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Old 25th July 2016, 14:53   #1
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Default Lost Horizon - Ladakh

When we were at school, we had read the book "Lost Horizon" by James Hilton. I remember being captivated by the description of Shangri La and did believe at that time that it truly existed. As i grew up and encountered the humdrum of real life, the realisation slowly crept in that Shangri La was a figment of the imagination and it evaporated as quickly as my carefree and innocent days of childhood.
Not so anymore! I have revived those memories, those days. Shangri La exists. I have seen it.

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Ladakh had been on our bucket list and we wanted to self drive all the way from Ahmedabad to Ladakh. However, since there were other friends joining, it was decided to fly to Srinagar and hire cars to drive down to Leh. We left on the 24th June night to Delhi, checked in the Holiday Inn Express at the airport for the night, and took the flight to Srinagar the next morning.
The mountains looked gorgeous from the aircraft and we couldn't wait to drive through them.
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There is something about the mountains that gets me. They are majestic and awe inspiring. They thrill and provoke fear at the same time. It is truly said that mountains have to be treated with respect and i would understand the truth of this statement many fold during our journey through the mountains.

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We reached Srinagar before time and after collecting our bags, we were happy to see our drivers waiting for us. The luggage was loaded and we were off after a quick stop at a nearby store to buy some snacks and a case of mineral water.
It was a beautiful morning and the weather was quite pleasant, if a trifle hot. Still, we could not complain having come from Ahmedabad and its 46 C heat!
The first mistake that we had done was to start at around 1100 hrs. The notorious Zojila pass can get jammed up with trucks and other vehicles, and it can take hours to clear up. In order to avoid this, the authorities generally allow trucks after 12 noon, so that the bulk of the small vehicular traffic (who are in a hurry) goes on ahead. We knew that we were late when we saw trucks coming down:

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The countryside was beautiful and lush green. The air was pure and invigorating. A far cry from our dusty Ahmedabad.

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We stopped for a chai break and to use the conveniences. Aha! Conveniences! Toilets are pretty rare and far between. At best, they would be small, hole in the wall affairs, with a door. The ladies would suffer them, while it was the free open air for us.

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The mighty Jhelum river looked quite peaceful and sedate, though this same river had created havoc during September 2014.

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The Amarnath yatra was to commence from the 2nd July and preparations were on both by the Government and private parties to ensure that the pilgrims were made comfortable.

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A short while later we reached Sonemarg, where we had a spot of lunch.We congratulated ourselves on the pleasant ride while having lunch, little knowing what was in store for us.

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Old 25th July 2016, 16:12   #2
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Default Sonamarg to India gate...

Sonamarg is a popular destination for those who visit Kashmir.

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Unfortunately, as is seen in all popular tourist destinations, the area gets over exploited and loses the serene beauty of yesteryears.

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A lot of structures were being erected and one but wonders whether they have the requisite permissions or not.

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Nothing tranquil about that one, for sure!

Apart from a beautiful countryside, crisp and clean air, the visitors can enjoy snow sports, the most popular of which was "sledging". Snow scooters, for the young turks who fancy themselves as avatars of James Bond, are in abundance; a testimony to the changes that technology, communication and appetite for thrill have created.
Gone are the days when a Shashi Kapoor would lead your horse ( or is it tattu?) singing a soulful song.


Now the godawallahs have Sumos, which they use to ferry tourists to and fro from Srinagar and have a good thing going with the sledge wallahs. Together, they take the tourists to the cleaners and funnily the tourist does not seem to mind it, since they still come in droves.
Our driver could not hide his irritation with these goda wallahs and we had quite a few scenes similar to those of the knights of yore, who charge with lances drawn ( or is it levelled) at each other. These Sumos are parked on the road, on both the sides, and as is expected create a traffic jam.
After successfully navigating this bottleneck, we started climbing. We had a chance encounter with an old timer, on a horse. These are gypsies who migrate here during the summer months along with their goats and cattle.

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I hope you can the see the long meandering line of goats coming down the mountain, in the picture above.

We had just started climbing when there was a hold up.

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The road, for want of a better word, is pretty bad and consists of rocks and mud..read that fine dust that gets into everything.

