Thursday, May 22, 2014

What all to pack on a road trip to LADAKH

Now that you have decided to explore Ladakh on road, how and what to pack is very important. Needs of every individual will vary but  the following things shouldn't be missed out on.

CLOTHING: In Ladakh it is best to dress in layers, since majority of coldness is due to wind chill and temperatures can change rapidly depending on the place, time and weather. Hence dressing in layers will allow you to add/subtract layers as and when needed. So make sure apart from your regular clothes, you are also carrying a sweater, gloves, cap (protect head and ears from cold winds), warm inners and if possible, air/water resistant jacket. Pack separately for the road travel and for leh and surroundings.
MEDICINES: Carry Diamox if you aren’t allergic to sulfur drugs as it helps reduce the symptoms of altitude sickness. Additionally, carry general medicines for headache, fever, stomach ache, cold and cough syrup. Also prescribed medicines you are on.


  • Sunscreen lotion: UV rays at high altitude can be quite damaging to the skin, even during the harshest of winter, so don’t forget to carry a good quality sunscreen lotion
  • UV sunglasses: Having decent quality UV sunglasses (Fastrack ones are available for as little as Rs. 800) is quite essential, especially if you are traveling early in the season or during winter, when mountain passes have a lot of snow cover and sunlight reflecting from the snow can be even harsher.
  • Lip balm: Dry and cold weather of Ladakh will make your lips dry, which can get quite painful due to cracking and skin coming off, so make sure to carry a lip balm or Vaseline.
  • Mustard oil: Mustard oil can be used for moisturizing skin, putting it in your hair and for lubricating insides of nostrils, which can become quite dry and painful due to dry and cold winds of Ladakh.
  • Other essentials like Soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, toilet paper, shaving kit and face wash.
  • Water: Water is the most essential thing while traveling in Ladakh, since dehydration can further complicate health issues at such a high altitude. So make sure you are carrying at least couple of liter of water per person all the time and drinking at regular intervals.
  • Glucose: Carrying water mixed with Glucon C/D is a good idea while traveling at high altitude, as it provides instant energy on the move, when your appetite is likely to be reduced due to AMS and at the same time, doesn’t act as a diuretic, like most caffeinated energy drinks. Carry couple of small packs with you, which you can mix in water, at the beginning of the day.
  • Chocolates, biscuits and nuts: Carrying couple of chocolates, a pack of biscuits and few hundred grams of almonds, raisins and cashews is a good idea, as these provide instant energy and easy snack and don’t take up too much space. Those who love spicy food, make sure to carry pickle or sauce, since Ladakhi food is a bit bland.
DOCUMENT AND IDs: It is essential to carry at least one government issued identity card and couple of photocopies of it, since it is needed while applying for inner line permit and at certain places, to register at the check post. You should also carry your medical insurance card (if you have one), your printed itinerary, couple of copies of your flight ticket (if traveling by air) and list of important contacts (useful in case your mobile phone stops working).


  • Spare camera batteries: Carry at least one spare set of batteries required by your camera, since in cold environment, batteries can die quickly.
  • Car charger or battery bank: If you are an avid smart phone user and planning to log your route on your favorite GPS App, then make sure you are carrying car charger or a power bank with at least 4000-5000mAH capacity to keep your mobile phone running throughout the day.
  • 3 socket Belkin Surge ProtectorWhile it is a little large in size, 3 socket Belkin Surge Protector will not only keep your gadgets protected from power surges, but will also allow you to charge multiple devices simultaneously and at the same time, provide the crucial cable length to safely place your gadgets in rooms with idiotic power socket locations that sadly many hotels have.
  • Enough memory cards to last you the entire trip: Doesn’t matter if you are carrying a laptop or planning to burn CDs/DVDs at Leh, carry enough memory cards to cover your entire shooting duration in Ladakh. If needed, borrow from friends but don’t depend on laptop HDDs or worse still, virus infested cyber cafĂ© computers to copy and save your photographs.
  • Torch: Not really needed if your mobile phone has one, but if in case it doesn’t, carry a small LED one.
MONEY: While our recommendation would be to carry enough cash you need, to avoid wasting time withdrawing cash, it may not be feasible for everyone. So please keep in mind that ATMs beyond Srinagar and Manali are only available in Kargil and Leh and they too are few with often long queues in front of them.

I personally recommend Himalayan Vogage – An Ultimate road trip to Ladakh . being organised every year by INDIAN TERRAINS perfectly chalked-out itinerary and an understanding trip leader.
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Friday, May 16, 2014

Making up your mind for LADAKH

You want to go to Ladakh but have some queries? Read on... 

What is the best time for Ladakh?
June to September is the good time to explore Ladakh. 

Whether to fly to Leh or do a road trip? 

