This trip was my dream trip and I had been planning it for past two yrs. The beauty with this is it goes through one of the highest passes in the world and since most of the passes are closed due to heavy snow for around 8 months. Rahul and I planned to drive (it was only during the trip I realized how difficult it would have been if rahul and I drove, not because of the constant land sliding and numerous streams flowing from mountain do damage to the serpentine mountain roads but also it need much more skill, patience, guts and a good suv) because of his involvement in a project he couldn't come. So I took this trip with another great friend of mine, Rekha. Rekha is also an avid trekker and had been to places like uttar kashi, gangotri, yamunotri etcetera. Next I armed myself with the roadmaps and tourist guide from the himachal and Kashmir websites, 3 books from Manisha and Geeta (Remains of the Day, The Road Less Traveled and In Search of Excellence) besides the wonderful inputs from Manoj my office colleague who has traveled to some of these lesser known emerging tourist destinations himself. We drew a quick planning on a discarded print-out out of our hp printer and realized that in a 16 day I may have to extricate leh out of it.
Friday 23rd August 2002
We left for ISBT (Inter State Bus Terminal) around 21:30 and took an HRTC (Himachal Roadways) bus to Shimla. The next morning we reached Shimla around 7 am. There we stayed for two days in hotel Tirupati. Shimla is one of the more popular hill station with Delhi people because of its close proximity to Delhi. It has many boarding schools and wonderful weather, in winter people go to Shimla to enjoy snow fall. On first day we went to see the local wood market also called kathbazar and than splendid hours at the famous mall road. I also met my friend Renu, who was on vacation with his wife.
26th August 2002
We vacated our roommate 9:30 and left for Sarahan which is approx 150 kms from Shimla. The driver gave us a ticket to Sarahan though his bus would go till Rampur. The bus goes through Narkanda (winter ski resort) to Rampur which is at some 117 kms from Shimla on the way one sees untamed sutlej in gull glory slicing deep gorges. We saw numerous apple gardens throughout this journey. Around 15:30 we reached Rampur bus stand. after a light lunch around 13:00 at a small dhaba( small restaurant) where bus halts for the travelers to take meal. On reaching Rampur our conductor said either we can take the same bus which will leave at 18:00 hrs for Sarahan or we could sit in a 16:30 bus to Rampur which would be more convenient. We boarded the 16:30 bus and reached Sarahan around 18:30. Sarahan is a beautiful village and the reason for us coming to this place was BhimaKaali temple. Its a very old temple and most of it is made of wood with exquisite wood work embellishing the building complex. It also offers lodging for its visitors at quite cheap rate. We got a room for Rs 120 per night.
The next day we offered prayer and took snaps of the temple complex. One good thing we liked in the temple premises was a huge cauldron used for cooking meal in the festive season, there was also one small museum displaying various artifacts. There was one stairway which goes into darkness and was closed and we were told that animals for sacrifices were pushed into that dungeon. Not many people know that Sarahan also has a small zoo. The way to this zoo is not obvious until you ask the local children playing in the stadium on the way. There is a small zoo also at Sarahan and the way to it lets you feel that you are walking in some old English countryside. The way to zoo is not obvious and the first time we reached there we couldnt locate it and than it was light drizzling and I realized that I was also not carrying my camera in the bag the place was so beautiful that we immediately decided that we are going to stay one more day here and come with camera. We went to the guest house to take a nap by the time we woke up we realized that it was around 17:30 My digital watch had some problem that if I tried to use the backlit the time got reset. There we met some 5-6 wonderful school kids. Obviously bunking their class and having a good time playing in the stadium. I have come to realize that the quickest way to make people your friends is to ask for posing a photograph with you. In no time we had made friends with them and they showed and accompanied to zoo, explaining about the different species of birds and animals. We did see the national bird of Himachal Pradesh, Monal and Tashi a mountain goat in that zoo ensconced in that verdant hill. Than we moved to the helipad through a short cut way from the stadium wall. I been playing football for some time and feeling quite fit so I had a friendly 100m sprint with those kids. I was 4th. Dont ask me how many were running. It was now 15:30 and we were feeling hungry. They bought us many apples for us to savor. It was the first time I had ever eaten an apple plucked right at that time in an orchard. No need to say that were scrumptious. Their school time was going to end soon and we parted and exchanged addresses. The next we returned to hotel and went to sleep cherishing the wonderful day we had.
