Saturday, April 30, 2016

Leh ~ Ladakh

Travelling has always been a major part of my life and I am very thankful to my mother for that! I love travelling to remote areas because these are the places where you really find your inner peace and also explore breathtaking views!

We were delighted to get such positive responses on the last travel story, Road to Ladakh. In this post I will take you through all the places I visited when I was there and I hope it makes you pack your bags and head to my favorite place too!

On our first day in Leh we did some local site seeing. Our first stop was the Zhanskar -Indus Sangam. This confluence is a lovely sight. It is amazing to see how the water from two rivers meet but do not mix and you can clearly see the color difference which separates them.

We then visited the Alchi Choskor. The term Choskor is applied to only principal monasteries. Alchi is one of the wonders of the Buddhist world. The terraced buildings of the monastery are on a hill overlooking an enchanted landscape.

Our next stop was the Gurudwara Pathar Sahib. This beautiful gurudwara that lies 12000 feet above sea level was constructed in the memory of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of the Sikh faith.

We then visited one of the most fascinating places in Leh, The Magnetic Hill. This hill claims to defy gravity and when the vehicle is left in the mentioned slots it seems to go uphill on its own. I did come back and read a bit about this mysterious hill and found out that the slope and the surrounding landscape of the hill creates an optical illusion that the downhill road is an uphill road. Nevertheless, testing gravity here was a lot of fun and the childlike excitement you see on everyone's face is wonderful!

At 11200 feet, our next stop was the gorgeous Thikse Monastery. I know all the monasteries look almost the same in pictures but trust me they were all very different from one and another. I think we spent the maximum time here in Thikse when compared to all the other monasteries.

One of the most interesting things I want to mention related to this trip is the quirky road sign boards all along. These boards have been designed by Border Road Organization (BRO) and are a witty way to remind us to ride safe! Here are some of them.

The next day we made our way to Khardung La. This pass is the gateway to the ravishing Nubra Valley. At 18380 feet, Khardung La is the world's highest motorable road. We were lucky enough to witness snowfall here. Maggi and tea are famously served at the only shop at Khardung La. Having Maggi at this temperature is the best thing that can happen to anyone!

En route Khardung La

View from Khardung La

You all must have heard about the Siachen Glacier. Siachen too can be reached via Khardung La. This board about Siachen at Khardung La is worth a read.

After crossing Khardung La we then reached Nubra Valley. Nubra is a high altitude cold desert. Our first stop in the Nubra Valley was Panamik. This hot spring village is a restricted area so do get permission before planning a trip here. Panamik attracts people from all over the world to take a dip in the hot sulphur spring. They have beautiful bathrooms with showers and a small pool. A dip in this spring water claims to relieve you from certain skin problems and also body pain. It sure was refreshing! I don't have a picture of the spring as we had conveniently left the camera behind! But there wasn't much to see there. It was just the dip in the hot spring and it is definitely worth a visit.

Everyone just wanted to sleep after the dip in Panamik so we then headed to Hunder, our home for the next two days. We stayed at a beautiful guest house in Hunder. The desert was very close from the place we were living. In the desert we saw the Bactrian camel aka the double hump camel. You find these species only here in India.

Dogs of Hunder

Bactrian camel

The next day we visited another restricted area, Turtuk village. Turtuk is the last Indian village before the Pakistan border. Turtuk offers beautiful views of the Shyok Valley. Also you get some amazing apricots here. The village is beautifully maintained. It is an orthodox village and most of the people stay at home when tourists are visiting.

Another monastery that we visited which is worth mentioning in this post is Deskit Monastery. This 700 year old monastery is dedicated to Maha Kaal. This beautiful monastery is located on two hills. It is the largest and oldest Buddhist monastery in the Nubra region.

Our Nubra Valley trip ended and then we made our way to the final point, Pangong Lake. This is another restricted area. We reached Pangong via Chang La. Chang La is the world's third highest pass.

By the time we reached Pangong Lake we were quite tired as the trip was indeed very long. We were acclimatized to the temperature by then but the oxygen content in these areas was very low which was exhausting. I had not read or heard about Pangong lake before and I am so glad I hadn't! When I reached there I was completely surprised and mesmerized by its beauty. Pangong Tso is a visual treat!
This high altitude lake at 4420m is 150km long and about 5 km wide, but about 2/3rd of this length lies under Chinese territory. Pangong Tso is a restricted area and you will require special permission to visit. This is Asia's highest and largest saltwater lake.
The sheer Turkish-blue color of the water reflecting the surrounding hills and the blue sky is indeed enthralling. The water was really really cold and the temperature here was also very low due to the height. We spent a night in front of this gorgeous lake to catch a glimpse of it early morning. The night at Pangong Tso was one which I will never forget! Nobody lives at the lake so its just a few travelers who spend the night here together. There are just a couple of tents available so a maximum of twenty people are there by the lake in the night! Also there is no lighthouse or any electricity here so it gets pitch dark by the evening. The night I spent here was quite scary as when I stepped out of the tent I saw nothing but water and also the temperature was very low. The oxygen level was also very low which made it difficult to breathe comfortably. I spent the entire night waiting for dawn and listening to music on my phone (Thankfully I had charged it before!). Although I had a difficult night I completely forgot about it when I saw the sunrise at this magnificent lake! I cannot describe the emotions I felt when I saw it. The pictures just portray 1% of the beauty this lake possesses. You have to go there and witness its charm yourself! Pangong Tso was definitely my favorite part of the entire Ladakh trip!

