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Old 21st February 2017, 11:01   #1
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Default Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh

After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb - Nelson Mandela

Trip to Leh Ladakh which was on top of my bucket list of places to visit not fulfilled even after several attempts over the years. After reading so many travelogues, blogs, watching many documentaries this feeling of not travelling to Leh was frustrating and irritating.

Yes, finally we got Leh'd! After almost 10 years of waiting trip to Leh - Ladakh materialized, that too in winter. In-fact travelogues on Ladakh, other Himalayan mountains attracted me to Team-BHP way back in 2007.

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_9747.jpg

It is not one of the easier trips. Extreme weather condition, snow fall, high altitude, low oxygen, freezing temperature touching upto -25 / -30* c, news of frequent flight cancellation, no proper food, no proper sleep, 300 Kms road trip in a single day at high altitude snow covered road, on top of that 15-20 kms soft trek which turned out to be adventures.

In the end we made it successfully. Feeling of completing the Leh-Ladakh tour is much much better than temporary niggles we faced if at all any. Luck factor also played major role. Scenery we saw, awesome trek we went, snowfall experience, interacting with army personnel, walking on frozen Pangong Tso, visiting 18,300 feet Khardungla, home stay experience at Yangtang village. Truly experience worth cherishing throughout life.

Except army men no other tourists at those places wherever we went. We could not ask for more as it is maiden trip to that region.

It was in mid 2016 we started planning. Lots of information exchanged through WhatsApp group. Generally winter trip to Ladakh means "Chadar trek", as most of the routes, sight seeing places closes due to snowfall or bad weather. Our preference was not Chadar. But combination of trek, road trip, sight seeing. I always admired team-bhpian ADC's multiple escapades to Ladakh. Consulted him and asked his help in planning our trip. He readily agreed and provided every info we requested, also sent customized tour plan for one week which matched our preferences.

So tour itinerary finalized, air tickets booked. Thus began our second list of preparation "fitness" and winter gear purchasing. By Jan 2017 end we were almost ready with all purchases. Then the news came from Leh. Bad weather, heavy snowfall effecting flight movement, chadar trek cancelled for 10 days, tourists facing trouble due to flight cancellation / food / accommodation shortage. These came as shocker to us, also made us think twice "have we opted right time to visit Leh?". This year Leh received heavy snowfall, which was not seen for past few years.

Everyone decided whatever it is, we must continue with the plan and complete this trip. Our families too obliged and gave us green signal with blessings.

Last edited by Nempuguru : 21st February 2017 at 22:11.
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Old 21st February 2017, 11:10   #2
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Default Re: Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh

Some teaser photos:

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_0047.jpg

View from Hemis monastery

~o~

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View from Thiksey monastery

~o~

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View from Shey Palace

~o~

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~o~

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Sham valley trek route

~o~

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Sham valley trek route

~o~

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Frozen waterfall on the way

~o~

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View of river Indus from Karu

~o~

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_1799.jpg

Frozen Pangong Tso

~o~

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_1930.jpg

Another frozen lake on the way

~o~
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Old 21st February 2017, 11:15   #3
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Default Re: Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh

When: from 8th February to 15 February, 2017

Our tour itinerary:

Day 1: Rest day, local sight seeing, Leh market visit

Day 2: 70-80 kms road trip covering Hemis, Thiksey monasteries, Shey palace other attractions on the way

Day 3: Trek to Yangtang village from Liker (Sham valley trek). On the way sight seeing places visit. Night home stay experience at Yangtang

Day 4: Return trek to Ridzong, Lamayuru monastery visit, other sight seeing places on the way

Day 5: 300 Kms road trip to frozen Pangong Tso, other sight seeing places on the way

Day 6: Road trip to Khardung la; visit to Hall of fame; visit to Shanti stupa; shopping at Leh market

Day 7: Return to Delhi, reserve day

Day 8: Delhi sight seeing, afternoon return flight to Bangalore
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Old 21st February 2017, 11:45   #4
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Default Re: Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh

Some positives of this trip:

* Proper planning and sticking to the plan throughout trip, time management, luck factor.