We manage to catch the bus to Jheuri around 10 in the morning and reached there by 11: am There we had our breakfast and took the bus to Karcham. On route to karcham I befriended Sheri who was involved in a dam project at Kuppa which is at 4kms from Sangla. Sheri was working in Volvo trucks and was there for past 9 months imparting training to the Jai Prakash industries(who were building dame) workers to fix the problems on their own for maintenance of trucks. He suggested that we should stay at hotel Mount Kailash which offers a panoramic view of the valley and is reasonably priced. One gets a breathtaking view while going from Karcham to Sangla. The roads are very narrow and one couldnt remain appreciative of the skills of the himachal driver who so skillfully daily drive on these roads. We reached Sangla around 16:30 and it was certainly worth being there. The view was excellent and the cost was Rs 200 only. We were too tired and decided to explore the region next day. At dinner we inquired about chitkul which the hotel person told was around 26 Kms from Sangla and the road to chitkul was broken due to heavy rains.
29th August 2002
We woke up earlier and decided to explore the valley after we found out that bus to Recong-Peo the district headquarter of kinnour district will leave at 12:30, in route we also visited a temple and posed for photographs. The temple architecture of this was somewhat similar to Bhimakali though not that big. We were back to our hotel around 11:45 and for half an hour enjoyed the school girls showing of their newly acquired judo skills to a gathering of District Magistrate, classmates and fellow villagers who were quick to applaud and cheer.. The bus to recongpeo left around 13:10 and we were at recongpeo by 15:15. The first thing we did was to buy some chocolates and mineral water while Rekha took some tea. We thought of going to Puh as Recong Peo was not in our itinerary a place to stay. The bus to Puh had to leave around 16:30 and we had ample time to relax at the dhaba sipping coffee. The conductor of the bus who was also having tea with us told that we should take the bus to Yangthang next day early morning at 7 in the morning. In the evening we went to the local market for sight seeing. I must say I found RecongPeo much better than what I had expected it to be. We stayed at hotel shivling where I guess we two were the only guest that night. The dinner was excellent.
30th August 2002
We did manage to wake up at 5 and were on time. It took us some 5 and half hours to reach Yangthang and we were there around 12:30. After having lunch and washing my track paint we started to our track to Nako Lake which is at 7Kms from Yangthang. Rekha cursed me for taking the shorter route but I knew she could make. After trekking for some 4 kms, we befriended some construction workers engaged in chiseling the road and they gave us lift to village where Nako lake is. Except at the entrance of village we see very few people in the village. Most of the houses were locked and it was around 15:30. We guessed they must be outside on job to Yangthang or some other place. At Nako theree were only two persons. Rekha and I. Since Rekha can't swim she was initially afraid of standing in the lake posing for the photographs. Nako lake is not a big lake and that was a bit disappointment when you have heard about it so much. However the scenery outside the village is simply awesome. The crimson bald mountains with black rocks are superb and glow in the sunlight. Its a fantastic sight. Around 16:25 we started our downward journey this time taking the tarmac road and than in the midway through the village we get back on the unmetalled road and lost the shortcut route which we had followed while ascending the mountain. The downward journey therefore was appearing very difficult and at one point we were struck not able to find the way to get down from the hill. We did manage to get a lift from a truck again and fortunately it was going all the way till yumthang. The truck driver a sardarji happily posed with his truck on reaching yumthang. We had already exhausted our 3rd reel by by now. The house in which we were staying had no toilet !!. At night I went out to ease myself in the open with winds howling but couldnt make it. I was back to room 15 minutes after without accomplishing the mission. Chering Dongpa the landlady had a sweet little daughter Shilpa. She was a cherubic, petite young girl who impressed me with her handling of the big meat blade while cutting tomatoes for herself. At night we had our dinner of paranthas, which had become our number one choice in this tour.
