This vacation has been in the planning for the longest time and finally after 3yrs of short drives, vacations and staycations we had to make this trip to the ever charming Leh Ladakh!
We landed on 30th June afternoon with bad weather in Delhi ( transit) risking the terrain of leh airport, It is not an easy terrain to fly. With lots of gratitude to all our pilots who landed us safe.
Our itinerary was made in such a away that we had enough time for acclimatization since this height could give altitude sickness. Soon after we landed the sickness hit me and I was wondering why ever did I choose this location for a vacation. I have seen beautiful pictures and videos of Leh Ladakh but not heard anyone warn about the altitude sickness. I had mild irritating head ache nausea and just too lethargic. I was advised to take rest and drink lot of warm water. When I Still was not feeling good I popped a paracetamol and slept for a while now that made me feel better towards evening.
Our first day pretty much was all about taking care of ourselves. Next day 1st July we had decided again to go slow with minimal activity. So we had breakfast and just strolling around when a good soul suggested we visit the Hall of fame leh. It was a few metres of walk from our place and do we agreed without knowing much what the place had in store for us. And I cannot be more thankful to the person who suggested this place, since this one gave me goose bumps and made me love my country and my jawans even more. This is a war memorial with so many stories.
In the evening we set out to enjoy the city of leh. We did the Shanti stupa, the Leh palace and my most favourite leh market. Loved the colours in the market, the old met the new be is fruits, vegetables, grocery, restaurant, clothes of accessories you could find everything in this market traditional and modern. I picked up some fresh apricots since it is the season for apricots.
The next day was the beautiful Sangam were the indus met zanskar river. Sometimes you wonder how nature is so beautiful by itself the mixing of the 2 colors of the river was serene and peaceful! Did you know that during summer people do rafting here and during winter when the water turns to ice, they ice trek on this same river. So what would you like to do? Our next destination for the day was the cool magnetic hill, so our car was totally switched off and no we were not on a slop, but yet we moved, kinda exciting. The gurudwara pathar sahib is another monument to just find peace. Don’t miss the tea and prashad there it’s yummy!
The most significant day of our trip was doing the worlds highest motorable road the one and only Khardungla pass. We had our own altitude sickness challenges to handle but boy when we reached the peak it was like magic. It was such a proud moment for us to know that our country has the highest motorable road in the damn whole world yay!
After the movie 3 idiots the pangong Lake gained more popularity and why not it is so surreal. Surrounded by mountains it’s hard to say we could find a huge mass of water with shades of color that changes from blue, green, grey, brown to red, it is one of the highest altitude lake in the world with salty water that freezes during winter. Mind blowing right!!!
On our way back from pangong Lake we had to stop by the changa la pass another one of the highest! We stopped by for lunch and had a hot bowl of authentic ladakhi thukpa! We also stopped by a few more random places for some good photo shoots.
Whenever we visit a new place or country the first thing that I look for is Local home cooked food. Before we left to leh I started my search for good home cooked leh traditional food. Since we are non vegetarians I was surprised to know that traditionally people of leh Ladakh eat according to the weather and season. So in winter it’s meat and non vegetarian and in summer it’s mostly vegetarian, from June to September they get to grow vegetables and fruits and get to eat it too. Other time of the year it is cold and snow. So after doing some search on google found gyapthago heritage home. Got speaking to Jimmy and visited his House for a soulful all vegeterian dinner cooked by his mother.
We were greeted by butter tea that is made using Fresh cows milk butter from their own farm. This place is more of a farm to table concept since everything that was cooked for dinner came from their farm including wheat and barley.
The barley soup with fresh vegetables and leh local peas was warm and had a creamy consistency.
The veg momos were made using wheat flour and we had the steamed and fried momos that was served with cold salad.
The khamir the local wheat bread with Home made curd sure was a delicacy.
The local pasta is made fresh, pasta is made with fresh grounded wheat and turnip sauce.
We finished this most amazing meal with the local sweet of apricot soaked in water.
Must say that ended my search for Local Leh Ladakh food.
Discovered Namza that serves authentic/ traditional leh Ladakh food and what excited me even more is the farm to table concept. The place has beautiful ambience, outdoor seating will be lovely in the evening.
We started our lunch with mutton Za-thuk this is a soup that is made using nettle leaves, dried cheese and local herbs, available in veg, chicken and mutton option, we loved the flavour of nettle leaves and dried cheese with little chunks of mutton. I personally love the flavour of mountain mutton.
The chicken momo also known as mok mok was average nothing to write home about.
The yarkhadi pulao is a chefs special and I am glad we tried it. The meal come with pulao made of paneer, green peas, Carrots and fried onions loaded with ghee. We were warned it would be heavy, it was but we just loved the flavour, this meal comes with a clear soup and 3 momos or mok mok. Available in veg, chicken and mutton. We opted for the veg option.
The most famous home grown fruit of Leh Ladakh is apricot and the season has just started. We enjoyed a tall glass of homemade apricot juice.
Like us if you are keen on trying local food, this place is a must visit.
Had a very happy lunch after we descended down the khardungla pass at Dontang. This place has beautiful seating and the most comfort food. The ladhaki thukpa was my favourite. We had fresh lime soda, potato in honey chilli, chicken clear soup and chicken momos / mok mok.
The service was polite and every thing we had was made fresh to order. Few vegetables are used from their garden. Definately a try when in leh.
We had hired a private chauffeur driven ertiga for 5days that cost us 25k which I thought was pretty reasonable and we could go around according to our own convenience.
Leh Ladakh is a very beautiful Indian union territory that is a must visit, but with all precautions and understanding the terrain. It could get very warm and dry in summer on few days that’s what we experienced and it is not easy to handle that weather. If you are a person who likes to see greenery around you please don’t expect anything like that around. Winters could be very harsh so please check before you go. You can fly or drive.