This article is in continuation with the previous article, a travelogue by Komal detailing her first Solo trip to Ladakh. Last part of this series details her return journey to Delhi by Leh to Delhi bus service.
I have broken the travelogue down in 4 pages, links to which are provided below.
Day 12 – Leh to Delhi Bus Service via Keylong. Stay at a Keylong homestay
I had to hire a taxi for Rs.300 to reach the bus stand though it is not even two kilometeres from Zangsti Road. I was scared of dogs to walk so early in the morning. I saw my fellow passenger, a Swiss woman, walking to reach the bus stand. The bus had quite a few passengers when it started at 5 am.
As the bus left Upshi and started the climb up to Tanglang La, the traffic came to a halt somewhere in wilderness. A truck had sank into the muddy road and was stranded there from last evening. The bus from Delhi to Leh(which had reached there last evening) was parked on the opposite side. It had sent its passengers to Leh through some other transport and the driver had stayed the night on the road. Our bus could not cross the narrow passage on the road. So we were asked to board the bus on the other side of the truck. The heroic bus driver made the bus do some hair-raising acrobatic manoeuvres to turn it around in the opposite direction and we restarted our journey.
We crossed Pang where the bus stops for breakfast. There was general bonhomie in the bus as the a couple passengers were known to both driver and conductor. They were very friendly with other passengers too in the bus. We all shared our food and shared local as well as travel stories in the bus. The bus also stopped a few points for sight-seeing. E.g. at Tanglang La we stopped for the customary photograph. The drive was beautiful till Sarchu. We descended from hair-raising hairpin bends, cross-roads flanked by thick slabs of ice on both sides also Suraj Taal.
Sarchu was desolate and disappointing. The road is in dilapidated condition. I could not gather even any sad or stark beauty in that place. The landscape changes suddenly as we enter Himachal though the road does not. The hills become fuller and greener, a big relief to sore eyes especially after Sarchu. The bus crosses through Jispa which is pretty scenic and halts for night at Keylong.
We reached Keylong at a reasonable time at 7.30 in the evening. Most of the hotels around the bus stand start at Rs. 600 -800 for a single room which I felt too much for a night. A unisex dormitory was available for Rs.100. Somehow I was not comfortable sharing a room with so many strangers. I had to look around hard and finally a couple who runs the hotel uphill took pity on me and offered me a homestay for Rs.500 without food. They also run Nordaling Guest House. They are very selective about people they take for homestay therefore it is not advertised. The lady was very helpful as she went with me to hunt for my sweater which I had dropped somewhere in search of the hotel. It was found in the first hotel at the entrance of the bus stand. It was being run by a Nepali woman. The local lady was very suspicious about the Nepali migrants like the Ladakhis.
Local people also told me that there is a small hike on the other side of the hill in Keylong.
Day 13 – Bus to Delhi
The bus started at 6.30 in the morning. The ticket is for Rs. 852 till Delhi.The last evening I had befriended a couple from Portugal, the man was Italian and the woman a Colombian. They were the only other passengers traveling till Delhi in that bus. I booked a seat behind the driver.
The bus crosses bridge at Tandi where the two rivers Chandra and Bhaga meet. They are considered male and female lovers in local folklore who finally unite and merge at Tandi to form Chandrabhaga River which later becomes Chenab in Kashmir. There were also beautifully laid potato fields all through the Lahaul valley. And the pastoral nomads taking hundreds of sheep uphill for greener pasture in summers. A local girl sat next to me and she shared about the life of people in Lahaul Valley. She studies in college in Manali and also helps in farming in her village. She shared with me her story of crossing Rohtang Pass in winters with her father. Also horror stories of people dying while trying to cross the path.
The bus stops for breakfast is at Kokshar, the last village before the ascent to Rohtang La. It felt so good to have delicious warm aloo parantha and curd(Rs. 60) after such a long time. I was majorly surviving on Thukpa in the entire trip to Ladakh.
It takes a long time to come down the Pass as the roads are usually lined with vehicles for few kilometers to get their permit checked to Rohtang La. Bus stops just before Manali for lunch. The bus starts from Manali at 1.30 pm and then stops at Mandi. There are no healthy options to eat. The bus only stopped at 8 pm for dinner again at not so exciting place. By that time I was extremely exhausted and was just waiting to reach home.
Day 14 – Reached Delhi at 4.30 am
Personally, I found the bus rides fine. If the road was rough, the ride was rough. The bus was in fine shape and the driver was very experienced and focused.
To all the solo women travelers out there, I felt extremely safe in Ladakh. Therefore I also hitchhiked in a bindaas way which I would not do in any metropolitan city. If you wish me to address me some questions as solo woman travelers regarding safety and stay in future, I would be very happy to allay your fears. It is one place I was so relieved to forget my gender.
A few other useful tips by Komal for the journey.
- I stayed at Kunga Hotel in Leh. Their normal tariff is Rs. 1500-2000. As first two days my stay was part of my work travel, I was planning to shift to cheaper accommodation, they very generously decided to host me in their hotel only.They obliged me and I stayed actually for Rs.700. Kaustubha Simon – 9410146047 email@example.com
- Panamik – Baltipa Homestay – SkalzangDolker – 9419306704. Their relative Stanzin (9469515074) has a guest house in Hunder for Rs. 700-800.
If you are planning a trip to Ladakh and have questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below or at our Community Forum and I will be glad to answer.