What does Dalai Lama have to do with our trip??
We woke up early and were out of our home stay by 6:30 am. After all Khardung La beckoned or so we thought. Found the road that leads to Nubra valley and we were stopped at the check point.
What is the issue?? Dalai Lama, the Dalai Lama was coming back from Nubra valley by road and no cars were allowed till he gets to Leh. When is that expected? Noon atleast, came the response. Damn!! Why couldn't he fly like he was originally scheduled to.
Change of plans - Pangong lake, yes for the Hindi movie buffs - the finale location that looks stunning in "3 idiots". TripAdvisor has it as the no.1 location in leh. Chicken and egg!!
The hotel guy told us that the road will take 5 hours for 120 kms.
The first 20 kms was a breeze - lovely roads and limited traffic. Then we were told to take a diversion - road under construction!! The death knell of good rides.
We took the diversion and in a few kms there was sign in pen "Pangong"....ok....we took that and then there were no signs and the road had a fork - one steep no road climb and the other one proper road.
Obviously chose the latter and as u must've guessed that was the wrong road - it was a dead end. U turn and our no-road adventure began.
Most places from there on, I was driving on gravel, stones, sand, and even on water. Throw 50 trucks long army convoy to this scene. And then there was a huge jam - why? Because we had to cross a river not one with sand but with stones!!
Many cars slipped as we all tried to avoid damaging the under chassis of the car!! My inspiration came from a maruti alto. Yep i said if he could, so could I.
A brief stop at Changla Pass, world's second highest pass at 17688 feet. Kids had Maggie and we had tea. They also played with snow - more like ice, for the first time.
Lot more river crossings and we reached the beautiful pangong lake by 12:30 pm. As much as the roads ....ahem....the path was horrible, the views were phenomenal.
The lake was unbelievable. It was crystal clear water and I have never seen so many shades of blue. We took our shoes off and walked in the chill water. Amazingly refreshing. Of course there were enough 3 idiots paraphernalia but we weren't interested.
Having driven so long to see this place, what's the point of getting back to leh so quickly. So we decided to enjoy the area and check into a hotel nearby. We were the only ones staying there. Yeehaaaw. Also the place has power only from 7.00 pm - 11:00 pm!!
An experience like this can never be replaced. And I thought Zoji la was tough!!