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Old 25th March 2011, 19:20   #1
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Arrow Leh-Ladakh August 2010: Lakshya Foundation

Hello All,

I always wanted to write my experience of visiting Leh Ladakh in August 2010 but somehow was not finding time or was lazy about writing it. Recently i was going through Nandu Sir's adventure and this time i decided to make a start. This Assembly Line feature came at the right time and i decided to make full use of it. Thanks GTO and team for this new feature.

Background:
My Mother in Law (MIL) first visited Leh along with a group of 5 friends for the first time in the year 2004. She was simply amazed by the beauty of the place. During her visit to Leh she also made it a point to stop by at different Army camps to meet the soldiers. During that trip she and her friend took a pledge to bring civilians from Mumbai every year to visit the place, to experience the beauty and also to understand the difficult terrain in which our soldiers protect our country. My MIL works in a nationalized bank and is not a tour operator. But she is active in other activities as well like taking groups for trekking, drama etc.

So every year since then she has been taking a group of 35-40 people to Leh-Ladakh sometimes once a year or twice a year during July to August time frame. Now you guys must be wondering why "Lakshya Foundation" in the title of the thread. Well after taking people to Leh-Ladakh for so many years and interacting with the armed forces my MIL has now started a NGO by the name Lakshya Foundation. I would not go into the details about the objectives but the key focus is on the armed forces. The details of the activities can be checked out on the website www.lakshyafoundation.co.in.


I somehow was not able to make it on any of the earlier trips because of various reasons but in 2010 planned well in advance and decided to join the group. Then bad luck and natures fury struck. On 6th Aug there was a cloud burst in Leh and the images being aired on TV were not very inspiring. Our group was of 44 people with the oldest members being a couple aged 76 and 74. Most of the other members were also above 50. Our trip was going to start on 18th August and my MIL started getting frantic calls from people about the trip. All the bookings were done and MIL was in a fix. For the next 10 days MIL was in constant touch with people in LEH to get the updates. We did a meeting on 15th Aug and informed the group that we are going ahead with the trip. People wishing to drop out can do now. The group of 44 reduced to 30 people and we decided to go ahead.

Would start the thread with the brief itinerary first and would then get into the details with snaps. I think the beauty of Ladakh has been captured by various members superbly in different threads (which i cannot match), so if possible would share some other snaps related to the different places we visited. The other reason is i do not fancy my photography skills and my camera is also a basic Canon Digital Camera which maybe does not do full justice to the beauty of Ladakh.


Itinerary: The expedition was planned between 18th to 28th August 2010. The detailed itinerary was as follows:

Day 1: Mumbai to Delhi by flight. Reach Delhi in the evening and proceed to Manali in bus (overnight journey).

Day 2: Reach Manali in the morning. Stay in Manali for the night

Day 3: Manali - Marhi - Rohtang Pass - Kelong - Baralacha Pass - Sarchu. Reach Sarchu in the evening and stay in tented accomodation

Day 4: Sarchu - Leh. This proved to be the longest stretch. Would detail it later. Reach Leh by evening.

Day 5: Leh - Khardungla Pass - Deskit Nubra Valley

Day 6: Nubra Valley - Leh

Day 7: Leh - Pangong Lake. Overnight stay at Pangong Lake on a Full Moon Night

Day 8: Pangong Lake - Leh. On the way back visit Hermis Monastery and Hall of Fame museum

Day 9: Leh - Kargil

Day 10: Kargil - Drass - Srinagar. Overnight stay in houseboat at srinagar

Day 11: Srinagar - Mumbai by flight.

Last edited by amitwlele : 25th March 2011 at 23:00.
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Old 25th March 2011, 22:50   #2
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Day 1 & 2 - Mumbai to Delhi & Delhi to Manali

The journey started from Mumbai to Delhi by air and we reached Delhi on time by around 5 PM. From their we straight away left to board the bus to Manali.

Below are some snaps on the way to Manali. This was my first journey to Manali. I was sitting on the front seat of the Volvo and the whole night could not sleep. The way the driver was navigating the roads (especially in the ghats) in the night it was getting scary for me.

