This post is happening after six months for various reasons. After my husband Devrai’s first phase of travel to Kumaon district, there was no connectivity for some time, later his posts were also delayed & I lost track. It bothered me that I had not finished posting about his epic marathon 55 day, 8500 km,” Escape the heat” Scorpio Safari from Mumbai on 21st May 2016 – 3 weeks Kumaon , 3 weeks Ladakh, 2 weeks Himachal.
As in previous blog posts Devrai’s Fb posts are in Italics.
Continuing the Safari, I dropped Viju mudur at Ambala and Preeti, Yuh Sin & Venkat joined me there for the 2nd Phase.
From Ambala we drove to Srinagar with pit stops at Ludhiana & Banihal.
For foodies don’t miss the freshly made pure ghee Soan papdi at Kud, the Rajma chawal at Peerah Modh enroute Srinagar.
The sight of Shikaras gliding silently on the Dal Lake is really soothing. We finished our one day stay with great Kababs served with 6 types of chutneys at Qyaam Chowk.
We reached our destination, Purtikche in Suru Valley tired but safe.
Enroute we visited the Kargil War Memorial.
It is very picturesque, we decided to stay for 2 days.
One of the photos is with Mohammed Sadiq at whose residence I had stayed during my previous drive to Ladakh in 2009.
Near Mulbek we left the highway again and drove into Sapi Valley.
At the onset we saw the quaint Shargole Monastery, and the beautiful Fokkar Village.
Sapi La was higher than 14000 ft.
From Sapi La, we crossed the statue of Maitreya or Future Buddha at Mulbek and went to Lamayuru Monastery.
He was waiting for us in Srinagar and joined us from there, knowing Ladakh like the back of his hand, he made this trip even more unforgettable.
On 22nd June we returned to Leh via Chang La- 17586 ft.
After more than a month on the road, 2 punctures and a mirror smashed, all in a day.
At Leh, the main bazar road has been converted into a Mall road on the likes of Manali.
24th June, last day in Leh at Paul Guest house, run by a jolly family.
The lady of the house showed us round the home,and explained how life was, before the advent of tourists.I cooked Upma & filter coffee for breakfast ,and Veg stew, Paan Poley( Neer Dosa), Sheera for Dinner, the Paul family also enjoyed.
On 25th June 2016 , Yuh Sin & Preeti Mistry flew back to Mumbai, Ganesh Kamath arrived in Leh,picked him up from the airport and headed for Tso Moriri, a 6 hr drive, crossing the hot water springs at Chumathang. Unlike Pangong & Kar, which are saline. Moriri is a fresh water lake with the village Karzok on its banks at a height of 15300 ft.Here too tourism is increasing at a very fast pace.
After 2 days at Tso Moriri, we moved to Tso Kar. Upto the 80’s Tso Kar was the main source of salt for locals, even today the elders lament about its unavailability, as it was considered medicinal.
Only hard core travellers stay at Tso Kar, set near the village of Thukje which is made up of a handfull of houses and a monastery.
We saw there rare and elusive Blacknecked crane and a good number of Kiangs(HImalayan wild Ass).
At dinner time it was fun exchanging notes with fellow travellers.
On 28th June 2016, we moved from Tso Kar on to the mighty plains of More and to Pang, we bid farewel to Ladakh at Sarchu and entered Lahaul in HP. By evening we crossed the Baralacha La and reached JIspa on the banks of the river Bhaga.
This drive was the toughest in the entire trip, the road from Pang to Baralacha La was bad & narrow,with places having names such as, Brandy Bar, Zing Zing Bar, Rum Nalla & Whisky Nalla. But the toughest part was overtaking a Military convoy of 40 vehicles.
Jispa is a small village,on the banks of the river Bhaga which flows from the Suraj Tal a small lake which you cross coming down from Baralacha La. Our home stay was with the family of Sonam Thakur, his mom cooked authentic Veg. Thukpa, with plenty of dried Yak Cheese.
On 30th June 2016, we left Jispa , crossed Tandi where the Bhaga merges with the river Chandra, and the Chandrabhaga flows into Pakistan where it is called the Chenab.
Driving on we crossed the Rohtang La, the last high pass of the trip at 13050 ft.There were atleast 500 vehicles at the Pass, all tourists from Manali, which was as crowded and as warm as Delhi.