Name: Ankoor S Kulkarni
Over last 14 days I have gone with my family to Amarnathji Yatra and proceeded from there to Leh. The yatra was an experience in itself and the cave is at 14500 ft covered in show and glaciers all around. The Baba was kind on us that day as it didn’t rain and we could complete our yatra very peacefully. After reaching Srinagar took a cab to Sonmarg to take a halt there. From there next day at 4.0am went to Baltal the base station to take a chopper to Panchatarani. From there the journey started for 2 hours to the holy cave…one way on the horse. The path was very difficult within the mountain slope of 60 – 70 degree angle. In the narrow and muddy path with glaciers in between you need to travel to the height for 1000 ft and deep valley’s around. Any slippage of foot will take you down 1000 ft. From the base of cave you need to cross the glacier and take the steps climb about 150-170 steps to the final point. In the cave on right hand side we saw 8.5 - 9 ft tall Ice Shiv ling, on the left of it 2.5-3 ft Ganesha ling and on the extreme left corner 5-6 ft Parvatiji Ling. All the 3 can be seen at a time. And it was an amazing view at such an high altitude.
Also on the top we could spot 2 pigeons which are believed to be immortal as they heard the story which Shiva uttered to Parvati of being immortal. On the same day we could manage to come back to the base of Baltal and back to Sonmarg.
Next day via Zogila pass (one of the worlds most difficult pass ever) we started our adventurous journey for Leh, Ladhak – The land of unlimited discoveries. It was an amazing experience. First we went to Drass Sector where in 1999 the Kargil war “Operation Vijay” was fought in Tololing and Tiger hill. It is around 60-70 kms stretch you travel and took a halt at Kargil War Memorial. Where the army personal has briefed us about the points which Pakistanis have captured and how the war was fought. They have developed very nice war memorial at ground zero at Tololing and worth seeing place. It has a museum also depicting the pictures and the arms and shillings used in the war.
Drass town is the 2nd coldest inhabited place in the world where the temperature recorded at -60 degrees in winters for 4 months. The temperature in the summer goes to 10 degrees max. We took a night halt at Kargil which is in Ladhak region and is about 60 kms from Drass. The topography changes in Kargil from Green to Dry…. Mountain desert. Which is completely different and distinct then Kashmir. It is all sand mountains with no trees on it. Continued our journey next day along the Zanskar valley crossing the mountain deserts, melting glacier rivers and snow clad peaks crossing the peak of Fatu La at 13400 feet which is highest point in Srinagar – Leh road. Travelling via Lama yuru, Khalsi in Indus valley to Nimu along with Indus river where there is a Sangam of Zanskar river and Indus. Then continued the drive along the Indus river and valley crossing the Magnetic hill and Patthar Saheb to Leh town.
We came across a confluence of Zanskar river on thr right and Indus on the left…the clear water river, which is coming from Tibet and Leh. In Leh been to various local sight seeing like Shanti stupa, Hemis, Thiksey and Shey monestries. Magnetic hill, Patthar sahib, Sindhu darshan, local bazaar etc. Then the other day, went to see the world famous Pangong lake which is renowned for its blue colour lake and also the salt water lake at 13000 ft height. The last shot of movie 3 idiots being done there. The road travels thru the 3rd highest pass in the world Chang La at 17600 ft.
On the way you will cross white sand river beds and may different colours of mountains like brown, green, blue, golden, etc. one after another. The journey to this spot is really amazing and you need to capture in your eyes or lens. Then the most thrilling part was to travel to the world most highest motorable road at 18400 ft… fully covered in snow and with a freezing and biting cold…. You feel like you are on the top of the world. There comes the worlds highest café as well… where you can enjoy black tea, coffee and Maggie.
Post this we travelling back to Srinagar via kargil and Drass and stayed in Srinagar in Dal lake House boat shikara. It was an experience in itself to lead a life in water and move around. Also travelled thru Srinagar in Shankarcharya temple, Chashme shahi, Nishad and Shalimar garden, Neginn lake, Hazrat bal. Then to Pahelgaum enroute Saffron fields and apple orchards. Then had a stay over night at Gulmarg so to visit Khilanmarg to get the glimpse of LOC and experience skiing at 13000 ft. I was accompanied by Sujata and Disha along with our family friend from Delhi Mr. Bhatia.
The entire bookings are done by my friend Rajnesh Kaul +919811882820, www.kashmirincoming.com. He has done an excellent arrangements and bookings right from end to end car and very reliable driver. Also the chopper tickets from Baltal – Panchtarani and back. A special cab arrangements in Ladakh as the same vehicle cannot ply there. You can always connect with him if you wish to travel to J&K and Leh.