From Line of Control to Line of Actual Control and that night…
India has a coastline as long as 7500 kms spanning 13 states, UTs as well as islands while the border line with 6 nations is almost the double at over 14000kms which is known as LOC, LAC as well as international border based on the relation with the particular country.
Ladakh is one region where you can move from one international border to another in a span of hours through terrains so surreal, that it feels out of the world. The road trip from Thang – northernmost village before LOC; Pakistan occupied Kashmir is a hours drive from Chushul – village on the eastern side of Ladakh close to LAC (Chinese claimed Ladakh). Both the landscapes are vivid and have a different vibe to each and what connects both is the road rarely taken.
We started from Diskit late morning and took the Agham – Shyok – Durbuk – Pangong – Spangmik – Man – Merak route to reach Chushul. The narrow passage runs through plains and mountain terrains while never letting go of the Pangong lake view making the drive more adventurous than daunting. As soon as you cross Spangmik village, you are on your own with rare sightings of gulls flying over Pangong Tso, kiangs (wild asses as tall as horses) and yaks grazing but rarely a human.
The farther you move, the closer you get to wilderness. By the time we spotted Chushul it was getting dark and we were getting restless if we were in the right direction or not. Vast lands with no sign of human life eventually get to you. Preparation for the worst is the only key to survival and our caravan is generally prepared for worse. As soon as we spotted Chushul village at a distance, there was a sigh of relief as dusk had just started spreading its gloomy wings across the valley.
By the time we made it to Chushul village, the darkness and the chill in the air alongside hectic drive throughout the day made us cancel our pitch-our-tent-where-we-like plan. All we needed was a comfortable place to stay, not fancy – just basic but cozy. As we spread out to fetch something to eat from the shops nearby, local children surrounded our cars, all staring at us. Most of the stuff at the general shops was well past its expiry date. Only after lot of looking around and being refused by a couple of locals to stay around, we realized staying at Chushul might be a challenge. The culture of home-stays is not common in the village. Thankfully, one good samaritan offered to help and made a call to one guest-house nearby. It was pitch dark by now and if the caretaker had not answered the call, we were in deep sh%$.
After waiting outside the guesthouse for what seemed like eternity, an old man walked out with a solar lamp on his head. He stared at all of us for a while and said, we need to get approval from the local authorities to be able to stay the night. Thankfully, he agreed to accompany one of our vehicles to the police station at night. Even waiting outside on plain road was difficult as the chilly wind would find its way to tease us one way or the other. When they returned with permission, our dear friend brought along some strict instructions from the local police station.
This place was a couple of kilometers from the Chinese border
Our purpose of visit to Chushul was seriously questioned
We were instructed not to roam around at night and under-no-condition with a torch (the Chinese troops kept a close watch at all night activities)
The officer joked about offering target practice opportunity to the not-so-welcoming neighbor and we were in no mood to defy his commands
As soon as we started to settle in one section of the guest house, the care-taker seemed to be in a hurry to rush back to his place. He was in no mood to share pleasantries, never told us his name and gave hurried directions on what’s kept where. He allowed us to use his kitchen at an additional charge and quickly got us two gallons of drinking water which was clearly filled from a running stream nearby. He demanded to be paid the complete amount in advance and retired for the night. It was barely 9pm, but somehow the day already seemed long.
A couple of us got into the kitchen to prepare maggi, toasts and thankfully we were keeping extra water bottles with us for odd days like this. One look outside and you would feel like you are in a completely different part of the world with grim borderlines of large mountains at a distance, a handful of stars hiding under dense cover of clouds and just one gompa completely lit-up in the middle of nowhere. We were busy talking about the day, food and time passed until dinner was to be served. The walk from the kitchen till the dining area was barely 15 steps but something was not right. It was an old low-roof structure where the passage from kitchen to dining room involved a 10 steps walk out in the cold.
The last person to enter the room felt someone walking besides him almost running through him while he was holding food in his hand. Downplaying his excitement and retaining his calm, he requested someone else to get the remaining spoons from the kitchen. The girl volunteered to fetch them and returned back to the dining room all out-of-breath and announced that she is not stepping out for the night.
