Sunday, 25 May 2014

Chang la!!

The Chang La (el. 5,360 m or 17,688 ft) is a high mountain pass in Ladakh, India.It is the third highest motorable road in the world.The pass, guarded and maintained by the Indian Army (due its proximity to Chinese border), is covered with snow throughout the year.
The Chang La is on the route to Pangong Lake from Leh. The name literally means "Pass towards the South" or "Pass in the South" (Chang = south, La = Pass)

It is falsely claimed that the pass is named after the supposed sadhu Changla Baba, a myth propagated by the dedication of a temple at the pass to the supposed Changla Baba.
The small town of Tangste is the nearest settlement. The Changla Pass is the main gateway for the Changthang Plateau situated in the Himalayas. The nomadic tribes of the region are collectively known as the Changpa or Chang-pa.
Indian Army serves hot tea to the tourists at the tea-point!!
You cannot stay for more that 15 -20 minutes here .You might expeirnce brethlessness and  headache cause of the high altitudes. Enjoy the snow and the views of the snowcapped mountains for a while.Warm clothing with ears covered and appropriate footwear is a must here.Keep yourself well hydrated.
 Places around Chang La pass are the Pangong lake, Tso Moriri lake and Hermis Gompa. 
The road is usually open throughout the year but can be closed anytime cause of snow.
You might experience extreme cold and chilly winds here but the breathtaking views will leave you speechless.

Khardung la !!

Khardung La (Khardung Pass, la means pass in Tibetan) is a high mountain pass located in Ladakh.
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. It is maintained by the Border Roads Organisation, the pass is strategically important to India as it is used to carry supplies to the Siachen Glacier.
Local summit signs claim that its elevation is 5,602 m (18,379 ft) metres high and that it is the world's highest motor-able pass. It has been listed in Guinness World Records. But these claims are disputed by multiple modern measurements, which all agree that its true height is much nearer to the 5,359 m (17,582 ft)  and imply that there are several higher motor-able passes.

 The road is closed annually from approximately October to May due to snow and one should anticipate potential long travel delays due to traffic congestion on narrow one-lane sections, washouts, landslides and road accidents.

The road was open when we visited though we saw a lot of tourists returning as it was snowing here and they could not go further.It is important to have an experienced driver as the vehicle skids a lot and gets stuck too due to snow.

The pass has an Indian Army post and a temple. Travellers stop to take pictures with the signboard that proclaims Khardungla Pass to be the highest motorable pass in the world. The pass offers amazing view of Leh and mountains surrounding the valley.
TIPS- Altitude sickness can be an issue if you are not acclimatized to high altitudes. You need a travel permit to enter Nubra Valley.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Crown-Residency tower( Anniversary special menu )

Looking for a place to pamper someone or make someone special ;your search ends at the Crown.They have got all it takes to make someone special.

  • Cake-check,
  • Bouquet-check
  • Rooftop,check
  • Amazing food-check
  • Photograph-check

All you need to do is pick up your phone and give a call to Crown!

The menu has some mouth watering starters,main course,breads,rice and desserts.You can pick 2 starters of your choice and 2 main course from the options in the anniversary menu.
Gulaoti kebab

Veg starters
Crown has come up with a special menu called Anniversary special.They arrange everything for you at 1999 INR plus taxes.
Crown has outdoor and indoor seating.We sat outside and surprisingly it was pleasant.You get a great city view from there.
Mutton curry

Mixed veg

Paneer kalimirchi
The food was good,especially the mutton and chicken curry.The mutton was rich with flavors and had a north Indian touch to it.The chicken gravy was the typical Punjabi style.The veg was not bad either. Paneer kalimirchi had a lot of pepper in it as the name suggests.

Chicken peshawari
In the desserts they have ras malai,strawberry mousse and chocolate brownie.I liked the brownie,it was fudgy and melted in the mouth.The ras malai was good too.

All in all its a good package for 2. If you want to spend a lovely evening with that someone special.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Plan a trip to Ladakh in April

Selecting Pre-Season for your trip

We wanted to visit Ladakh since long but somehow it never got materialized. Ladakh as a tourist destination through out the year. What it offers in off-season, pre-season and peak-season is different and can cater to different themes of vacation. 

Our trip in April ( which is just a month before the start of the season) offered us breathtaking views of snow clad mountains and sub zero temperatures. Adequate clothing would get you through comfortably. Sub zero temperatures were a-first for many of us in the group and had the first-time-experience charm attached to it.

There are many advantages of travelling at this time of the year. The drive at Chang La and Khardung La is stuff from the fantasies.While the pictures in the blog would give you a hint, they do not capture the scale of the view that you would see when you are actually there!!!

Another advantage is the crowd is lesser than what you would see in the season and you would also be saving deep holes in your pockets.