Leh-Ladakh August 2010: Lakshya Foundation-img_1394.jpg

This was the place where we had stopped for Breakfast.

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We reached Manali by 12 and checked in to the hotel. The journey was tiring for me with no sleep. So decided to catch some sleep in the afternoon for a couple of hours.

In the evening at around 4 PM we visited the Indo-Tibetian Border Police camp. As i mentioned earlier the objective of these trips every year is also to meet soldiers at different regiments and share sweets with them. Also as we had visited during Raksha Bandhan, Rakhis were also tied.

ITBP Forces at the camp

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MIL addressing the gathering

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Raksha Bandhan

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MIL being presented with a Momento

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This was my first visit to a regiment of any defense force. I first hand experienced the disciplined lives of the soldiers. I don't know as soon as we reached there within no time Tea and Snacks were arranged. Post that all the jawans posted there assembled at the designated point. It was great interacting with them.

Post the interaction at ITBP we reached the hotel and decided to call it a day early as next morning was the big and long day. Leaving early morning from Manali to Sarchu. To be continued in the next post..

Last edited by amitwlele : 25th March 2011 at 23:00.
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Old 25th March 2011, 23:50   #3
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Day 3: Manali to Sarchu

Next Morning we started at 5 AM to leave for Manali. The journey from Manali to Sarchu was done in Qualis taxis taken from Manali.

Early morning folks getting ready for Sarchu

Leh-Ladakh August 2010: Lakshya Foundation-img_1416.jpg

Road after Marhi (breakfast stop) towards Rohtang pass. As it had rained a lot the road was in a pretty bad shape. As this was my first visit i am not sure if it is always this bad and was shocked . Maybe regulars can comment.

Leh-Ladakh August 2010: Lakshya Foundation-img_1421.jpg

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Stop to capture the beauty

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Trucks making their Slow and Steady progress
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Some more bad roads being worked upon

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Petrol Bunk near Keilong

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Scenes from our Lunch Stop at Keilong

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Our Amazing Drivers who negotiated the roads

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And our rides

Leh-Ladakh August 2010: Lakshya Foundation-img_1466.jpg


Post our lunch stop at Keilong we started our journey towards Sarchu. As per the itinerary we were going to do the ascent from Manali to Leh in 2 days with overnight stay at Sarchu in tented accomodation.

As the ascent started and we were getting near to Sarchu some people started to feel some mild effects of High Altitude. Though it was not too bad at that time.

Some random snaps from our journey from Keilong to Sarchu

Leh-Ladakh August 2010: Lakshya Foundation-img_1473.jpg

Leh-Ladakh August 2010: Lakshya Foundation-img_1471.jpg

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Our Tented Accomodation at Sarchu.

Leh-Ladakh August 2010: Lakshya Foundation-img_1479.jpg


By the time we reached Sarchu some people were definitely affected by High Altitude Sickness and were not in a position to even pick up the luggage from the taxi to the tent. Again would like to mention here that Senior Citizens were able to handle it much better. Thankfully i was not too much affected by it. Only felt a bit tired and slight difficulty in breathing. We decided to have a quick dinner and crash. The next mornings plan was even more daunting. Start at 3.30 AM from Sarchu to move to Leh.

To be continued.
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Old 26th March 2011, 05:56   #4
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Default Re: Leh-Ladakh August 2010: Lakshya Foundation

Hey Amit ...hats off to your Mother-in-Law. Keep the story rolling. The pics have come good thus far. I am sure this thread is going to rock!

Rgds

Cdr Nandu Chitnis (Retd)
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Old 26th March 2011, 08:29   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nanduchitnis View Post
Hey Amit ...hats off to your Mother-in-Law. Keep the story rolling. The pics have come good thus far. I am sure this thread is going to rock!

Rgds

Cdr Nandu Chitnis (Retd)
Thank you Sir for the encouraging words. Would continue to post the day wise updates. Writing not being a strong point i was actually terrified of covering the whole journey of 10 days. But i think would cover up the deficiencies in writing with more number of snaps.
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Old 26th March 2011, 08:33   #6
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Default Re: Leh-Ladakh August 2010: Lakshya Foundation

Amit, some great captures and good to know that you did go through the trip after all.
Also hats off to your MIL. We need more civilians to appreciate the hardwork our armed forces do keep our borders safe so that "we" can lead normal life.