It was soon clear that something about the place was not right and we all finished dinner and tried to divert attention to other subjects in whispers. Just after dinner, as we were to keep the leftovers in the kitchen, we all ventured outside with caution. It was a pitch dark night with cold wind making weird sounds. There was this little old room at a raised platform where the wooden door was dancing to the tunes to wind making a loud creaky noise. We took charge of shutting the noise as it would have made sleeping impossible. As soon as I moved my hand to shut it, the door suddenly opened completely with a loud thud and two people had to pull it and bring it close to the lock (making sure that none of us peeked inside). It took three fully grown men to control the door and tie it with a metal wire to suppress the noise.
In the entire Ladakh region, electricity is shut off at exact 11 pm, reminded one person and it was 20 minutes for absolutely no light in the area. We all retired to our rooms, this time placing our beds next to each other. It was very brave of two of us to fetch sleeping bags from our vehicles parked next to the rooms, however the few seconds long excursion left us breathless with an abnormally high adrenaline and the fear that we were being followed.
Throwing layers of blankets over us, we all pretended to sleep that night and no one said a word.
It was suddenly very bright at 5 am as if it was noon already. We had to wait for the caretaker till 0830 while I strolled and clicked a few pictures of the area seeing the vast landscapes in broad day light. It was just open lands and hills as far as the eye could see on one side and mountains on the other side. The all-lit gompa stood at a distance all pretty.
As soon as we saw the caretaker we were in a rush to leave and start our journey onwards. He demanded that we place the beds in the same order as we had found them previous night. We quickly heeded to his instructions and left the place all relieved.
Nobody looked back at the place or spoke about it, till we reached Rezang La, the site of the last stand of 120 brave soldiers of 13 Kumaoni Regiment who crushed waves of Chinese attack during the India-China war of 1962. They fought till the last man, last bullet and last breath. If not for them, Ladakh would be under Chinese control right now. For the first time in the last 24 hours, there was something sad but positive about this region.
In that moment of comfort we started discussing about the previous night. None of us could sleep properly the previous night. My bed had a slant making me pull myself back up every 5 minutes. Henna kept feeling cold and hot at sudden intervals.
She asked me why did I tap her head repeatedly last night and I didn’t try to convince her that I did not. I was feeling sorry that I pulled back my hand and slept while she was feeling scared, but she thanked me for offering her comfort and support throughout the night.
Just as were joining the dots, Achal mentioned that he did not believe in anything until he was shaken awake thrice last night. Sunanda and Rahul did not flinch their eyes for a second and kept pointing their torches towards the weird noise that kept emanating from the broken window of the restroom. While at the pass, Sunanda revealed that she sensed Chinese soldiers in the room and I had dreamt of them in my short sleep.
It has not even been a week and we are still discovering newer facts about that night. The contact number of that caretaker has been switched off ever since.
I took an impromptu trip with my two childhood best friends, two years back. We witnessed a rare meteor shower, among other things…
It was a journey full of thrill, fun and amazement. One of my friends is a Wildlife Filmmaker & Photographer and wanted to shoot the meteor shower of the Eta Aquarids created by debris of Hailey’s a phenomenon that happens once in 76 years. As she told us about this, the two of us at once decided to join her and this impromptu plan turned into one of the best trips of our lives.
We started for Dhanaulti the next morning and reached in almost 7 hours. The first place we visited was Dhanaulti Eco Park, amidst thick Rhododendron, Cedar and Pine. We trekked towards the park and reached on the top from where we enjoyed a spectacular view sitting on the swings. These little joys make a trip worth cherishing and so we did whatever we could to make the trip memorable. We also stopped by to have some hot spicy Maggi and realised that “pahado ki Maggi” is indeed the most delectable thing one can have.
Now was the time for all the challenges, thrill and chills as our hunt for a secluded and peaceful place to set our camp began. We were not looking for a proper camping area; instead an untouched place at a certain level from where we could have a clear view of the starry sky. In order to shoot the meteor shower, we needed a dim spot where light wouldn’t reflect.