31 August 2002
The next day we got up earlier to catch the bus to Kaza but the driver told us that the road ahead was broken after massive land sliding and thus the bus will drop there from there its a 2kms walk to reach the other side. We put our bags in the ropeway and headed down the hill. On the way local women helped us crossing the river, gave us apple and also obliged to have photograph with us. They were all going to chango to attend a local marriage. The bus to Tabo has already left and the next bus was around 14:00. On the other side there were two jeeps were there, we picked one. It was overcrowded I counted we were some 16 persons on that !! after going for some distance the tyre punctured and we were stranded. Chango was still 8 kms from there and we couldnt summon enough courage to cover the remaining distance on foot. The other local people started walking and we sat there on the road admiring the beautiful scenery around. After some 45 minutes of waiting a tata 405 loaded with stones. Rekha quickly waved the truck and it offered us the lift at the back. I just banged my head on the arch and developed a blob on my head. For a moment I was just dumbfounded. After covering some 2kms we met the local s who left on foot. We rejoiced on their joining us to Chango. It was 11:15 when we reached chango. There I had chowmein and Rekha tried thukpa. Thukpa contains chowmein added in soup and contains goats meat. We were waiting for the bus to Tabo it is the same bus which comes from kaza and goes till yangthang and than it returns back to Kaza going through Tabo. We utilized the spare time by calling at home. Now it was 12:30 but no sign of bus reaching chango this meant that it would take more time to return back and thus would be delayed than its usual time of 15:30. At 13:23 we got a lift from an open Mahindra bolero to Tabo. Each day our journey was getting better than the previous day and surely this stretch from spedo to Tabo in the open Mahindra was one of the most memorable stretch of the entire tour. After spedo we enter into Lahaul & Spiti district leaving behind the last kinnour. Lahaul and Spiti is one of the biggest district of Himachal Pradesh. Behind the mountains was Tibet. Just knowing that you are so close to the mystical world had got us excited. All the time we were traveling besides this river in the open Mahindra. There were many places where we see green patches in this region where himachal government has set up institutes to grow vegetation suited to this cold desert. It stopped for sometime at cherring and we were at Tabo around 15:20. Tabo is one of the oldest monastery and said to be 1000yrs old. The clay monastery which is mostly single storied still stands out in the valley. At the nearby mountains something in Tibetan was written. We guessed it must be a welcome message. It has its own guest house adjacent to the monetary. The wood guest house was very comfortable. I was hoping that it would be austere but was surprised to find it handsomely decorated. The room was wall to wall carpeted with clean green carpet. The bathroom was clean. There were two beds with nice blanket. Inside the guest house there were numerous notes pasted, urging and admonishing visitors to remain quite, helping maintain the sanctity of the revered monastery. The gallery had numerous pictures dating back to the time when former prime minister late Indira Gandhi visited. Also were the more recent pictures of kalchakra festivities which was organized in 1996. We were provided accommodation on the first floor. I sneaked to the roof when Rekha was sleeping and had a majestic view of the whole valley from the roof top. It had many solar panels for each accommodation. In the evening we went to the guest houses restaurant and had a hearty meal of chowmein and veg momos which were deliciously cooked and had to reordered to satisfy our taste buds. After that we took an evening walk exploring Tabo monastery and the nearby area. Where we did see the himachal government's ubiquitous tourist house, one institute of wild life study, few shops and a small residential colony. There is also a cemented footpath which encircles the whole monastery. We went to bed early because we wanted to attend the meditation which starts at 6 in the morning.