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Sonemarg to ZojiLa pass is only 9 kms. We took about 2.5 hours to cover it. It was quite hot and the UV radiation quite uncomfortable. Still, what can't be cured must be endured. I passed the time taking some pictures.

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This is the base camp for the pilgrims of Amarnath Yatra. There is an helicopter service now to take one to Amarnath. One day affair and costs Rs 5500 -6000/- according to Abdul.

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Once we cross "India Gate", we could make faster time, said Abdul. India gate is the narrow bottleneck where one can see a line of vehicles waiting:

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We slowly make our way to India Gate with a lot of stopping and waiting...

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[
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At last we cross India gate...

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The view is terrific from up here, particularly when you have crossed the last(?) hurdle...or so we thought!

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Last edited by earthian : 25th July 2016 at 16:15.
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Old 25th July 2016, 17:26   #3
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Default Onwards to Kargil...

Once we crossed India gate, the road became better and we could move at a relatively faster pace. For about 3 kms or so. Remember we talked about the godawallahs and their Sumos? Well, they were here with a vengeance! The road was jammed with Sumos parked on both the sides.

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We finally crossed this hurdle and could move at a better pace. The road was metalled or stone (cobbled) and there was enormous relief from the dust. There are quite a few army installations on the road:

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The Jhelum river had now given way to the Drass (or Dras) river which was to be our constant companion till we reached Kargil.

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Shortly afterwards, we entered Kargil district- However quite some way to go before we reach kargil.

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The sun behind the mountains brought out the peaks in all their jagged glory:

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We rounded the corner and we came upon this majestic sight:

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One of the tallest flag poles that i have seen and one of the largest flags. There was this sign:

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We entered the beautifully maintained Kargil war memorial. Must compliment the army in keeping everything so spic and span in such difficult circumstances.

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A jawan was cleaning the memorial diligently. Every name was lovingly and painstakingly cleaned and painted. The soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the country would not be forgotten.

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Nearby was a memorial to Capt. Manoj Pandey, PVC who was awarded the highest honour for his valour and courage: See : Captain Manoj Pandey, PVC

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The Kargil war is known for the courage and sacrifice of Capt. Vikram Batra, PVC; who died retaking the famous Tiger Hill, which has become synonymous with Kargil. See: Captain Vikram Batra, PVC

There was a briefing about the Kargil war, the heroes and the memorial. A young jawan spoke about the war, whilst the visitors listened attentively. It did the heart good to see that every one paid attention and were disciplined.

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A short video, showing the jawan talking about "Operation Vijay" can be seen below:


We had chai and samosas at the army run canteen and bought some souvenirs. The sun was setting and Tiger Hill was shrouded in a ball of fire, almost as if it was reliving its experiences during the war.

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One could almost hear the last post being sounded in honour of Capt. Vikram Batra and Capt. Manoj Pandey.

It is indeed a great honour to serve one's country and i mused silently at my misfortune. Or should that be thoughtlessness, if not selfishness? We preferred to join the private sector and serving the country was not in our minds then. The least that we can do now is to understand the sacrifice made by our soldiers to ensure that our country and all of us are safe. I resolved to take every opportunity i got in talking about the service of these committed men.
While leaving we saw this:

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Our moods were sombre when we left the Memorial. We were trying to visualise the scene when strapping young men, so willingly and unselfishly gave their lives for the country. Some stanzas of the poem of Lord Tennyson, "The charge of the light brigade" came to mind:

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Today, the 26th July marks the 17th anniversary of the successful completion of "Operation Vijay" and this day has been named as Kargil Vijay Diwas. Let us spend a moment to thank those 530 soldiers who laid their lives defending the country's honour. Let us think about their families, who have lost a son, a father, a husband, a brother or a close relative or friend. Among those who showed extraordinary gallantry and put their lives on the line were the following:

- Grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav, 18 Grenadiers, Param Vir Chakra
- Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey, 1/11 Gorkha Rifles, Param Vir Chakra, Posthumous
- Captain Vikram Batra, 13 JAK Rifles, Param Vir Chakra, Posthumous
- Rifleman Sanjay Kumar, 13 JAK Rifles, Param Vir Chakra
- Captain Anuj Nayyar, 17 JAT Regiment, Maha Vir Chakra, Posthumous
- Major Rajesh Singh Adhikari, 18 Grenadiers, Maha Vir Chakra, Posthumous
- Major Mariappan Saravanan, 1 Bihar, Vir Chakra, Posthumous
- Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja, Indian Air Force, Vir Chakra, Posthumous
- Havildar Chuni Lal, 8 JAK LI, Vir Chakra.