A little ahead of Dhanaulti in Kanatal, with the help of some locals, we found the perfect place in the wilderness to set our camp. The place was far from the village with no or little sign of human intervention. The locals also warned us about the place being a little risky being a remote forest area but we were all ready for an adventurous night. Little did we know that the night would be more thrilling than expected. As soon our tent was set, mother nature surprised us with heavy rains, thunderstorm and lightning. For almost four hours we had to lock ourselves inside with zero hopes that our tent would be able to survive the weather but when it did, we were thankful. The night grew so cold that we almost experienced what it would be like to freeze.
By this time, the possibility of shooting the meteor shower was washed away by a thick cover of clouds. So we decided to sleep in turns with alarms set for every half hour to check on the weather. We were well equipped with torch & lighters and pocket-size safety equipment like pepper spray, swiss knife and paper cutters to protect ourselves from wild animals and also unwanted humans. The night was quite scary; we could hear and feel every little sound of nature, even that of silence, in the forest area.
It was only after midnight that the thunderstorm and rain stopped. The stars became a bit visible and the rain-washed sky looked extremely beautiful that the three of us couldn’t help but admire it all with just our heads popped out from the tent; it was too cold to step out and we weren’t backed with enough warm clothes . (Tip for last minute travel plan to the hills: do not leave without a big thick jacket).It was around 3 am when we jumped with joy and could not believe our eyes; we were looking at the meteor shower!.. We gathered some courage and finally moved out of the tent. While my friend was busy capturing the spectacular view in her lens, me and my other friend guarded ourselves by keeping an eye on all sides.
Once the shoot was done, we could rest our eyes with a little peace. Mornings in mountains amidst forest are peaceful and so unlike waking up to alarms, we woke up to the chirping of birds. The realization that we survived a terrifying night brought absolute relief and we gave each other a pat on the back. In difficult situations like these, positive attitude and encouragement means a lot and that is what the three of us kept doing to each other the entire night. When the locals heard about us they were amused as not often they see young girls doing something adventurous in the wild. One of them even told us that he will tell his daughters about us and that how brave we were to overcome our fears. Hearing this brought a sense of achievement for all of us in the true sense.
On our way back, we also visited the Tehri Dam and were mesmerised by the beauty of the region. We kept talking about how tranquil the morning was, in contrast with the night we left behind. Perhaps, that is how you feel after coming on the other side of a spine-chilling adventure.
“At last, we reached Komic; the signage read a height of 4587 meters and a village population of 114 inhabitants”…
The road that turns left from Koksar towards Spiti Valley does not look anything like a National Highway. It is full of challenges, adventure, risk and yet breathtaking landscapes. If you have covered the stretch from Jammu to Leh passing through the mud mountains, lunar landscapes, magnetic hill and more, you cannot expect Spiti Valley to surprise you, yet it enchants you like never before.
Our intention was to have evening tea at the highest motorable village in Asia, Kibber, and we crossed all hurdles with a smile. It was only at Key Monastery that we realised that the road now extends to Komic Village and the tag of the ‘highest motorable village’ had moved. The thing with tags such as highest, longest and brightest is that they can always be challenged. Unfazed, we changed our direction and set course towards Komic which was 21kms farther and much higher than the erstwhile highest village, Kibber. Not sure of what to expect, we were greeted by a narrow tar-less road uphill and a lot of dust, enough to change the colour of everything it touched. As we escalated up, the landscape kept getting more appealing and colourful. At last, we reached Komic village, the signage read a height of 4587 meters and a village population of 114 inhabitants. There was still no sign assuring of the highest-village-in-Asia claim. It was only after exchanging words with the indigenous lamas that the title was confirmed and we swell our chests with pride. Komic Village has a total of dozen odd houses and a 14th century old monastery which is the abode of Lamas. Most of the lamas keep shuffling between the Komic and Kaza as Kaza is the activity hub.
Komic means Snow Cock Eye. There are legendary stories associated to the village as robbers trying to steal the main deity but were unable to lift it after a point as it kept getting heavier, hidden treasures such as egg of the dragon, horn of a unicorn etc. Even the carving shapes of some stones will yell of delight. The earthquake in 1975 shattered the whole place around yet the deity statue at Komic held its place.