1st September 2002
We did manage to get up at 5:30 and reached the monastery. It looked as if the prayer has already started and we entered barefooted into the room where a monk was chanting. I was surprised that we two were only there and no other monk. Inside photography was prohibited all the walls had beautiful paintings of Buddha showcasing him. I did my meditation for ½ an hour after that enjoyed those beautiful mural paintings. We came out of monastery around 7:am. Took many photographs of the holy monastery and after breakfast headed for the bus stop to catch the bus from yangthang which suppose to reach anytime after 9:30. The bus came around 11 something. We had our ticket for Dhankar monastery which is some 25kms from Tabo. The restaurant owner at chango had told us to get down at shizling. I was feeling sleepy and the next remember was when the bus conductor (we recognize him, he was the same dude who was the conductor in the bus we took from recongpeo to yangthang) woke me up. We hurriedly got down from the bus and just has the bus left we realized that we were at a place where no restaurant etc was there though we could see Dhankar monastery from there it was quite a distance to go carrying our bags. Rekha was initially reluctant to go after the Nako track ordeal she just wanted to remain there. It took a bit of convincing from my side and she was ready. We dumped our bags on the first house adjacent to the road telling the landowner that we were going to Dhankar and will be back by evening. The mountain on which dhankar is quite green as people do irrigation there compared to the other mountains in the vicinity where no vegetation is there. The view from the village are simply fantastic the snowcapped mountains with a huge valley at the bottom simply gives you the flavor of being in heaven. It took us some 2 and half hours to reach Dhankar monastery. Old Dhankar monastery is situated on a mountain which gives you the feeling that monastery will fall anytime. It has so many holes in it. From Dhankar we got a lift till the highway and there we collected our bag. Rekha was quick to persuade truck driver to gave us the lift till Kaza. Due to heavy load on truck we had to wait for time as the gear box was making noise. By 17:30 we were at Kaza. Its a small town with one big bus stand. As evening was setting we searched for the guest house and lodged at Maha Buddha guest house for Rs 120 per night after the owner slashed rates from Rs 150 to Rs 120 when we complained of the poor lightning.
The next morning we left early to visit Kibber and it was only when we reached there we were told the only bus to Kibber has left in the morning and we will have to wait till 17:30 hrs to catch the next bus. There were many taxi drivers who obliged but were charging beyond our budget. The morning breeze with warm sun whetted my appetite to complete my novel and I spent the next 2 hours completing "Remains of the Day". We enjoyed the sunshine kept sitting there on the desk at bus top till 10 and I was glad after finishing my novel. Than came this taxi wala said he will take another trip and will charge Rs 50 each for that. We came back at 15:00 and left for Ki and Kibber monastery. Kibber is said to be the highest altitude village in Asia. The Ki monastery is 1 km from on the way to kibber. We stayed for just 20 minutes in kibber doing photography and cherishing the place. Next we headed for Ki, it was now 17:30 and the monastery was closed but the priest there opened the doors and let us in. In fact he even allowed us to take photographs of the monastery and himself. The view of ki monastery is great. The kalchakra festival was also held at Ki monastery sometimes back. On the way we met two bubbly and cheerful girls. Rajini and Muskaan. They were collecting funds for the poor and were studying in Kullu. Rajni showed her village and invited us to visit it. She said there was a big Buddha statue there and its a must see. We couldnt dispute that but had no time left and we had to book tickets for the tomorrows journey to Chandratal, may be next time I will do. On reaching bus stop we found that the conductor has already left, when we met another member of the staff he assured us that there are enough seats and we should reach 3:30 am to avoid any rush that may arise. Our host gave us an alarm clock so that we could wake up. There was no way to set the alarm pin , it was by default pointing to 2:30 am !!.
