Situated at an average altitude of over 11,000 feet Ladakh (literally- ‘land of high passes’), nestling in the Himalayas is one of the rarest creations of Mother Nature. I recently went on a family road trip to Ladakh last month and truly it is a place like no other. A high altitude cold desert,, its dramatic landscapes, vast plateaus bounded by the towering barren mountains with a sudden splash of greenery in the valley is the closest most of us could ever get to the moon. Ladakh is a home to the world’s highest motorable road, its implausible blue skies, remote and peaceful yet beautiful monasteries built on the hilltops with air as clear as to see through a long distance but also so thin that you have to acclimatize before taking any serious walking or running.
Ladakh is a journey, a journey of getting there. It takes two to three days to get there by road. You can always fly, but where’s the adventure in that? Moreover, road travel helps you acclimatize better. The main attraction to be missed if you fly to Ladakh are its scary yet equally adventurous and beautiful high mountain passes. Yes there is always a difficulty while driving to those high mountain passes but as soon as you reach the top and see those boards by B.R.O. (Border Roads Organization) claiming that you are at this much height fills you with thrills and those breadth- taking views make up for all the pain you take to reach the top.
If you follow the common itenary of Leh-Ladakh road trip, you are bound to cross around 10 highest mountain passes including the dreaded Zoji La (La means pass in Ladakh), world’s highest motorable pass Khardung La (possibly) and the famous Chang La. There are times while climbing these passes when you have to stop the car in between and reverse back to make the way for some bigger vehicles. But that’s one of the most charming things about Ladakh-its difficulties and the view it offers once you are through with those difficulties.
Remembering one of my memories from my last month trip, while climbing on the Khardung La, there was snow on the road and we forgot to carry the snow chains so had to manage without them. So while climbing on a steep climb our SUV being a heavy vehicle, I along with some taxi driver had to literally push the car to help it climb the slope. But then came a point when ever my father wasn’t able to get the car through the slushy and snow filled steep road. While every other taxi driver was shouting to park our car in the corner if we aren’t able to do it, there came a taxi driver who voluntarily asked my dad to let him drive the car so as to let it climb the slope. I remember me, my father along with two bike riders pushed the car with all force that we could so as to help it cross the snow. Such are the experiences in Ladakh. And such are the Ladakhi people-simple, helpful, full of warmth and wisdom.So if you haven’t visit Ladakh yet and plan to visit then pack your bags, take an overcoat, fill up your car’s tank and set out for the ultimate adventure because “Life’s is either a great adventure or nothing at all”
Till then- KEEP TRAVELLING. KEEP WANDERING.