Ladakh is one of the remotest and least populated region of Jammu and Kashmir (India), ensconced deep in the high mountain ranges of the Himalayas. A dream that have held my fascination for a very very long time. So come summer, I was finally decided upon taking a self driven road trip to this secluded and rather desolate realm in the Himalayas. Despite various odds and difficulties, I along with three of my childhood friends, finally embarked on the trip from Delhi on 7th of June 2015 with much gusto, anticipation and fair share of trepidation. Yes, trepidation because a self driven road trip to Ladakh is considered one of the most difficult and riskiest road journeys one can hope to come across, taking you through some of the most dangerous routes in the world and a very inhospitable and arduous terrain of the Himalayas. To top it up I intended to drive the whole stretch (we cloaked a total of more than 4000 kms) alone ! But what is an adventure without a little risk. So off we went.
The first stretch was a rather easy yet strenuous drive of nearly 900 kms from Delhi to Srinagar. We had been delayed by one day and had to make it up by skipping the planned halt at Pathankot. We started off from Delhi in the evening around 1700 hrs, drove the whole night and the whole of the next day with pit stops at Chandigarh, Pathankot and Panitop. We finally hit Srinagar as the sun went down. We headed straight for the pre-booked Houseboat at Nagin Lake, which is an extension of the famous Dal Lake but slightly more exclusive and less crowded. Here is a glimpse of the beautiful Dal Lake.
At the break of dawn the following day, we set off on a Shikara (boat) ride from Nagin Lake to Dal Lake and back, chancing upon glimpses of a number of migratory birds that make Dal lake their temporary home. Besides the birds, the lake is also home to local population and even has a floating market where people venture in small canoes to make their daily purchases. We even stopped the boat by a coffee shop to have a nice steaming cuppa to top up the experience 🙂 Amidst the birds, tourists thronging the lake and local populace going about their lives, we also came across an old man whiling away the morning, enjoying a hookah in the middle of the lake !