With one look around at the settling sun flickering over the Kaza mountain range, the thought of having tea at Asia’s highest village soon turned into the will to have dinner. We requested the head lama to let us stay the night and we were offered a room. We can never forget the delicious vegetable rice ‘pulao’ that the lama cooked up for us learning that we were hungry. We also gorged over vegetable ‘thenthuk’ for dinner. Well for tea, we are not sure how much we consumed as it tasted better than any other elixir in the world.
The village remains disconnected from the rest of the civilization for half the year due to heavy snow and lack of proper roads. The villagers are hospitable and are undaunted by lack of infrastructure or public services we, city dwellers, cannot live without. The trip to Komic is an essential escape from our worldliness to connect with the Lama life, to lay sight on landscapes and mountain ranges at same height as yours and more so to understand the true meaning of minimalism which cannot be taught better by anyone but the inhabitants of Komic village.
We are once again escaping to Spiti, in August this year. Know more about it here.
Day trips are more like power naps; you feel recharged and refreshed in no time…
Having said that, we also realise that living in a metropolis only leaves you with so many options for a day trip! For day trips near Delhi, one mostly needs to travel at least a hundred kilometres to begin to feel the escape. But with these options listed below, you’ll realise why hidden and gems are two words that go together. These are all interesting destinations great for a ride with your gang.
Please note: Distance to each destination is as measured from our Travelers Café & Motorcycle Garage in Noida, which is also the beginning point for all our Sunday Rides.
Bhardwaj Lake, Asola Wildlife Sanctuary, Delhi – 85 kilometers
Not many people know that the Asola-Bhatti forest range ahead of Chattarpur it is a natural habitat with a variety of birds, butterflies, mammals and lakes – of which Bhardwaj Lake is one. Ride to this place for an exploratory hike; be here with a group to ensure safety. It is advisable to carry plenty of drinking water and some quick breakfast options (sandwiches/ paratha rolls) with you.
Choose Garhmukhteshwar for a ride in the rain. Start early and discover this simple little town blessed with a close proximity to Ganga River. When here, Ganga Ghat and Nakka Kuan are two places you must visit. You’ll find plenty of breakfast options on the way and around the destination as well.
Situated just outside the city, it is the perfect spot to ride to. Take your breakfast/brunch spread along and cherish a Sunday picnic with family/friends. It is “an easily accessible bird paradise” (as described in a Nat Geo article). Go find yourself to know more.
Sultanpur National Park, Gurgaon, Haryana – 69 kilometres
Another haven for bird watchers on the other side of the capital, this site is plush with exotic migratory birds during winter, and makes for a charming picnic spot otherwise. It might be useful to note that it is open from 7 am to 4.30 pm. Find more information here.
Murthal, Sonipat, Haryana – 90 kilometres
This one’s obvious, and certainly not hidden, but the list wouldn’t have been complete without it. Murthal continues to be one of the favourite spots for bikers for a spin on NH1. Popular for the tandoori parathas served at its many dhabas, you need not worry about finding breakfast options here.
Damdama Lake, Sohna, Haryana – 60 kilometres
Damdama Lake is easily discover-able through Google Maps. However, owing to the reservoir’s irregular shape and size, there is more to it than just the main site. Best explored on motorcycles, the terrain is mostly raw and uneven, like most regions that fall in the Aravalli range are. It is recommended that you carry plenty of water and quick bites with you. There’s a restaurant by the Haryana Tourism board at the site. *Includes off-roading
Did you know you can find Dolphins in North India? Yes, you can. All you need to do is plan a ride to Unchagaon. 100 kilometres via Bulandshahr, Unchagaon in Uttar Pradesh is known for its Gangetic Dolphins and an ancient temple of Amantika Devi. Owing to the fact that Garhmukhteshwar is merely an hour away from Unchagaon, one may cover both in a day’s time.
