Route – Kargil – Mulbekh – Namik-la – Fotula – Lamayaru – Nimmo – Spituk – Leh
Yayy! it’s a Monday morning and no one has to go to work. After the wonderful trip we had been on the previous night most of us were drowsy, looking forward to a strong refreshing cup of tea which was served around 7:00am. Ashish switched ON the TV and with Katty Perry’s Roar, Pitbull in the background we started getting ready for breakfast and our drive further. Well, we were in Kargil, we had VH1 on flat screen LCD in the hotel room; you can guess how good the hotels we stayed in were! Luxury man, total economical luxury.
Okay, for the eager bunch reading this, let me tell ya what happened the previous night. Room 102 was transformed into a trance club. Thanks to Rajiv’s green LED techno torch and “Above and beyond” playing loud on the mini-speakers. As the room transformed so did we. It started as a joy ride and ended being the most thrilling laughter filled ride we could have imagined. Having dinner in that state was simply hilarious. Special mention of Govinda, dancing to his famous “Ankhiyon se goli mare” song, Rajiv couldn’t gulp a bite. He went on and on and we were ROTFL.
We had not touched Leh yet but we were already high. Some stories are better not described in detail. Let me leave the rest to your imagination!
Back to the morning, after breakfast we left Hotel Greenland around 8:30am and drove along a lake for few kms. Our first photo break of the day was around 12:00 in the elephantine mountains of Namik-la at 12198ft. To me these mountains looked like huge elephant legs. The curves and lines on them appeared to seem so. With music to please and a wonderful DJ like me
we drove further on the well-maintained tar roads.
Within an hour we were at 13479ft on the Fotula top. Was surprised to see Doordarshan’s highest broadcasting station there. Then it finally happened, behind Innova, in a pit dug deep, release of the long awaited pee-break. In the chilling cold breeze and no solid wall structure, an open barren land is the only option at this height. So when you travel, don’t you lookout for one. Just do it! 😀
Lamayuru isn’t too far from Fotula. In the next 30mins around 2:00pm we were hogging on the staple lunch of our trip – Soupy Maggi. Thinking of lunch breaks, I guess I was the only Bhukkad in the group. My liners whenever I got hungry, “Come on guys, lunch is important for our health”, “its the only source of energy for the drive”. For in between lunch breaks, I also had lots of snacks piled up in our Innova, like Hazelnut, chocolate flavored cream wafers. ofcourse for energy. 😛
After tummy full, the next stoppage on our way to Leh was going to be the popular Magnetic hill. Continuing my efforts to keep fellow travellers entertained I played songs from the 90’s. With Anukriti and Sid were asleep on the back seat, “Akele hai toh kya gum hai” worked its charm. The serene beauty of the mountains, the flowing blue water and cool breeze lightened up the mood. Before we reached Magnetic hill the pull was already in the air.
From here every landscape was beautiful. We came across such mind blowing scenic beauty, which is hard to describe in words. I tried to capture most of it through my 18-55mm lens. Alas! I do not remember the name of these plains. The road seemed limitless! We passed them around 20mins before the Magnetic hill. I did my first jump pose (months after the painful knee injury) there. With long road on either side of us and nobody within miles, Explore-X group posed too, relaxed and carefree. Further Yeti and Innova took a halt to watch the concourse of Zanksar and Indus. That was beautiful indeed!
Exactly at 4:00pm we were at Magnetic hill – “The phenomenon that defies gravity”. I was eager to visualize the magnetic effect myth. Can a mountain be magnetic? When the army truck demonstrated the trick we tried multiple angles to try and test the pull. Final conclusion, the road has slope on both sides so it’s an illusion.
After Yeti displaying its off-roading feature on the adjacent mountain, we headed to Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, 25kms before Leh. Here I got to know one more story of Guru Nanak’s valor. “The demon pushed the rock from atop “Chardi Kalan” to kill Guru Nanak dev ji who was meditating below where the Gurudwara stands now. The rock instead transformed into wax and left him unhurt. The demon learnt his lesson, accepted his evil deeds and gave up torturing the people of that region”. After a quick visit inside the Gurudwara, in next 10mins we were entering Leh.
Luckily we were upgraded to Lha-ri-sa resort
in Leh. It is a very beautifully made hotel with wooden interiors. We were awed by its setup. It was a long day with many breathtaking places. Yet it felt like a short drive. None of us were tired. So as soon as we put our bags in the room we decided to explore the Leh market, hang around and do shopping.
It was end of Day 3 and the two famous spots – Khardung-la and Pangong Lake were still waiting for us. It was only Monday, we still had the whole week to drive, explore and enjoy. If only we knew that the days ahead would pass by so quickly and we would never want to leave Ladakh.
Day 4: Drive from Leh – Nubra – 125kms – 7 hrs
Route – Leh – Southpullu – Khardung-la – Khalsar – Diskit – Hunder
Want to read how we survived low oxygen at Khardung-la? Stay tuned.. 😉