The Chronicles Of Ladakh, Zanskar, and Spiti Valley

by Vargis.Khan

When I started to write this travelogue, for a while I wasn’t sure of the name that I wanted to give it. The Chronicles of Ladakh did not sound right because it was not just Ladakh that we visited on this trip. We also went to Zanskar, Spiti, and Kinnaur and covered quite a large area in a total of 77 days.

But most of our time was spent in Ladakh only, 6 weeks to be precise. It was Ladakh that was the main destination and the rest were just places that we covered while on our way to Ladakh and on our way back home.

Hence, after a bit of thinking, I decided to go with The Chronicles of Ladakh because that aptly described the journey.

So how was the trip? Well, we remained on the road for 77 days, traveled 8500 kilometers, and crossed 38 high-altitude passes. We also saw a lot of high-altitude lakes but I have forgotten that count. Maybe it will come back to me while I write this series now.

The Chronicles of Ladakh

The trip was fun. The trip was amazing. It was an experience of a lifetime. We saw pretty much all of Ladakh and only left Leh when we ran out of places to visit. It is true that a few were left out but we didn’t see those because we either did not want to or had already been there before.

A few other places were left out because they were out of bounds for the tourists. In short, it was a trip that ended because we ran short on places to visit and not on time.

In this series of articles, I will be talking about our journey in detail and also provide necessary information for anyone who wants to visit there. The articles will be both a memoir and a travel guide.

Our journey lasted for 77 days so it will be a long series. I will provide links to all other pages here, towards the bottom of this page, for easy navigation.

The Destination

Ladakh was not the first choice of destination for this trip. My initial plan was for a Delhi to Kerala Road trip. I had been to Ladakh several times before but was yet to explore the beautiful state of Kerala and that is where I wanted to go this time.

I talked to my friends and 4 of them agreed to accompany me on the journey. It was the usual group that I am out on road trips with. We started talking about the places that we should visit and that is when Gunjit asked the destination to be changed to Ladakh.

Of the 5 of us, Shoaib, Maddy, and I had been to Ladakh before. Gunjit and Lavish were to be the first-timers if we went there again.

Lavish was Ok with both Kerala and Ladakh but Gunjit really wanted it to be a Ladakh road trip. It had been on his list for several years and he wanted to cover it this time.

So, after a bit of a discussion, we all agreed and the destination was changed to Ladakh. Zanskar and Spiti were also to be covered on the way.

The Plan

The planning for this trip started about 2 months in advance. The months of May and June were finalized as the time of the trip and I started to make all the necessary arrangements from March itself.

There were two reasons why I started preparing for it months in advance. The first one was that it was going to be a long trip and I wanted to make sure it remained hassle-free.

The second reason was that we were also going to be working while traveling. So a strong and stable internet connection was a must if the trip was to materialize. Otherwise, the entire plan was all going to fall apart.

Thankfully, there are broadband and Fiber internet connections available in Leh city now. Over the next few weeks, the hotel was finalized and the owner agreed to install a new Airtel Fiber connection in our rooms, just for us.

The Itinerary

There was no set itinerary for this trip and this was the first time I was going to visit Ladakh without one. I only had a broader plan in mind about how we were going to travel. The rest of the details were left to be decided as we traveled.

The only reason why we did this was that we had ample time in hand. There was no need for us to bound ourselves by days and dates. We kept ourselves open to any changes required. The main idea was to cover as much as possible, no matter how long it took.

The only plan we finalized before the trip was this.

We will travel from Delhi to Srinagar via Mughal Road and then continue to Kargil. From Kargil, we will go to Zanskar, spend a few days there and circle back to Kargil via the Lingshed and Batalik route.

We will then go to Ladakh, spend a few weeks there, and reach Kaza in Spiti Valley via Leh – Manali – Batal-Kaza Road. The next couple of weeks will be spent in Spiti exploring the tourist destinations there.

After we are done with Spiti, we will return home via Kaza Shimla road through Kinnaur Valley.

