(That’s the expression that exits your lips when you’re anywhere in Ladakh. It stands for hi, bye, thank you, good day – basically a greeting and conversation starter.)
I was on vacation in Ladakh for 9 days this August. This destination was on my must-visit list, though the date wasn’t fixed until the last week before travel. It was impromptu and off the cuff, almost rebellious and mental. I just looked up some packages on the internet, confirmed if my mum was ok with the dates and made the bookings 4 days before we had to set off. Of course, the packing was left to the last day…
Whew, now when I look back it seems like such a crazy thing to do! I mean who sets off on such a grand vacation just like that, at the drop of a hat?!!
Well, that’s Anuja for you ;-)
Kal kare so aaj kar, aaj kare so ab… Heard that before? That’s exactly what I put into practice. Why delay when I knew I had to get there someday?!! As the recently released movie says, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara… Do everything NOW!!
Moreover, it was my mother’s birthday, and I knew she harboured a desire to go to Leh as well. This trip would make the perfect gift for my travel-enthusiast mom. A special present for a very special Maa!
Everyone in my friends and family circle was astounded when they came to know about our plan. More so coz only mum and I were going, and that too without any detailed planning or announcements!
Here’s some good to know stuff about Ladakh:
Located in the Western Himalayas, “Ladakh” means the “Land of High Passes”. It is a part of Jammu-Kashmir, and is surrounded by Himachal Pradesh, Pakistan and China. Ladakh is literally the roof of the world, one of the highest and driest inhabited places on the globe. Its base height is about 9000 feet and the peaks rise to over 25000 feet.
(Imagine, Mumbai is almost at sea level, Mahabaleshwar is located at 4500 feet, and Mount Kilimanjaro is approx 19350 feet! People usually trek up to 9000 feet levels, and here we were, beginning our journey at this glorious height. Brrr… Scary, and exhilarating!)
So, the way I went about it – I researched some packages with popular tour operators, checking costs and logistics. Most of the details are comparable viz sightseeing, hotels, etc. However, I found the Experience Ladakh itinerary with yatra. com the most suitable.
(Check the detailed trip on this link: http://www.yatra.com/holiday-packages/booking/experienceladakh)
Why? Several reasons…
1. The per person cost was more economical than SOTC, Raj, Kesari, Thomas Cook, etc.
2. I wanted a slightly longer duration trip since Ladakh is a place where one can easily fall ill and require medical assistance.
3. I wanted to spend one night at Pangong lake – most tour operators have a day excursion that can get tiresome and deprive you of an extended viewing of the gorgeous terrain.
4. I needed a group tour since only mom and I were travelling; a customized package only for the two of us would turn out unsafe and expensive.
5. The dates had to be immediate and convenient, as August was filled with official holidays and I could get away for a few days. Besides, the season ends in September when Ladakh becomes colder and an unwise tourist spot for the less adventurous.
Having made my choice, I was assisted by Amit Pradhan from the yatra team at Gurgaon in making speedy bookings. He was extremely proactive and friendly, and this being my first time with yatra.com, I had to make absolutely sure that this was a good decision. He answered all of my few million questions and was available day and night, on working as well as off days, on personal phone as well as sms in case I had a query. Appreciate him for that! This is called professionalism!
Our tour started from Mumbai, so we had to travel from Pune to Mumbai on our own post which we’d fly to Delhi, then to Leh and return the same way. Our flights were Go Air to Delhi, Kingfisher to and from Leh, and Air India back to Mumbai. And of course, Shivneri/Neeta between Pune and Mumbai.
The hotels: starting from Lohmod in Delhi for one night as the flight to Leh was at dawn, the Poplar eco-resort in Leh, Stendel in Nubra, and the Martsemik Camping Resort in Pangong.
How much did we spend? Close to 80k for two people. This included everything – hotel stay, meals, sightseeing, personal expenses like shopping, room service and the like. Some people said I was being stupid, that I could visit a foreign locale in the same price. I couldn’t care less. It seemed appropriate to me, and I saw no cheaper way. Also, I couldn’t be bothered about making independent arrangements – everything was taken care of by the tour operator, so I could let my pretty head and control-freak brain be unbothered and relaxed… Now that’s important, right?! Money’s but a resource…
That’s all I’ve got time for now. Come back later for a day-wise commentary!
Ladakh LITERALLY rocks! And I’m blessed… and Leh’d :-)
You gotta go there someday, lovers!