Traveling to Ladakh is a wonderful experience, be it the first time you’re visiting this heaven on earth or the 10th!
However, first visit to Ladakh is all the more special. Because for the first time, you actually get to feel the cold Himalayan wind, scarcity of oxygen, breathtaking scenery and have the realization, that the deep blue sky, mountains of varied hues and beautiful lakes you saw in photographs, weren’t actually photoshopped! 😉
Yet, not many people can afford to take couple of weeks or more off from their work or studies, to travel to Ladakh by road.
Flying to Leh on the other hand, sounds like a compromise.
Only, it isn’t!
If anything, flying in or out of Leh is something I would recommend to everyone, at least once in their lives.
Apart from the obvious benefit of taking less time than a road trip, a flight to Leh shows you things from a different perspective. Ones you’re unlikely to see while traveling on the road.
Transformation that unfolds when you take off from Delhi or Mumbai, leaving the concrete jungle behind, venturing deeper and deeper into Himalayas is stunning to say the least.
Skyscrapers give way to green mountains and then green mountains inching ever higher transform into barren mountain ranges of Zanskar, with snow and glaciers on top and glacier fed streams in their midst.
As you get closer to Leh, you fly over the famed Manali – Leh highway, seeing the true vastness of it, as an antish vehicle navigates through its serpentine curves.
Sudden appearance of greenness (or the golden hues depending on the season) as you approach the outskirts of Leh, dwarfed by the mighty Stok Kangri Range on one side and Khardung La on the other.
Then leaving Leh behind, and flying over the picturesque Leh – Srinagar Highway before you turn around and take the final approach from between the two mountains to land at the Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport is something, you are unlikely to ever forget!
Stepping out of the plane, feeling a sudden transformation in not only the temperature of the wind, but also the smell and feel of it, is exciting to say the least. And it sets you in a mood for an adventure of a lifetime.
Once at Leh, you can easily find guides to take you trekking, do rafting in Indus and Zanskar, hire motorcycles, scooters or cycles to travel on your own or hire a friendly local taxi driver to show you around Ladakh.
There is a lot to do and see in Ladakh, and it doesn’t start nor end with the two highways connecting it to rest of India. Even though, they are, ride/drive of a lifetime…