With each passing day at Leh and Ladakh, It becomes exceedingly difficult to resist the temptation of just giving up the badass corporate lifestyle and move into a state of solitude and peace. Today was going to be our last day in Leh and we were to start on our journey along the Leh – Manali route the following morning.
We had a lot to accomplish this day.. a major task was shopping for my family. Of all the vacations i had done, this was one travel where i had decided i would pick something up for each of the folks back home. We started off from the hotel around 9 AM and our task was to Conquer the mighty Khardungla Pass. The highest motorable road in the world. Khardung La at 5,602 m (18,380 ft) elevation is a high mountain pass. The pass on the Ladakh Range lies north of Leh and is the gateway to the Shyok and Nubra valleys. The Siachen Glacier lies partway up the latter valley. Built in 1976, it was opened to motor vehicles in 1988 and has since seen many automobile, motorbike and mountain biking expeditions. Maintained by the Border Roads Organisation, the pass is strategically important to India as it is used to carry supplies to the Siachen Glacier.
The roads after South Pullu are in a bad condition due to the road widening activity however the traffic is well controlled. We were also surprised to several folks cycling the distance from Leh to Khardungla.. I could only wish i had that kinda stamina.. The only stamina i can boast of is the ability to stick my rear end to a desk chair for hours 😦 Anyways Cycling to Khardungla is now added to my bucket list.. some day.. very soon this shall be done 🙂
We spent bout half hour at Khardungla.. bought some sovenirs, shared some chocolates with the army jawans. Had the most terrible veg momos at the highest cafe in the world. The Chai was kinda nice though. We started back on our journey back to Leh with the breathtaking views of the Leh city at a distance and the beautiful mountain ranges.
Enroute to Leh, we made a stop at Shanti Stupa.It is a Buddhist white-domed stupa (chorten) on a hilltop in Chanspa, Leh district. It was built in 1991 by Japanese Buddhist Bhikshu Gyomyo Nakamura . The Shanti Stupa holds the relics of the Buddha at its base, enshrined by the 14th Dalai Lama himself . The stupa has become a tourist attraction not only due to its religious significance but also due to its location which provides panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. The Stupa is located bout 5 km from Leh. The prominent structure can be seen from almost anywhere within Leh.
Next stop after Shanti Stupa was the The Hall of Fame. It is a museum constructed and maintained by the Indian army in memory of the brave soldiers who lost their lives in the Indo-Pak wars. Spread over two floors, the museum showcases the work and sacrifices of our elite forces since independence. Unfortunately when we reached the place, it was closed for lunch so we decided to do a quick tour of the Spituk Monastery and Kali Mata mandir. Call it our badluck both these places were closed coz of which we could only do an external tour of the monastery and temple. The Spituk monastery overlooks the Leh Airbase. When we returned back to the Hall of Fame, the army jawan said it was closed but there were no signboards nor was it a holiday. when we enquired, he seemed irritated. Not sure why such callous behavior was being shown by him. We decided to head back to the hotel. Definitely disappointed at not being able to gain entry to the Hall of Fame.
By now the dryness in the area had taken a toll on my lip and nostrils with ocassional cracks. Bought some T-bact gel and applied to keep the bleeding for getting worse. We returned back to the hotel, had a late lunch and then headed out to the market for some shopping. Probably for the woman accompanying us, this was the most exciting part of the trip 😉 After a quiet walk in town, we stopped by several stores enquiring about pashmina and yak wool shawls.. And all of the stores quoted exhorbitant prices. We were definitely in for a shock, coz the prices were much higher than what we could find back home in Bangalore. Anyways all the window shopping had drained us a bit so decided to grab a quick bite. we went to this small hotel called Neha Chats in the market. They advertised selling dosas and jalebis.. we had to try it.. Now its impressive someone could cook dosa almost 3000kms away from home.. so we ordered for a plain dosa.. and we were served with this very nice looking but horribly sour tasting dosa. seemed like the same batter has been in use for days.. An important learning that day for us.. Never try home foods in an unknown location. Try local cuisine. I just loved the thukpa we had at Pangong. But the Dosa.. It sucked 😦 Anyways, we had a coffee which was not bad.. and we again continued with our shopping. You definitely gotta hand it to women.. They have the most patience when it comes to shopping but while taking a walk around monasteries and museums, they act as if they got ants in their pants and the itch so irritable they gotta run out soon 😉 We found this place called “Lhasa Art” in the market area and we struck quite a deal for a few pairs of yak wool shawls.. we gave up the hunt for the pashmina coz we were certain we could get a better deal in our own Namma Bengaluru Commercial street.
We shopped for a bout a few thousand bucks each and headed back to Chospa.. On the way we saw this embroidery shop which sold T Shirts with custom prints on them. Eager to pick something up for all the men back home, not to forget baby nephew .. i picked up a Tee each and were on our way back to Chospa. The night was going to be the last in Leh. The Clickometer on my DSLR read 550 shots
Cell Phone Coverage Alert : We had full range in Leh.. BSNL threw some Connection Errors on us but we were still able to get through after trying a few times. No Range enroute to Khardungla.
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