* Team BHPian ADC's suggestions, help in planning the trip, coordination. Thanks a ton.

* Keeping 1 day as reserve during return to Delhi.

* Carrying electric Kettle, extension cord/spike buster. It was extremely useful.

* Carrying dry-fruits, dates, energy bars, ground nut chikki etc handy snacks. Also carrying ORS powder, ORS tetra packs.

* Almost all tour members consulted their family doctor and took suggestions, precautionary medicines. Another cousin who is a Doc was in continuous contact for any help. He was suppose to join, backed out due to leave issues just before a month.

* Good - energetic guide Dorje, good vehicle (Innova), expert friendly driver throughout the trip, coordination from Mr. Abdul and team at Leh.

* Off season, very very less crowd everywhere, even in Leh market.

* Spectacular scenery everywhere.

* Hearing Siachin glacier experiences from Army personnel.

* 3 DSLRs, multiple lenses, GoPro with new 'Karma grip' of great use.

* Home stay experience, hospitality, food from elderly couple at Yangtang, wood burning room heater experience.

* Quick acclimatization. Resistance to cold, harsh weather, high altitude, less oxygen without diamox during trek, Pangong and Khardung la trip (we started diamox course initially, couple of days before the trek. But stopped soon after reaching Leh due to irritations it caused).

* Tripod. Yes, worth carrying that everywhere, even during trek.

* Flight choices, timing was good. Got extra time to relax.

* Kumara Parvata trek experience, couple of months before this trip.
(http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...karnataka.html (Trek to Kumara Parvatha, Karnataka))

Last edited by Nempuguru : 21st February 2017 at 22:10.
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Old 21st February 2017, 14:44   #5
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Default Re: Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh

Just a week before the trip started tracking weather prediction, flight movements. Those are really testing times, news of flight cancellation was worrying. Temperature was also dropping rapidly. Then the D day arrived.

Day 0: 7th February 2017

Day full of mixed feelings, happiness, tension. Returned early from office. Final round of packing too completed. Our flight to Delhi was in the evening. I intentionally not booked connecting flights for this trip, instead booked Bangalore-Delhi-Bangalore and Delhi-Leh-Delhi flights separately, keeping buffer timings between flights. In-fact during return kept one day as reserve at Delhi. Due to this we had plan B ready, in case if any flight got cancelled or delayed.

Bangalore - Delhi flight got delayed by almost an hour, so reached Delhi by mid night 12. Our flight to Leh was from T-3, soon grabbed our luggage and headed towards T-3 using complimentary bus transit service. Security personnel allowed us inside terminal after checking our ID, ticket without any issues, even though our flight was after 5-6 hours. Baggage check-in, security check was also completed in no time. Flight was suppose to start from gate 58, which is almost a Km away. As we had just a cabin bag with us, headed towards gate 58, in between saw some quite, vacant sleeping lounges. Decided to take much needed rest, setting alarm at 5.30 AM.

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-p_20170208_013017-copy.jpg

Woke up on time after a short nap, freshened up at near by rest room. Flight movement display was showing our flight's status as on time. Quickly headed to gate 58, as we arrived boarding gates too opened. That was the happiest moment for us. Without any last minute surprises our flight was ready to take off. Over an hour and 15 mins later we landed in Leh. Our tour thus began with a happier note.

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-p_20170208_073423-copy.jpg

Day 1: 8th February 2017

Outside temperature was freezing, cold breeze, snow everywhere. Pickup taxi to our hotel was waiting for us, quickly got in with our heavy luggage. As we entered hotel, snowfall intensified. That continued till next day. As a result all other scheduled flights got cancelled. We thanked our luck. After breakfast, as advised took rest for better acclimatization.

