Alright Folks, What can I say about this place. The more I say, the more I am going to do injustice. So, Let’s save adjectives for later to describe “Ladakh” ;). After exploring Himachal Pradesh for around 75 days, I took a bus from Keylong in Himachal Pradesh to Leh in Ladakh. In July, I spent about 2 weeks in Ladakh exploring Leh, Pangong Lake villages and Nubra Valley. Ladakh is a union territory of India. In this post, I will talk about my bus journey from Keylong to Leh, exploring Leh, my Hitchhiking experiences in the Nubra Valley, Pangong Lake, and from Leh to Kashmir.
KEYLONG, HIMACHAL PRADESH TO LEH, LADAKH
Alright, now is the time to use the previously saved adjectives ? From Keylong, I took the HRTC bus to reach Leh. Leh is the capital of the union territory of Ladakh. It took me around 19 hours to reach Leh from Keylong. Yep! This is not the regular time to complete this journey. It happened due to multiple reasons like long waiting times, the bus breaking down, multiple stopovers for food and COVID checks. I have seen it all on this route i.e. sandstorm, snowfall, rainfall. It is the most thrilling and eye-popping road journey of my life till now and the best part is I was not driving ? The constant change of sceneries, high mountain passes, massive road loops, gigantic landscapes are not going to leave you memory anytime soon. I would request you do not drive on this route if you have never driven on a mountainous terrain before. Like they say “Don’t be a Gama in the land of Lama”. Our bus left Keylong at 6 in the morning and reached Leh around 1 am after midnight. Reaching Leh from Keylong is a trip to remember in itself and felt like I have already explored Ladakh but little did I know what Ladakh has in store for me!
MY HITCHHIKING JOURNEY: LEH-NUBRA VALLEY- PANGONG LAKE- LEH-DRAS-KASHMIR
HITCHHIKING EXPERIENCES: LEH-HUNDER
I left Leh early in the morning to reach Hunder via Khardungla Pass. Hunder is located at a distance of 130 km from Leh. It is famous for its sand dunes. Yep, you read that time. Ladakh is full of mysteries. I wish to explore more of Ladakh in the upcoming years. I walked to the road that goes to Hunder and stick my thumb out. Luckily Only after 10 minutes, a local bus passed and I grabbed the opportunity with both legs 😉 I requested the bus driver to stop at Khardungla Pass summit and he happily obliged. Khardungla Pass is one of the highest mountain passes in the world at an elevation of around 17500 ft. Headaches and/or dizziness are common at Khardungla Pass summit if you stay there for a long time. After getting my pictures clicked from strangers ? I continued my journey towards Hunder. I met a Ladakhi girl on the bus who is pursuing UPSC exams and wish to work towards the betterment of Ladakh. It was really inspiring to listen to her which invariably motivated me about my hitchhiking journey. And the adventure was about to begin! The bus stopped at Diskit town for refreshments and I went to attend the nature’s call. When I came back, there was no bus! Without asking the whereabouts of the bus, I thought the bus left without me. Now hitchhiking becomes a compulsion. Forget the thumb, I stick out both of my hands and shortly I got the ride for Hunder. Two young guys gave me the ride in their car. On the way to Hunder, there was no sign of the bus. I got down at Hunder and enquired a road worker who did not see a bus passed by but was still somehow pretty sure that the bus must have already passed and going to spend the night at Skuru town. I stand alongside the road with a sense of urgency in the hope to reach Skuru town and shortly I was offered a ride by a local Ladakhi family. After a few minutes, we saw the bus behind us and we signalled the bus to stop. I took my bag from the bus and it turned out the bus did not leave me behind. They parked the bus inside the bus station and when I didn’t come back, they even went out looking for me. Hence, the delay in reaching Hunder. It was just the beginning of my Hitchhiking adventure 🙂 After checking into a guesthouse, I went straight to the Sand dunes. I took a short camel ride in the dunes. One can also ride ATV here. The best experience for me was to explore the sand dunes on foot. After walking for a while, I reached a point where desert, grass, water and mountains seems to be colliding with each other. Such a striking sight. The walk back to the guesthouse from the sand dunes is so serene and cosy.
HITCHHIKING EXPERIENCES: HUNDER-TURTUK-TYAKSHI
HITCHHIKING EXPERIENCES: TURTUK-DISKIT
HITCHHIKING EXPERIENCES: DISKIT-PANAMIK-SIACHEN BASE CAMP
HITCHHIKING EXPERIENCES: PANAMIK-PANGONG LAKE-MAN VILLAGE
HITCHHIKING EXPERIENCES: MAN VILLAGE-LEH