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Old 22nd July 2011, 16:42   #1
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Default Fauji's Drivologues : Magical Mountainscapes - A Pictorial ode to Ladakh!

This is the season of Ladakh folks!! How can one describe the experience of driving in cold desert mountainscapes called Ladakh? Mesmerising? Hypnotic? Magical? Ethereal? Spell binding? Mystical? Sublime? Adjectives fail to describe it! I can only say that i was "Zenned" when we did Ladakh trip last year and was "humbled" in front of the nature!

This is not a long travelogue and there is not much of travel details as we already have many good ones with Tanveer's taking the cake as mother of all TLs on the region. And recently SS Traveller's.

This is my pictorial ode to Ladakh. The region which is never short of surprises! I was going through the album and found these pictures captivating as ever. When i post processed them in Picassa, it was looking brilliant.

What are you waiting for? Hitch hike with me and enjoy the ride. Here we go!!

The road from Chandigarh to Manali - We had to do this as our flight to Kullu from Delhi got cancelled due to weather. The road specially after Mandi goes all along Beas river and is just beautiful

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Beas river and valleys in and around Manali - It is just green all around. It had rained in the previous week and the landscape was refreshingly green

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We are on the way to Leh. First leg from Manali - Sarchu starts. We now climb to Rohtang soaking in the beauty of surroundings - it water falls everywhere with amazing rocky cliffs as backdrop

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We got stuck in traffic jam for an hour just before rohtang due to land slide - a common feature - and here was an enterprising bloke selling garam chai!! Chai was a welcome as it was pretty cold.

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We continue the climb

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The first sight of snow and some beautiful wild flowers as company!!

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The Climb continues with spellbinding views of valleys around

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Old 22nd July 2011, 17:26   #2
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivollogues:- Magical Mountainscapes - A Pictorial ode to Ladakh!

As we continued the climb to Barlacha La, we were now greeted by a combination of snow, mist and greenery. The road conditions were not bad. The rains in the previous week had brought in fresh water into the Chandrabhaga river - next to the road - and had created numerous water falls.


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Frozen streams, deep green valleys and water falls - you can see some of them frozen at the bottom - made this stretch an eye candy!

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This was something unsual. the shape of the snow and peak looked like Mount Kailas and the water falls as Gangaavataran!

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Our tryst with Chandrabhaga continues

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The famous Indian oil signage telling to refill your tank lest you forget!

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The rivers span widens createing a huge valley

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A road side stream in full glory

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The stream now flows on to the road eating away parts of it and we drive through it

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A cute little lake on the road side with a paddle boat in the distant end

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The journey continues, Chandrabhaga giving us company. On the way you will find either Army or Border raods camps.

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Old 22nd July 2011, 19:51   #3
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The climb to Barlacha La (La in Tibetan means "Pass") which is the third highest pass on this road starts now. You can see miniature trucks at the bottom of the picture

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The landscape dramatically changes from greenry to barren but colourful desert!!

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We had to cross couple of streams on the way. These are dangerous as the day pass since the water flow will increase with melting of snow and makes it difficult to cross. These bikers had to really struggle to get through this one.

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Most enchanting journey starts! From this spot, till we climb down Barlacha La, it is just bliss!! Words can't express the beauty. You will see the snow in the pass till end of July after which it melts. Just enjoy the drive!!

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We encounter beautiful Suraj Tal on the way

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Now, you will virtually drive through the snow!! the beauty of the place is just unbeliveble!!Take a look.

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A video on the drive to Barlacha La


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Old 22nd July 2011, 21:53   #4
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The journey through the snow continues as we cross Barlacha La. This must be one of the mesmerisisng roads, isn't it? Sit and enjoy the drive!

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Barlacha La!! Here we are!! Look at the vistas in Snow!!!!

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As we drive down Barlacha La, the snow gives way to panoramic view of barren landscape - the reason why Ladakh is also called cold desert!
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Old 26th July 2011, 18:13   #6
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We now reach Sarchu, our camping area for the night. A very cold place with clear skies.