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-gopr0325.jpg

Venturing out was challenging with those heavy winter gears. We wore 5 layer cloths which included thermal, 2 layer socks, 2 layer gloves. After lunch decided to roam a bit and visit Leh city. Our ride for entire tour Innova with friendly driver Abdulla were waiting for us. Due to bad weather most part of Leh city was closed, few shops which were open also preparing for early closure at 3.30 pm. Hall of fame too closed early. So could not see much on first day. After couple of rounds at market, some essential purchases, hot tea and hot 'gajar ka halwa' we returned to our base.

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-gopr0353.jpg

For clear outside view, we opted top floor room for our stay (hotel admins gave ground floor room initially). That turned out to be a bad choice, chillness was more, heater was not working. As the sun faded, cold-chillness was unbearable. We were clueless what to do, this much cold we never encountered before. Spoke to the concerned person asking change in room or better heater. They agreed to shift one room to first floor, another by next day morning. Gave extra electric heater. 2 persons opted first floor room, remaining 3 of us decided to spend the night at top floor room. Don't no how we spent time till morning that night under intense cold, sans heater. During mid night power also went off. By morning we were feeling little comfortable, bit adjusted to high altitude and cold.

Day 2: 9th Feb 2017

Woke up leisurely, got ready, had breakfast. Over night snow covered entire Leh with white mattress. After some photo sessions we were ready for the road trip. Our plan was to visit outskirts of Leh towards Manali direction. Car arrived on time, back side wheel had chain protection for extra grip on snow.

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We requested driver to stop in between for photography opportunity. We were suppose to see Hemis, Thiksey monasteries, shey palace and other sight seeing places en route. Weather was chill, cool breeze, snow every where. On the way we stopped at multiple places. Whichever angle you see there is photography opportunity for enthusiasts. During one such stop near Indus river, we really cut loose and clicked some mind blowing photographs, selfies including the first photo of this travelogue. That location was truly out of the world.

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Very less vehicles on road apart from few military vehicles. Even could not see localites on street. After Karu we took diversion and headed towards Hemis. Here we could not make out which is road, that much dense snow cover everywhere. Driver Abdul was driving calmly without any issues.

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_9944.jpg

Hemis location is very scenic. Mountains, valley, frozen rivers can be seen on the way. Hemis monastery was closed when we reached. But from outside it was accessible. Clicked lot of photographs here, spent some quite moments too.

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Then headed towards Karu. Had tasty lunch with curd at Punjabi restaurant. That's the only place we got curd with food during our trip.

After lunch break, we visited Thiksey monastery. It was open, but no one was around even to ask some info. We reached top of the monastery, no one stopped us in between. View from top was exceptional. Again spent some quality time here clicking pictures, offered our prayers and returned. Later headed to '3 idiots' fame Ranchos school which was on the way. School was closed for winter vacation. Here also thick blanket of snow everywhere. After few 3 idiots style photos we returned from this place.

Next visited Shey palace and monastery. This was on a peak, accessible only by walk. Luckily no one faced any issue while climbing stairs, signs of better acclimatization. One of the monk after seeing us opened the door of prayer room. We offered our prayers. Spent more than 30 minutes enjoying the view from peak. Again fantastic view all around, bright sunshine was the highlight. With that our second day's excursion was over. We returned to our room by 6 pm.

Some random photos from this day:

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Tour coordinator Mr. Abdul was waiting for us. He had a surprise for us. "Due to heavy snowfall Sham valley route (which is one of the easier trek option) has become difficult for trek, you better choose some other road trip option for day 3 and 4" he told us. For few seconds we were totally blank, we wanted to complete this trek which is one of the highlight of this trip. We said we are well prepared, whatever the challenges we will face and complete this trek, provided good guide is with us. After couple of minutes discussion, he agreed for the trek. Also gave us option to cut short trek in between if any difficulties. Vehicle will be available from nearest accessible point.

With this assurance we are all set to go for the trek next day.

Contd.

