"Leh- A trip to heaven and back!!" Top 5 Page for this destination Leh by abi_maha

Leh Travel Guide: 227 reviews and 716 photos

Leh- A grand history and a magnificient landscape

Leh is not just another district in Jammu & kashmir, infact the one thing thats strikes you about Leh is the sheer size of the district. I haven't seen any other district in India that is this HUGE! The area itself is striking in size, with mountains that have peaks going beyond the clouds SIZE does have a say in your first impressions of Leh! At an altitude of 3500m it is hardly surprising that the Himalayan Mountains are the dominant component of the landscape of Leh, what is surprising though is the variety in the landscape!! With a 'beast' like Himalayas for a backdrop and the beauty of buddhist architecture, Leh makes for a heady combination of quietitude and magnificience that is tough to define in words. For once I feel like this is a place that has me at a loss for words!! (people who know me will vouch for how tough it is to do that to me!!)
We took a flight from Delhi to Leh, as we flew in it was awe inspiring to see that our flight was hovering just above the mountains, at 15000-18,000 ft, these Mountains made me feel like something that ought to be called 'Almighty'- I have never felt so humbled and delighted at the same time! We landed in the airport, no photography allowed in the airport. The other quirkiness about the Leh airport is on the return journey they do not allow you to bring any HAND BAGGAGE. Everything must be checked in- we were taken by surprise hence am thinking of adding that as a tip here on VT. So finally our tryst with the Himalayas had begun and we were excited! :-))

Settling in and trip to the passes & lakes

Even as we entered our Hotel in the city of Leh, our trip organizer and my dearest friend Roopa was handing out raw garlic for us to chew on. This would help negate high altitude sickness by thinning our blood. Needless to say we were all reeking of garlic stink over the next two days!! Since it was imperative to have a sound acclimatization we didn't do much the first day apart from unpack, eat and sleep. Even the short walk to a nearby restaurant was exhausting!! The air outside our hotel was very thin, so it was common for us to stop and gasp for breath on that first day. By the next day we were feeling somewhat better though the head was still a lil dizzy! We set off on a drive to Chang La Pass and Pangong Lake- that we had only seen in a movie called 3 Idiots! We left the hotel by around 7AM, stopped for breakfast after we were well out of the city and soon began the ascent to Chang La which is the 2nd highest mountain pass in India. This first ascent was the toughest since none of us were fully acclimatized yet. however we braved our way up and the free tea at the military canteen on the pass was too good to miss. It really was a welcome relief to sip on something hot and tasty after that drive. About 5 KM to the pass the roads are really rocky and that adds to the altitude sickness. We stayed for less than 20 minutes and quickly started our descent. Before long we had reached Pangong and what a sight!!! Pangong stretches across 130 kms and goes beyond the Indian borders into China. The pristine waters are a rare turquoise blue in color and the shades of blue in the water are simply mind-blowing!! The mountains that form a backdrop look like they are ablaze in the sunlight and the contrast makes for some magnificent scenery! We camped overnight here and that is an experience we will never forget!!

Final leg of our trip

From Pangong we returned to Leh and then set off to Khardungla- the highest pass in India, from where we drove to the breathtaking Nubra Valley. This stretch is a miracle of God's creation! The change in landscape cannot be described in mere words! A camera also manages to click such a 2 dimensional view that there is no way it does any justice to the size and grandeur of the place! Many a times AJ and I would be silent spectators admiring the landscape, forgetting to click any pictures. Even the ones we clicked seemed so hopelessly incompetent at capturing the sight...! Everytime you crane your neck to see the peaks, you are reminded of how small you are and probably how insignificant in nature's scheme of things. When we walked into the Diskit Monastry all our ancient lore about how people came to the HImalayas and got 'enlightened' or took to a monk's life/meditation made so much sense!! We spent half an hour in meditation without even realizing we were...the calm and quietude combined with the sheer beauty of the view makes it so easy for the mind to go blank while simply absorbing the beauty!! Phew...even trying to describe this experience is sooo tough! We got back to Leh again and then ventured on the last leg of our trip, to this wonderful place called Tsomori. After a tough drive when we reached this destination we were all thinking the same thing- are we dead and is this heaven?? While it is much smaller than Pangong, it is much more beautiful It is a High Altitude Lake and its proximity to the snow peaked mountains again makes it breathtakingly beautiful! We camped by the lake and when it was time to leave I really didn't want to...!! Even as I think of the lake I can feel the tug in my heart to journey back there....surely hope I am lucky enough to make another trip someday! 10 days had gone by- not too fast, not too slow...something about the trip that made everything seem just right! We are back in Chennai now, but for sure AJ and I are changed human beings, the Himalayas always affects you, even my trips to Himachal had done that. But this time it was different...clearly we have left a little of us behind and the Himalayas has left a lot of itself in us...life's definition has changed for us, now we live from one trip to the Himalayas waiting for the next!
For those of you who would like to read our trip report, here it is, each day of our trip is recorded as a seperate posting within this blog:

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Beauty and grandeur that can change your perspective
  • Cons:Commercialization and littering, such beauty deserves more respect!
  • In a nutshell:Changed our life!
  • Last visit to Leh: Aug 2011
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (20)

Comments (8)

  • Donna_in_India's Profile Photo
    Jul 30, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    Fantastic page & photos Abi! Will do it one day when Kasha can handle the altitude.

    • abi_maha's Profile Photo
      Jul 31, 2013 at 5:51 PM

      You absolutely must! :)

    • Jul 12, 2015 at 1:09 AM

      would have been nice if you could have written a bit about the weather and what clothes to carry. But thanks for the write up

  • Donna_in_India's Profile Photo
    Jul 30, 2013 at 4:43 PM

    Did you have to check your cameras on the way back??!!

    • abi_maha's Profile Photo
      Jul 31, 2013 at 6:41 PM

      Sheesh, TG none of that for us! :) We may be in Gangtok this Dec Donna- do you have pages on Gangtok that I can leverage?

    • Donna_in_India's Profile Photo
      Aug 1, 2013 at 2:26 AM

      No, unfortunately never did more than the hotel review and some photos. One of these days I'll finish.... :-)

  • TrendsetterME's Profile Photo
    Mar 5, 2012 at 10:47 PM

    The photos are amazing and also the reviews very helpful, keep on postin' .... Happy Travels .... :)

  • aadil's Profile Photo
    Jan 17, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    Lovely opening picture of the mountains with the sun shining on them. One of my favourite places to visit in India!!! Missed out on Tso Moriri last time but will definitely make it there next time. Also wish I can see some snow leopards in the wild!!! Wishful thinking since I may not be able to make it at the right time and place for that!!! ;-)

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Oct 10, 2011 at 8:20 PM

    Excellent page with stunning photo's, I can see why you would want to return!

  • goutammitra's Profile Photo
    Oct 3, 2011 at 6:37 AM

    Wow, wow!!!!! It is just your most beautiful page with most beautiful pictures!!! I am sure you and Aravind just freaked out at Ladakh as I freaked out here on Durga Puja Saptami evening. I think, I read each and every word ! You write very very beautiful English with very command on the language! Now, when again I could not make it to Bangkok and Siem Reap, I am considering Ladakh now, it's due now. The last time I visited was in Oct'1977, as a student on trekking trip. It now looks more beautiful !!!!

  • iblatt's Profile Photo
    Sep 30, 2011 at 1:32 PM

    Beautiful places, seems like you had a great trip! Keep writing these nice tips!

  • mallyak's Profile Photo
    Sep 25, 2011 at 9:27 PM

    Nice pages and Photos-I thought that wild asses were only found in the Rann of Kutch.


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