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Fun Time: Magnificent Ladakh

Magnificent Ladakh

Leafing through a class VIII geography book, I came across a chapter on Asia called “Continent of Contrasts”.

I thought this quite an appropriate phrase for our beautiful nation India. Ever so often I scroll through my Facebook home page and I see friends vacationing all over the world when you have all worlds amalgamate right here in India. You have some of the best beaches in the world as well as the highest and the mightiest mountains, the driest and the wettest place on earth… in a nutshell you have one country with a whole lot of superlatives attached to it.

Not to forget, you also have many countries right here in India; Scotland of the East – Shillong/ Coorg, Switzerland of the East. India is like a man for all seasons; if you dread the cold winter of the North, you could head to the warm beach. If you get exhausted from the mere heat, there are always the hill stations you could head to. Think it’s too dry out in the west? Set out right across India to the wettest place on earth. Or how about some time off from the mad rush of the city? There are dozens of places you could visit or drive to in just a few hours. Thanks to the internet, these places are accessible at the click of a button. Travelling, they say, opens up your mind to different cultures. Here’s one destination out of thousands that you could consider for your next family holiday.

Ladakh to me is like a new born to a parent. Everything the baby does leaves the parents in awe. And with every passing day the parent seems to see something new in the child that leaves them wanting more. For me Ladakh is like that. The place never fails to leave me in awe. And with every visit I walk away with a different experience from my previous visit. This is why I have visited Ladakh twice and would jump at the next opportunity to go. Ladakh is magnificent. Better than any of the pictures splayed on travel websites or in the last scene of Three Idiots which by the way had tourism in Ladakh grow leaps and bounds after it was released.

Getting there
The challenging terrain makes it a popular route for bikers – which was how I travelled on both my trips there. You could fly to Ladakh after paying through your nose and miss out on the exquisite beauty of the place, or you could take a road trip which will give you an experience that I’m sure will last you a lifetime. The popular route is Delhi- Manali- Leh- Srinagar- Chandigarh – Delhi or the other way round. The highway from Manali to Leh has some prominent mountain passes. In Ladakhi, ‘La’ means pass, and enroute to Leh you’ll comes across Rohtangla, Baralacha La, Nakee La, Lachung La, Tanglang La. Past Leh you come across the ‘Highest motorable road in the world’ leading you up to Khardung La. Conquering a Mountain pass can give you quite an adrenaline rush and make you truly feel like a conqueror. Keeping Leh as your base, you can make day trips to various locations around Leh.

Must see
One cannot claim to have visited Ladakh without visiting PangongTso and Tso Moriri – two lakes, one right on the Indo China border and the other close to the Indo China Border. The turquoise – bluish colour of the water, I guarantee, will leave you speechless and in awe of our Magnificent God. The water is so blue and pure that it’ll take you some time to grasp the fact that what you are seeing is real. Back to Leh, heading towards the North, a two day trip to Nubra Valley will be worth every penny. Nubra is a cold desert, not quite the size of Thar, but nevertheless, the experience you get there will outweigh its size. Famous for the double humped camels from Mongolia, there are rides you can take into the desert on them. The rare combination of desert, sand dunes, snow capped mountains in the distance and double humped camels will leave you with quite an experience. In Leh, you can trek up to the Leh palace, a nine storey palace, which in its time, we were told, was the tallest building in the world.

Must Eat
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page” said Saint Augustine of Hippo and what is a holiday without experiencing the culture of a place, which in many ways is defined by the food habits. Having a strong Tibetan influence, there are the delectable momos, scrumptious chowmein, a soothing honey – ginger lemon concoction in hot water. Tibetan Tea which is locally churned butter in hot water, thukpa – noodles in soup and a whole lot of other dishes to choose from. Leh however serves Israeli, Continental, French, Indian, Tibetan cuisine to cater to the wide range of tourists who visit leh. The best time to visit Ladakh is between June and September, after which the roads are blocked due to heavy snowfall. That gives you a few months to plan for your vacation, so go ahead and make it a one of a kind holiday for your family. After experiencing magnificent Ladakh, you will not be able to help but sing “How great is our God”!

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