Last edited by Nempuguru : 21st February 2017 at 22:18.
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Old 22nd February 2017, 07:26   #6
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Default Re: Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 22nd February 2017, 16:51   #7
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Day 3: 10th Feb 2017, Trek day

This was the day we were eagerly waiting for. Our first trek in mighty Himalayas. As quoted initially this is just the beginning. Previous night we kept our trek backpack ready with all essentials like hiking pole, tripod, ORS, snacks, water bottles, extra cloths. Aim was to limit backpack weight under 6 kgs.

Morning we were ready by 8.30 AM. Car arrived on time with guide Mr. Dorje. He is a live wire-energetic chap. Within few minutes he became friendly with us chit chatting, cracking non stop humours. They even arranged gum boots for us, which is essential as snow is more on trek route. We headed towards Kargil direction on NH1. Today also no respite from snow on road, luckily snowfall stopped and sky was clear with bright sunshine. After crossing magnetic hill driving on snow was becoming difficult. Wheel arches too covered with thick snow, rut. Near Pathar Sahib Gurudwar driver decided to put chain on wheels.

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_0416.jpg

This took more than an hour, which was a good break for us. We roamed around, took pics, interacted with army personnel, visited Gurudwar, also had prasad. After all this car was ready with chain covered wheels. We continued our journey. Guide told us we are already running late for the trek. Homestay booking for night stay has not been done yet as no phone network in Yangtang, our destination. We have to reach Yangtang before nightfall as it is extremely difficult to trek without day light, also tough to get accommodation and food.

Delay means no more photography breaks en route. But near Sangam point (Indus - Zanskar river confluence) he stopped for 10 - 15 mins. Again view was extremely good. We used all our photographic equipments to click photos here, including mobile.

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_0465.jpg

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Mean time driver removed chain as going beyond 30 Kmph was not possible with chain, even snow was less on road after Sangam. Guide picked up some snacks for afternoon lunch at Nimmu. By 12 noon we reached Liker junction. Here we took deviation from highway. After crossing couple of kms driver said going ahead is becoming difficult due to snow and narrow road. You better get down and start your trek from here itself. Our trek to Yangtang suppose to be of 9 kms. 2-3 kms extra got added due to difficult terrain. We were completely ready for this. Took our backpack, adjusted our hiking pole and started our trek by 12.30 pm.

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_0574.jpg

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_0594.jpg

Meanwhile our guide forgot to give brief intro on how to walk on snow with gum boots, other tips. He was full of josh, immediately after getting down from vehicle started telling we should make it faster. After some distance we told him "calm down, let us enjoy the beauty too along with trekking, that is why we are here. No issues, we will gain speed as the trek progresses". He obliged our request, later on he was more casual.

Trek path was combination of gradients, slopes, narrow road, path full of rocks. One thing was common, snow snow everywhere. Stone falling from cliff was bit scarier. After half an hour walk we were well adjusted with gum boot, felt better walking on snow.

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Dorje was leading us, guiding us very well. Around 1.30 we reached Sumdo village (by seeing a board we recognised it's a village). Till now we didn't even met a single soul. We took deviation here and took a narrow path, also crossed a stream. Decided to have lunch near a gompa. Again no single soul around. Himalayan birds which are abundant were only the companions for us. Dorje took another route in search of Ladakhi food for him, after giving juice, sandwiches, local snack 'mutter' to us. As we were having food, he returned only to say didn't get any food as no eateries was open. We quickly gobbled whatever snacks we had. Juicy oranges refreshed us. After 30 mins break we continued our trek.

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Post lunch, trek route became more and more difficult due to heavy snow, almost 2-3 feet. This path was untouched by any soul atleast for a week. No foot mark apart from some wild animal's. Piercing through that snow and walking was daunting task. We were following Dorje's foot steps here, literally. Path continued through deserted valley. Hills on both the sides blocked sun rays which increased chillness drastically. Younger member in our team lost speed due to this, also he was suffering from light stomach cramp. Dorje told us path is extremely difficult for couple of kilometres, time is also running out. We should walk in group, don't leave anyone behind. We thought of taking break, but no space to sit due to snow. Quickly had energy bar, dryfruits, ORS mixed water. That reenergised us.