In addition to the snow there are some other sight that are unique to this time of the year like the river confluence - Zanskar and Nubra. This confluence is much more apealing at this time of the year as the Zanskar is still in its pristine blue. ( It would be muddy as you get deeper into the summer)

Having said this, Ladakh deserves a visit in all the seasons. The summer would be a fantastic trip as well with its bright blue sky and lakes like Pangong in its full glory.In winters one can go for trek like chadar treks etc.

Reaching Leh

There are direct flights from Delhi to Leh everyday.If you planning a trip in June or July you might get expensive tickets but April is pre-season so we got reasonable tickets as well. All road routes may not be open at this time; especially the one from Manali to Leh are open only form May to August.
Air travel is also a good option if you have limited time in your hand. What more the view from the flight as you approach Leh is gorgeous.

View from the flight
Places to Visit

Our trip was aided by a  friend's suggestion of a good tour and travels. We did our booking a week in advance.We stayed for 6 nights.We visited the Nubra Valley (overnight stay in Hunder) , Pangong (overnight stay in Tangtse) and sights around Leh.

When you travel in Ladakh, every sight is going to demand a second look- it is that beautiful! So to say that i visited x, y z places in Ladakh is so inaccurate because you just see it all & remember it all. The journey itself so incredible that hours on the road would pass by without you noticing.

We travelled to all these places by making an overnight stays. This allowed us to travel at our own pace and enjoy the journey so much more. While we stayed in all army accommodations in Leh, Hunder and Tangste village.There are lot of hotels and home stay options available as well..

Suggestion: We suggest that you give minimum 6 nights to the look around Leh (maximum is uncapped :)). Try to not rush through a check list of places you have planned to visit. Journey on the road will take you along some breathtaking views of mountains, plains, rivers, gorges etc. Stop at these places and soak it all in. The views are unmatched in beauty. 

Preparing for the weather and altitude
The temperature in leh in April varies from -4 to 8 degrees Celsius.But the temperature drops even more if you to higher altitudes like Changla or Khardungla. 
We bought woolen inners,woolen socks,caps,jackets,gloves and sweaters.We all are wearing min 3 layers on top and 2 layers bottom clothing.Sometimes you might need more as well :P

Keep medicines like anti-emetics, cold medicines etc just in case you need them.

Word of Caution:Take it easy on the first day of your visit. Allow your body to acclimatize. The altitude and temperature have varied effect on people, you do not want to ruin your trip by not appreciating the need of your body to get used to this change. 

Our Experience
We ate most of our meals at the army mess and enjoyed them all.The food was homely and amazing.We also had a Ladakhi meal at our Guide's place.

There was so many unique experiences in our trip. The vast frozen lakes, snowfalls, scenery of overwhelming scale, sand dunes, river, snow drives the list goes on. 

If you get mesmerized by the Swiss mountains in Yash Raj movies take a trip to Ladakh at this time. If you like the scale of scenery when you see images of Grand Canyon, you should visit Ladakh. If you wish you were the only person on a edge of a mountain overlooking stunning scenery you should visit Ladakh. if you wanted to know how nature can spell-bind you with its beauty you should visit Ladakh.

This place leaves you speechless.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Pangong Lake-Ladakh

 Pangong Tso

Pangong Tso is five hours drive from Leh ( Ladakh- Jammu & Kashmir). The route passes through Chang La, the third highest motorable mountain pass (5289 m) in the world. As is the case with much of Ladakh, the route is full of enchanting vista.

You get the first sight of the lake from a distance through a narrow view between the two mountains. This is an astonishing sight and it just gets better from here.

Pangong lake is part of both China and India. in fact only a third of the area is in India. LOC runs right through the lake and it is this fact that you would need a permit to visit the lake

TIP: make sure you get your required permits, right at the start of your trip, at one go. Check with your local tour operators, taxi guys etc. about which places in your itinerary would need a permit.

We visited Pangong in month of April and got a view that you would not picture when you hear of Pangong. The lake was almost completely frozen. It was a magnificent sight with sheet of ice , paving a walkway from the banks to the towering mountains in the distance. 

 In the summers you can stay in tents near the lake. This option however is not available in winters ( till start of May) as the weather can get very harsh post sunset.

TIP: If you plan it to be a day trip then leave Leh early. The flip side to this is that you would not be able to spend too much time at the lake. on the other hand you can stop overnight at Tangste village. This will give an ample time to  enjoy the beauty of this picturesque lake.

Trip to Pangong was more than the lake itself. the drive, the views along the way and the glimpse of the local life along the way makes the experience so much more enriching. We got to see local villagers herding Pashmina goats and some other domesticated animals

One of the locals were kind enough to allow us to pick a baby goats. Some more practice is needed in holding animals !!!

The drive to the lake is magnificent. This is consistent with much of the sight you will visit in your trip to Ladakh. 

 And by the way, temperature at Pangong was -10 degree Celsius. :)