Have you ever felt the power of space? When you feel that the space, just space around you, affects you strongly. Almost all of us have experienced it for short duration in some way or other, for example when we go to a temple. I felt it for a much longer duration. It happened to us when we visited Ladakh last month. By we, I mean Pankaj and I. For those who don't know, Pankaj and I are best buddies.
So, we went to this land of peace and quiet. There are some obvious things that make Ladakh different from all other hill stations. Altitude so high that AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) comes to you easily, different kind of people, and proximity to both Pakistan and China borders. But, there are some things which are not easy to imagine. Things like how can it calm you beyond your imagination.
We were very excited about this trip. We decided to go by Manali-Leh road and come back by air. Our route was something like: Hyderabad -> Delhi -> Chandigarh -> Manali -> Leh -> Delhi -> Hyderabad. We had started preparing for it well in advance. Booking flight tickets from Leh to Delhi, hotels in Manali and Keylong, train tickets for Delhi to Chandigarh, guest house in Leh etc. And what date did we chose to travel - July 13th, Friday. Yes, Friday the 13th. It was accidental. We didn't notice it until the last day :)
My flight from Hyderabad to Delhi was little delayed, but I managed to reach Delhi just in time. Pankaj had come to airport to pick me up by a cab. From there we went together to Delhi Railway station by the same cab. We reached on time but no time was left for dinner. So, that's how we started our journey. Everything went as planned. We reached Manali by next day evening. After cleaning ourselves up and having snacks, we visited Hidimba temple. It's really a nice temple and in the late evening, it was a quiet place and had a calming effect in it. Next day morning we started for Leh. Our next destination was Keylong which is about 8 hours away from Manali. We passed Rohtang La on our way. We reached Keylong by evening 4 pm. This whole region is very beautiful. Air is fresh, land is green all around, mountains are capped with snow, space is free of any kind of pollution. We absolutely loved that place. Walking around in the town, watching sky full of stars in the night. Next day we started early, at about 6 am. And then we realized, Mountains look even more beautiful in morning :)
Next we encounterd a broken bridge which was being repaired. We took this as an opportunity to feel our surroundings. We hiked down to the shore of the river and sat there to appreciate the lovely morning. It was about 9:30 am in the morning. It wasn't windy, sun was shining and temperature was little bit on the colder side, but not too cold. I touched the water, it was chilling. In the mean time, our driver decided to cross the river through water and called us back. It was a bad move. We got stuck in the middle of the river. And then, we got a little adventurous. We removed our shoes and got into the water to push the car. But water was unthinkably cold. Our feet became red and nails started becoming yellow. Even after all the effort, we managed to move the car only a bit. After trying all the things, we finally gave up. Driver went out to fetch some help to tow the car. Luckily he found a tractor that was working at a road repair site not too far off. That's how we finally came out of river :)
Out next stop was at Sarchu. We had our lunch there in a mini-restaurant. It was in a camp and was run by 2 persons - a man and a woman, a couple probably. We had dal-roti, paratha and tea there. After that we started for Leh again. It was still a long drive from here. We passed mighty Tanglang La on our way. We reached Leh in the night at about 9:30 PM. Market was almost closed and it was completely dark there. After asking a couple of people there, we found our guest house and got in :)
(..to be continued. Photographs of the trip so far - http://picasaweb.google.com/manugarg/ReachingLeh)