Bhola ki Jhal, Meerut, Uttar Pradesh – 60 kilometres
Take a left from the Delhi-Meerut highway, just before Meerut, and you are in for a beautiful 25-kilometres-long stretch with the Ganges flowing alongside. Around Bhola ki Jhal, you can indulge in some fresh juice, pakoras, chai, bread omelette etc for breakfast. Our gang of riders played a match of cricket at the site to add some fun to the day.
Nuh, Haryana – 84 kilometres
Nuh is an ancient town in the state of Haryana. According to Mahabharata, the area was granted by Yudhisthira to their guru Dronacharya. If you’re a history aficionado, you must visit the ruins of the Ghasera Fort and the Chui Mal ka Talaab, when you ride/drive to this destination. Have breakfast on the way.
Pratapgarh, Jhajjar, Haryana – 110 kilometres
If you’re looking forward to an eventful day post riding, Pratapgarh can be an ideal destination for your group. You and your gang can immerse yourself in a range of activities at the popular Pratapgarh Farms here. Explore breakfast options on the way.
While most traces of the Mughal rule in the historic city of Panipat have faded, this one treasure still stands strong. Named after Kabuli Begum, Babur’s wife, the Kabuli Bagh Mosque was built in 1527 by the emperor Babur to mark his victory over Sultan Ibrahim Lodhi at the first Battle of Panipat in 1526. A halt at Murthal for breakfast mid way can be a good idea; there are enough restaurants on NH1 ahead of Murthal as well.
It is best to carry a basic tool kit and a first-aid box at all times.
Escape Route’s Sunday Rides are accompanied with an experienced road captain and a mechanic. _______________________________________________________________________________
If you think you have another interesting suggestion for day trips near Delhi, do let us know! We will update the article with your contribution. Meanwhile, join our Facebook group to stay updated about our Sunday Rides and other trips.
There is no dearth of reasons for you to ride across the terrain of Ladakh for it is such a heavenly experience…
Ladakh has over the years emerged as a benchmark of adventure, style and machoness especially if you are a new biker yearning to ride across the valiant passes of this cold desert. It is the land of snow clad high passes, freezing temperatures, rugged terrain and breathtaking landscapes in the Kunlun mountain range that later extends to The Great Himalayas in the South-East. One of the reasons you opted for a thumping engine on two wheels was to ride straight upto to the highest motorable road in the world and earn yourself the coveted display picture next to Khardung La signage (‘La’ is pass in Ladakhi language). There is no dearth of reasons for you to take a bike trip to Ladakh for it evokes such heavenly feelings in the explorer in you.
One feeling that stands out is that of power and accomplishment, but with great power comes greater responsibility. Rightly so, Ladakh offers a difficult terrain to ride on and over the years, we have come across many bikers/motorcycle enthusiasts waiting for help in the middle of nowhere. Here are few pointers one must keep in mind to make sure that this road trip of a lifetime is complete without any glitches; from one biker to another:
NO ONE IS A BORN RIDER, plus it just sounds wrong. So hone it up before you start flaunting those tattoos on your bodies and stickers on your motorcycle.
PRACTICE MAKES ONE PERFECT: Just owning a bike and rider suit will not make you a biker, It is imperative for you to have a bare minimum of 10000 – 20000 kilometres of driving experience, including driving in the hills and off-roading. Get comfortable with your bike before you test the rough terrain of Ladakh.
KNOW YOUR MOTORCYCLE: Spend some time with your neighbourhood mechanic and ask him questions about your machine, the suspension, the cooling, the brake mechanism, spark plugs, oiling etc. No question is stupid, you never know which answer would help you when u are stuck on a pass in freezing cold with a over 150 kgs of metal and rubber.
CARRY SPARES: with improved accessibility and so many people travelling to Ladakh, you will not be stuck for long, However it is a decent idea to carry basic spares like a spark plugs, an extra tyre tube, accelerator / clutch wire, the tool kit etc. That might make you the knight in shining armour for someone else in need. You would also need to carry extra fuel for there are long stretches without a fuel pump. If you do not have a proper riding gear yet, wear multiple layers of clothing for it gets pretty cold post Sarchu.