Pangong Tso

Sunrise at Pangong Tso

Adorable tent at Pangong Tso

We then drove back to Leh via Chang La and spent the night in this calm city. The next morning we big goodbye to Ladakh and took a flight back home. A lot of people take the road to Sri Nagar on the way back but we knew we would be too tired after this entire trip to be on road for another few days! The flight journey was also one of it's kind. Here are some of the aerial pictures of the Himalayan range!

We had a three hour transit at the Delhi airport and those three hours were really awkward as suddenly I was surrounded by people. I had mixed feelings regarding going back home. I was tired and I did miss home but I didn't want the journey in Ladakh to come to an end.

Like I mentioned in the previous post, this trip completely changed me. Travelling changes your perception on a lot of things and I am so glad I experienced the Himalayan beauty. If I get another chance to go back to Ladakh I would go without having any second thoughts! The journey wasn't easy, it wasn't like a usual luxury trip. This trip was filled with hardships but I think that is what makes the entire journey all the more special!

I haven't explored Ladakh fully and I hope to go back there soon and visit all the places I missed out on!

If you guys enjoyed this post and want us to share more travel stories then do let us know! We would love to hear from you.

          MYD :)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Neon? Neon

Neon shades are so bold and outgoing that not everyone can pull it off but if styled the right way, it can make heads turn. I love neon as it stands out where ever you go and it gives a slight rebellious look to your outfit.

Frankly, I was too skeptical about trying it out, the shades were really bright. But, what the hell! Life's too short to wear boring clothes!

So in this post I'm going to tell you how I styled two different looks which include shades of neon.

LOOK 1 : The pink skirt!
I absolutely love this skirt. I love how it flows and stands out so well. I got this one from Elle. I paired this beautiful skirt with a lace top which was from Elle too. I think wearing neon with black tones down it's brightness which works in our favor. This look is perfect  for a dinner or a cocktail party. You can give this look a traditional touch and wear it at wedding function or a Diwali party.

LOOK 2: The neon t-shirt
This look is a very casual, day out with friends kind of look. I got the t-shirt from People. I really like the grey and neon green stripe detailing. I just wore this with a pair of jeans and my Snob Shop reflectors. This look is perfect for the summer! I think, wearing this t-shirt with a leather jacket in winters would do wonders. 

If you've styled your neons in any new cool funky way, we'd love to know. Share your style diaries with us here.

         - MYD (:

Friday, April 15, 2016

~ Road to Ladakh ~

“Travelling—it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”  -  Ibn Battuta 

I am sure each one of you reading this right now completely sympathize with the quote above. It is important for us to escape our otherwise monotonous lives and awaken our soul by discovering a strange new place! 

We have been appreciated time and again for our post on Andaman and we cannot thank you enough for all your love and support. For this week we decided to post another travel story and this time we are talking about the mystical lands of Ladakh.

Ladakh is a beautiful region lying in the Himalayan ranges where life starts beyond 3000 meters. It is one of the most inaccessible and forbidding regions of the world which has a compelling charm of its own. Leh is the district headquarter of Ladakh. 

Fortunately, I got an opportunity to explore this vibrant wonderland in August 2014. I spent the best 15 days travelling in and around Ladakh. Ladakh is accessible by air and by two major roads, Srinagar to Leh and Manali to Leh. The Manali to Leh route is 475 kms long and is more adventurous when compared to the Srinagar one and yes, that was the road we decided to take! We drove through some of the highest passes in the world and the experience was breathtaking.

I want to take you through my entire journey and the only way to do any justice to my favorite place is by splitting this post into two parts. In today's post I am going to tell you guys about my extraordinary journey to one of the most enchanting places ever. In the next travel post I will tell you guys about my trip in Ladakh. You will understand why I did this once you reach the end of this story!

My trip to Leh commenced at the Bangalore airport with a flight to Delhi. We reached Manali after a 12 hour long bus journey from the Delhi airport. Manali is a lovely hill station which was very comfortable and cool in the month of August. I hope to go back there during the winter season someday to witness a white paradise. 
Since we were staying in Manali only for two days we couldn't explore much but we did visit quite a few places. This place is always bustling with life and you will come across a lot of travelers roaring past on their bullets headed to Leh. 

