25 May 2008.
The Epic journey from Leh to Manali.
It needs no introduction and words fall short to explain the grandeur of stark desolateness. Who would’ve thought something so minimal could be so imposing. For the seasoned traveler this is one road journey that cannot be missed and for the newbie, this is going to get him/her hooked, for life – beware!
It goes without saying that there will be stories abound. For instance that fading evening when my brother shouted out telling us to look out the window only to be staring into the glowing green eyes of a pack of Himalayan Wolves or foxes for all I knew. Or earlier that day when we were looking at the dreaded possibility of spending a cold cold night atop Baralacha La owing to a stuck vehicle for two anxious hours. Or even earlier that morning when 5 minutes atop Taglang La in the cold wind at the wee hours when even the sun didn’t rise threatened me with frozen feet for a long time.
Ladakh is a dream destination for many and it requires meticulous planning to undertake this trip of a lifetime, right? Wrong! You probably wouldn’t believe me if I said this was a spur of the moment decision – to head to Leh from Srinagar instead of heading to Kulu as per our original plan, which by the way translates to total lack of warm clothing. I cannot believe I survived Ladakh with one cotton Jacket.
The 479 kilometer long Leh – Manali Highway, the quintessential Mecca of Road Trips hasn’t been christened so just like that. It will put you through isolation, high passes, inclement weather and unpredictable obstacles but in the end you emerge with a new appreciation for life, nature and what you thought was a given. This holds true for any adventure but this road trip usually gets a bigger share of attention than others.
, by Neelima Vallangi