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We continued our walk making our own path, piercing snow. After an hour and a half we could see the road. But reaching there was another challenge as it was mid of the hill. Couple of failed attempts later, we took easier looking ascent to climb and reached the road. Our shoes, cloth, bag was covered with snow.

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We badly wanted to reach area with proper sunshine. It was still some distance away, felt comfortable once we were in sunlit area. Now we could walk faster as quantity of snow on road reduced.

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_0722.jpg

We could even see Yangtang village from distance. By 5.30 pm we reached Yangtang village completing around 12 kms trek. Distance wise nothing, but amount of snow made it difficult to walk.

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_0738.jpg

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Dorje went ahead in search of homestay. After some time happily returned, as an elderly ladakhi couple agreed to host us.

Yangtang is a remote village with few houses. During season it is one of the famous places for homestay. Lot of foreigners too visit this place during season. Now in this winter it was completely deserted without any activities. They even do farming here, but now all those fields heavily covered with snow. This area is snow leopard territory. Our host and guide both cautioned us not to venture out during night. Not just leopards even street dogs turn violent due to scarcity of food.

We entered our host Mr Namjalís house. Typical Ladakhi Buddhist house, warm from inside. Both Mr and Mrs Namjal welcomed us. Dorje showed us our room. It was spacious enough for five people. We quickly got rid of our backpack and gum boots. He even brought wood logs and lit fire inside wood burning heater. It took some time to heat up, after a while entire room was warm and very comfortable. That continued till we slept off later in the night. Warm blankets too came along, followed by hot cup of tea. All these gave much needed respite from cold. We took rest for a while.

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img20170218wa0046.jpg

Today was full moon day, sky was also clear without clouds. View from room was very good. After a while hot soup came which was yummy and good for throat. Simple rice, daal, veggie was for dinner which was again tasty. After dinner we decided to roam around a bit, they cautioned us not to go far. As soon as we came out from room we could make out how warmer inside room due to heater and blankets. Locals say more clear the sky more intense the cold. That was true!

We tried taking few photos of landscapes in full moon light. Severe cold weather hampered our photography experiments. Soon we returned to our room and slept like a log.

End of another wonderful day in Ladakh, amidst mother nature.

Contd.
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Old 22nd February 2017, 21:16   #8
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Your travelogue floored me because of two reasons.

1. Invoking Nelson Mandela.
2. Breathtakingly beautiful photography.

Waiting for the rest of the report.
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Old 24th February 2017, 12:09   #9
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Day 04: 11 Feb 2017

Morning we got up leisurely, freshened up, had breakfast and ready by 8.00 AM. During breakfast Dorje said we should delay our return trek by 2 hours atleast, revised time is by 10.30 AM. As per earlier estimate we thought of starting by 8.30 AM. Due to overnight snow, slippery path Namjal said better start little late. We readily agreed as it gave us enough time to explore nearby surroundings.

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_0772.jpg

As I said earlier Yangtang is beautiful place, a small remote village with friendly Ladakhi people. We met few localites, one person was ex-military - now a farmer. Took pictures of beautiful surroundings. Even clicked customary group picture with our host. Must say, we experienced one of the best homestays.

Started our return trek by 10.30 AM. Again very good weather for trek with bright sunshine. Today's trek route was different, around 5 Kms. Our plan was to reach Rizong village by noon, from then on continue by car. Mr. Namjal too joined us for some distance as he was visiting one of his farm fields. As soon as we came out of that tiny village scenery completely changed which was magical. We have only seen such location in some movies, or heard in fairy tales.

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Again not a single soul we met until we reached Rizong. Yesterday I couldn't use GoPro for video capturing as we were in a hurry. Also chillness made it difficult to manage both DSLR and GoPro while walking. Today we are totally relaxed, fresh. Location was also very good compared to yesterday. After some distance we are walking next to a river in between hills. We felt as if we are in some wonderland, such a good location that was.

