Paradise on Earth – “Leh Laddakh.”Niraj Raj
Leh – Known place yet unknown truths and self explanatory existence of unknown knowledge, unreachable heights and immeasurable potential. Readers reading this blog are advised to hold their breath, get a clean slate of thoughts and feel the fresh air of knowledge and potential a person can grow in time.
My pleasure to Welcome readers on a virtual tour of LEH with some lessons unfold. 13 Days followed with 8 Management lessons. It’s been time and hence we may state that the experiences are worth fruitful to share and spread.
Thumb rule – On bikes for whole day and with Sunset look for place to stay, was our thumb rule.
Thumbs-up – Everything is right
Thumbs down – Please stop! I need help.
Jun 9 – Day 1 (Delhi to Manali) – Four friends from Delhi started for Leh. The Itinerary was very simple and flat. Move in the direction of nose, cover a circle and come back to Delhi. So, we started. Absolutely blank yet prepared to gain as much as we could. I had to drive and remain at last due to unavailability of side mirrors which ideally should be available with bike. However, I broke the rule several times. 😉
It was a non-stop ride on bike for close to 16 hours, when we managed to reach Manali. When we reached, it was pitching dark and people from Delhi and nearby were already there blocking the entire Mall Road. We thought coming to Manaliis perhaps our journey from Delhi to Delhi :). After a long wait, we managed to get some relax at a resort situated at Rohtang Pass Road.
You can do it – Attitude to keep your head high: Driving for 16 hours and that too on motor bikes was something which we never thought of or imagined of. It’s a mind game which allows you to choose failure or success. Keeping your head high and thinking that you can do it, always gives an inner strength and gives an energy boost to accomplish the task. “You can do it” is an ultimate key reflecting self confidence. A manager is required to keep “Can Do It” attitude. Leh trek reminded us again & again and kept us alive throughout our journey.
Jun 10, 2013 – Day 2 (Manali to Sarchu – Change of Plan; stayed at ‘Sisu’) – Early morning we started from Manali for Keylong. It was pre decided that by sunset we had to reach ‘Sarchu’. This was to ensure that we keep a day buffer for the journey and absolute adherence to what we planned.
Crossing Rohtang Pas (13000 feet) was a real adventure and a real pain. Snow all around, less oxygen for lungs and hell lot of water to save us from AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) were three deadly combinations. Somehow we managed to cross Rohtang by 01:00 PM and headed towards Keylong. Reached Sisu and we noticed only one hotel in good condition. That was just noticed not considered because we were planned to reach at least Keylong by Sunset. A few kilometers ahead and we saw breath taking land slide. Tons of water on road and in couple of minutes, road was invisible. Mighty mountains are showing their colours now. We understood from one of the BRO (Border road organization) staff that fixing the road to move further would take couple of hours. So we decided to wait and watch. That was another adventure.
By 5:00 PM, there were around 30 cars parked on mid of the road with us and awaiting for a sign from BRO staff to move ahead. In mountains 5:00 PM is when the Sun stops shining and is barely a light bulb in the sky solving purpose of giving light to earth. We decided to rush back to “Sisu” village and book the only hotel as any further delay might give us troublesome night. We four friends talked and rushed back to hotel. Cracked a fare deal and stayed in hotel. Sun was then gone and only light which we could see was from hotel. Only sound we could hear was the roaring water of Chandra River. We saw all tourists whom we had left at landslide place were reaching hotel. In 30 minutes there was a huge rush and kiosk in the hotel. The hotel room which we booked was now rented in double price. Many of them had to spend their night sleeping in a common hall with zero facility and high cost. We saw each other and smiled and thanked to our proactive approach.
Be Prepared & Proactive – Sometimes intuitions do work:At Sisu we realized that a proactive approach and little preparedness based on our intuitions helped us in managing the odd situation well. Though we were delayed by a day which could be recovered, we managed to save our money, our happiness and our calm.
Jun 11, 2013 – Day 3 (Sisu to Sarchu) – We started for Sarchu and drove real fast. By the time, we crossed Keylong it was already 11:00 AM. Breath taking sights all across. Mesmerizing mountains are touching sky and four bikers are on road. We saw a mountain peak and checked map. Yes, we figured that post crossing that peak we would be reaching Sarchu where we decided to spend night in camps. We crossed Zing-Zing Bar and entered a pass named as Baralacha La.
Heavy Snow on mountains turned the seven colours in two that are Black and White. Sun was on head but its warmth was missing. By the time we crossed the pass, heavy headache was already welcomed. Medicines had no effect and it seems several hammers were screwed inside our head and were left with full key. We drove and did not stop as we needed to reach Sarchu for camping. Moreover we cannot afford to lose one more day. If can afford there were no place near-by to stay and spend the night. Of course, thumb rule was to stick to the rule. Strong determination we shown and reached Sarchu by 6:30 PM. We rented two camps and grabbed available cult in order to keep our feet warm. With the end of one more day, we learnt one more important lesson.