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The second phase of the trip starts early in the morning as we start climbing to Nakee La. The landscape now turns haunting with amazing formations in sand.

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Old 27th July 2011, 19:16   #7
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The greenery gives away to brown arid landscape.

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Crossing a stream on the way. Notice the bikers gang. Bikers have a real tough time in these mountains as they have to take care of road and cold. But that is the fun, isn't it?

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As the winding roads continued, we had a "WOW" feeling on seeing these formations in sand - specailly the natural arch. This must be a "Natural wonder"!!

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Now we enter the plains of Moreh stretching for miles with a back drop of snow capped mountains

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Moreh plains look lovely as they are vast. One can see yaks grazing in these plains.

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From the plains, it is now sheer climb to Tanglang La, the second highest pass in the world!! You can see the steepness of the road in these pictures

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On top of the world feeling at Tanglang La! The rarified atmosphere makes one so tired that walking few steps is difficult here

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The climb down to Leh begins and as we come closer to it, the landscape turns colourful and you virtually go through these tunnnels of pink coloured cliiffs!! Indus river gives company all along till Leh. You can also see sprouts of wild roses on the road side.

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A video on the drive on this stretch


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Nearing Leh, the lush green fields in Indus valley welcomes us!!

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In Leh, after a momentous journey!

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On Day three, we are in Leh and explore its surroundings - Monasteries, Palaces, River valleys ending up with eating momos in famed restuarants in Leh.

Our first drive was to Stok Palace or the new palace where the present Raja lives. These are some views on the way.

You will come across these small stupas scattered all around Ladakh. They shine bright in morning sun

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As we drive, you will see these magnificent eight stupas with mountains as backdrop. This was consecrated by HH Dalai Lama. Unfortunately we could not enter the place.

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We close in onto palace and we are welcomed by this green and yellow vistas of Mustard fields.

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First view of the palace

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Close up of colourful balconies

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The next stop was Stok Monastery.

Some views on the way to the Thiksey Monastery

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The view of the Monsatery as we approach. They call this as "Mini Patola" as it looks similar to Patola Palace in Tibet

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Panoramic views of surroundings from the monstery

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A Video on Thikse Monastery



A Video of Maitreya Budha



A Video capturing Panoramic view from Monastery







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The colourful entrance to the Monastery

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The Kalash of stupa shining with snow capped mountains as back drop

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The beautiful murals inside the monsatery

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The colourful layers of Monsatery - notice delicately carved balconies

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The colourful balconies again

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The Murals

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The tallest statue of Mytreya in full glory!!

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The old place

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There is a small gompa is inside the palace and the staue of Budha is impressive

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Old man with prayer beads

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Indus river @ Sindhu darshan pavillion

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A video of Indus river @ Sindhu darshan


Last edited by Fauji : 29th July 2011 at 13:13.
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Old 28th July 2011, 17:25   #13
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From the palace we moved to the best armed forces museaum in the country. Tears swelled in our eyes as we read the last letter from a kargil martyr to his paernts which is kept framed.

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List of passes in Ladakh displayed in Museaum

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A Video on War Memorial





Prayer wheels in city

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The city palace

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A panoramic view of Leh from the heights of palace

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A Lone gompa. This is most pictured gompa as it looks brilliant at sun set!!

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Ladies selling vegetables - These are supposed to be original aryans. They have greek features!!

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Last edited by Fauji : 29th July 2011 at 13:15.
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Old 28th July 2011, 19:25   #14
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Day 4 was spent in visiting Pangong Tso (Tso in Tibetan means "Lake") and what a drive it was!! Possibly the best from sheer variety of landscapes.

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Another beautiful Monastery perched on a small hill, looked lovely in morning sun

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The climb to Chang La starts as we leave behind verdant valleys

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A video on journey to Pangong Tso


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Old 28th July 2011, 19:39   #15
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The gradual climb provide you a breathtaking view of mountains.

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At Chang La

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Snow on the sides, the road looks fabulous and suddenly we notice this frozen lake

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Last edited by Fauji : 29th July 2011 at 10:57.
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