Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Leh Diary@Day 7

September 10, Thursday: Khardung-la

We are in no hurry today and everybody wakes up later than usual. The only thing on our agenda today is the Khardunga-La for which we start at about 10.00 am.

Fast facts: Khardung-La has the distinction of being the world’s highest motorable road at 18,380 feet and possibly one of the most scenic. It lies at the crossroads of the ancient silk route. The road was constructed here at second attempt in 1972 by 201 Engineer Regiment of the Indian Army.

Tourists need passes to access Khardung-La and the guesthouse has arranged ours. It takes us a good two hours to reach Khardung-La but not a moment is boring. The ever changing landscape keeps us occupied. The road is in very good shape. Our driver tells us this is because it shuts every Monday for repair and maintenance. The work certainly shows. The drive is smooth for most parts, albeit scary at times with a random reckless driver from the opposite end.

The pass: The top has army presence. We can see snow all around and waste no time in throwing fistfuls at each other. And do they hit hard! Peace prevails and we decide to make a snowman instead. But the winds gather speed and it gets chilly. I make a quick stop at the tiny temple and pick up a mug at the sovenier shop run by the army. We chat with the army person who has fought in the Kargil war. Solemnly, we head back to Leh.
It is evening as we reach back. Since we are changing our hotel for the last couple of days we pack and move to the nearby Leh-Chen. It has opened just 2 months back and is new. What we all really like is the food. We wrap up the evening looking out with hot chai and pakoras!

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