Ladakh Diaries Day 2

After a somewhat tiring day and slight recovery from what were signs of AMS, we decided to proceed with Day 2 of our journey. Tashi Paljor was bang on time waiting for us at the hotel lobby in his J&K registered Innova.. Non-J&K cabs are not permitted to ply within the Ladakh region. Our plan for the day was confirmed. We were planning to visit 3 monasteries and cover a few other places enroute.

We started from the hotel at around half past 7 and drove on the Leh – Srinagar highway managed by Vijayak unit of the Border Roads Organization.. Driving along side the magnificent Indus river to our left we made a quick stop at Gurdwara Pathar Saheb.. a very beautiful gurdwara about half hour away from the city of Leh. According to legend, during his sojourn in Ladakh, Guru Nanak was attacked by a demon. The demon threw a large boulder on the guru as he sat at the base of a hill meditating. However, the rock became soft like molten wax and failed to cause any harm to the Sikh guru. The demon was in for a surprise when he found the Sikh guru unscathed. Bristling with fury, the demon tried to crush Guru Nanak by kicking the boulder with all his might. To his surprise, the demon’s foot caused a deep impression in the boulder which had turned soft. Realizing that the man in front of him was no mortal soul, the demon underwent a transformation and stopped harassing the people. The boulder and the legend associated with it was forgotten with the passage of time. The boulder was discovered again during the construction of Leh-Nimoo road in 1970s. Construction work was brought to a halt by a huge boulder and despite all efforts it couldn’t be removed. Though people associated with the construction had visions asking them not to disturb the rock, army official in-charge of the project decided to blow. However, when army officials were about to blow up the boulder, lamas and locals arrived and stopped the work. The lamas told the army officials about the rock and Nanak Lama. Later, army officials, locals and lamas helped construct the gurudwara. The gurudwara is maintained today by the Indian Army. It is a tradition for vehicles to stop and pay obeisance at the temple. The roads leadin to the gurdwara is in perfect condition.

A few kilometers away is the Magnetic Hill which is alleged to have magnetic properties strong enough to pull cars but In reality, the effect is an optical illusion and there is no magnetic disturbance in the area at all. Paljor started showing off the illusion but didnt really impress us much.  After driving a few kilometers we reached the Confluence of the Indus and Zanskar river. Sections of this gorge are popular in summer with tourists making rafting trips, typically from Chiling to Nimmu. In winter when the road to Zanskar is closed by snow on the high passes, the only overland route to Padum is by walking along the frozen river, a multi-day hike that is now sold as an adventure activity called the Chadar (‘ice sheet’) Trek. We took some pictures here and proceeded further on our journey.

After another hours drive from there we reached the Likir Monastery. The roads leading up to the monastery are somewhat in a good condition. The monastery is roughly bout 52 kms from Leh and was established in 11th Century. The monastery is also a repository of old manuscripts, has a notable thangka collection and old costumes and earthen pots. Also sitting on the roof is a 23 metre (75 ft) high gilded gold statue of Maitreya (the future) Buddha which was completed in 1999.

Another half hour drive from Likir we drove further ahead on the Srinagar highway and reached the Alchi Monsatery. This monstery for a change was at the ground level and not in the hills unlike the rest of the monasteries we visited during the entire trip.. It was easy on our lungs. Alchi monsatery is also another which was established in the 11th century. The monastery complex has three major shrines: the Dukhang (Assembly hall), the Sumtseg and the Temple of Manjushri, all dating from between the early 12th and early 13th centuries. You will also find several Chortens dating as far back as the 13th century in the surrounding areas of the monastery. The pathway to the temple complex is a small lane and one would find a couple of eateries and guest houses. You would also find hawkers selling tibetian artifacts but bargaining absolutely does not work. Our other observation was the same stuff could be bought much cheaper in commerical street 😛 in Bangalore. We made a quick stop at German Bakery and sipped on some fresh Apricot juice and Lassi before heading out to Lamayuru. We made a quick stop and bought some apples on the way to the monstery at Khaltse.

Lamayuru is a monastery bout 120kms away from Leh. Its one of the oldest monasteries in Leh and is famous for the moonscape formations. Lamayuru is one of the largest and oldest gompas in Ladakh, with a population of around 150 permanent monks resident. It is situated on the road 15 km east of the Fotu La, at a height of 3,510 m. .Another problem we faced during the trip was we got stuck on the highway near Uleytokpo for about an hour due to a blast work being performed to widen the highway. Lucky for us we had our stock of edibles and also found a chai shack where we picked up a nice hot bowl of maggi. The highway from Khaltse to Lamayuru was also closed due to the blasting and road widening. We had to take a detour on an alternate road. The map has been attached below for your reference. The views on this stretch of the road were mind blowing. Words will fall short to express. It gave us a panoramic view of the Moonscape formations and the Lamayuru monastery at a distance.

We had a late lunch at Lamayuru and then started back to Leh.. The journey seemed a lil hectic since we had packed quite a lot into a single day. We made a couple of stops on the way.. Captured some lovely shots of the Basgo Palace at a distance. We still we left with about an hours jounrney and we stopped to capture a lovely rainbow.. the contrast was very vivid due to the light of the setting sun on the mountains. We reached Leh around half past six. Had a light dinner and went to bed. The Click-o-meter on my DSLR read 476 shots.

Cell Phone Coverage Alert : We used BSNL post paid.. Thats the only trustworthy service provider up in that region. I have heard Airtel works too. We had full range in Leh.. Outside of Leh.. we had the network bars at Nimmoo, Khaltse, Alchi and Lamayuru. No range on the way to these places though. Also there are pay phones available in these places but they are mostly down. BSNL also threw some Connection Errors on us but we were still able to get through after trying a few times.

Click on the Thumbnail to view a high res copy of the same.

View the detailed Itinerary Map Here.

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