SAFETY IS COOLER: you might look cooler riding your favourite motorcycle without a helmet, but remember it is not just hitting your head on the road during a mishap, Ladakh is famous for landslides and stones falling from above.
DO NOT BE TOO ADVENTUROUS (read crazy): Yes it is your first bike trip to Ladakh, you have crossed the Rohtang Pass traffic jam and the dust has just settled after Keylong, do not let your guard down, not on the curves, not on the straight roads. Keep your head straight and enjoy the ride at a decent speed.
RESPECT YOUR MOTORCYCLE: A lot of amateur riders will complain that it was the machine’s fault, but then again, machines do not have a mind, it is you who are responsible. Treat her well and you will have a fantastic trip, be rude to her and keep kicking the rear tyre for all she cares. Tip: be patient at tougher terrains and have a heart, you will pull through eventually.
LISTEN TO LOCALS: If you have been paying attention to all the points above, you have earned yourself a treat. Forget what he or she told you, spend some time with the local, be nice and if they find you genuine, they might tell you about that mysterious place that is still missing from 5612 itineraries that you read before the Ladakh roadtrip.
EXPLORE, AT YOUR OWN PACE: You do not have enough offs and there is so much to cover, you cannot explore the entire LADAKH in 8 or 10 or 16 days and that is not experiencing, it is called covering. So ask yourself what you want and let it soak in before you head to tick-off the next thing in your limited time itinerary. Come back next time and do more.
CHERISH IT& PRESERVE IT: Observe more than you show, listen more than you speak, this way the land of high-passes and zen might give you a lesson in life. Remember it is you who is yearning to go this is beautiful place ever since you first heard of it and try and preserve the sanctity of this place for the next time you visit it is still the same as you left it.
Travel ideas for you to escape from monotony with your beloved!
The idea of romance has always been subjective. Breakfast in a bed covered with rose petals might be romantic for you, but not as much for somebody else. Some partners share a passion for fitness, some for cooking, some for reading, adventure sports, or painting…it could be anything that the two like to do together and find it romantic. But we’re yet to meet a pair in love who doesn’t like to travel, to escape. Travel and romance are old friends, after all (think honeymoons!).
Now travelling too is a matter of choice. So whether you and your partner are young, wild and free or are ageing gracefully, we’ve got these travel ideas for you to choose from and escape!
GET LOST IN THE WOODS
Explorers at heart don’t mind getting lost, given a picturesque natural location and of course the company of your beloved one. So leave all your cares behind and head to a destination where you’re surrounded by trees and sheltered by the sky.
If rustic is your style then we’d suggest you go camping at a place like Nainidanda. You could go for a trek or simply just lie in a hammock and enjoy the company of trees. The hammock life at Nainidanda[/caption]
Then there’s Sher Bagh, a perfectly dreamy abode bordering Ranthambore National Park, if living in a forest is not your cup of tea. It features luxurious, hand-stitched canvas tents and just about everything elegantly romantic.
Aamod at Shoghi is another natural wonderland with accommodation offered in wooden cottages. Having been built on forest land, the resort has a gazillion pines and deodars running through. One of the most romantic thing to do, when here, is avail the benefit of their Jacuzzi on top of the hill.
That feeling of hitting the highway, leaving the mundane behind, with no particular destination in your mind, and the love of your life sitting right beside you is…inexplicable. Isn’t it?
If you’ve got little ones that you can’t leave behind, you might as well plan a short road trip; if driving from NCR, Fatehpur Sikri could be an ideal choice with Coral Tree Homestay at Agra being your home for the night. But if it’s just the two of you, we’d recommend you cross a couple of states and drive to a point where you feel like you can touch the horizon.
If heading towards Rajasthan or The Thar Desert, a pit stop at Alwarbagh by Aamod can be a good idea. And do you know of this nice little hamlet called Jibhi? It falls on the route that connects Shimla and Manali; if by any chance you find yourself on this way, you must stay at Latoda by the River in Jibhi. And if the peaks of Uttarakhand seem to be calling you, the Mountain Trail Resort near Mukhteshwar makes for a comfortable stay.
