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Old 2nd August 2010, 19:16   #1
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Default Leh and Ladakh.

Mod Note : Please continue the discussion on TSK1979's excellent Leh & Ladakh Guide at this link (Leh, Ladakh and Zanskar - The Ultimate Guide)



Reading about the chaos and two boys dying from here ("bitten the bullet" - my *new* used RE 500 ES), does anybody else think Laddakh has become what kumbh mela has been for years? People just want to go there regardless of the risks involved.

No offense to any travellers here, I myself wanted to make a trip sometime back, just as I enjoyed a dip in haridwar a few years back. But when I looked at the problems surrounding it, I gave up (both). And I would do the same if I found out about any of my favorite destinations. IMHO, there is a limit to the visitors a place can accommodate (dictated by climate, facilities and support personnel etc) and once beyond that, a sensible person should give it up, not matter how bad s/he wants it.

Apart from the kumbh, Haz and other religious events (mostly on hilltops), other things that come to my mind are various parades and concerts that turn into tragic events.

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Old 2nd August 2010, 19:24   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vivekiny2k View Post
Reading about the chaos and two boys dying from here ("bitten the bullet" - my *new* used RE 500 ES), does anybody else think Laddakh has become what kumbh mela has been for years? People just want to go there regardless of the risks involved.
What type of risk are you talking about? I havent been there, but with the discussion with people been there, the main problem is access or roads. That too getting better now.

So, what risk? Vehicle damage? Life??

But, agreed. I do seem many people travelling now. But i don't know if it was less before. Bcs, the "many" is due to the many travelogues I see now here and other forum.

Btw, i think this is not a topic for Travelogue. Better we move this to street experience.
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Old 2nd August 2010, 19:38   #3
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India is world's road deaths capital - India - The Times of India
More than 118000 people died on the roads in 2008.
By that logic, even your trip to Haridwar, or for that matter anywhere in India is a gamble on our life!
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Old 2nd August 2010, 19:46   #4
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I am talking mostly about group dynamics here. When you have a large number of people gathered, it really becomes difficult to manage any adverse event. I already gave other examples of such events, not necessarily in India.

I began thinking of it when I saw in pictures long queues of vehicles in extreme weather and road conditions waiting to get in, with almost no safety cover if a tragedy strikes. And it can become a nightmare for the support people if they need to make repairs and rescue when that happens.

But you may be right, It's the same elsewhere, so I should not be singling out Laddakh.
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Old 2nd August 2010, 19:55   #5
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@Vivek - From what I hear from the travelogues, Leh is something that needs to be experienced. Something that's a thrill & adventure. The weather or MN/MI that is experienced in our own Motherland. Riding/driving in one of the highest motorable road on this planet is something like an achievement isn't it? OR do you mean that every tom dick & harry is doing Leh for a show off?

Anyway, what's life without little thrill?
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Old 2nd August 2010, 20:54   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aargee View Post
@Vivek - From what I hear from the travelogues, Leh is something that needs to be experienced. Something that's a thrill & adventure. The weather or MN/MI that is experienced in our own Motherland. Riding/driving in one of the highest motorable road on this planet is something like an achievement isn't it? OR do you mean that every tom dick & harry is doing Leh for a show off?

Anyway, what's life without little thrill?
Well, I do not want to sound like that. What I am saying is the facilities probably are not enough to take these many visitors. Why people still would want to do that is something your statement is speculating on, and I am not commenting on that . Personally I would back out from such a place. And putting myself in danger is not a kind of thrill I want to experience. Beauty of Leh, offroading in Leh, sure.

As far as Leh being something to experience, I would advocate alternate and more organized means of travel. Air, train, govt organized groups whatever else might work there.

This might raise the cost but there are not many leisure activities without cost.
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Old 2nd August 2010, 21:39   #7
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Ok, put it this way; some people like visiting by car, some by motorcycles, some by trekking, some by air. Given a chance people commute by the way they like. Though I've a car, I personally like to experience Leh in a motorcycle. Trust me, the troubles with a motorcycles is much much more than on a car, but the thrill has no bounds on a 2 wheeler. So I guess this is the fact.

Another reason probably could be is, this place is getting more attraction these days because of...
1. Lot of people doing the trip & places getting explored
2. People share their experiences as travelogues in forums, so more reach outs
3. On a lighter nore, we don't know when this area will be lost to our one of our beloved neighbours, so its better to take permits rather than visa & visit them
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Old 2nd August 2010, 21:44   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aargee View Post
3. On a lighter nore, we don't know when this area will be lost to our one of our beloved neighbours, so its better to take permits rather than visa & visit them
Seriously a point to consider. Hope this never happens.
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Old 2nd August 2010, 22:58   #9
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It might sound funny and twisted but death is the only certain thing in our uncertain life. So its better to explore as much as we can, see as much as we can and live life as much as we can before "aapna to time ho gaya ".