Do not die before it is actually over:No give up and fight back to achieve what we planned and we thought has helped us in crossing the difficult mountain roads and passes. That’s when we learnt, it is actually worth to keep ourselves alive.
Jun 12, 2013 – Day 4 (Sarchu to Leh via ‘Pang’) – Early morning, as planned we packed our luggage and started on our bikes towards our final destination LEH. According to the map, we were to cross Pang followed with Tanglang La in order to reach LEH. To reach More (Mo-ray) Plains which has a stretch of 40 Km falls and plateaus all around was our real fantasy. We witnessed beauty of nature there. Snow peaks in front, Rain which we left behind, Sun light at right and Greenery on our left built a mesmerizing view. We passed More Plains and then crossing the “Tang Lang LA” (one of the highest motor able pass of the globe) was a challenge. Somehow, we crossed Tang Lang La and that was the moment when we saw each other and we gave a victorious glance to the mountain pass. A feeling of proud and excitement ran into our bloods and we forgot our drowsiness. We reached LEH at 8:00 PM in night and rented two rooms in a guest house. As soon as we saw bed, our eyes wanted to sleep. I was moved with nature and was planning for next day view of Mountains from our Guest House.
Don’t rush to the conclusion, have patience and keep yourself Calm:On the way to Pang, I and one of my other three friends didn’t realize that we both had drove a little fast resulting other two left behind. So, we decided to wait and click some photos. This way, all four will be together again. While we were clicking panorama, some bikers came to us and said, there is an accident on the road and two bikers are badly injured. They added that they are moving to the army camp for help. I and my friend stood freeze. Thoughts were blank. I drove to the accident junction and my friend rushed to army camp for help. I tried to keep myself calm and composed. Prayed for at least a 100 times in two minutes. So nervous, and then I saw both of my friends standing by roadside and assisting a family. I reached and then got to know that accident did happen but victims were a couple whom I saw crossing us while we stopped at Pang to click photos. Unfortunate but got to learn new management lesson. Losing my patience and rushing to the conclusion created illusion which I realized later. Analyze the facts and then act.
Jun 13, 2013 – Day 5 (Stayed in Leh) – We were finally in Leh. The day was planned to take rest and collect Passes to explore areas around and inside Leh. So we approached a local tour guide and gave him required fees for passes. As discussed, he advised to collect relevant passes by evening. We thought to go for a local sightseeing. Whole day, we spent visiting Leh Fort, Local Market and Shanti Stupa. We agreed to one point that the ass breaking journey so far was worth to explore beautiful place like Leh. The day added two more learning to our experiences.
Take your time and get relaxed:It is advisable to get relaxed and give time to yourself. Your Insight and Thoughts are your greatest strength.
Respect feelings, culture and sentiments:People live in their local zone and carries different cultures and sentiments. Feelings remain same and human behaviors changes. We learnt to respect these attribute of human life cycle.
Jun 14 & Jun 15, 2013 – Day 6 & Day 7 (Leh to Nubra Valley to Leh; Crossing Khardungla Pas Alt – 18000 feet “Worlds Highest Motor able Road) – We were going to cross ‘Khardungla Pas’ on Jun 15. We did some research previous day about the difficulties and precautions while crossing Khardungla Pas (18000 feet). Khardungla Pas is world’s Highest Motor able Road located between a 40 km stretch of North Pullu and South Pullu. Roads were in extreme bad condition between the stretches. Nevertheless, we were excited and thus drove to gain victory on our fear. Lack of Oxygen and Snowfall throughout the year is two distinguished features of the Pas. At that height you cannot think of level of difficulties. However, on our bikes, we four friends started driving. By the time we crossed South Pullu, it was cloud all around and we were predicting snow fall at the Pas. Chilling wind and low temperature were then started piercing inside our cloth’s armor. Despite of full covered pack, we were helpless. We were driving real slow cause of weather and bad road. That was the time when we saw something written on the rock. It was “You are going to reach the world’s highest motor able road. Be careful. Sharp turn ahead.” We saw each other and smiled. But the smile was for few seconds only. We heard fear. Yes, a true fear which actually freezed blood inside our soul. We witnessed a family with their booked SUV going down from 18000 feet. A sudden death for sure. We gathered our strength and tried to keep our self calm. We remained silent and allowed the unfortunate incident to find its own path inside our heart and thoughts. Finally, we reached Khardungla. The glory to drive to the highest motor able road was then achieved. Post some photo shoots and a few puff of smoke along with famous “Kava”, we drove towards Nubra Valley. Drive of 2 more hours and we crossed North Pullu. We stopped at the start of valley for tea and light snack.
