About me

Am a contradiction of sorts. i love going out and having a good time with friends, and i can also stay home chill out over a book or a movie..

Am very passionate about writing, so give me a topic and watch me float away into wonderland... Love reading books- sometimes i read 3books simultaneously, crazy about music- need it all around me, all the time and ofcourse, i totally am ga ga goo goo over my 7yr old naughty brat- Floppy!! errr, Prince Floppy!! :)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Drama in the sky, Pangong Tso, Leh

We were at Pangong Tso, and after that eventful morning [read about it in earlier post], I was up at my usual time of 5.30am.. Peeked out of the tent and saw it was not too dark outside. Picked up my camera and got out, walked down the road a few yards and stood mesmerized and boy oh boy was I in for a treat. The sky was on fire, well it looked like a volcano ready to erupt and go kapoowwww.... I looked around, none of the others were up. Wanted to wake up the photographer boy in the next tent but before that I had to do a quick visit to the pitstop. When i got back, I saw he was up and his gear was on the chair- tripod, jacket, scarf, shawl, camera & a pack of cigarettes.. lol. But then in a matter of minutes, sun had risen and the sky was blah, gone was the drama and jazz... Well, I sure was glad to have caught the sight...

Clicked a few more shots, told him I was going back to bed and caught an hour of sleep.. When I was out again, the sky was completely different.. It was bright, clouds had moved away, and well it was clear as can be... Here are a few 

For more beautiful skies, visit Skywatch Friday

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Shades of blue at Pangong Tso, Leh

We had been on the road for about 4-4.5 hours.. Had driven through snow fall in Chang la and rains, and now the dark looming clouds seem to come with us to Pangong Tso as well. All along the route, we had the beautiful mountains keeping us company, and apart from that nothing else. When suddenly up ahead we saw a small patch of turquoise/blue amidst the mountains, we got quite excited. That was our first sighting of the gorgeous Pangong Tso [Pangong Lake]... 

It is the largest salt water [not as salty as what we see in the ocean but more than in a lake] lake stretching to about 135-km, located in the Himalayas at the height of approximately 4350m.. This lake is spread across India & China with only about 40% in India while remaining is in Tibet [controlled by China]. That afternoon, the lake shimmered in various shades of blue- turquoise, light blue, pale green, dark blue and other hues as well. The mountains and the sky with its brown blue hues added to the image making it look like a painting.  As we drove closer, it looked magical. 

The car swerved off the main path into the pebble path all the way to the camp site. It was a bumpy ride, but who cares when the accompanying view /element is so breath taking. Pangong Tso is one of the largest brackish lakes in Asia.

Ah, finally we reached the campsite and well, lets just say if you land here without a plan, you will find accommodation [ there are a gazillion camp sites strewn within a few kms of the lake]. We were staying at Pangong Holiday camp, the tents were quite comfortable and we quickly freshened up and that is when the cold slowly started sinking in. Of all the places we visited, Pangong was by far the coldest.. The hills, snow, the water- well, you get the picture! Ordered some hot tea, drank it while enjoying the warmth of the mugs before adding layers and getting ready to head to the lake.

The lake was a short downhill walk from where we stayed, and the path was completely pebble based. The view that awaits you is something that needs to be experienced. The water was still in shades of blue and brrr cold... There were piles of stones stacked up along the water, others who had set up their tripods and shooting images/timelapse videos and then there were some just walking up and down enjoying the place and silence. Occasionally we would see a trail of trucks coming in from China. 

After about two hours here, we decided to head back. The walk is uphill and the winds are brutal, adding to the cold. The evening was spent chilling outside our tents, followed by hot dinner in the dining area and some fun later on. 

I dint sleep much and around 4.30 heard some shouting outside the tent. Woke up with a jolt, staying still trying to make sense of what was happening outside. Sounded like some people were being chased by some animal and they kept screaming "bachao bachao [help help] ... The sound died in a while and I went back to sleep.. The next morning, during breakfast we came to know that some kids from nearby camp got scared seeing the dogs and ran helter skelter screaming. Wonder what they were doing out at that hour?! Stupid kids!! 

So anyways I woke up as always at 5.30 and stepped out to see what the lake looked like at sunrise and must say it was quite different.. Well, that is reserved for another post! :D

But then will talk about how we stopped at the infamous spot where 3idiots climax scene was shot and how it is being marketed... After breakfast, we were back on the road headed to Leh. Enroute, we stopped at this spot just for some photographs and see what was happening as we spotted groups of people busy with cameras.. Looks like this is where couples come to take photoshoots. I even spotted the couple who flew with us from Delhi. There was a photographer, one other guy controlling a drone and these two all decked up in finery. 

We also saw couples riding around in the yellow vespa [ featured in the movie] with video/photo being taken of the same. Damn, the things people do~ Shaking our head, we walked to the edge of land, stood there awhile [till more couples came and took over], clicked some photographs before bidding adieu to Pangong.. 

For now, feast your eyes on what we saw and enjoyed.. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Skywatch Friday... Where to stay in Leh- Lazakar Guest house, Leh

Where did you stay, how was the place, was it comfortable or did you have to rough it out... are some questions thrown at me from the time I have come back ... So, here goes..

We stayed at this awesome place called Lzakar Guest house..  What makes it awesome? Read on to know... 

This was the first time I was doing a trip through a travel group and they had organised everything so well, we did not have to think/worry about anything! First up was the accomodation in Leh. We got off the airport, piled into an Innova and within minutes reached a lane that seemed to be flooded with listing various Guest house names. I wondered which one was ours.. No sooner did I think that, we turned into an alley which led to a gate. Up above I saw a board saying "Lzakar Guest House". 