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Old 3rd August 2010, 10:47   #10
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The jams you see are at rohtang pass, and one in 20 vehicles there are tourists going to leh. Rest are tourists just going to see Rohtang Pass.
There is no "kumbh kind of rush" in Leh. It gets crowded in July, but even then the crowd is much less than what you see in your typical tourist spot.
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Old 3rd August 2010, 10:50   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aargee View Post

Anyway, what's life without little thrill?
Exactly my kind of thinking. But if its a calculated thrill with all precautions taken then its even better.

I just came back from Ladhak with my family. The group included my wife, my 2 and a half year old kid, my Mother in law and my MIL's sister. Since we were a group of all ages, one thing I was certain that, I will not be doing anything thrilling, just do the old beaten path and enjoy being together. The holiday was one of the best I have ever had. We enjoyed the best of both the worlds i.e being together and also enjoying the beauty that Ladhak has to offer. What I mean is that its upto you to have a thrilling holiday or a peacefull one!!

But I do agree with Vivek on one point and that is, that this place is getting more and more commercialised. I say that because I can compare Ladhak now with my visit there 20 years back. I do not know for how long the fragile eco system of Ladhak area can take such an influx of tourists and the muck and dirt we generate there.

I will give some examples and then you can decide on your own if the change is for good or for bad.

1. 20 years back you could find lots of snow on FotuLa top, but now none.

2. Ice walls on the high passes were atleast 20 feet high, but now due to pollution caused by increase in traffic and road widening you get to see hardly any snow.

3. KhardungLa was anonymous with just one sign board and an army picket. And now you know how many sign boards are present. Plus the mountain slope next to the temple is littered with cans and bottles. These are a big threat to the eco system

4. Connectivity is better with better and wider roads, but on the downside mountains are being cut which results in mud slides, avalanches etc etc.

5. With more tourists coming in people of Ladhak are getting more source of income. Tourism sustains the economy of the region for atleast 5 months in a year.

6. Much more greenery is visible around Leh than it was 20 years back hence increasing the O2 levels.

7. Air and road Connectivity is better, hence things are easily (as compared to 20 yrs back) available for the locals through out the year. Would you believe that 20 years back match boxes were considered to be the best gift to a local family?
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Old 3rd August 2010, 12:30   #12
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Oh!!! Vivek, there's a point that I can't stop help thinking; the crowd at Leh is atleast 1000 times better than the everyday crowd at Tirupathi. Trust me, one visit inside the sanctum will change your mindset for ever.

PS - It changes your outlook towards people & hatred to have come there. Trust me, you gotta believe me on this.
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Old 3rd August 2010, 13:26   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vivekiny2k View Post
...does anybody else think Laddakh has become what kumbh mela has been for years? People just want to go there regardless of the risks involved.

IMHO, there is a limit to the visitors a place can accommodate (dictated by climate, facilities and support personnel etc) and once beyond that, a sensible person should give it up, not matter how bad s/he wants it.

Apart from the kumbh, Haz and other religious events (mostly on hilltops), other things that come to my mind are various parades and concerts that turn into tragic events.
Err... I don't quite understand the point of this thread. Are you saying stay away from Ladakh because it is becoming overcrowded? Or is it that you think the risks that you think the journey entails, do not make it worthwhile to go?

Or are you suggesting a blanket ban on visiting any place that draws large crowds (kumbh, Haz, parades, concerts) because accidents happen and people die?
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Old 3rd August 2010, 13:39   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aargee View Post
Oh!!! Vivek, there's a point that I can't stop help thinking; the crowd at Leh is atleast 1000 times better than the everyday crowd at Tirupathi. Trust me, one visit inside the sanctum will change your mindset for ever.

PS - It changes your outlook towards people & hatred to have come there. Trust me, you gotta believe me on this.
+1 to that. Have experienced it personally. I saw a fight break out at the ticket booking counter in Bangalore itself. I saw a fight break out in the long queue to the darshan. And worst was when I saw well built men pushing women aside to have a good glimpse of God and shouting the name of lord. I hope lord blessed them.
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Old 3rd August 2010, 16:23   #15
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The whole bike touring scene itself seems to have undergone a drastic change. And not for the better. Gone is the spirit of adventure or roughing it out or exploring the unexplored. The profile of the bike tourer has changed as well. At one time we met highly creative people waiting for their next big idea while on the road. In their place, the touring scene is today full of egoistic underarm-deo deprived call-center trash: for whom a ride to ladakh is about scoring a notch on their belt.

When i did Ladakh for the first time, i went there with one fellow biker (T-bhpian btw), carried our own supplies including tents and generally had a great time. Ditto the second time. And third.

Cut to today, when you have Travel Companies, organising bike excursions where you have support vehicles and ambulances following you. I mean seriously! and this includes the Royal Enfield company, allegedly a motorcycle company, with their annual "Himalayan Blunder" tamasha. Experienced bikers ofcourse have learnt to plan around such jokers on the road. But i cant help but reminisce about a time when things werent this bad!

Ladakh as a motorcycle ride is about as appealing today as the leftover sambar from the day before. The touring community has since moved on to newer roads and newer avenues.

Last edited by COUGAR : 3rd August 2010 at 16:25.
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