MINGLE WITH STRANGERS
…and get to know each other again! As unromantic as it may sound, this is a fantastic idea when you’re growing old together and feeling like romance is wilting away.
So if you’re two people who have literally been eating, sleeping and breathing together for quite a long time now, it’s time to take a break; a break from your daily routine and take a vacation with a bunch of strangers around. This will help you rediscover the friends in each other yet again. Stay in a hostel or go hiking with a bunch of passionate travelers and try not to discuss the monthly expenses.
La Vie hostel, a popular among travelers, can be found in Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, McLeodganj and Leh as well. Similarly, there are plenty of Zostels too.
GO OFF THE RADAR
Disappearing from the face of the Internet is what first world romance sounds like. Add to that an off-beat location and you’re all set for your private escape!
Get ready to say goodbye to the Wi-Fi for a few days. Because sometimes a digital detox is all you need to rekindle the romance between the two of you. Pick a beautiful private villa or a boutique homestay such as the ones offered by Mary Budden Estate in Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary for a hassle-free vacation. What better way to spend some days of uninterrupted romance with your partner!
TOUCH NEW HEIGHTS
It’s time, don’t you think so?
Whether you choose a trek to Triund or unravel the highs of Rudraprayag, together, at least once in your lifetime, you ought to experience an adrenaline rush unlike any other. More adventurous options include paragliding and sky diving, of course. Talking of paragliding, what better place than Bir – the paragliding capital of India.
If you decide to travel to the village of Chopta in Rudraprayag, Pristine Eco Camp is the perfect place to rest your feet at. Those visiting Tirthan valley must experience staying at Raju Bharti’s Guesthouse; it’s simple and comfortable.
Wherever you wish to go, we hope you come back with pockets full of love and memories that’d last forever…
More than anything, Ladakh is a feeling; a feeling cumulative of several other feelings, and a feeling that everyone experiences for themselves…
The awe-inspiring virtue of Ladakh captivates you to the extent that it seems impossible to encapsulate all its beauty in a definite number of words. And yet, we try…we try to express the allure of this cold desert in terms of the traits it possesses, in feelings it evokes.
Evident in the air of Ladakh, even more than Oxygen, is the essence of spirituality and a state of Zen. The fact that Ladakh was once a Buddhist kingdom is reason enough to explain the roots of this emotion; Buddhist pilgrims used to be the only kind of travelers back then. Guru Nanak also spent some time meditating in Ladakh. In the present times, with places like the Shanti Stupa, Diskit Monastery, Gurudwara Patthar Sahib, Jama Masjid and more dotting its landscape, Ladakh is enveloped with a sense of zen.
A land of supernatural landscapes, as they call it, Ladakh’s geography evokes a truly celestial feeling. For every second that you spend in Ladakh with your eyes wide open, you’ll witness physical beauty in one form or the other. From vast rocky terrains and snow capped peaks to vibrant and almost magical skies, every frame in Ladakh is surreal. Even amid the crowded Leh, one thing or the other would manage to charm you. And then there are rather breathtaking locations such as the Lamayuru village in Uleytopko. Known as the moonland of Ladakh, Lamayuru is home to lunar landscapes that give one the feeling of being on moon.
Ladakh’s lakes are an integral part of its character and beauty. These extraordinary lakes are alluring to the extent that they appear mystical, even more so when the water is absolutely still and the lake mirrors the sky. All three of them are unique in their own way. Pangong, being the highest salt water lake in the world, owns a reputation of its own. But it is its ever-changing colour – from blue and azure to green and grey – that makes for a visual delight. Tso Moriri, one of our personal favourite spots, is where you get to spot Tibetan wild asses grazing by the shore in all their laziness. And the fluctuating Tso Kar attracts its own share of exotic birds, and awe from travelers.