And as regards to Rohtang, the road is generally always that bad apart from looking like a landfill courtesy the tourist influx from Manali.

Cheers
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Old 26th March 2011, 08:51   #7
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Day 4: Sarchu to Leh

Our initial itinerary plan before the cloudburst was to start from Sarchu at 6 AM for Leh as we had to cover 255 KMs. But when we reached Sarchu in the evening we were told that the normal route that is taken from Sarchu to Leh has been washed out by the floods and the Army is still working on it. We had to take a different route to Leh which added another 200 odd KMs. Hence it was decided to leave Sarchu early at 3.30 AM to cover up the distance.

On this route we took the lunch break at Pang and also passed through Tangland La Pass to reach Leh in the evening at 6 PM. It surely was one of the longest and most tiring journey of the entire trip. But the sights on the journey were simply mind blowing.

Some folks who had started experiencing HAMS on reaching Sarchu had not recovered and we knew that it would take them time. For them the journey was slightly difficult because of the constant vomitting.

The Qualis that we took from Manali to Sarchu were replaced by another Toyota fleet the Innovas which had reached Sarchu from Leh.

Below are snaps captured from our journey to Leh from Sarchu.

Breakfast Stop
Leh-Ladakh August 2010: Lakshya Foundation-img_1483.jpg

Scenes on the Road

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Roads. At some places the drivers had to get down to place rocks in flowing water for the vehicles to make their way through.

Leh-Ladakh August 2010: Lakshya Foundation-img_1500.jpg

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Leh-Ladakh August 2010: Lakshya Foundation-img_1514.jpg

Enroute there was also a small landslide but it was efficiently and quickly cleared which did not cause too much of a delay

Leh-Ladakh August 2010: Lakshya Foundation-img_1521.jpg

Leh-Ladakh August 2010: Lakshya Foundation-img_1522.jpg

Leh-Ladakh August 2010: Lakshya Foundation-img_1527.jpg

We reached Leh in the evening at around 6 PM. The next day's plan was to go to Nubra Valley via Khardungla. By the time we reached Leh almost all the folks got acclimatised and were fit. That was a great sign for the journey ahead.

Day 5 Leh to Nubra Valley to be continued.
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Old 26th March 2011, 09:05   #8
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Default Re: Leh-Ladakh August 2010: Lakshya Foundation

amitwele - beautiful pictures.
Its great to see the pictures of Himalayas. I am already being Nostalgic. My wifey is happy with all the ladakh logs going on. She would be flying into leh this April with an all lady gang.
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Old 26th March 2011, 10:29   #9
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Default Re: Leh-Ladakh August 2010: Lakshya Foundation

I am loving this! I remember the roads, the Sarchu tents (grrrrrrr 2 times we got hit with HAMS here)!

Your photos tell the story. Just let the wheels roll man !!

Rgds
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Old 26th March 2011, 11:13   #10
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very nice pics & xlnt scenaries. I've to visit these places once in my life time. thanks for sharing.
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Old 26th March 2011, 14:37   #11
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Day 5: Leh - Nubra Valley via Khardungla Pass

After a well deserved sleep overnight everybody was charged up next day for the journey to Nubra Valley. One reason for the excitment was Khardungla Pass (highest motorable road). Had read about this multiple times and had always dreamt of going there one day. That dream was going to be realized.

Snaps below enroute to Khardungla:

Leh-Ladakh August 2010: Lakshya Foundation-img_1530.jpg

Distant Monastery

Leh-Ladakh August 2010: Lakshya Foundation-img_1531.jpg

Some straight roads, winding roads and bad roads

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Milky may on the mountains

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Leh-Ladakh August 2010: Lakshya Foundation-img_1541.jpg

Finally we reached Khardungla. It was a breathtaking journey. That part of Leh was not much affected by the cloudburst and the roads were pretty ok (now this comparison is with the roads at Rohtang pass and stretches between Sarchu and Leh)

Mandatory Photo at Khardungla. Been there done that kind of. Eventhough i did not drive myself or rode a motorbike (aka Nandu Sir) it felt like some achievement. And then later on saw some foreigners doing cycling from Leh to Khardungla. I really admire their endurance, guts and spirit of adventure. I cannot imagine me doing that in India forget doing it some foreign land.

