This week, The Musafir Stories speaks to Chandroma Ray, who blogs at One Earth Too Less and loves to travel and blog when she's not wearing her corporate hat!
Today's destination: Offbeat Ladakh!
Nearest Airport: Leh Airport (IXL)
Nearest Railway Station: Jammu Tawi (700 km from Ladakh)
Prerequisites - Permits might be needed for some of the locations (Turtuk); checkposts will be encountered at the border villages like Turtuk. Make sure you acclimatize atleast for a couple of days before you set out to explore the region. Make sure to pre-book a vehicle if you plan on not using public transport!
Packing - Warm clothes, shoes with good grip, first aid kit, Diamox for AMS (when needed), make sure you pack light!
Time of the year - End of August - Early September
Length of the itinerary: 16 days for the full Ladakh itinerary, but only the offbeat destinations like the villages of Alchi, Lamayaru, Dha and Turtuk are covered in this episode!
Chandroma kicks off her journey on the episode by taking us to the quaint and lazy village of Alchi, situated on the banks of the river Indus!
Points of interest are the old monastery of Alchi, dating back to the 11th century, and has a distinctive Kashmiri influence and has some great wall murals and paintaings.
Spend time exploring the pretty cafes in Alchi for some authentic Ladakhi cuisine! Make sure to have the lamb Mok moks (known as Momos in the plains), Khambir - the home-made ladakhi breakfast bread.
Just be aalsi while in Alchi, and slow travel your way to bliss!
Next pitstop at the moonland of Lamayuru that is famous for its moonscapes and is about 107 kms from Leh and is accessible by bus.
The village has the appearance of being in ruins and resembles the surface of the moon, gives one a feeling of travelling back in time. Best views can be seen during the early hours of dawn.
Lamayuru is also home to one of the oldest monasteries in the region that dates back to the 11th century as well.
One can also plan a visit around the Yuru Kabgyat Festival that takes place in the month of June/July, where the monks of the monastery put on huge masks and perform a variety of dances
A quick shout out to Sandeepa/Chetan and Neelima Vallangi for their brilliant posts about the region that helped Chandroma in planning the itinerary.
After spending a day in Lamayuru, heads off to the unexplored village of Dha to do something truly offbeat!
About 180kms from Leh, is this village that is the home of Drokpas - the descendants of Alexandar the Great aka the Aryans, and is cut off from the rest of the world!
The village is not easily located on Google maps either and the people of the village are not very welcoming to outsiders either.
After having a tough time finding a place to lodge, Chandroma and her fellow travellers finally managed to find a small hotel. On exploring further, they finally met a couple of kids who took them to a local museum which was quite a find with some historic artifacts of the region.
If one plans visiting the village, home-stays are not hard to come by, so it's better to pre-book and have a local contact if possible.
After spending a very 'different' evening and night in the village of Dha, Chandroma heads out to village of Turtuk, on the banks of the river Shyok which is one of the last villages of India!
Recaptured by India after the 1971 war with Pakistan, Turtuk is a village still trying to find its identity. The people of Turtuk are predominantly muslim and has a very different culture in comparison to the rest of Ladakh.
The village also offers some great scenic views of the river Shyok, the valley and a first hand experience of the Balti culture! The region has just been opened up to tourists from 2009.
Chandroma signs off with a beautiful message about why one should check out these gems of Ladakh and not just the Pangongs and Nubras!