Ladakh dreams – part i

In 2010 I had planned and attempted to reach this land of passes, sadly because of the flash floods in Leh it never happened. Come 2012 I had made plans again. A long awaited dream was to come true and I was to experience a surreal happiness in the following days, yet the ride was not a smooth one. Following are the many pictures to go with the experiences on my journey to the Ladakh dreams.

Smooth landing

This was the easier part of journey, smooth landing at Delhi. The city was not new nor was its annoying weather [I have failed to put up with the weather in Delhi in my recent visits.]

On this trip by the time I returned I had possibly used all modes of transport on land from bikes to autos, bus, train, taxi, cars and of course walk.

Old Manali
Old Manali was pleasant and had a charm [yet] unharmed by the tourists. I had to stay back for two days in Manali due to flash floods and landslides at Rhothang la. I had no plans to stay; my connecting bus to Leh was same day as I had arrived in Manali. The delay to arrive in Manali made me worry that I may miss the connection, on contrary the bus was not to leave any time until next day.

Dylan’s cafe. An interesting place to hangout.

Bridge to enter old Manali

 

Wild and the beautiful

The Furious and the Fragile

Furious Beas River and fragile Himalayan soil had caused havoc around Manali. Flash floods previous night had destroyed roads at many points. At some places no vehicle could get through, walking was a convenient option at such times. Seeing the intensity of destruction rains had caused, I felt this was nature’s way, no human creation could withstand the natural forces.

Destroyed road

The furious

Standing on the edge

The fragile

Road to Leh:

After two days of waiting and one failed attempt to leave Manali, finally at the dawn of day four we were on road to Leh. The suspense persisted if we would get through Rhothang la or not as we drove across the hills which were waking up with glorious golden rays from rising sun. Our joy ride hit first road block at Beas naala, a broken down truck stopped our bus to go any further.

Beautiful morning colors at Beas river

Broken down truck

Only our bus could not get through this point

The driver had abandon the vehicle in quest for mechanic

Serene

This turned out to be a better place to be stranded

Courtesy tourism, Himalayas are well littered consciously and unconsciously by everyone

Sliding land

Rains over consecutive days had caused huge boulders to slide down onto the roads on Rhothang la. Border roads organization had put up great effort to clear the rocks and make way at earliest.

Stranded on top

 

BRO at work on top of the pass

Flora on the hills

More colors

Backward solution

The great Indian thedi ungli [twisted finger] formula. When the bus could not get through straight the driver drove the bus in reverse and got through the stranded truck.

Driving backwards

In spite of being stranded for many hours these clouds never reveled the show caps that day

Another short joy ride until we joined hundreds of other commuters stranded on the pass waiting for the block to get through

The zigs and zags we tread before we got on top

Rough roads

Stranded again

We were in queue with hundreds of others waiting for the road to open

Being held up at the naala for many hours was a blessing, we had a place to sit and eat well. It was hopeless to be stranded on top since there was nothing to eat or drink.

Looking back from top

Rider from a distant land [saw a bunch of bikers from Bangalore]

The experienced and wise

The driver conductor duo who managed to make it out of all odds. With a strained mind and fatigued body I had little hope to reach to Leh, it was this duo that stood up as hope for me.

Kishori lal and Vidyasagar

Fellow passenger. Author, sitaar artist

Finally when the road was clear at dusk it was the Army who got precedence to drive down

Then came the night and we moved like a snail. It was about twelve hours that we were stranded by now

Finally around nine in the night we had left Rhothang la and headed towards Keylong for the night stay. Day two on road to Leh, with some sleep overnight and revived hope we were back on track.

Army convoy, a common sight through out the journey

Another road block

After the ordeal at Rhothang la this was a minor block

Every kilometer less on the milestone only widened my grin

Transforming landscapes

Transformation

The roads varied from good to bad and to no road at times

The magnificent

Left alone

One of the many cyclists climbing the hills. It must be a thrilling experience to be one of them

By now I had seen Himalayas begin and scale taller, it transformed from lush green to barren tops by now. In the drive from Keylong to Pang the hills had transformed many times with many shades of brown.

Sandy hills

Shapes and shades

Every time we climbed top of hill we had to drive down into a valley like one of this

After much delay and waiting on day one, day two was driving without a stop. This was the only food break we got at Pang

India is truly possessed with cricket.We can find it from sea level to 15,000 ft above sea level

Unknown workers from BRO, fighting odds of nature to keep the roads open in unimaginable conditions

The long ground after Pang

Never ending stretch of hills

The sheer magnitude was such reassuring factor. I could stand alone between those hills yet I knew I was not alone, strangely I felt as if the hills were speaking

 Taglang La

I was overwhelmed with the snowfall at Taglang la. It was surreal, I had seldom witnessed such a thing.

Almost on top of the world

And nearer to the destination

Gompa

Finally by end of day five I was there, it was an unmatched joy. Happy tears filled my eyes

Surprised

I woke up with this view

~

The view from my window was truly a surprise. Having arrived late I had no clue how it looked outside my window, after long tiring journey all I wanted was a good sleep. To wake up with a magnificent view was an icing on top.

The journey though stretched and stressed was a good experience; it was a minor obstacle to the memorable time I was to spend in Ladakh.

In the following parts I would share the experience of living and working with schools in village away from Leh and the developed world.

Leave a note here .