Last edited by earthian : 26th July 2016 at 13:38. Reason: spelling, added kargil vijay diwas
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Old 26th July 2016, 16:15   #4
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Default re: Lost Horizon - Ladakh

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 26th July 2016, 16:30   #5
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Default Re: Onwards to Kargil...

Quote:
Originally Posted by earthian View Post

A jawan was cleaning the memorial diligently. Every name was lovingly and painstakingly cleaned and painted. The soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the country would not be forgotten.

The Kargil war is known for the courage and sacrifice of Capt. Vikram Batra, PVC; who died retaking the famous Tiger Hill, which has become synonymous with Kargil.

There was a briefing about the Kargil war, the heroes and the memorial. A young jawan spoke about the war, whilst the visitors listened attentively. It did the heart good to see that every one paid attention and were disciplined.

Let us think about their families, who have lost a son, a father, a husband, a brother or a close relative or friend.
I can say for sure, for those, who have been to the memorial that nothing prepares you for the numbness when you read and hear about the valour of our army and the pain it endures. I saw people with moist eyes at the end of the briefing. At the same time - the memorial reinforces patriotism. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 26th July 2016, 18:38   #6
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Default re: Lost Horizon - Ladakh

Awesome, Awesome, Awesome travelogue!!! On the occasion of anniversary of Kargil victory, this thread is a grand tribute to all our martyrs.
Great photos too!!
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Old 26th July 2016, 19:07   #7
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Default re: Lost Horizon - Ladakh

Brilliant. Simply brilliant. And there could not be a more fitting day to publish this travelogue than Kargil Vijay divas. Very good pictures too, to accompany the travelogue. At the same time, deeply moving too. Rated a well deserved 5 stars.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Traveller Nayak View Post
I can say for sure, for those, who have been to the memorial that nothing prepares you for the numbness when you read and hear about the valour of our army and the pain it endures. I saw people with moist eyes at the end of the briefing.
To be honest, my eyes were moist just after reading this travelogue. Visiting the memorial is surely on my bucket list.
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Old 26th July 2016, 20:13   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Traveller Nayak View Post
I can say for sure, for those, who have been to the memorial that nothing prepares you for the numbness when you read and hear about the valour of our army and the pain it endures. I saw people with moist eyes at the end of the briefing. At the same time - the memorial reinforces patriotism. Thanks for sharing.
Absolutely. We civilians really have no idea how difficult the terrain is, how committed our soldiers are, and what lengths they go to ensure that our country is safe. The next day, we were invited to the officers mess for breakfast and the conversation veered to the war. I do not know how many of us know that during the winter months it is not possible to move from the base camp to the bunkers situated along the LoC. Hence provisions for 3 months are stocked in the bunkers and the soldiers stay there for 90 days at a time in freezing -40 C weather. They cannot stretch their legs outside too.
Quote:
Originally Posted by sukhoi30 View Post
Awesome, Awesome, Awesome travelogue!!! On the occasion of anniversary of Kargil victory, this thread is a grand tribute to all our martyrs.
Thank you. Am very glad that you liked it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by AkMar View Post
...And there could not be a more fitting day to publish this travelogue than Kargil Vijay divas.
Well, GTO also deserves credit for that. My travelogue is not finished (in fact just started!) and he moved it to public view, though incomplete.

