We met each other as strangers on a trip to Kanyakumari – Southern most tip of India to be friends for life. Hence, we decided to kindle our passion for travel from the northernmost part of India, and Kashmir and Ladakh fell on our list.
Due to last moment leave approvals from office we were left with no time for planning and we set on our epic journey with a round-trip flight tickets, 1 extra pair of jeans, a couple of t-shirts and a windcheater.
They said it’s a risk. We call it an adventure!
We wished to start our journey with a visit to Vaishnodevi. Hence, our forward flight was to Delhi. We took an overnight bus from Delhi and reached Katra in the morning.
We started our hike late afternoon after having a good amount of brunch. Alternating our hike between the paved path and the stairs we could hear devotees chanting praises of the goddess: “Jai Mata Di” which keeps your spirit elevated all the time. We bought some JAI MATA DI written ribbons to tie on foreheads and joined the chanting pilgrims.
After few hours of the exhausting trek, we reached the holy cave, which has the manifestation of Mother Goddess. Once we stepped into the cold water at our feet, which opened into the cave, all the exhaustion, and the tiredness seemed to alleviate. We sensed an immense peace of mind and came out of the cave rejuvenated much required for our trip ahead.
On returning to the base, we boarded a bus to Jammu and thereafter a shared taxi to Srinagar.
Staying at boathouse is completely a different experience with the traditional furniture, elegant Kashmiri rugs lining the floors and the view of other houseboats floating on the serene lake. Shikara ride on Dal lake, the sightseeing tour of interior parts of the placid waters of Dal Lake, the floating vegetable garden followed by some shopping of traditional shawls and sweaters was one of the most relaxing and a memorable experience.
We concluded our day with lip-smacking dinner at Mughal Darbar.
SRINAGAR to LEH
Next morning we had to take a shared taxi from Srinagar to Leh. When waiting for the taxi we met these two guys Imran and Joy from Delhi who were sailing in the same boat as us and who would be our travel mates for rest of trip and then for the lifetime. Our journey started with paradise on earth Sonmarg, which has some amazing views of green valleys, glaciers, and frozen lakes.
The main thrill started with the Zojila pass, which was a hair-raising experience with the narrow gravel filled roads, turned to slush due to rain.
Survival rule was to never look down and not even for a second doubt your drivers driving ability.
At a point, we saw that mud on the edge of road sliding down and rear wheel of the car in front of us was in the air, but the driver managed to pull the wheel back on the road with speed but the incident left us gobsmacked.
We stopped for lunch at Drass a small town in Kargil district, which is an epitome of beauty and courage. As it was late in the evening our driver did not prefer to stop to visit the war memorial but had a chance to get a glimpse of the sight seated in our cars.
We were driving half-heartedly through some of the breathtaking views, as we did not have a chance to feel nature from close. And the gods heard us; our car got a flat tire. We decided to make most of the opportunity, we took a walk along the river, took some quick pictures with the soaring black mountains, gushing rivers, and the wildflowers.
We drove through many villages which only epitomized the beauty of the destination ahead.
Mulbek a town with spectacular views of the undulating rocky peaks and river valleys and a statue of Maitreya, the future Buddha carved out of solid rock.
The village of Lamayuru or Land of Moon, which sights the first major Tibetan Buddhist monastery and beautiful medieval village and finally the deserted route to the village of Nimmu in the Indus Valley with no temples or monasteries, just the reddish-brown hills, and the incredible ‘fairy chimney’ rock formations fills you with the overwhelming feeling that you are getting closer to the paradise.
We had dinner in one of the restaurants at Nimmu. The friendly manager on knowing that we had no hotel booking done shared a number of his friend from Leh.
We reached Leh at 12:00 midnight and called the number, a guy received us and walked us to his hotel. We were completely exhausted and we pulled ourselves into the bed.
Stay tuned while we share more our thrilling and awe-inspiring experiences from Ladakh – Beyond Paradise!
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