3rd September 2002
After managing a cold bath at 3:30 we reached bus stop just minutes to 4 am. It was already crowded and almost all the seats were occupied. One local guy who was with us gave me his seat and went to sit at his friends place as his fried didnt arrive. We reached KUNZUM PASS(4590 m) at 8 in the morning. The gelid picturesque place had our hands searching for our pocket the moment we get down from our bus. Rekha and I watched our bus going away. There was this lone board whispering we had now 9kms of trek to reach Chandratal. The trek to Chandratal is not so easy as we were told. There were no sign post and no other to tell us whether we were going right or not. After some two kms Rekha did manage to see Chandratal but the view was quickly engulfed by the passing fog. We found the initial trek of about 5kms easier compared to the last 3 kms when we had to walk on some places barely1 and half foot and a bit of slippage could see us felling into deep gorge. At some points we were terrified because we were alone. On the way I stopped to take photographs of surrounding while Rekha kept walking. I realized that she left. I was screaming for her and there was no response. I was just dumfounded. I started to trace her foot and they disappeared after some rocks in the way. At this point I was really scared, bad thoughts were coming to my mind. I took control of myself and starting shouting Rekha, Rekha After walking some 100meters I saw her standing and smiling. I literally shouted at her for getting the hell out of me. She said due to her scarf she couldnt hear properly though she did reply to my screams. We kept walking taking short breaks till we reached the pristine chandratal at 13:10. There was this tent we thought some tourists must have setup. But there we met these entrepreneurs Pyar Singh and his brother Govind Ram who dared to think that money could be made at this secluded. We had our lunch there and also met a British couple who were in love with India and been to India dozen time. They have already been to most of the offbeat places and been traveling with a horseman and 5 horses. They came to chandratal from the Baralacha side after 3 days of trek and been traveling for now almost a month. Chandratal is surrounded by lofty mountains, the cascading fog and the icy crystal blue water makes the scenery a paradise. The best thing I would suggest is to camp there for some day, angling and enjoy the nature around. We had to reach batal and its about 14kms from chandratal. We started around 14:30 in the evening. Rekhas shoes were now torn. She was having difficulty while walking because her shoe was tight and her nails were hurting. She however kept walking constantly encouraging me inspite of being so fatigue. To lighten her mood I called her names Penguin Dongpa . Penguin for the way she was walking and Dongpa is the common surname there. It was 18:45 when we reached a place where 3 roads joins. One was a link road, another one was coming from the top of mountain and the third one on which we were traveling. After seeing the sign board which pointed that batal was 3 kms from there we took that road. There was absolutely nobody there to tell which of the two road we should pick. The sun was already setting. I said Rekha that we should wear as many clothes as possible and be ready to spend the night in the open. We had no sleeping bag, not even a bed sheet. She encouraged me to walk more may be we could be very near to the batal. Little did we realize that the road to batal was the link road and we were going towards the kunzum top. At these places people travel only in day and we had little hope that some vehicle would come at this point. Besides that Rekhas health was deteriorating. Around 19:40 it was all dark and we were just about to cry that we heard the sound of a truck honking. We got into the middle of the road after some 2-3 minutes of waiting we saw a mini truck coming. We waved desperately and it stopped just in front of us. The cabin was already occupied by some 4 guys but they home how made space for two of us in that small Tata 407 truck. The told that they initially thought we were playing some prank as it sometimes happen when people are drunk and the way to batal was down the road, had we walked that much distance downward we would have easily reached batal. Our prayers were answered and we reached batal around 20:10 it was all pitch dark around. In the little dhaba we had our dinner. We were provided accommodation for Rs 25 per bed. The room was a temporary shelter made up of stones not even cemented so the cold wind would blow through this little accommodation of ours. The plastic roof would flutter to remind us that how inhospitable it would have been if we were sleeping in the open. We were given 3 blankets to make our self comfortable. In the whole night only one more vehicle crossed