“I am not at all trying to explaining nature and beauty in my blog as no matter how much I try to explain, I would certainly be left with something or other. I know deep somewhere that the beauty of Leh and belongings cannot be explained or portrayed on a few piece of paper. It demands a many book to be written.”
Driving ahead was much pleasant as roads were real smooth and broad. Zero traffic and splendid view of valley was much relaxed to our eyes. Sand desert and river alongside is something which can be seen only in Nubra Valley. I may explain the valley more but here I would recommend all to go and visit the Valley yourself. Let your eyes explain the beauty in own ways. It was evening already and hence we stayed in a small village with little but personalized facilities. Next day, we returned Leh via Khardungla again. In other words we kissed the peak twice :).
Unfortunate accident, bad roads, extreme weather and many hurdles followed with beauty of nature, panorama view, and mesmerizing sights taught very amazing yet known lesson to us.
Sometimes It’s good to be silent and let things go:The whole episode was like engraved in our memories by then. Creating any noise inside ourselves will then become painful to remember. We learnt that Yes, It’s good to be silent and let things go.
Jun 16, 2013 – Day 8 (Leh to Pongong Tso to Leh (Crossing another one of the highest motor able roads “Changla Pas” Alt – 16000 feet) – It was Day 8, and we were out of our strength to go to Pongong Tso. We got to know that there might be heavy snowfall at Changla Pas and hence driving on bike was not at all advisable. Therefore we decided to book a Safari and visit Pongong Tso. This way we would be covering the trip within a day. This would recover the day loss at Sisu (Manali to Sarchu).
We started in Safari. Driver was newly married and was amazingly emotional about his new life. We learnt during our conversation that he eloped with his girl friend and married her in Leh. I must say we started with a very charming luck from Delhi. You may have understood why I am saying this 😉
Extreme green all around and by the time we reached Changla Pas heavy snowfall started. Temperature dropped to -10 degree as per locals. I and my friends have never witnesses such heavy snowfall and we find ourselves extremely lucky. Due to bad weather condition, we didn’t enjoy much at Pongong Tso. Nonetheless, memories remained with the photographs which we clicked mostly there at Pongong Tso (Freedom of being in Safari with an emotional driver). One general knowledge thing I must share here. It says that Pongong Tso is 70 Km long with a 30% and 70% share in India and China respectively. Lake shows all existing colors when exposed to Sun and is the highest manmade lake around the globe.
Anyhow, by the end of the day, we were at our guest house enjoying well grilled chicken, rice and soft chapati.
Open for feedback/suggestions:The local feedback about weather and suggestion to us to book Safari instead of visiting the mighty lake literally saved all of us from many unseen events.
Jun 17, 2013 – Day 9 – a much needed Rest Day at Leh. No learning of course. We cannot learn while we sleep. ROFL
Back to Delhi:
Jun 18, 2013 ~ Jun 21, 2013 – Day 10 to Day 13 – (Leh to Delhi via Kargil, Srinagar, Jammu) – It was time to return to Delhi. We gathered strength and headed towards Delhi via Kargil, Srinagar, and Jammu. I would prefer not to explain much here as who wants to come from Leh.
Nevertheless places to see while coming back to Delhi –
Pathar Sahib – Holy place to visit just after you are headed to Kargil
Magnetic Hills – Where cars automatically move towards North.
Moon Land – mountain peaks looks like creators on moon.
Lamayuru Monastery – Oldest monastery where it is believed that supernatural powers are treated not eliminated
Drass – A place where the temperature was reported -56 degree once
Tiger Hill – Do I need to explain this historical hill? I am sure “No”. Vande Mataram.
Jojila Pas – For me toughest pas to cross. Frequent landslides. Be careful while you are crossing this Pas.
Sonamarg – Just after dead Jojila Pas, eyes soothing beauty of nature. It is advisable that stays here for couple of hours and enjoys beauty.
Last Day of Journey (Jammu to Delhi) – Jun 21, we started from Jammu with a very heavy heart. Sun is not pleasant as it was during our complete journey to Leh. We knew that approx 800 km ride would not be easy. We decided to drive and only drive. By the time, we started it was already 9:00 AM. Our faces were dusty and needed immediate attention followed with a good face massage. We drove and reached Delhi by 4:00 AM next day. The roughness and rudeness of summer was then absolute understood by us. It was end of our splendid ride to Leh.
It has been months now, and I still remember each day and each moment. The experience of Leh trek is unforgettable…
I assume that now this blog can be concluded by saying “Amazing & Splendid Leh – I certainly miss you”.
A hope to visit Leh again, A wish to explore new lessons again, A desire to reunite again.
Expect the Unexpected: Expecting the Unexpected self-explanatory. Be prepared for worst, and be ready to cherish the success there after.
Check More PICS of LEH here – Pics at a Glance