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Read and rate Travel Journal Entries for Leh, Jammu And Kashmir, India

Jul 15, 2009 - Jeep Safari to Tsomoriri Lake

Today we shared a chartered jeep with 4 Israeli women fresh out of the Israeli army to Tsomoriri Lake in the far southwest of Ladakh. I had mistakenly thought Tsomoriri Lake lay about 4 hours drive from Leh, but the drive actually took closer to 7 hours. This is by my standards a long way to go just to have a look at a lake. Tsomoriri Lake, however, is quite beautiful, and while the first part of the drive contained familiar scenery, as we neared the lake, both the natural and cultural scenery grew much more dramatic in character. Several...

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Jul 14, 2009 - Whitewater Rafting the Zanskar River

Today I went white water rafting on the Zanskar, rafting the 28 kilometer stretch between the Ladakhi villages of Chiling and Nimu. As we are heading to Tsomoriri Lake in the far south of Ladakh tomorrow for an overnight trip, and as we are leaving Ladakh towards the end of the week to go to Srinagar, Vikki opted to stay in Leh to tie up loose ends. The stretch of river today included a number of Class III rapids, but as the water was bitter cold, it was cloudy and a fierce wind blew occasionally, me and the other rafters - 30 tourists in...

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Jul 12, 2009 - Hike to Rizong Monastery & Village of Yangthang

Today we went on a long hike, leaving our resort at around 8:45 a.m. and not finishing our walk until close to 4 p.m. We first walked to the Rizong Monastery, stopping along the way at a small Buddhist nunnery. As a road has recently been constructed where a trail once was, we merely walked along the road to get there. While this makes life easier for the local residents, it does not make for exciting hiking The Rizong Monastery lies situated in a valley out of view from the road, so it is quite surprising to see it when one eventually...

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Jul 11, 2009 - Hike to Mangyu Monastery

Today we left the resort in Uletopko and hiked to the village of Mangyu, which is home to a Buddhist monastery thought to have been built in the 11th century. The Mangyu Monastery, built by Lotsava Rhin Chen Zangpo, contains 14 main rooms, all of which are currently under restoration. Some 32 Kashmiri craftsmen worked on the interior designs of the monastery, giving its interior a look which reflects a distinct cross-cultural mix of Central Asian and western Tibetan influences. The village of Mangyu itself looks to be out of the pages of...

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Jul 10, 2009 - Luxury Camping along the Indus River in Uletopko

Tonight we are camping at a resort in the village of Uletopko, about 2 1/2 hours outside of Leh, situated along the banks of the Indus River. We are the only guests at the resort this evening, giving it the feeling of our own private and scenic hideaway. We took a rickety bus from Leh this afternoon to get here, traversing a portion of the Leh to Srinagar highway for the entire drive here. While we enjoyed the scenery during this beautiful drive, we wondered at times - as the old bus struggled to make it up some of the windy passes - if we...

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Jul 8, 2009 - Downhill Mountain Biking India's Highest Motorable Road

Today we went with a local mountain bike outfitter for some extreme downhill cycling. We and a group of about 20 other tourists were driven up in multiple jeeps to the top of the Khardung La pass (5,359 meters; 17,582 feet), some 39 kilometers outside of Leh en route to the Nubra Valley. The Ladakhis - and a large sign at the Khardung La pass as well - allege that the Khardung La pass is the highest motorable road in the world, although apparently 2 roads in neighboring Tibet actually take top honors over the Khardung La pass. The drive...

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Jul 7, 2009 - Visit to Sankar Monastery

Today we took a walk in a part of Leh we had never been before and visited the Sankar Monastery. The monastery is sandwiched between houses in a beautiful residential neighborhood of Leh, and as such, does not offer the imposing views of many of the other monasteries - many of which are located on hillsides - we have seen since arriving in Ladakh. As we arrived, the main temple was filled with monks engaged in worship, and so as not to intrude, we limited our visit to the areas of the monastery outside of the temple’s inner sanctum. After...

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Jul 5, 2009 - Visit to Stok

This afternoon we took a cab to the small town of Stok outside of Leh. There we visited both the museum at the royal palace as well as the monastery down the road from the royal palace. The Ladakhi royal family constructed the palace in the early 19th century, and the palace continues to serve as a part time residence for the Ladakhi royal family. Although still recognized as the Ladakhi royal family, the family has no official power or role within Ladakhi society. The palace, perched on a hillside, has some 77 rooms, although only a small...

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Jul 3, 2009 - Fanjila to Hanupatta

Leave Fanjila 07.30 Arrive Hanupatta 10.30 Song in my head - Hung my Head by Johnny Cash Rupees spent 120 Get up and needing to do the necessary, pop to the loo. Most toilets are closed rooms, but this one has lost it's walls and instead has some low plastic tarp, and additionally is on a small hill with no privacy i.e. everyone walking down the road can see what you're doing. The only way to avoid this is to adopt a Haka-like pose, and whilst doing this I look down the rectangular hole, which is not something you can often do as it's...

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Travels of a Kinnie

Jul 2, 2009 - Leh to Franjila

Go to the bus station through the (for once) traffic free streets of central Leh, past cows, dogs and old women going through rubbish tips, past workmen shovelling in pairs (one holding the shaft, the other a cord attached to the base of the head). On getting to the station, find out that there is a bus straight to Franjila, which would save me a days walk on a road from the gompa at Lamayuru. I hesitate, as Lamayuru is regarded as one of the most significant and spectacular sights in Ladakh, but decide I'll see enough on the trek anyway so...

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Travels of a Kinnie

Jun 30, 2009 - A lazy few weeks in Leh

Went to the polo ground to watch a match there put on as part of the Leh Festival, a secular event done by the tourist board. Never been to one before and doubt I'll go to the likes of this one ever again; this was a little different to the genteel events I imagine you get in England. For a start, I'm fairly sure Prince Charles never had to dodge cows and dogs that wander onto the pitch, not to mention work his way round a chorten (Buddhist monument) that sits on the edge of the field like the lime tree at Kent Cricket Ground used to. The...

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Travels of a Kinnie

Jun 23, 2009 - Bicycle Trip to the Sights around Leh

Today we rented Trek mountain bikes and rode to some of the main tourists highlights in the vicinity of Leh. Our ultimate goal was to reach the monastic complex, also known here as a gompa, at Stakna, some 26 kilometers away along the Leh-Manali Highway. During the ride, we planned to also take in the other tourist sites en route. We began our ride on the Leh-Manali Highway, leaving Leh and stopping several kilometers outside of town at Choglamsar, a small village populated primarily by Tibetan refugees. We then proceeded to continue along...

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Break From the Law

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