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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Tales from Ladakh: Pre Trip Story

Krishna Srivatsa Nimmaraju
Ladakh is one of my dream destination and was waiting for the past 5 years to visit this beautiful place. I guess Ladakh is the only place on earth where you can see deserts, greenery, highest water bodies, snow fall, dusty mountains, Highest passes. Just before my Ladakh trip, I went to the Grand Canyon (listed in the wonders of the world) and I must say that grand canyon is nowhere in comparison with Ladakh. This is my first post as part of Ladakh stories series, will write everything about my trip in next parts.



Trip Plan:


Day Plan Places to Visit
1st  Day Arrival in Ladakh and rest Will reach ladakh @8AM and take rest for the whole day. A whole day of rest is required for acclimatization.
2nd Day  Leh - Monastery tour and sightseeing The Hemis monastery, Thiksey Monastery, sightseeing of Shanti Stupa.
3rd Day Leh to Nubra Valley Via Khardungla Pass: 140Km / 5 -6 Hours Khardungla pass(world's Highest Road), Nubra Valley, sand dunes, Camel Ride. Diskit Monastery. 
4th Day Nubra Valle to Leh Via Khardungla Pass: 140 Kms / 5 - 6 Hours
5th Day Leh - Sham Valley - Leh
Drive to Sangam (Confluence). Enroute visit Magnetic Hill and Gurudwara Patthar Sahib. Visit Confluence of Zanskar and Indus River.
On your way back, visit Spituk Monastery (Kali Mata Temple) and Ladakh Hall of fame.
6th Day Leh - Pangong Lake (140km) Drive through changla pass, Visit Beautiful pangong lake. Overnight stay@Pangong lake
7th Day Pangong Lake  - Leh Reserve evening for Shopping.
8th Day Leave Ladakh.

This is the best plan for visiting ladakh. Most of the travel operators don't include night stay@ pangong lake, but prefer staying @ pangong lake even though it costs you some 3k extra. We booked the trip through "make my trip", and I recommend "makemytrip" for ladakh trip. They are very helpful.

Cost of trip???
I checked many websites and inquired many travel operators, the average price for the ladakh trip is around 25k for one person from Delhi. So be prepared to spend 30-35k for the whole trip. We spent almost 38k for the whole trip from Hyderabad.

Trip Bookings??
I started planning for the ladakh trip from November 2012, searching through flights, hotels and prepared a rough plan. 

These are the different plans I prepared for the ladakh trip:

  • Plan 1: Hyd->Delhi-> Srinagar flight, then road trip to ladakh from srinagar(2 days). 7 Days stay @ Ladakh. Then Leh->Manali by road. Manali->Delhi(Bus). The whole trip requires 13 days, if we opt for hyd<->delhi flight and cost will be around 40k+. I dropped this due to time constraint.
  • Plan 2: Hyd->Delhi->Srinagar flight, road trip to ladakh(2 days). 7 days stay@ladakh. Then Leh->Delhi flight. This plan requires 10 days. and cost will be around 40k+(depends on leh flight charges). I finalized this plan and started looking for the flights. So in Feb 2013, I thought of booking flights and surprised to see only few tickets left for leh->delhi flight. And the cost is around 15k. So dropped this plan too.
  • Plan 3: Hyd->Delhi->Leh flight, 7 days @ ladakh and also reach leh->delhi->hyd flight.  This cost around 50K if we book directly. But luckily makemytrip offered this for just 25k per person excluding hyd<->delhi flights. That's very good deal and I immediately went to makemytrip office and paid an advance of 50k and blocked 7 seats. I have done this in march and I got the slot with this price only in july. So all set ready for my dream trip in July. 
Hyderabad -> Delhi Adventure:
Our Delhi to Ladakh flight is scheduled on Sunday early morning, so we thought of going to Delhi by train, which will start from Hyderabad by Friday evening and reach Delhi by Saturday evening 6PM. We boarded the train from Hyderabad and everyone was so happy. Train was supposed to reach Bhopal by next day morning 8 AM, so everyone woke up @8Am, thought of having break fast @ Bhopal. But when I started tracking the location by GPS, I was surprised to see Bhopal was around 180 km from our current location. After inquiring some many people on the train, we came to know that the train has been diverted and will tentatively reach Bhopal by evening 4 (8 hours late) and that too not sure. 

If we reach Bhopal by evening 5, it will take another 8 hours to reach Delhi  So we came to conclusion that we should get down @ Bhopal, then catch a flight from Bhopal->Delhi. So we immediately booked the flight from Bhopal > Delhi scheduled at 9.30PM. It was around 4PM and we came to know Bhopal is still around 150km, which will take at-least 3-4 hours. Finally we reached Bhopal by 7PM and immediately rushed to airport. We reached airport by 8PM and felt very relaxed. 
But by the time we reached Bhopal airport, it was raining heavily and not sure whether flight will take off in that heavy rain. Finally we boarded the flight and successfully reached Delhi by 11PM. After taking rest for 2 hours, we started to the T3 Terminal.


Reached Ladakh..but:
The twists in the story is not yet over. Our flight to Ladakh from Delhi was scheduled at 5.30AM. We reached airport by 3AM and boarded the flight by 5AM. At around 6.30AM, we were able to see the ladakh from the top and everyone stared taking pictures. While everyone in the flight was so excited, pilot announced that "We are heading back to delhi". WTH....because of the low visibility, pilot was unable to land the flight. We again reached Delhi and pilot told that there are chances are going back to ladakh in few minutes, so asked us not to get down the flight. People who took pictures of ladakh, started uploading them in FB. But pilot announced that flight has been cancelled. 

One day in Delhi: 
As the flight got cancelled, makemytrip arranged hotel rooms near the airport and offered us meal for the whole day. So instead of taking rest, we thought to going for sightseeing in Delhi  We booked a cab and visited qutubminar, red fort, lotus temple, India gate. We went to hotel by evening, and came to know that next day flight is scheduled @10AM. We should really appreciate makemytrip for their support and good hospitality. We stayed @Hotel Saptagiri, Mahipalpur.

Tales from Ladakh:

Krishna Srivatsa Nimmaraju / Author & Editor

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