Quote:
To be honest, my eyes were moist just after reading this travelogue. Visiting the memorial is surely on my bucket list.
Please do visit. The least that we can do is acknowledge the effort, valour and sacrifice of our soldiers. i shall try and make public such acts of courage in what ever fora i am present or attend.
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Old 27th July 2016, 01:24   #9
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Default re: Lost Horizon - Ladakh

very well timed travelogue and thoughful of GTO to make it public. This is what Team-BHP is all about. its not the random algorithm and binary codes; its the home for like-minded people who've never realised when have they grown into a family. Coming on to 'been there-Done that' part, did you see Tololing? imagine the feature was captured with full strength and it was impending the move of own forces to north. Thus the greatness of 2 RajRif came into being which cleared the mighty Tololing feature with 5 officers lost their lives in the battle. it was the watershed moment of the war which led to significant gains subsequently. the battle of Tololing is a matter of folklore now in army fraternity and aptly so. it is heartening to see a young soldier briefing the awestruck civilians.

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Old 27th July 2016, 11:26   #10
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At Kargil

We halted for the night at the J&K government tourist center.

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The next morning, one of the ladies in our group had a mild case of food poisoning and i was woken up at 4 am with a request for some hot tea. I was just trying to figure out how to arrange this, when as luck would have it, a group was leaving for Srinagar and were having tea at the reception of the center. We got the tea!
Having got up, i decided that i may as well take some early morning shots at the magic hour. Unfortunately the sky was overcast.

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The location of the tourist center is very good and the mighty Drass river flows alongside. The sound of water flowing is so beautiful, though this was a river in spate. I got some shots:

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I was enjoying the morning air, when a group of young men and women entered the scene. I was bemused since it was about 0530 hrs. One doesn't normally see the young get up so early. Pleasantly surprised, i took a photo of these young adults from Mumbai. Hemil Shah's email ID seems to be wrong and hence i am posting it here in the hope that someone sees it and down loads it for the group.

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well, everything happens for a purpose. I had got up at 4 am and here i was enjoying the morning air. The sun was just rising and i got this shot:

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The sky was overcast and hence the window of opportunity was quite short. the conditions were not perfect, but i was happy to have got this shot.
It is quite enjoyable to photograph during the magic hour, particularly in such beautiful and pristine surroundings.

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We were invited by the CO of the Army camp at Kargil for breakfast, and accordingly we dressed suitably and had a wonderful breakfast in their tastefully furnished and impeccably maintained officer's mess. The army does things in style, no doubt. We chatted about the war and the heroic deeds of the army. When ever i interact with the Indian Army, it leaves me reassured that the defence of our country is in safe hands. Sorry, no photographs of the army facilities for obvious reasons.

After breakfast, we popped in at the Army hospital to get our ailing member checked up. All ok. AMS, no doubt. Reassured, we left for Leh.

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I have understood that it is the journey that is important and not necessarily the destination. This adage is apt when travelling from Srinagar to Leh by road. The sights are breathtakingly beautiful. Nature at its best. The landscapes are something a photographer would die for.

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In these areas, there is very little rainfall. Houses are made with mud (unbaked) bricks as can be seen in the bottom of the above photograph. It is said that if it were to rain heavily, then most of these house would be washed away.
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It was a beautiful morning and the road was good. Very little traffic in the morning and we had the opportunity to take in some quality sights that nature afforded.
Shortly, we arrived at the Mulbek monastery:

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There were a group of bikers from Pathankhot whom we had met at the Kargil memorial. They were here too. Talking to them, i was pleasantly surprised to see that these strapping young men from Pathankhot were using their energies positively and seeing India by riding on their Bullets. I took some pictures of them.

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After a cup of tea, we made haste. We had dawdled quite a lot and being on the road for 2 days in a row in tough terrain and at an altitude, without acclimatisation is inviting trouble. Nearly all of us had a mild headache and the next few hours saw diminished activity. We got down once at Namikala pass and again at Fotula pass.

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A group of people from Gujarat were around and i did the usual honours.

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We were nearing Leh and we were looking forward to some rest. Just some distance more...

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We came upon the sangam of the Indus and Suru rivers.

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A short distance later we came upon the famous "magnetic hill". Every one wanted to try out whether the cars really moved up the slope without power. Our driver tried it too. At first it looked like it really went up against gravity, but on a repeat try, it did not look so. The jury is still out.

We reached Leh in the evening and i had resolved to have an early dinner and off to bed. However, looking at the night sky, after dinner made me want to experiment with night photography and i spent an hour fooling around. Off to bed. Tomorrow, we had planned to take it easy.