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_0933.jpg

After a while trek path and river merged, now we are walking on frozen river, stones are also falling from hill. We have to mind our step as well as watch out for falling stones. Dorje was shouting "jaldi jaldi aao, pattar gir raha hai". He said similar experience you will get in chadar trek. There for many days, here it is for couple of hours.

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After a Km we deviated from river path and took a narrow steep path. Now we are walking on mid of the hill through snow covered, narrow path. Deep valley towards left and huge hill with falling stones towards right.

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This tricky path abruptly ended after a while, now deep slope with sharp gravel was ahead of us. Some how negotiated this challenge and safely reached base of that peak, only to see another ascent ahead of us.

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Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_0974.jpg

After that, path turned to motorable road but full of snow. We decided to take 5 mins break as we are walking continuously without break from Namjal's house. Walking from here on was not difficult, only issue was falling stones from hillside.

We reached a junction, guide was bit confused on the route to take. One route was going up, another one towards valley. Again no one was around to ask which route to take. Dorje decided to take route towards valley which goes to Rizong village. He correctly guessed, route towards hill goes to Rizong monastery which is 30 mins extra walk. We headed towards Rizong village where our trek supposed to end. We were in a joyous mood as our trek about to complete successfully. With that happiness we reached Rizong only to see road covered with 2 feet snow. Our car no where to be seen. That disappointed us a bit.

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It was already 1 PM. Guide said no point in waiting here, no mobile network to call and check status of the vehicle (from yesterday we are in no network world). We continued our walk on snow laden road in a belief that we will catch hold of the car soon. Another hour passed, by 2 PM we reached NH 1. Here driver Abdulla with his Innova was waiting for us. He reached this junction 3 hours back, but couldn't take interior road due to heavy snow. We couldn't communicate with him due to no network.

That completed our 2 days trek and homestay experience. Exact distance walked in these two days not able to measure, it must be 20+ Kms. Definitely one of the best trekking experiences, route was fantastic, weather was very good.

We got rid of our luggage, camera gears and in no time sitting inside comfortable car. On the way we had noodles, tea as lunch at roadside eatery. As per our itinerary we continued on NH 1, reached Lamayuru monastery by 4 PM. Military presence was more throughout this stretch as we are near border/sensitive zone.

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Lamayuru is a very picturesque location, another sleeping village. Bright evening sunshine and snow cover made it even more beautiful. We offered our prayer inside monastery, took many pictures of the landscape. After some time we started our return journey. NH 1 was relatively free from snow compared to yesterday. Snow turned ice on road was slippery in many places. Abdulla could drive fast without any issues. We decided to keep our camera gear inside and one by one took much needed nap. By 6.30 PM we reached our Leh hotel. Heavy snow presence which was there everywhere reduced drastically by now.

We returned our gum boots, bid adieu to friendly guide Dorje thanking him for all the fun, also for the joyous, refreshing trek experience.

Another fantastic day at Ladakh ended with great satisfaction.

~o~

Some more photos from Day 4:

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_0823.jpg

~o~

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_0876.jpg

~o~

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_0893.jpg

~o~

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~o~

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Contd.
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Old 25th February 2017, 11:51   #10
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Default Re: Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh

Nice travelogue and great photography. You have captured the essence of the picturesque environment in true sense. Awaiting for the rest with bated breath.
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Old 25th February 2017, 17:27   #11
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Default Re: Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh

Based on all the Leh, Ladakh travelogues on BHP, I can easily claim that I have seen Leh in summer. Now I can also claim that I have seen Leh in Winter
But I am yet to get Leh'D!

Beautiful pics. Before I read the travelogue, I thought snow might just make Leh/Ladakh lose its vibrancy but I stand corrected. Eagerly awaiting more.
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Old 26th February 2017, 22:29   #12
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Day 05: 12 Feb 2017. Pangong Tso

Another lucky day as far as our trip's concerned. In our tour itinerary Pangong Tso visit was included only if weather, road condition is good. So till last moment it was uncertain whether we are visiting Pangong or not. When we asked driver Abdulla couple of days back he said not possible as road not yet cleared. It was only in the evening of 4th day our Pangong visit confirmed. Couple of calls later we came to know that BRO cleared this road from heavy snow and it is motorable now.

