“Nature is beautiful. What is displays to us, at times, in cities is like its call to explore more. It just displays a glimpse of its beauty; the actual beauty is revealed when we make an effort to go close to it. And still not all can view it. You need to connect with nature and then it connects with you.”
Sitting at my home in Mumbai, I still feel lost. Lost in those mountains and rivers, those beautiful landscapes, those clear blue skies and the soothing touch of that refreshing chilled breeze. Just a few days back I was there in Ladakh, in midst of nature and now I feel trapped in this concrete jungle of human beings. The beauty of nature got me so engrossed in itself that people, places, noise nothing mattered there. What mattered was the calmness and solitude that I felt within.
Before the journey my friends warned me that it is going to be difficult, the weather is very cold, you would not be able to cope up with high altitude. Frankly all this just made me excited for this trip, rather journey, all the more.
Itinerary was set Mumbai to Delhi in train, from Delhi we had hired a car to Manali and back, and from Manali we had hired another car till Leh. Travelling in Leh would be spontaneous. Five people, excluding me, two acquainted and others complete strangers, this journey commenced in utter silence followed by introduction then talks, sharing our experience and ultimately bonding together.
Travelling till Manali was a cake walk, actually even further till Rohtang Pass, where we had the yummiest Maggi ever in the entire trip. And then started the adventure, the roller coaster ride. The kaccha road and the steep turns kept us so busy that it took us almost half an hour to admire the nature around. I was trilled by the the ride and was busy shooting the road trip instead 😀
Buses, cars, bikes and even the Overdrive team, reviewing Audi, headed along with us. Post Manali, our halt was Keylong (district headquarters of Lahaul and Spiti), a serene town rich in its culture and nature’s beauty and well known for “Shashur Monestry”, which we actually missed to see as we reached late in the evening. It also hosts a local market which unfortunately was closed on Sunday, the day we reached. We loitered around in the market place talking and observing people and of course taking pictures of the beautiful landscape around.
The night at Keylong was peaceful. We stayed at New Gyespa Hotel near the bus stand. The hotel overlooked the beautiful mountains that surrounded the town. I happened to get up in the middle of the night just to see the bright full moon shining right outside my window. For a moment I felt is slept beneath it in the open; that what I felt was amazing.
The journey next day was long. We started at 5 am in the morning and the target was to reach Leh before the sunset. What came unexpected was health of one of our friend going worse from bad due to acclimatization issues and we had to take a long halt at the Sarchu Military camp to give her medicines and oxygen.We all felt a little giddy and I had a slight headache too. It took us all a days time to get used to this environment and then the journey again became wonderful. The only solution to this acclimatization issue is have enough water, which we usually tend to avoid in road trips, and sleep when you feel giddy.
Thanks to our young and experienced driver, Shiva, who knew all the shortcuts and turns well, that we actually reached Leh before time. We had spoken to a lady in Leh for a home stay but could not locate her place and hence we took shelter at Hotel Anshah near the main market. The owner helped us figure out the internal transport as well as the stay at Nubra Valley the next day. We were so overwhelmed by his helpful nature and hospitality that we booked our remaining stay in the city at his hotel.
Though Leh was not an exciting experience as the city is completely commercialized and full of foreign tourist, what excited me was the diverse population that stayed there. People from nearby villages, Kashmir, Afghanistan, as well as foreigners dwelled in the city. We did some awesome shopping and had delicious freshly baked food inducing cuisines like Italian, Chinese, Tibetan and Mexican at the city during our stay.
The journey to both Nubra Valley as well as Pangong Lake was beautiful. While en-route to Nubra we halted at places like “Khardungla” the highest motorable road in the world and the Diskit Monestry.
On the way to Pangong was Changla Pass, the third highest pass in the world. This route was more cold and had pastures where the animals gazed freely. We saw the horses -black, white and brown running in the free land, Yaks gazing in groups, lambs and cows. There were people camping too near the river. What a beautiful sight indeed.
As we were approaching the Pangong lake, our curiosity went on increasing. With every turn that the route took, our eyes searched the tranquil blue waters. This curiosity went for for almost 15-20 mins when we finally got the first glance of the lake. Soothing is the apt word, and while my curiosity diminished so did the thoughts within.
Our journey to Ladakh ended with an awesome dinner at Leh post we came from Pangong along with a session on our individual life philosophies followed by a good night sleep. The way back was almost silent. It seemed we all were unhappy to leave the nature behind. We all seemed lost, engulfing something. We no more were clicking pictures but were looking around.
Nature seemed to have realized this mood too and then gave us the most unexpected and amazing experience ever. While we were approaching Keylong we experienced a hail. A perfect timing indeed, as the temperature fell almost to single digits and we could see a thin layer of ice forming on the side of the road where the water accumulated. After almost an hour the nature become green, clear again. Finally the silence vanishes and we all became excited and interactive by this experience.
While approaching Rohtang, the clouds started surrounded us. We were suddenly in the fog and once we crossed Rohtang pass, we could see dense clouds below us. We drove through dense fog for almost 30-40 mins.
For a moment I thought, the nature is bidding goodbye giving us such an amazing experience that we visit it again.
Indeed I will.
Mountains will always attract me, call me as it is there where I find my tranquility. It is there where my mind and heart becomes one. It is there where I experience the best of me.