Last edited by earthian : 27th July 2016 at 11:47. Reason: added line
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Old 27th July 2016, 12:27   #11
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We had travelled about 450 kms in two days, clocking about 225 kms in 9 hrs. An average of 25 kms per hour! We had expected to do about 35 kmph average, whereas our Googleben had predicted that we would do more than 50 Kmph!

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We had a good sleep last night and woke up quite refreshed and raring to go! The agenda was to take in the local sights, have a ladakhian dinner and early to bed.
We were staying in a government tourist facility, and the staff were quite attentive and helpful. It was the first time that we saw more female staff than male staff and felt pleased that gender equality was practised at Ladakh, at least amongst the class of employees we interacted with. There was this lady ( i forgot to ask her name - quite inexcusable) who had a new born baby. She was a picture of contentment and calmness.

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The ladakhis have a charming way of carrying their babies:

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After a leisurely brunch, we set off first to the "Hall of Fame"

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The hall of fame is immaculately maintained, well staffed with attentive and helpful personnel. The Army took trouble to explain the rigours of war and army life to all visitors. They proactively sought, engaged and won our hearts! Information about the history of Ladakh, its culture, customs and people was explained. On display were many artefacts and the tools, tackles and equipments used by the Army in manning these inhospitable and difficult terrain.
There was a section devoted to the brave hearts of the Indian Army who had distinguished themselves by their courage and selflessness and who had been awarded the Param Vir Chakra. (The Param Vir Chakra is India's highest military decoration awarded for the highest degree of valour or self-sacrifice in the presence of the enemy. The medal has been awarded 21 times, 14 of which were posthumous awards.)
See: PVC recipients.
I must take this opportunity and mention that i had the good fortune of meeting Naib Subedar Bana Singh, PVC of the J&K Light Infantry. I met him (he is now a honorary Captain) at Ranikhet during 2012 when we were in a joint training exercise with the Naga Regiment. He is one of the three living PVC awardees.
I would advocate that all schools and colleges make visits to Army museums a part of the curriculum. It is important that every Indian knows the sacrifice and cost paid to preserve our independence.
At the end of the tour, there was a board where visitors could express their thoughts. I was happy to see that people were taking the trouble to wait for their turn and write their feelings:

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Feeling chastened at my poor contribution towards nation building, we came out and proceeded towards our next attraction: Shanti Stupa.

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Shanti Stupa was built in 1991 by Japanese Buddhists. It is said to hold the relics of the Buddha at its base, enshrined by the 14th Dalai Lama.


We went inside the shrine and sat there quietly whilst a monk was chanting accompanied to the soothing beat of the drum.

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There are some places which bring out the best in a person. The Hall of fame was one, and Shanti stupa was another. All of us were quiet with our own thoughts.
There was this lovely couple who posed for a photograph:

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A monk was taking a selfie and the opportunity was too good to miss:

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The scenery and view from the top was indeed great:

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However, as usual, we seem to ensure that there is chaos even in peaceful surroundings:

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We then proceeded to the Sindhu River reception area. It was very badly maintained with incomplete structures. The pristine river was polluted with plastic water bottles and other trash.

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Depressed at the selfishness and carelessness of people, just after we had seen examples of selfless and caring behaviour, both in the Army as well as in the Buddhist temple, we made our way to the central town area for an early dinner:

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We sampled the local cuisine, including Tibetian Thukpa, realxed and left for a much earned rest.
Tomorrow was going to be another long day- we would go to Nubra valley after crossing the highest motorable pass in the world: Khardung La at 5359 meters.
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Old 27th July 2016, 13:34   #12
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Leh - Nubra Valley


After a good night's rest, we started at about 0730 hrs for Nubra valley. The route was as under:

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Google maps does not have any clue as to the time it takes to travel in this area. a good rule of thumb would be to multiply the times given by Google maps by at least 2.5 times.
The sky was overcast and it looked as if it might rain. Bummer!

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The mighty himalayas were shrouded in a cloud and not clear.
We had our first taste of the powerful Taxi union of Ladakh when we came to a check post which was manned by the representatives of the union. When they saw Srinagar plates of our cars, they excitedly asked our drivers to pull alongside. Abdul, our driver, was a veteran in such matters and he produced an official receipt of the Union, which allowed him to ply this route. The representatives looked crest fallen, but had no option but to let us go.

