Tuesday, 6 September 2011

If pictures tell a thousand words, then these tell a short story

The Laddakh Story Slideshow: Sutapa’s trip to Leh,

When a friend called one evening to ask if I would accompany her to a trip to Laddakh, I knew that this could very well be my only chance and before I knew I had already said Yes to her.

For the uninitiated, Ladakh is the highest plateau of the Indian state of Kashmir with much of it being over 3,000 m (9,800 ft). It spans the Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges and the upper Indus River valley. It is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and culture. It is sometimes called "Little Tibet" as it has been strongly influenced by Tibetan culture.

The largest town in Ladakh is Leh. It is one of the few remaining abodes of Buddhism in South Asia. Leh has a cold desert climate with long, harsh winters from October to early March, with minimum temperatures well below freezing for most of the winter. The weather in the remaining months is generally fine and warm during the day. (Source:wikipedia)

Surprisingly though, the thin air makes the heat of the sun even more intense than at lower altitudes; it is said that only in Ladakh can a man sitting in the sun with his feet in the shade suffer from sunstroke and frostbite at the same time!

The highlights of the trip were Khardung La(pass), Chang La and Pangong Tso(lake).

Khardung La at a height of 18380ft above sea level is the highest mountain pass in the world and Chang La is the third highest. They are both all round the year pass.

All through the trip, we were greeted by terrains of diverse nature. A surreal panorama unfolded itself for the next 6 days as we drove round the mountains. Some were snow-clad; appeared to be powdered liberally by The Great Hand above, some wore desert-like look, some looked carved out from a BIG boulder resembling the Grand Canyon in the US. The changing landscape did enough to change the landscape of my mind and heart. The precipices and cornices of the snow were a delight to watch. Photography became a passion and we went trigger-happy. A word of caution though: brace yourself for some chilling temperatures by carrying some warm clothes and do take deep breaths whenever possible. Drinking lot of water is not an ill-advice either.

At Khardungla and Chang La, I was shaken, frost bitten and altitude-sick. A canteen that serves hot maggi in big, steel bowls is touted as the world’s highest canteen. The hot maggi managed to give us some warmth along with the tea/coffee.

Pangong Tso, which is almost on the India China border, lies some 14,500 ft above sea level. Here it is that you will be able to view the ethereal beauty of a lake, a salt water that is. A breath-taking view that captured my imagination for half an hour. A spectacular scene, never before in my life have I seen. A body of water; purple, blue, green, turquoise all the same time and changing continuously. It seemed like a painting..a masterpiece to be precise, by The One Above. Speechless, I stood gazing and soaking in the splendor for some time. Indeed, as they say Kashmir is the heaven on earth. When on a trip to Ladakh, be ready to open the windows and doors of your soul to Nature.

PS: This post comes as a result of some people asking me to share the story of Ladakh. Some also wanted to know how to get there, which isnt part of this post.


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