That was it. That was the only plan we had in mind.

The Gang

As always, some last-minute changes always happen on every trip. The major one that happened with us was that Gunjit backed out after all arrangements had been made. Due to some unforeseen reasons, he could not accompany us on the journey.

So, the person because of whom the entire trip was planned was not going to be traveling with us. But it was too late to change anything. Accommodations were already booked and payments were already made.

Now no matter how much I wanted to change the destination back to Kerala, I could not do it.

Shoaib and Maddy followed next. Due to family reasons, they could not start on the planned day and I did not want to push the dates.

Hence, it was decided that Lavish and I will reach Leh by road, and Shoaib and Maddy will join us there by flight.

The Car

Ladakh was not new to me. I already knew where we were headed, of the roads, and what to expect. Keeping that in mind, all the necessary preparations were made for the trip.

We were going to be traveling in my Thar and I got it ready for the long journey ahead a couple of weeks in advance.

On a weekend, I sent my Thar to the service center. Later in that day, I got a call from the service center telling me that the brake master cylinder would have to be changed.

I was facing some problems with the brakes in the weeks before and was not surprised by the news at all.

It kind of made a little sense to me actually that a part needed to be replaced because the brakes were feeling a bit soft. The pedal was sinking in a bit too much whenever I applied the brakes.

So, I asked him to proceed with the change. But then I got a call in the evening that the cylinder was not in the store. they would have to order one from Mahindra which could take as long as 2 weeks.

The Brakes & The Cylinder

The timeline was a little too tight as we were scheduled to leave for the trip in 2 weeks. But going without getting the brakes fixed did not make sense at all.

So I instructed the service center to order the cylinder and I will bring the car again to get it changed after they receive it; even if it meant pushing our plan by a week or more.

But the next day, the same guy called me again saying that the cylinder would not have to be changed. They changed the oil, tested it and now it was working fine.

While it should have been a piece of good news to me, since I would not have to spend the money on the cylinder, I was not very convinced with this.

The first reason was that I knew the brakes were feeling a bit too soft lately. The second reason was that I did not want to be on the roads in a remote area with a cylinder that I had my doubts about.

But the guy from the service center said that everything was fine and they have done all the tests. So, they sent the car back to me.

Still, for my peace of mind, I drove it around for about 100 kilometers every day on Delhi roads just to make sure that the problem with the brakes was indeed fixed.

Thankfully, the brakes worked fine but I had to get one of the tires changed because it was a little damaged.

Why only one tire? Well, because someone damaged it while my car was parked outside a few months ago. There were way too many holes in it and it was best to get it changed rather than risking it on Ladakh roads.

Phone Connection

The next thing to take care of was the phone connection. Lavish and I both had Airtel post-paid phones and I knew that Airtel doesn’t work in a lot of places.

So to make sure that we had mobile connectivity throughout the trip and irrespective of the place that we were at, we bought new BSNL and Jio post-paid connections as well.

Cameras & Other Electronics

The cameras that I was carrying to record the journey were Nikon Z6 ii mirrorless, Nikon D7200, and a GoPro 9.

Lavish was carrying a 20000mAh power bank. Just for this trip and because of the fact that we were also going to be working, I also bought a Coolnut 60000mAh Power Bank Mini Inverter.

The Coolnut inverter was a bit bulky in size but could charge a laptop whole at least 4 times. That was enough for us to continue working even if there was a power cut at any of the places we were planning to stay in.

Those pretty much were the major preparations and things that we took care of before the trip.

Finally, D-Day arrived and we were all set to embark on a journey of a lifetime. The destination for the first day was Jammu and Srinagar for Day 2. Please follow the links below to read the rest of this travelogue.

The Chronicles of Ladakh – Conclusion

I hope you liked my The Chronicles of Ladakh travelogue and it was of help in planning your own trip to Ladakh.  If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below and I will be happy to answer. You can also follow me on Instagram and chat with me live or subscribe to my YouTube channel and ask a question there.

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