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The climb was quite steep and if the sun had been out, the view would have been mesmerising. Within a short time, we arrived at Khardungla pass, which was clear from the crowd there.

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Khardungla is at 18380 feet and we moved around the area, enjoying the scenery and the crowd. One gentleman, struck me with his calm and serene face and i requested for a picture, which he willingly obliged:

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There were a lot of bikers and i shot the breeze with them:

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We could not see the Saichan glacier due to the overcast sky:

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Is it Khardongla or Khardungla? Both spellings were seen.

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There was a rush to take photographs with the sign board and while we waited patiently for our turn, we saw that everyone was not so. In exasperation, i took matters in my hand and made everyone stand in a line so that they could have the photograph as they wanted it, instead of people coming in between and spoiling it. Once our turn was over, it was again mayhem as usual.
There was another queue for the toilets:

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I aimlessly passed the time, interacting with people and checking out a lone shop selling memorabilia. We left after spending about 30 minutes. While we were descending, i started getting a whopper of an headache, no doubt caused by exposure to the elements and the altitude. One of the learnings of this trip is to use the correct dosage of Diamox. A 108 kg person and a 55 kg person cannot have the same dosage!

The views were beautiful, even if the sky was overcast. Shortly, afterwards , we came to Khardungla village, where we stopped for an early lunch. We had had a very frugal breakfast, since we had left early and my headache was acting up. The food was fresh, but i passed. There was a big group from Andhra Pradesh who were very friendly and passed some chikkies to us. That was what was missing from my diet! Sweets.
In return for their courtesy, i took some pictures.
Here they are , a nice bunch of people:

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Ummm. They seem to be preparing to do something?

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There they go! The jump!

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They gave me a paracetamol tablet (acetaminophen) and we bade good bye. My attention was drawn to a poster on the wall:

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OMG! A marathon at an altitude 5 kms high? More than half way up Mount Everest? Here we were finding it difficult to walk slowly!
Some other posters caught my fancy:

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A group of children were curious about my camera. Not for the first time, i was kicking myself for not bringing some small gifts for the children such as chocolates, drawing material and stuff.

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We left and proceeded on our way. The scenery was breathtaking. I must point out here that the camera just cannot capture what our eyes are able to see.

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We arrived at our rest house, quickly freshened up, had a cup of tea and left for the sand dunes and other attractions:

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Again, we saw trash being carelessly thrown, in spite of there being trash cans around. How do we bring about some sense of responsibility towards the environment?

Some people were soaking their feet in the cool water. Looked inviting.

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As usual, taking selfies seem to be the norm:

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We did our obligatory camel ride and left for our next attraction. The sand dunes had an interesting play of light.

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We reached Diskit monastery and we could see a rainbow:

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We walked around and the Monk obliged me with a portrait:

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It was back to the rest house, dinner and to bed early since we would have to start at 0500 hrs tomorrow morning to go to Pangong lake.

As said earlier "Homo proponit, sed Deus disponit" . The lights went out and it was a god sent opportunity to shoot the night sky.

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Apart from the amazing landscapes that one sees in places like Ladakh, it is the opportunity to gaze at the skies in the night without any air, noise or light pollution, which according to me should not be missed.
Satisfied, i went to bed at around 12 midnight.. Early wake up call tomorrow at 0400 hrs.

Last edited by earthian : 27th July 2016 at 13:45.
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Old 27th July 2016, 14:10   #13
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Default Re: Lost Horizon - Ladakh

Nubra Valley - Pangong Lake



The road from Nubra Valley to Pangong lake has a peculiar problem. When the sun rises, the heat melts the snow which comes down, carrying small rocks and stones and erodes the road. Our drivers insisted that we leave at 5 am so that we could cross the worst before it gets too hot.
Accordingly, we left at 0500 hrs and made steady progress. The snow melt had fuelled streams and they in turn rivers, which were like a raging torrent.

