This is my second visit to this wonderful land, called Ladakh. Part of the great Himalayas, Ladakh offers a natural beauty that is found nowhere else in India. Situated at 12000 ft above sea level, Ladakh terrain is mountainous and above the tree line. So all you get to see here are miles long stretches of rugged mountainside, filled with serrated ridges, and loose gravel.
I have been to almost every part of the Himalayas, from the eastern regions, to the northern parts. But the beauty I see in Ladakh is almost unparalleled. This is the second time I am coming back to Ladakh, earlier at the end of summer, and now at the end of winter, and I am amazed by the sheer change in the landscape caused by seasonal variety. From the summer barrenness to iciness of winter freeze, each journey has been different, almost new and unique by itself.
We flew Air India, from New Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport, to Leh Kushok Bakula Rimpochhe Airport, the flight departing at the ungodly hour of 05:30hrs, and reached Leh at 07:05 hrs, and the sight of the snow-covered peaks from the sky, during the early morning hours were breathtaking. We had landed at -2 degree centigrade of temperatureat the airport controlledd by the Indian Army. And before you ask, you are strictly forbidden not to take photographs at the airport, and compromise the security of your nation, when you land.
This time also we had decided to stay at the hotel we had stayed earlier, three years back, Hotel Lasermo. Situated in the heart of the Leh town, the hotel offers some amazing service by its loyal employees, some of them had even remained since the last time we stayed at the hotel. In fact, it was a pleasant surprise to stay in the same room as the one I had stayed in earlier. lavish surroundings and a clear view of the Ladakh Range of the Himalayas, who could want more?
And its sunny coutyard amidst a mountaineous terrain:
Mr Ashraf, the owner of Hotel Lasermo, said, ‘Guests should feel comfortable staying at my hotel. Only if they are satisfied with our services, will they be refering us to more people.’ And how I agree, Mr Ashraf, indeed word of mouth praise is the best way to spread the word.
The first day in Leh should be only kept for resting, especially if you are flying into the area. Sudden travel to this high altitude land can cause Acute Mountain Sickness charecterised by nausea, vomiting, headache, breathlessness, and sleeplessness. Also in April, be ready to travel in temperatues dropping to below freezing point most of the time. So carry adequeate warm clothing, layering yourself in five to six layers is often a good way to keep warm. Remember to cover all exposed areas of the body, if you have not been exposed to such low temperatures before.
Says Mr Ashraf, ‘I always request guests to take rest for the first day (to get used to the sub-zero temperatures, and less oxygen in the air)’.
So take rest, and then gear up for the next few days of travelling to every corner of this awesome land.