Friday, September 16, 2011

Beauty of Ladakh

Though I have traveled quite a bit, when I saw Ladakh, there were no words to describe its beauty. The deep colors of the sky, changing colors of the lakes, possibility of witnessing a snowstorm, thunderstorm and a sand storm in the same trip of about 8 hours; these are unique in this region. Within a period of hours one will pass through desert, snow clad mountains and lakes. There are beautiful flowers to see and admire. And the taste of luscious peaches and apples, oh my God, it is divine!

The people are innocent and so helpful. We could get awesome food throughout the stay of two weeks. For the spiritually inclined, the monasteries give opportunity to experience divine vibrations and deep meditations.

But before deciding on a trip to the mountains, one has to keep certain things in mind. For anyone having asthmatic attacks, it is better to stay away from the adventure. With the oxygen levels dipping down drastically, they can have a difficult time.

If you have two weeks to spare, you can stay in Leh and make trips to the lakes on mountains. We used to go to one lake, stay overnight in the tent and come back to Leh the next day. In some places the tent will have attached toilet, but other times, it may be common toilet outside the tent. The road journey to the lakes will take about 7 to 8 hours and when you have to use the toilet during the journey, you should know what to expect.

The toilet is a deep pit, over which some wooden planks are kept. The spaces between the planks are very wide, giving a full view of the contents below and if your nose is sharp, you will have to hold your breath. I was shocked to see that even in some of the monasteries, toilets are of this type.

Wherever the tents are put up, there is no electricity and they provide light from 8 pm to 10 pm with generators. That means there is no hot water supply. They do give warm water to drink. Forget about taking bath during the stays in the tents. But don’t worry, you won’t be allowed to stay for more than two days.

They do provide good blankets for night, but when the temperature is so low, the touch of the blanket or bed sheet will be like that of ice. You can get hot water bags if you request, that is what made it possible for me to gather courage to get into the bed.

The 7 to 8 hour journeys will be through very bumpy roads and by the end, all your neck muscles will be aching so badly due to the continuous jerking. But next morning after your hot water bath (when ever you are in Leh, not near the lakes) you will feel so fresh and ready to take on the trip for the day.

Breathing is going to be strenuous due to the dipping oxygen levels. Climbing ten steps will make you feel like you had been jogging for ten minutes. Towards the end of two weeks, you will be feeling much better, because the body will get acclimatized.

In spite of all this, I would still recommend that it is a journey worth embarking upon!

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