Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Ultimate Road Trip : Leh

Summers vacations are a perfect time to plan up trips. Road trips are the most exciting options while planning a hangout with friends. As the vacations are still on, its kinda an appropriate time to share the experience of my recent road trip.

I was so excited for this trip since a long time before it began. I researched a lot about this place, our destination, Leh. And what an amazing road trip it turned out to be. The vivid places that we visited are still very fresh in my memory. I can revisit those visions every time I close my eyes. They have been imprinted upon my brain cells permanently.

When all packing was done, I ensured that we carry extra refills of Ambi Pur for our car. It was a necessity and so it proved to be. Along with this, I also made sure we took a lot of water, extra can for fuel, tyre repair kit, air pump, appropriate clothing such as gloves, warm caps, warm scarves, inners, warm socks and sturdy shoes, sleeping bags, a torch and batteries, extra memory card for camera, some food such as cheese, energy bars, chocolates, juices, biscuits, etc. for the drive.

We had booked a car and subsequently, SERIOUS and DETAILED planning for Mission Leh. After several discussions, me and my three friends (2 guys and a girl) were ready to go in one Scorpio. The car was due for delivery in the first week of June and taking into account the running in period of a 1000 kms, we planned the trip for 8th June, 2013. I got the delivery of the beauty on 3rd June, 2013. We were all set for Mission Leh! Years of yearning and planning was finally going to come to fruition on the 8th June, 2013 (0 day)!!

All four of us were so involved with Mission Leh that we would exchange mails every day on what would be the itinerary, what all to carry, how much to carry, what would be the budget; generally excitement levels were at an all time high, work seemed to be the last thing on everyone’s mind and the countdown had begun, with each passing day bringing us closer to our departure on one of the greatest road trips! After a few iterations our plan was finalised as follows:

08/6 – Leave in the evening for Chandigarh from Delhi
09/6 – Chandigarh to Manali
10/6 – Manali to Tandi
11/6 – Tandi to Sarchu
12/6 – Sarchu to Leh
13/6 – Leh
14/6 – Leh to Pangong
15/6 – Pangong to Leh
16/6 – Leh to Nubra
17/6 – Nubra to Leh
18/6 – Leh to Llayamuru and back
19/6 – Leh to TsoMoriri
20/6 – TsoMoriri to Tandi
21/6 – Tandi to Manali
22/6 – Manali to Delhi

So this was the 15-day plan that we had charted out for ourselves to successfully accomplish Mission Leh. We had on purpose kept the schedule spread out so we would not be rushed at any time. Then began our shopping for the items mentioned above which we took on the trip with us; warm clothes, gloves, body warmers for us and, towing line, tyre repair kit etc. and most importantly a lot of refills of Ambi Pur Air freshener for the Scorpio. As time for us to leave came nearer, things were looking upbeat, preparations were almost done and we were rearing to go, except for the small issue of it raining non-stop and beyond season in HP...

We left for Chandigarh on 08/06 at about 5.30 pm. That day it was POURING in Delhi and for those familiar with Delhi, near the new elevated road from just before Rajghat to ISBT, the ring road was under about a foot of water and cars were finding it difficult to pass through. It was a really depressing and demotivating sight for the four of us; our journey had not even begun and it seemed the rain Gods had decided to ruin our party for us. Nonetheless, with a prayer on our lips we set out upon Mission Leh!

As we moved out of Delhi, the rain started to subside and in about an hour’s time there was no rain at all. As the roads began to dry so did our spirits and we began believing that yes, we can do this and that the weather Gods may finally have cast a favourable eye upon us. Though now when I see the condition of Uttrakhand, I shiver!

So, stopping on our way a couple of times for food and drinks, we finally reached Himachal Bhawan in Chandigarh at about 11 pm on 0 day, 08/06. Ambi Pur proved as blessing keeping the air inside the car fresh for us to breath properly. We checked in and hit the sack by midnight.

Day 5 (13/06) – Leh City – 0 kms – whole day

Finally we opened our eyes in Leh City. We were happy and excited for more fun that was about to come our way. At 10am, we first went to Thiksay monastery, then the Hemis monastery and then finally to the Shey palace. These are all wonderful places and if one is to really contemplate and think back in time, there is so much history attached to these monuments. Long hours inside the car, were not suffocating thanks to Ambi Pur.

We finished our city tour by lunch time and then went back to the hotel, washed up and went walking to the market, which is right next door, for lunch. There were a few places we wanted to explore for food, and settled for Tibetan Kitchen for that day.

At about 6.30 pm, with the help of a guide, we reached the outskirts of the city, where we parked the car along the road. We then proceeded from the road to the river, for which we had to cross this stretch of thorny Leh Berry bushes, which seem to line the river bank everywhere. So, after about 5 minutes of walking through bushes, we emerged onto the bank of the Indus! There, the four of us, and the guide, spent a nice two hours talking and gazing at the mountains. From where we were we could see Stok Kangri, the highest peak in Ladakh. It is at about 19,000 ft and there are treks that go there. Stanzin told us how he had done this trek with a few friends and being a local, even he found it extremely touch going. That evening was special because we were in close vicinity of the Indus and the Himalayas at the same time! It is really awe inspiring to be amongst such legends. Simple living, simple people, one amazing place!

This is how we lived a dream in 2 weeks. Being back in Delhi made all the things we did in Ladakh and the places we went to seem like a dream; it was like we had just come out of a really engrossing movie. But no, it was no movie, we had finally accomplished Mission Leh!!

In the end, All I would like to say is that please DO go to Ladakh, it is a Wonderland and you can be Alice. You would see places the likes of which exist nowhere else on the planet. You would experience the warm hospitality of the Ladakhi people and you would have an experience that you WOULD never forget and will cherish forever.

Driving is the real way to go, but if you want to fly, then do that, it would still be a lot of fun. Driving is a bit dangerous, but so is crossing the road. Be well prepared, research well, plan ahead, book ahead (if with families and if looking for some comfort) plus don't forget to carry Ambi Pur (it made the long hours we spent in the car refreshing and bearable) in excess with you and keep a couple of days spare just in case and you should be fine.

Go and DO MAKE THIS trip, else regret and down the line wonder, what if...

Yours truly...signing off,



  1. Lovely write-up! Wish I get to plan my own Mission Leh sometime soon! :)

  2. thanks for sharing this blog if you want to enjoy the beauty and culuture of the ladakh come on this blog leh ladakh tour package