Van Vihar was my favorite place in Manali. It has a great scenery which can be transformed into spectacular pictures. 

Van Vihar | Manali

Deep within the majestic forests of Van Vihar, lies a beautiful ancient wooden temple called Hadimba Temple

Hadimba Temple | Manali

On the next day we saw a lot of Israeli cafes which serve some yummy delicacies. We visited the glorious Beas River and also trekked till Vashisht to take a dip in the hot sulphur springs. The experience was absolutely rejuvenating. The trip to Vashisht was rather therapeutic. 
While trekking we also saw a couple of white horses just trotting away casually! 

Beas River

Vashisht hot water springs

White horses in Manali

We bid goodbye to Manali the next day and hit the roads. The first pass that we crossed was the Rohtang Pass. Rohtang, in Ladakhi means a pile of corpses. It is named so as a lot of people have lost their lives trying to cross this pass during bad weather. This dangerous and unpredictable pass lies at the height of 3978 meters and is open only from May to November. It might sound scary but trust me this pass is as phenomenal as it can get. Also this was our first step towards Leh and crossing it only doubled our excitement.

Rohtang Pass

The treacherous Rohtang road 

Further Rohtang we reached an endearing small town called Sissu. It is the home to the Sissu waterfall and Sissu lake. It was our first stop after crossing the pass and we relaxed for quite a bit here. The Himalayan lakes are very different from other lakes and that's what makes them so special. 

Sissu Lake

Sissu waterfall

Before reaching Keylong, we crossed a small region called Tandi and halted at the petrol filling station for a bit because we weren't going to be seeing another one of that anytime soon. The next filling station was 365 kilometers ahead. Yes, you read that right, three hundred and sixty five kilometers!

After a long journey we finally reached Keylong where we stayed for the night. Keylong was one of the last green places we saw on our way till Leh!


We didn't miss one opportunity to trek during this entire trip. Trekking in such a terrain is a terrific experience in itself. We heard about the short trek till Shashur monastery and decided to go for it. We had to trek down a mountain and then again go uphill. The best part about trekking in that temperature is that you barely sweat!

Trek till Shashur

Shashur Gompa

On the next day we made our way to the next pass, Bara-lacha La. En-route Bara-Lacha La we crossed a spectacular view of the lovely Suraj Tal lake. Suraj Tal translates to the Lake of the Sun God and it is a sacred lake. A few hours after crossing the lake we finally reached Bara-lacha La. La in Ladakhi means pass. This pass is a gorgeous mountain pass located in the Zanskar range at an elevation of about 4800 meters.

Suraj Tal

Bara-lacha La

Our next stop was Nakeela. This pass at 15547 ft was the coldest pass we had crossed till now. As the altitude increased we were having some difficulties breathing but what we saw was worth every bit of that discomfort! The views we saw were too beautiful to be true.

Here are some of the pictures of the dangerous yet spectacular Manali-Leh roads!

Manali-Leh road bends

Closeup of the dangerous road bends

Unbelievable sudden drops in temperature as we gained more altitude

Natural formations we saw on our way

Our next halt point was Sarchu. Sarchu is situated between Bara-lacha La and Lachulung La. It was a good idea to take some rest here and we really needed to be off the roads for a while before we crossed the next pass!

En-route Sarchu

After a long drive we finally reached Lachulung La. This place was so peaceful I just didn't want to leave. The altitude of this pass was much higher than the previous ones. The winds were really cold here but I was absolutely loving it.

After crossing Lachulung La our next stop was a small camp called Pang. Pang is a major halt point for everyone travelling the Manali-Leh route. I wasn't very excited about stopping at Pang, I was excited about what lies further. Taglang La was the next and final pass before we finally reach Leh but that was not the best part. The best part was the road till Taglang La. I had read about the More Plains that connect Pang and Taglang La and I was more than excited to travel on it!
With zero population and mountains on both sides of the road, this 40 km long stretch at an elevation of 4800 meters is a delight to every traveler!

More Plains

The gorgeous More Plains

After the mesmerizing drive through these plains we reached our final pass on the Manali-Leh road, Taglang La. Crossing this pass was like a dream. At 17582 ft, Taglang La is the world's second highest motorable pass.

An hour away from Leh lies one of the most famous and richest of Ladakh's monasteries, Hemis. Hemis is a striking Buddhist monastery and holds a significant spot in Ladakh's history!

Hemis Monastery
 After spending some peaceful hours at the monastery we made our way to our final destination, Leh. And this is where my real trip started! I am sure now you understand why I decided to split my Ladakh trip into two parts!
I hope you guys liked this story of how I traveled till the magical city, Leh. In the next post I will take you all through my trip in and around Leh. Traveling to new places definitely opens up your mind to different ideologies. So pack your bags and go on a trip somewhere, anywhere! It doesn't matter where you go because every place has a new story to tell. :)

Stay tuned for the next part of my Ladakh trip!

Until next time,
                          MYD :)