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_1445.jpg

This road is one of the crucial stretch for army men, for supplies and connectivity. BRO personnel always available here to clear things and make this road travel worthy. Their selfless service is commendable, hats off to them.

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_1381.jpg

Driver said be ready before 6.30 AM as lot of travel we have to do and return to our base by evening. Night stay at Pangong not possible in this season due to harsh weather, snowfall. There is a military checkpost at Changtang where we have to report before 3 PM during return from Pangong. After that gate closes and night no other option but to stay inside the car.

We were ready by 6.30 AM. Today nothing extra to carry apart from camera gears, snacks and water. In terms of activities nothing much. Just to sit in comfort on the soft seat, enjoy and capture the beauty of nature. Road trip of 300+ kms both ways.

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_1367.jpg

We reached Karu by 7.15 AM, had tasty Alu Parata with curd and Ginger tea at Panjabi Dhaba. At 8.00 AM, after breakfast, we deviated from Manali highway and took Changla Pass route. Decided not to take any break in between, so that we will get atleast an hour to spend in Pangong. By 9.30 we crossed Changla Pass.

Road trip continued, very less vehicular movement at this hour of the day. More importantly another bright, sunny day. BRO men did a splendid work by clearing heavy snow on the road. Abdulla was driving calmly without any issues.

Breathtakingly beautiful, scenic route this certainly is.

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By 11 we reached Changtang checkpost. Abdulla went inside with our entry permit form. Came back quickly after getting permission. Again they cautioned to return before 3.00 and not to venture anywhere except Pangong.

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_1545.jpg

From now on we are entering Changtang wildlife sanctuary. Picturesque landscapes continued. We also spotted foxes, wild ass, Ibex on the way.

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Reached Pangong Tso by 12.30 PM well within our estimated time. We indeed got more than 1 hour to spend here.

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Completely frozen, Pangong Tso was infront of us. Not even a single tourist apart from us. For a moment we were awestruck after seeing the vastness, tranquility of this mighty lake. Truly Nirvana moment! We could not believe we are walking on a frozen lake.

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We did Yoga, Pranayam. Took lot of pictures in different angles, different poses. Still we are not bored of enjoying the surroundings. Over an hour later, after the sense of satisfaction, hunger kicked in. Apart from alu parata early in the morning we didn't had anything till now. Luckily one canteen was open next to the lake. There we had noodles, soup.

Around 2 PM we started our return journey with heavy heart. Decided must return during summer and spend a night at this divine place in near future.

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First half of the day was very busy in clicking photos, continuous talking during journey. Pin drop silence inside car during second half. I am sure 'just one more day and tour concludes' was bothering us. Now on camera came out occasionally.

Crossed Changtang checkpost by 2.30 PM. Abdulla went inside, signed in their records and came back. We have crossed checkpost within the given time, spent enough time in Pangong too, all because of early start in the day. As we had enough time we stopped in between many times. Reached Chang la peak by 4.00 PM. After clicking mandatory photo near the landmark we returned.

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_1942.jpg

Visited Panjabi dhaba again at Karu for tea break. Continued our journey and reached our hotel by 6.30 PM.

What a memorable day it was, felt as if a day spent in an alien world. We the humans, tiny character infront of those humongous mountains.

Contd.
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Old 26th February 2017, 22:48   #13
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Some more photos from Day 5:

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_1399.jpg

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Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_1427.jpg

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Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_1459.jpg

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Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_1512.jpg

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Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_1526.jpg

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Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_1548.jpg

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Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_1566.jpg

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Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_1862.jpg

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Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_1936.jpg

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Last edited by Nempuguru : 26th February 2017 at 22:52.
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Old 27th February 2017, 13:22   #14
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Day 06: 13 Feb 2017

Our last sight seeing of this Leh-Ladakh trip. Today we planned to visit Khardung La during morning session, which is just 40 kms from Leh. Post lunch Hall of Fame visit, shopping etc. Later in the evening visit to Shanti stupa.