4th September 2002
In the morning again I had to go in open to ease myself. But this time I made it. Batal was very cold. I explored it a little just besides the Chandra Dhaba in which we were staying were some engraved stones. On reaching closer I found these were tombstone eulogizing the mighty explorers who had died while scaling some KarchNala peak. There were some 5-6 such tombstones. At the morning tea we were told that many people have died and we were lucky to have escaped. He told us about last yr incident when some truck driver arrived and complained of chest pain and within 10 minutes he died. There was now a team of Bengali mountaineers who had just successfully completed some 6,400 meters peak and one of the guy with good knowledge of medicine was helping the hotel owner with the medicine . They told us many people have a problem with the height and the best thing to do is to move down. The restaurant owner joked just throw them in the river. The bus to Manali reaches batal at 8:30. It did come but since there were so many people ready to board the bus the driver didnt dare to stop the bus so we were now left with the option of the lift from some truck going there. I dont know but we were somewhat happy that we were not having to make the journey with the bus. At around 10:30 we got lift from a truck to Manali. He charged Rs 100 each and we readily agreed. This was a tata 407 truck the similar one which came to our rescue the previous night. There was a driver and his helper. The way from batal to chatru convinced me that it would have been a foolish idea to drive ourself. Though our truck driver said it has improved quite a lot in past 2 yrs. Both the truck driver and his helper were very friendly people and we had a great time listening to their experiences. It is between one of these stories they told us about the risk of going to leh via road. How people die because of not being able to acclimatize at such heights of Tanglangla and Baralacha passes considered to be one of the highest motor able road in the world at some 17500 feets above sea level. Rekhas holiday were completed and considering her frail health now. We decided she will go back to Delhi while I continue with my tour to leh. . Once you cross chatru the scenery dramatically changes the barren mountains give way to green mountains with shepherds walking along with herd on the road To disperse these the helper would make noises both with his hand banging on the truck and from his mouth like speaking the sheeps language. We reached Manali around 16:10 after crossing the famous Rohtang pass. Though Rohtang pass is not at a very great height but it remains closed for almost 8 months a year due to heavy snowfall. I had been to manli twice but never been to Rohtang. So this time crossing Rohtang was also in my list. True to its nature rohtang didnt disappoint us. No sooner we had taken out our camera thick fog enveloped all around us and we could barely see. The cold wind made it all more uncomfortable to set the timer and pose for photographs. In Manali we first time got access to net. Though in Manali very few places accept credit cards, there are many places who are ready to give cash against the credit card transaction for 5% surcharge. I got some Rs 1900 for my Rs 2000 transaction. We went to the local bus stop to find out the timings for the bus to Delhi and Keylong.
5th September 2002
The next afternoon we parted. I took the 12:30 bus to Keylong and Rekha took 13:00 hr bus to Delhi. I reached Keylong at 17:40. On the way to keylong some 8 kms from it is a place called Tandi. Here the two famous rivers Chandra and Bhaga meet and become Chandrabhaga which later in Punjab is known as chenab. I made calls to my office, mummy and some friends from there through a local std booth. There I stayed in Tashi Deleg hotel. It took me some 2hrs to update my Things to do Today pad. I explored the local market and was ready for dinner by 20:30. I was served the sumptuous biryani and Aloo Dum with a coke. On the background was Om Pani Thandi ho music was playing. Which I instantly recognized the mp3 for the same was given to me by one of my Brazilian colleague. But than the other side of the tape blew me up and I spent the next 1 and half hour replaying that cassette. The name of the cassette was Tibetan incantation. It wasnt available in the local market. My host Mr Krishan said it will be available either in Manali or in Leh. Before going to bed I made an entry in my diary to purchase this cassette on reaching leh.