Leh-Ladakh August 2010: Lakshya Foundation-img_1562.jpg

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After stopping at Khardungla we proceeded to Deskit to our hotel. It was not a tented accomodation but small huts made of Bamboo. This place was owned by an ex Army person who was very friendly and helpful. Took lunch and decided to just relax in the open admiring the beauty all around. In the evening the plan was to do camel safari and visit Siachen Hospital.

Day 5 to be continued in the next post.
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Old 26th March 2011, 15:19   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MileCruncher View Post
Amit, some great captures and good to know that you did go through the trip after all.
Also hats off to your MIL. We need more civilians to appreciate the hardwork our armed forces do keep our borders safe so that "we" can lead normal life.

And as regards to Rohtang, the road is generally always that bad apart from looking like a landfill courtesy the tourist influx from Manali.

Cheers
Thank you Sir. Yes we were able to make it. We were undecided till the last moment. But MIL has been doing it for the last 7 years and she felt that at this time when the people of LEH want the tourists to return it would not be right to abandon the plan. After going there every year she has got a different connection with the people out there.

Totally agree with you on the the second point about admiring the hardwork of our armed forces. In fact this is the main reason for starting Lakshya Foundation. Before going to Leh Ladakh my knowledge of armed forces was limited to some films or through the narrations of MIL. But experiencing the terrain and meeting the jawans was a totally different and eye opening experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by laluks View Post
amitwele - beautiful pictures.
Its great to see the pictures of Himalayas. I am already being Nostalgic. My wifey is happy with all the ladakh logs going on. She would be flying into leh this April with an all lady gang.
That is great. Wishing the gang a very happy journey. But if possible ask your wife to plan one way road trip either to Leh or while returning from Leh. That journey is really spectacular. But she is going in April? Do the passes open fully by that time?

Quote:
Originally Posted by nanduchitnis View Post
I am loving this! I remember the roads, the Sarchu tents (grrrrrrr 2 times we got hit with HAMS here)!

Your photos tell the story. Just let the wheels roll man !!

Rgds
This was my first experience of staying overnight in Tents. But i should say the tents were luxurious. I mean it had everything that one needs to spend a night. And what else can we expect at that height.

Sir, one thing that i did to avoid mountain sickness was to have Camphor (Bhimseni Kapur) always in my handkerchief and used to regularly sniff it. I am sure you must already be aware of it. But just thought of mentioning it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ALSUDA View Post
very nice pics & xlnt scenaries. I've to visit these places once in my life time. thanks for sharing.
Thank you for the compliments.

Yes you should do that. I would suggest do it as early as possible. I am worried that with so much influx of tourists the beauty of Leh Ladakh should not get affected by commercialization.

Last edited by amitwlele : 26th March 2011 at 15:29.
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Old 26th March 2011, 17:04   #13
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WOW! this is truly heaven on earth! outstanding pictures. Absolutely breathtaking views of the snow capped mountains, travel bugs have already started biting. the land slides look pretty dangerous. its really cool that they were cleared efficiently and quickly too.
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Old 26th March 2011, 17:21   #14
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Great narrative .. shared from the heart!

Some lovely pics there too! What camera and Lens?

--Ragul
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Old 26th March 2011, 18:16   #15
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Default Re: Leh-Ladakh August 2010: Lakshya Foundation

Thats one superb travelogue. We were ourselves contemplating going to Leh-Ladakh in Innova and how good/bad it would be. Reading your travelogue gives us quite an incite. The last time I had been to Rohtang pass was in mid-May when the road was not bad mostly with snow everywhere, but the pics here depict quite a different story. And ofcrouse Superb Pics
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