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_2019.jpg

We were ready by 8.30 AM. But no sign of our car till 9.00. We came to know that Abdullaís car had issue due to yesterdays long trip to Pangong, itís wheel got jammed courtesy thick layer of ice mixed with mud. By 9.30 alternate vehicle came, again Innova. We quickly got in and started towards Khardung La.

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Unlike Pangong route, this stretch was very narrow covered with snow, at many places slippery too. Snow clearing work was in progress.

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By 10 we reached South Pullu check post. Driver completed entry permit formalities quickly.

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_2125.jpg

We felt he is not much comfortable in driving over snow, compared to Abdulla. Couple of occasions car slightly went out of control due to slippery road condition.

We reached Khardungla pass by 10.45 AM. Apart from army personnel no other tourists here too. We met senior army personnels here. Interacted with them, shared our trek/tour experience with them, they shared Siachen experience with us. It was indeed a very pleasant meeting and interacting with them. They even offered tea to us. After couple of group photos with them, asked about souvenir shop which was closed. They opened just for us, based on our request. Purchased various merchandise here, as some portion of the amount paid goes to their betterment. We thanked them, lauded their selfless service and sacrifices.

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Later started roaming around a bit, took pictures, group photo near the landmark. Very cold at that high pass, even though bright sunny day. We asked army personnel about temperature, it was -25* c during noon.

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By 12, we started our return journey, which was uneventful. Headed straight to Leh market for lunch. Food at famous Neha snacks was good. Post lunch we went to see Hall of Fame. First day we had only a glimpse from outside as it closed early due to snowfall, bad weather. Now weather was good, no sign of snow on road.

View: Day 01
Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_2251_2.jpg

View: Day 06
Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_2251.jpg

After spending more than an hour inside war heroes museum, watching various documentaries, pictures, reading history, reading sacrifices - success stories of our proud Army, offering our respect to the martyrs we returned.

Itís time to appease our families back home. You guessed it correctly Shopping time! Itís indeed our duty to purchase something for our loved ones who supported us, readily gave permission to this guys only trip. After an hour of shopping inside Leh market we continued towards Shanti stupa.

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_2232.jpg

View of Leh palace from market

By now Abdullaís car was ready. Reached stupa by 5.15 PM. View from top was fantastic during that evening time.

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It was indeed peaceful here! All the actions of this glorious week long trip crossed my mind.

By 7 we reached our room. Painful task of repacking began. Luckily no signs of AMS in this trip, but now certainly signs of PVB (Post-vacation Blues) showing in us.

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Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_2367.jpg

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Day 07: 14 Feb 2017, Back to Delhi

Nothing much from here on. We were ready with our heavy luggage and equally heavy heart by 8.30 AM.

Taxi arrived for airport drop on time. Initial security check, baggage check, boarding pass all procedures over in no time. Now began the long wait for our flight to Delhi. Flight got delayed not due to bad weather but due to technical issues. Delay of nearly 5 hours! Luckily inside airport was warm enough. Many army men who are going on vacation were with us for company, itís great to know their experiences. Hatís off to them.

We were supposed to reach Delhi by 12.30 PM, due to delay reached only by 6.00 PM. Luckily our flight to Bangalore was on next day.

Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh-img_2437.jpg

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Day 08: 15 Feb 2017, Back to Bangalore

We took afternoon flight, reached Bangalore by 6.00 PM. But it took nearly 3 hours to reach our sweet home due to Air Show traffic. Welcome back to busy Bengalooru.

Overall one of the most satisfying tour comes to an end. This experience I wanted to record and give it travelogue look, where else Team-BHP is the right place. Thanks everyone for all the support, encouragement.
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Old 28th February 2017, 10:29   #15
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Default Re: Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh

Great travelogue buddy. After reading numerous travelogues to ladakh during summer season, this one was indeed different. The pictures definitely do the justice. Hats off to you and your brothers to take the trip in winters.
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