It looked a lot like a cozy cottage, there was a garden in the front and a small seating area with a room next to it [which I discovered was the kitchen]. There are rooms on the ground and 1st floor, the 2nd floor was just the terrace. Rooms were all spacious, with twin beds, two chairs, a TV, cupboard and a decent bathroom [ more than just clean]. The place came with hot water round the clock, wifi [that worked for most of the time] and enough blankets to keep you warm on cold nights. That apart, there were rooms that opened to the mountains [I managed to snag a room on this side when we came back from Nubra valley..heehaww.. such cheap thrills in life..This was our pitstop when we returned to Leh after a day tour to nearby places. ]

The place is located about 2-3 km from Main Bazaar and so is within walking distance from most shops and restaurants. The market is also strewn with travel agencies in case you are looking for some information or local tours.  

The two ladies who managed the kitchen were super friendly, sweet and always had a smile on their faces. The minute they would see one of us, they would come asking if we wanted anything... Both breakfast and dInner was served piping hot, and every dish was delicious. 

Breakfast was bread toast, omelette, or poha with tea
Dinner was roti, rice, a vegetable, a daal [which was out of the world] and egg curry/chicken [if there was a request]

What more do you need right? We had the run of the place, and it was full of surprises.. There was an apricot tree right next door and we did manage to snag quite a few fresh fruits. The vegetable garden had Cauliflower, cabbage, local saag, onions and tomato. There was also an apple tree, must say the apples were yummm .. 

Here are a few captures from the guest house... [taken during the 8days we were in Leh]

   Lzakar Guest house

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Thiksey Monastery...

Still reeling from the beauty of Shey Palace, we got back on the road towards Thiksey Monastery which was a few kms down the road. After a while on the road, we turned left into the most beautiful road that went uphill. All along the way, we spotted stupas lined up with colorful flags on them.  And within minutes we had reached the parking lot of the Monastery. 

Once again, this too was situated atop the hill and involved a bit of walking, climbing and marching through flights of stairs. This beautiful Buddhist monastery is the largest monastery in central Ladakh and was set up by the Gelukpa monks.

Within the Thiksey monastery we found Lakhang Nyerma, a temple dedicated to Goddess Dorje Chenmo  Apart from Lakhang Nyerma there are a few other shrines inside the monastery complex. Basically, this Monastery consists of two main buildings with steep stairs leading up to the Buddha.

It is a massive twelve storey monastery complex with a number of stupas, statues, thankas and wall paintings. There is also a large pillar engraved with the Buddha's teachings. There is also a museum many sacred items besides a royal sword among other precious objects are on display. 

While making my way up, I kept stopping to click pictures, admire the writings on the wall and also say hi hello to fellow travellers. Met a lady who was here from Orissa, another duo from Europe and the first question they ask is "So how many days were you sick after landing here?". I would reply"none, i was alright" they would gape and share their story, of how many days they were violently ill before moving on... 

 Also met the lady I had met earlier at Shey Palace [she was part of a large group of women who had travelled from Mumbai, about 3 of them were very unwell and back in the guest house, while 6-8 of them were out exploring town.. all of them were 60+.. I was quite amazed and impressed with them]

As per tradition of Buddhist monastic orders, the successive Lamas are believed to be reincarnations of the original Lama.. The successive reincarnations of the Skyabje Khampo Ringpoche act as Head Lama of this monastery. The main prayer hall has a 15 meter high seated Maitreya Buddha statue spanning across two stories of the building... The prayers are held early in the morning. The one amazing thing about the Buddha statue here is that he is unusually portrayed as seated in the lotus position rather than his usual representations as standing or in a sitting posture on a high throne..

When inside one of the shrines, we spotted many silver and stainless steel bowls filled with water. Alongside was a box where people had put donation in form of money [ across currencies could be spotted here] and then there were boxes of tropicana juice, parle g biscuits or just individual cookies and chocolates. We assumed these were all offerings to the God by devotees. But i was curious about the bowls of water and so when i spotted a monk walk into the place, I decided to ask him. Oh and he put his feet on the torn piece of clothe and waked using them as a base. [conversation took place in hindi]

Me: Hello, can we have a minute of your time?
He: Are you from India?
Me: Yes, am from Chennai.
He: Then say you are an Indian [Bharatiya] . How can I help you.You all know hindi right?
Me: Yes
He: Ok, ask
Me: What is the significance of these bowls of water?
He: Well, Buddha believes all people are equal, no disparity based on money or status and so people are welcome to give whatever they can as offering.  if he began differentiating between people, we would stop believing in him. 
The silver and stainless bowls are bought by our monks whenever they travel. Water is an offering by the devotees. In case they cant afford anything, they can choose to fill the bowls. Normally these bowls would be in count of 7. 
Me: Ah nice. 
Another question, why are you walking on cloth and not on the floor?
He: So that I dont step on anything on the ground, the cloth would swish it away.Knowingly wont hurt anything.
Me: Thank you! 

Once again, we were mesmerised by the burst of colours across the monastery. Yellow, red, blue, green, you name it, they were all there - on the walls, pillars, and everywhere else as well. 

After a good few hours wandering this monastery, we were finally ready to head back down. The steps seemed easy and all we heard was silence around us. There were hoards of people making their way up to the monastery.. Some were taking a break near the first flight of steps in the shade [of the prayer bell]. There was a store near the entrance with some souvenirs, books etc... priced higher than what you find in the local market! 

Can read more on Wikipedia- Thiksay Monastery