If you have already been to Ladakh, chances are that you have come back with anecdotes of your heart-warming experience with the locals. Sometimes, the interaction lasts a smile and if you (you must) choose to live in a homestay, you end up getting a closer look into the life and culture of the Ladakhis. Either way, it is evident that the indigenous people of Ladakh are extremely kind and hospitable, sometimes beyond comprehension. If you do get to stay with a Ladakhi family, you’ll learn how they cherish the little things in life. It is no less than an opportunity to learn a couple of things from people who have found a way of life in a region with extreme climate. Your choice of staying in a homestay over a hotel or resort will not just give you a beautiful experience but will also help keep Ladakh from the risk of commercialization that it is currently facing.
More than anything, Ladakh is all about what you feel; a feeling cumulative of several other feelings, and a feeling that everyone experiences for themselves. Right from the excitement of getting there and the dizziness you feel when you actually get there to the mind-numbing chill, the thrill of being ‘on top of the world’, and the entire experience you bring back with you, it is your own journey that counts.
As much as we love to escape and explore ourselves, it gets even better when like-minded people join us on our journeys. So if Ladakh is on your bucket-list this year, join our Escape to Ladakh this June and Experience Ladakh at your own pace! Talk to us and let us custom-make an itinerary for you and your gang.
For the adventure seeker in you, Escape Route has come up with its own camping site near Delhi. Camp under the stars, pitch your own tent wherever you want, cook food the rustic way, go for a nature trail, spot hyenas and/or just laze around and share stories with fellow travellers…& get one with wilderness
For the adventurer in you, Escape Route has come up with its own camping site near Delhi!
Situated close to Damdama Lake, amid Aravallis, this camping site near Delhi allows you get one with wilderness. Camp under the stars, pitch your own tent wherever you want, cook food the rustic way, go for a nature trail, spot hyenas and/or just laze around and share stories with fellow travellers.
Just about an hour from Delhi and even lesser from Gurgaon, the route to this site passes through the Faridabad-Gurgaon forest range which in itself is an incredible off-roading experience for all wanderers. The route is one of the favourites for motorcycle enthusiasts in NCR. The camping site can also be reached via Sohna road in almost similar time.
This site is spread across 4 acres of land in the forest range and is being preserved and maintained as per the strict guidelines of the forest department. On one side, the land has a water stream flowing towards Damdama Lake. So when it rains, one can enjoy a little boat ride to reach the camping site. The network and electricity here is limited; almost perfect for the urban professional who seeks a digital detox every now and then.
To retain its raw essence and allow you a purely rustic experience, we make sure that minimum human touch-ups are made. But don’t you worry, the bare minimum, such as facility of proper toilets, has been made available. More than anything else, it is an honest attempt to escape from monotony without having to travel too far, and spend time with nature in the middle of nowhere.
Please note: The site is functional on specific dates and on group requests only. And you may rent out camping equipment (tents, sleeping bags etc.) from Travelers Cafe by Escape Route.
Distance from Delhi: 480 kms (Delhi – Ambala – Rupnagar – Una – Kangra – Dharamshala) When to visit: Snowfall in January, trekking in summer and monsoons from July to mid-September Top things to do: Bask in the culture of Mcleodganj, camping at Triund and other adventure activities
Dharamshala from Delhi is a little longer by road in comparison to other popular destinations in Himachal Pradesh, India. At the same time, it is an amazing road trip for the adventure seekers especially when covered on a motorcycle. Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh is surrounded by cedar forest on the edge of Himalayas.
McLeod Ganj is a tourist hotspot and popular among adventure seekers for the nature trails it can offer. With a beautiful blend of Tibetan and British influence in its by lanes, McLeod Ganj is a beautiful hill station known as Little Lhasa as well as the Headquarters of Tibetan Government in exile. If you have a soft corner for Tibetan culture, food, chilled out cafes and monasteries, McLeod Ganj is your spot.
Dharamshala offers a lot of options to get that adrenaline rush. An array of new spots are springing up that offer adventure activities like paragliding, nature-trails, soon-to be introduced bungee-jumping and zip-lining among others. Triund is a spectacular hilltop overlooking the magnificent Dhauladhar ranges at a stone’s throw distance. We were blessed with rainbows, clouds, snow covered peaks, sunshine and rain as we stepped on the ridge (watch video).
Camping at Triund is a great experience and is highly recommended. Watch the video for a glimpse of the great experience.