In today’s zipping lifestyle, all it takes is to take a flight to Leh, hire a cab, and visit the exotic locations following the established routes. Now that is not the right way to explore Ladakh...
Take time out from your busy schedules and do it on road enjoying the drive through lush green pine forests; passing through numerous old monastic complexes; witnessing drastic scenery changes from green pines to rocky mountains that change color at every turn… grey, blue, pink, purple, violet… it reflects all shades at some point. 
Its once in a lifetime experience so don't settle for anything less than a road trip just because its difficult to take much time off from your busy schedule. The smooth drives gets difficult and then dangerous on the rocky terrains of high Himalayas, but then every second and all the effort will be worth it!
Weather or not my body will be able to sustain high altitude?
We know mountains are not the same as the plains. Temperature, humidity, oxygen content, air pressure etc, all work in various ways on your body; a body that is not acclimatized to these conditions. A condition that, many a times, hits travelers is AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) also known as Altitude Sickness.
This condition can easily be avoided. The key to avoiding AMS is a gradual ascent that gives your body time to acclimatize. Spend at least one night at an intermediate elevation below 3000 meters. At altitudes above 3000 meters, your sleeping elevation should not increase more than 300-500 meters per night. So be very careful while finalizing your itinerary. 
I personally recommend INDIAN TERRAIN'S Himalayan Vogage – An Ultimate road trip to Ladakh .  I am an asthma patient and I did Ladakh in 2012 without any Altitude Sickness.Thanks to their well planned itinerary. 

Things to avoid: Alcohol, Sleeping pills (acetazolamide is the sleeping tablet of choice at altitude) and Narcotic pain medications in more than modest doses. Respiratory depression (the slowing down of breathing) can be caused by various medications, and may be a problem at altitude. 

Take rest for a day (don't involve in anything that exerts you) after reaching Leh.

More tips like what all to pack, how to make the best of the trip etc. in the next post. Keep reading.
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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

5 Place you must visit if you live in Delhi

1. Siliserh Lake (5hrs drive)

Hidden in low wooded hills of Rajasthan, Siliserh is just 5 hrs drive from delhi (184kms) Silserh Lake and reservoir is a huge man-made lake constructed by the King Vinay Singh in 1845 to cater to the water needs of the Alwar town and the water channels are still intact from that duration. The lake spans over a wide expansion of seven sq kms. and when filled completely, it covers area of 10 sq. Kms.
The only place to stay here is a heritage hotel of Rajasthan tourism. You need to book it online in advance. 
Best time to visit: July - December

2. Chakrata (8 hrs drive)

At an elevation of  about 7500 ft Chakrata is known for its serene environs, virgin forests and pollution-free atmosphere. The town has a magnificent view of the Greater Himalayas and everything around is delightfully green — Deodar, Himalayan oak and Rhododendron cover the hills. Other than the small village, the only built-up area consists of some of the prettiest colonial army buildings, green- and red-roofed gables complete with rambling roses and wisteria. There are just a few places to stay here but usually are available due to no tourist crowd frequenting the place.
Best time to visit: April to July

3. Kausani (10hrs drive)

Kausani is a quiet little town in the Kumaon region of Uttaranchal 420kms from Delhi. It offers breath-taking view of approx 350km of the Himalayan range and is a scenic splendor, pure and pristine. Hotels are available in all ranges starting from INR 500 to INR 5000. 
Visit Kausani any time of the year there will be something amazing to witness.

4. Orchha (12hrs drive)

Travel back to medieval times at Orchha, a quaint little town 470kms from Delhi in the middle of forest on the banks of Betwa River. This medieval city seems to have frozen in time, its palaces and temples still retaining their original grandeur. Equally exciting for historians, nature lovers and photographers. Do hire a cycle and visit the nature reserve. Stay there till sunset to get a mesmerising view of sun setting behind the chhatris and Betwa. Home-stays are available in Orchha and you must experience one in order to get the feel of the village. 
Best time to visit: October to March

5. Kasol (14hrs drive)

Kasol is an overnight drive from Delhi (520kms). Situated at the height of 1640 meters, Kasol is a quiet and peaceful village in Parvati valley, Himachal Pradesh and is surrounded by mountain ranges, higher reaches of which are covered with dense growth of coniferous forest with trees like pine, blue pine, fir and Deodar whose resins exude very pleasant aroma that lingers in the unpolluted cool mountain air. The lower slopes are covered with tress like poplar and silver oak.  The market area has a few guest houses and not more than 100 - 150 shops within 2 kms area. The village has traditional wooden houses having slanted roofs of black slates. A mountain stream called Grahan Nallah divides the village in two parts - Old Kasol and New Kasol. Through this small stream ice-cold, crystal clear water cascades down and flows into the Parvati River. The place is dotted with small orchards of apple, plum, peaches, pears, apricot and almonds. Hotels, guest houses and home-stay are available in all ranges. 
Best time to visit: April to July

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