6th September 2002
Next day I went to Trilokinath temple which is some 3hrs from keylong. Outside the temple there is a stone in the shape of boot. Local people said it brings good luck if one circle the tree holding that stone in one hand. I tried and after completing the round realized that my right hand thumb was burning ferociously. Its now more than 20 days its still numb though improving. I guess the weight of the stone internally teared my skin. But hey I was able to encircled the whole arrangement and even did it again for the photograph J. I also met an Israeli tourist Alex. Alex was another indophile who has spend more than 3yrs in India exploring. He was a professional musician in a noted Israeli pop group. He also had been to Tibet and was recently back from south America. Alex was carrying this wonderful instrument called kalimba. It was some 5 inches in diameter with the base of a fruit and had some iron strips on the other side. On plucking the iron strips the sound was something like of a pot filled with water. There was also a hole on the side with iron strip and if one puts finger into it after plucking the effect was almost as if it has water. We talked a lot about his journeys, interests and experiences. Outside the trilokinath temple there is a spectacular view of udaipur. I was back to my hotel by 18:hrs after getting my bus ticket for Leh. I did my packing because I had to leave at 4:00 next day. I had bought lots of gum drops, chewing gums, biscuit and snacks for my trip adhering to the advice given to me. As usual this time also my host at Tashi Deleg arranged for the alarm clock.
7th September 2002
I wake around 2:30 had my cold water bath and was at bus stop by 3:40. This time bus was not crowded and the conductor has booked me a seat next to window. I was very excited because I was going to cover some 400kms by evening. My dream trip was about to begin. At 7:10 we were at Baralacha.at some 15,500 ft after seeing Jispa and Darcha in the way. It was all barren except for a forlorn board proclaiming welcome to baralachala. After crossing baralachala there were some tents set up for the commuters convinennce and I had piping hot and spicy Aloo Paranthas for my breakfast. Around 11:30 we again halted at pangi. I had one more coke now it cost Rs 20 twice the street price. Again pangi was all desert accept here some construction was going on and some military quarters were there. Just after pangi the steep mountains give way to highway that is so wide and the road is straight for kms. Its awesome that when you are at such heightt you could find so much open space. Infact this was the third time that I such wide stretch however this was the longest stretch I overheard someone say its around 30 kms at stretch. We reached Tanglangla pass at 13:40 hrs. Its the highest motor able road just 2 or 3 meters short of the worlds highest road in Khardungla pass in Ladhakh my fellow passenger elbowed me. I did manage to get some photographs from the runinning bus. 2kms from Tanglangla the bus had to stop as the road construction was going on. So I had a chance to get out of the bus. It was so cold and windy that I was back to my bus. One more stop at 16:20 around 60 kms from leh and the bus was now cruising towards leh. The scenery was now once again changed to pale pink with streaks of mud appearing green in color. The road was wide and now we could see houses and farms. Leh is a modern city but expensive also in comparison to Manali or Shimla. The access to internet was Rs 120 per hour compared to Rs 10 per hour we are used to in Delhi !!. I went out in evening and got my Tibetan Incantation cassette, which I now usually play on my way to office.
8th September 2002
I spent the next day exploring leh. I wanted to go to Pangong lake and Tsumureri lake but it was raining and none of the tour operator would go without having me booked the whole taxi for upward of Rs 5000. Both were quite far. Pangong was some 148 kms. I read on some site that its 130 kms long and is divided between India and China and at some places 4-5kms wide. My holidays were over. My hotel owner encouraged me to go to srinagar. I had kept my options open. The bus to srinagar leaves at 6:30 and the flight to Delhi was at 7:30. I went to my hotel and slept at 18:hrs and woke up at 3 next morning. For more than 3 hrs I kept vacillating whether to go Srinagar or return back to Delhi. Around 6:10 I decided I would go to Delhi. The airport was 3.5 kms from my hotel. I decided to walk and reached at 6:50 enjoying the view. Due to bad weather previous day flight was cancelled and it was clubbed with the todays flight. So it was jam packed. However there is one more flight to Delhi was there and I managed to get the ticket. At the ticket counter I found to my dismay that they dont take credit cards and I was Rs 300 short of cash but than this angel Disket Lanzes of Jet Airways gave me unconditionally the required money and even booked my ticket for Delhi. I was in Delhi 1 and half hour later savoring the beautiful moments.
I have always prided myself of having good climbing skills and stamina though I donot have any formal training. This trip was memorable and by far one of the most adventurous one, I learned a lot from Rekha her patience, her skill and her company made it all more exciting.