You have prepared hard for the examination…
And you find a question in the examination which was not included in the syllabus…
Now 99% of us would groan for injustice and complain that it was ‘out of the course’…
But if we cracked that extra question, the exhilaration was just better than solving the rest of the paper.
Now take your itinerary. Not always would your itinerary be exhaustive. And if you just steps out of the fixed schedule you might find so much more. And this would just add that extra bit which would take your trip to the next level.
We found so many hidden nuggets on our Ladakh trip. These awesome experiences were nowhere covered in our itinerary. But they made our journey even more special. And for these cool experiences we only had to do two things:
- Keep our eyes and mind open (Duh!)
- Talk to the natives including the driver. Do remember to take their advice with a pinch of salt as some of the suggestions were really not worth the effort
So here are the ‘out of course’ experiences we enjoyed on our trip.
The A+ grade credits
- Zanskar river rafting near Leh
Yes, Zanskar – Indus sangam view is cool. But the view of the valley from the Zanskar River is really something else. We chose one of the many vendors and headed for our morning rafting. The sun was beaming down on us and freezing cold water was flowing below. And adrenaline pumping we were rowing our raft through the 17-km course. The rapids are smaller than Rishikesh white water rafting. But the amazing views along lifts the experience to the next level of awesomeness.
(Word of caution: This is a strenuous activity so advisable to do only when you are acclimatized to the high altitudes)
- Color blast at Pangong Lake towards Maan and Merak villages
As we were driving from Pangong Lake to Tso Moriri, we were greeted with gorgeous views of the mighty Pangong Lake. We drove along the Lake for a long stretch and it seemed like every sight on every step of the way was simply out of this world. The lake in myriad shades of blue along with surrounding mountains created a surreal landscape.
You would definitely miss out on this spectacle if you return back to Leh from Spangmik and don’t venture further.
- Billion stars in the night sky
It’s a long day’s night and you want to be sleeping like a log. You are tired after the drive during the day and it is windy and cold outside. Seems reasonable that you would simply go to bed early.
Well, that’s where you are mistaken. If you are lucky to have a clear sky (sans any clouds) and brave the chilling winds, you would be rewarded with a splendid view of the night sky which cannot be seen at most places.
Leh and Nubra might be good, but Pangong and Tso Moriri are better. However, the best views of the starry night would be from Sarchu where you don’t have any habitation for miles around. And without the light pollution, night sky throws up so many surprises. Billions and billions of stars. Spectacular constellation. If you see hard enough, the Milkyway is right there. And as we got lucky, we also saw many shooting stars.
The A grade credits
- Secret lake near Panamik
This is literally a secret lake. No proper name. A small lake hidden by hills on all sides, tucked away from the main road with just a stoned path leading the way. Coming back to Hunder from Panamik, we would have missed it. But our driver seemed to have gotten our taste and took us on this little off-road detour. And voila! Climbing over the hill we see our first lake of the trip. Quiet, serene and pretty.
- Waterfall next to Kokasar checkpoint
On-the-way to Manali, we stopped at Kokasar checkpoint to have delicious meal at one of the numerous Dhabas lined up the road. The food was good but as we turned around, we saw a stream coming down the hill. Our eyes followed the stream up and we found a stunning waterfall right in front of us. We didn’t climb up to the waterfall but it was still so cool!
- Delightful Langar at Gurudwara Patthar Saheb
When we visited Gurudwara Patthar Saheb, we came to know that the Sunday would have Langar (community/common kitchen serving free food to all the visitors). And we couldn’t leave this opportunity. After our rafting expedition, we were back at the Gurudwara to have the Langar. There is a strange quality about such things. May be it was the pious environment or the very fact that the food was blessed. But the simple food was one of the most delicious meals we have had.
- Suchung lake
So this one is not so hidden and you probably can’t miss this lake on your way to Tso Moriri. It rises right in front of you as you drive to Tso Moriri. Another lake set beautifully in the lap of the mountains. We tried to walk down to the lake but had to run off the grounds because of some weird fly-like insects around.
The B grade credits
- Strange geological structures near Sarchu
On our way to Manali, as we were reaching Sarchu (17 – 18 km from Sarchu) we saw some intriguing growths on the banks of Tsarap River. We are yet to figure out what they are called, but these were some odd shaped geological deformations. We are still fascinated by what we saw.
- Wild animal sighting in Ladakh
You would easily see the herds of sheep and yak. But if you keep your eyes open, you could also spot some wild animals. As we closed in to Pangong, we spotted several Marmots in the marsh-like plains. Then on our way to Tso Moriri in the middle of nowhere, we sighted many wild asses.
- Beas river near Manali
You could literally follow the Beas River right from its origin at Beas Kund (next to Rohtang Pass) to Manali and beyond. We were captivated as the river grew from a thin stream to a raging wide river at Manali.
- Breakfast at a Dhaba on the banks of Indus
On the outskirts of Srinagar, we found this nice Dhaba serving delicious Paranthas. But more than the food, we loved the location. Right on the banks of Sindhu (Indus) River.
The D/E grade credits
- Indo-Pak border near Hunderman village, Kargil
Our taxi driver told us that in Kargil we could see the Indo-Pak border. After visiting the war memorials earlier in the day, we were really excited to see the actual border. We hired the local taxi to take us to the border. But what we saw fell well below our expectations. Even with a pair of binoculars, we could only see the “border” from miles away where we could hardly make out anything. They spun many stories about how we would be able to see the bunkers and the flags and the soldiers. Alas, we didn’t see anything concrete.
Do you have a story to tell about your Ladakh experience? Drop in a comment or send us a mail. We will definitely reply. All the interesting tales will be published in a special feature.