paid that above mentioned huge amount for private taxi.

    Then I asked the hotel owner to arrange activa for me for leh sightseeing. It cost me Rs. 800 till night, 8 pm to be precise. I used it to go to Leh Palace, Shanti stupa & Namgyal Monastery; and little roaming around the market. Then I saw that the permit office was closed with no people around at 2 afternoon. Then I understood that most people go via agent for permits.

    So on 16th it was Eid and we left for Khardungla at 9.30 AM reached at around 11.30 at the top of the peak. I was shocked to see how crowded it there was. There were people, cabs and tempo travelers all around; so much that even finding a place to park proved to be a tough task. We waited nearly 15 mins up there.

    Check point before Khardung La

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  8. Jack Dcosta

    Jack Dcosta New Member

    Many people and bikers were even arguing in order to click photos in front of that huge Khardung La board. I myself just clicked one quick selfie and moved away from there. To be honest I was more excited to see all that snow all around.

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    My dad was feeling a little short so he was inhaling camphor. It was Ok though, just a little discomfort; no no major or minor health issue. The key is to sit at one place and rest until you are feelign better.

    We waited there for about 15 minutes and started on our way to Nubra valley. We continued driving all the way to Diskit Monastery and reached there at around 1 PM. We had a quick lunch there at one of the hotels and left for Hunder.

    The Driver took us to a guest house by the name of Habib guest house at 4 pm. This guest house was good. We freshened up and at around 5.30 - 6.00 PM left for sand dunes; and to see the double hump camel rides. I didn't take the ride though but they were asking for Rs. 200 - 300 - 500 depending on how long you were riding the camel.

    Even this area for camel safari was so crowded. So many tourists with so many children.


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  9. Jack Dcosta

    Jack Dcosta New Member

    After roaming around for an hour, we left for our hotel. We spent one night there at the guest house and his daily fare was inclusive of buffet style dinner and breakfast.

    Next day we left for Pangong Lake at 7.15 AM via Shyok road. It did not take too long and we arrived at the lake between 12.30 noon to 1 PM. This was again a crowded place. We took some pictures, spent some time by the lake and in another 30 minutes, started for our way back to Leh city.

    At the shooting point at Pangong, there are only restaurants and less home stays. Those who want to do night stay should go further 10 kilometers to Spangmik. If you want an even quieter place then further 10 kilometers is Marek which would be ideal; away from the crowd at shooting point.

    Even for clicking a photo with this Yak, they were asking for money.

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    If you want to click a photo with the so called "Kareena Scooter", you will have to pay Rs. 50 to Rs. 100. If the ladies wanted to put on the Saree for the picture, there was an additional charge for that also.

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  10. Jack Dcosta

    Jack Dcosta New Member

    Along the way towards Pangong Lake, you will find marmots. Anybody who will be visiting Ladakh, please don’t feed these animals. Their numbers are decreasing because of tourists feeding their own food to them; due to which these animals lose their taste of natural food like grass, leaves etc and start depending on tourist offered food and eventually die if no proper food is available. There are also boards put up & the driver also advises

    PS: The Biscuit wasn’t given by me :)


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