Author: Nilambari Joshi
I decided to go on a solo trip to Leh Ladakh. Solo in the sense, I was to accompany a completely unknown group of ladies on my trip. Earlier my father and now my husband has always encouraged me to embark on this journey alone. It adds a lot your personality and gives you a different perspective of life. I was to spend the Independence Day with our Soldiers at base camp in Ladakh. Here’s my diary of trip to Leh Ladakh.
Lakshya, Ladakh (Day 1 & 2 )
The flight descended into the marvellous Himalayan valley surrounded by surreal mountains. A big tricolour fluttering at Leh Airport caught my eye. My heart filled with pride as I thought of our army. visiting Leh Ladakh is possible only because of The Indian Army. Our soldiers are known for building highest motorable roads across the World”. Under Project Himank, Indian Army developed world’s highest motorable roads across the Khardung La, Tanglang La and Chang La passes in Ladakh.
While being smitten by the glory of Indian army and innumerable stories of their triumphs, it was my day 1 at a place located at 11000 ft in the mountains. We were asked to take rest completely to acclimatise.
Coincidently, it was Rakshabandhan. A festival celebrating the bond between brothers and sisters. I am the only child of my parents and do not have any siblings. It was a moment of pride when we got an opportunity to tie the rakshabandhan (which literally translate as a bond to protect) rakhi on the arms of our strong soldiers. Thank you Indian Army for this wonderful opportunity. Lastly “Our Flag doesn’t fly becoz of the wind it flies becoz of the breath of our Soldiers”…
Highest Motorable Road in the World 18380 fts) Khardungla Pass, Diksit Monastery..
On the day 3 we were getting ready for the journey of our life to the highest motorable pass in the world – Khardung La (La in Tibetan means “Mountain pass”). I couldn’t sleep in excitement earlier that night😁. The road to Khardungla is very steep but in good condition as the Border Roads Organisation (Project Himank) maintains this diligently. Khardung La is an important army base as the troops and supplies to Siachin is routed through this pass and challenging for all bike riders. Heavy wind, depleted oxygen makes life miserable at these heights creating a very hostile environment. We felt like we were on the top of the world and literally on the highest motorable road in the world!
Ladakh is also known as land of “Lamas” and their Monasteries. We visited the most serene and beautiful Diksit Monastery.
Pinnacle of the trip -Pangong Tso Lake & Independence Day celebration
Mesmerising….is the only word to describe beauty of Pangong Tso lake! The reflection of the spectacular mountain range shimmering in the ever-changing blues of the lake’s water, the serenity and tranquillity deserves a standing ovation.
Pangong Lake is the disputed territory between India and China and the LOC (Line of Control) passes through this lake. Only one third of the lake is in India and the rest lies in Tibet (controlled by China). Night stay at Pangong Retreat Camp on the shore of the lake was the best choice we made. After tea, I headed towards the lake. I was so spellbound by it, that I lost track of time. I sat there and gazed at the lake. I have never seen something so magical and beautiful.
Post dinner at 11 p.m. the generator of the camp was switched off. It was pitch dark. Countless stars adorned the night sky. The sight left me bedazzled. Leaving Pangong was a heart-wrenching experience, so much that it left me in tears. I had asked our driver what the stone towers erected in many places in Ladakh meant. He said locals put them up in prayer. And I thought why not, I left my own prayer overlooking Pangong Tso, praying that lake stays ever beautiful, ever enchanting, untouched by the destructive ways of the world.
My rendezvous with Leh Ladakh ends…
You cannot visit Ladakh just once. The pull is so strong that if you have been once, you will want to go again and again. Many ppl asked me “Why I loved Ladakh so much? It is because I feel it is that one place in the world where we can be ourselves, it is the one place where academic or professional achievements mean a zilch, it is the only place where I am far far away from the incessant ringing of the phone or the honking horns or the hawker’s cries. It is the one place where everything within your sight makes for a wonderful photograph! Let’s keep it that way! It is the most humbling experience ever.
The people of ladakh are very hospitable, Maybe because they haven’t yet been corrupted by commercialisation. There is hardly any crime in Ladakh…best thing about them is that they are content with their life and are forever smiling.
While all the materialistic possessions does give you a sense of accomplishment which we read as happiness, to me, I experienced a real spiritual happiness by visiting Ladakh!