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The topography was rock and mud mountains, with deep gashes left by the snow melt. It was a beautiful sight. There was no traffic on the road since many prefer to visit Pangong and Nubra valley as a morning to dusk affair from Leh. Thus the road from Nubra Valley to Pangong was quite deserted.

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After a short while , we came upon a crater in the road, made by the gushing water. Workers from the BRO were hard at it, trying to cover the craters.

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We managed to cross the stream without any mishap.

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I must place on record, the yeoman service done by the Borders Road Organisation. They were at it, early in the morning led by Mr Surenderan. I thanked them for being so diligent and work conscious.

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These people stay in nearby camps for 6 months at a time, clearing the roads, making new ones, shoring the ridges, making bridges and such. It is hard work, particularly in such hostile environment. We stopped at one such camp for using the conveniences:

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They had thoughtfully made a temporary toilet, separately for ladies and gents. The scenery was spell biding. One could not have enough of it. The furrows made by the snow melt on the mountains made a pretty sight. Each one had a distinction of its own. At about 8 am we came upon this small tea tent and gratefully ordered hot tea.

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We had no breakfast since we had started very early, but were carrying bread (Yes, fresh bread is baked in Nubra Valley!) butter, tomatoes, cucumber and such. We stopped at a convenient and scenic place and enjoyed freshly made sandwiches, sitting in the open air, with a stream gushing by.

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We could have sat for hours here. It was very peaceful and the air, invigorating.

Shall continue shortly... tired out!

Last edited by earthian : 27th July 2016 at 14:13.
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Old 27th July 2016, 18:08   #14
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Default Re: Lost Horizon - Ladakh

Pangong Tso


Ladakh is best enjoyed by road ( no other transport available ), and more than the destinations, which are good, it is the journey that is so very enjoyable.

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We came to this beautiful spot where the river merrily bubbles its way. We had to stop, remove our shoes, roll up our trousers and soak our feet. We stayed here for more than an hour, enjoying nature to its fullest.

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As mentioned earlier, traffic was sparse and we met some bikers:

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The famous pashmina wool is a product of the pashmina goats and we stopped for a quick photo:

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We crossed an Army camp and i was puzzled by the slogan written on the roofs:

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There are quite a few Army camps on the way:

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About 30 kms later we reached Pangong lake.

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The Army was kind enough to offer us lunch and a boat ride on the lake which we gratefully accepted.

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We left after lunch and proceeded to our hotel Chang La queen. this property is owned by the J&K Tourism department and is given out on lease to a private party who probably had won the tender auction. The property is located just adjacent to the lake and is quite nicely made save that maintenance has been very poor. This could become the best property in Pangong Lake, if only the wooden cottages were maintained properly and aa bit of landscaping done on the surroundings. Still, we were happy to have a facility near the lake.

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We spent more than an hour by the lake, enjoying the sight and the colours. I would like to stress that the colours as shown in my pictures are as it was. It may look like that the colours have been enhanced, but trust me, it was as such.

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If Ladakh is the crown ( of india), the Pangong Lake is the jewel in the crown. One has to see it to believe it. It is so beautiful.

I was eager to photograph the setting sun and it didn't disappoint:

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After dinner, i was eager to do some night photography, but the howling wind and the chill factor did not allow me to fool around much. Still, i spent about an hour. Here is a shot of my friend, trying to locate the Milky way with a torch.

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After fooling around with the Milky way, we went to bed at around 11:30 pm.

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Last edited by Rudra Sen : 28th July 2016 at 11:24.
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Old 28th July 2016, 05:30   #15
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Default Re: Lost Horizon - Ladakh

Quote:
Originally Posted by dinesh6481 View Post
Coming on to 'been there-Done that' part, did you see Tololing? imagine the feature was captured with full strength and it was impending the move of own forces to north. Thus the greatness of 2 RajRif came into being which cleared the mighty Tololing feature with 5 officers lost their lives in the battle. it was the watershed moment of the war which led to significant gains subsequently. the battle of Tololing is a matter of folklore now in army fraternity and aptly so. it is heartening to see a young soldier briefing the awestruck civilians.
We saw the mountain, if that is what you mean. Can't miss it actually. The letters are marked out in stone on the side and you can see it from miles away. We did not, however, go to the LoC since one of our members was not keeping too well.
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