Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ladakh: A Road Trip to the Himalayas


The road trip from Manali to Leh is not for the faint hearted. The route took us through some of the highest motorable roads in the world. At altitudes over 17000 ft. above sea level, the air is thin, temperatures low and the sun very strong. With the Rohtang pass closed due to a landslide, we had to trek on foot for a considerable distance. Headaches induced by lack of oxygen were the order of the day. In spite of all this, this road trip was without doubt one of the best I have ever made. The scenery around us was so beautiful and so serene that it almost seemed unreal.

At Sarchu, our first camp site, the sight of those zillion stars, brightly shining against the pitch dark sky cannot be described in words. Those strong gusts of Himalayan winds; those frightening gorges; those caravans and army convoys; that snowfall; the impeccable blue of the sky and water; those reticent monks; and that silence in the monasteries; characterised this trip.

This trip was no holiday. It was an adventure. Apurv, Mukul and Subra provided brilliant company.


Manali is a sleepy little town in Himachal Pradesh. We stayed here for a day as part of the acclimatization process, on our way to Leh. It is surrounded by pristine forests, misty hills and not to mention the apple orchards. With so much of greenery around us, it was difficult to keep off the ‘grass’. But unlike many people around us, we just about managed to do so.


After returning from Ladakh, I stayed back in Delhi for sometime. The Delhi air carried a whiff of the sublime smell of wet wood interspersed with that of wet earth. One evening, Mahesh Sir (our political science professor at law school, who is now based in Delhi) was kind enough to drive me down to the hallowed campus of his alma mater, the JNU. As we drove around the campus, which is spread over an area of over thousand acres, Mahesh Sir –having spent almost ten years of his life there- nonchalantly described every nook and corner. When darkness began to fall, we sat by the Ganga Dhaba and discussed life over a cup of tea.

I stand at the cusp of a major change in life. This break afforded me the time to prepare for it. Keep watching this space for the continuity within the change and the change within the continuity.