Stok Kangri The Expedition –Day 3: Drive to Leh(Continued)

It was a slightly delayed start to the day and we first headed to the lamayaru monastery which is located top the hill and was only a couple of minutes from the guest house.

The lamayaru monastery is one of the older monasteries in ladakh. This monastery is one of the attractions on the way to leh, however it is in ruins. The monastery is atop a hill. Except for couple of  paintings there’s nothing else left in the monastery.

Lamayaru Monastery and paintings

Photography is prohibited inside the monastery. A few snaps of the exterior and we headed out. The smooth tarmac made driving fun and me and anshul were busy taking photos from the car.

Smooth Tarmac

While passing lamayaru we touch likhir and alchi which house some important monasteries. We decided to cover them along with basgo palace which also contains a gompa. The palace however is in ruins.

The scenary changed dramatically as we proceeded higher up. More barren mountains came into view and we could see dramatic scenary all around us. We were infact joking we had landed on a different planet owing to the change in scenary around us.

Dramatic Scenary

Alchi monastery was next to be visited and we reached there shortly. There was a big market selling items on the way to the monastery. The monstary is much inside and is made up of several small temples. Outside each of them there are boards indicating no photography is prohibited inside the sanctum sanctorum.

Here too as in other monasteries we found paintings on the walls which i found to be almost same. This must be due to my lack of knowledge about buddhism.

Alchi Monastery

One common item present in all monasteries are prayer wheels lined up which are spun. Inside the wheels there lies a paper which contains sacred mantras. The prayer bells vary in size and this is present outside.

Prayer Bells

Entry to the monastery costs Rs 20 per head which was paid. There are different figures of buddha and his teachers present inside. Since photography was prohibited we just saw the statues and took a couple of snaps from the outside and headed back to the cab.

The next stop was likhir monstary which is a different from lamayaru. There is a big buddha statue outside the monastery.

Likhir Monastery Front and Back view

We could take photos within the monastery as opposed to lamayaru and we made use of it by clicking a few and trying some different angles of clicking the buddha statue. Spending some time in the monastery we moved out before to the next destination as the sun was hitting down hard and we had to cover a lot of distance before we reached leh

Buddha Statue at Lihkir Monastary

The never ending wide roads with the horizon made a picture perfect snap which I found it hard to resist. A few group snaps and couple of snaps of the road and we were cruising along to basgo palace

Road to paradise

Basgo Palace was next to be visited and we reached there shortly. The complex contains a gompa which is still standing, however the palace itself is in ruins. This is one of the oldest monasteries in ladakh and was built in 1680.

Basgo Palace

There are other monasteries along the way however dorji told us it would be late by the time we reach leh if we try to cover all the monastaries. In order to make up time we decided to skip the remaining places. However we stopped at nimmu to see the confluence of indus and zanskar rivers which is also called “The Confluence at Nimmu”.

The confluence

Magnetic hill is another popular attraction on the way. The hill has magnetic properties which pull the vehicles downwards when placed at the specified location. This is a mystery as no one knows how it happens. We too placed our vehicle at the designated place and saw it move downwards on its own without any input from the driver.

Magnetic Hill

With the major places covered we were all set to reach Leh. Passing the Pathar Sahib Gurudwara we continued onwards and reached leh by noon.

We had decided to visit pangong lake which is a 130 kms from leh the next day. This is one of the very popular lakes in ladakh and a must visit for anyone who’s in ladakh. Since the lake lies in protected area permits are required to go there. Dorji knew the place where we could get the permits, hence we immediately headed there.  A couple of photo copies of our license/pan card etc and waiting for an hour or so we managed to get the permits.  With the permits obtained, it was then time to hunt for the accomodation. Indiahikes had booked accomodation at shanti guest house which is very close to shanti stupa.

Checking into the guest house, we were alloted rooms and after freshening up, we headed towards shanti stupa which is one of main stupa’s in leh and the most visible landmark.

The stupa is present atop a hill. One can either drive all the way to the top or climb the stairs and reach the top. Me, anshul and suhas decided to climb the stairs as we would get used to the demands of trekking which would start in couple of days. We got a very good view of Stok Kangri while climbing and we were busy discussing about the trek.

View of Stok and Leh

A couple of breaks and we reached the top. The shanti stupa is one of the biggest landmarks in leh and the design resembles the peace pagoda in darjeeling. The stupa is pretty big and attracts a lot of visitors. The stupa is present atop a hill in chanspa overlooking the leh market. The Shanti Stupa holds the relics of the Buddha at its base, enshrined by the 14th Dalai Lama himself.

Shanti Stupa

Spending some time atop the stupa while admiring the architecture and discussing about stok and the upcoming trek we headed back to the guest house. While in the guest house we met nutty, saloni and saish. A short discussion with them and it was off to our room as dorji had said he would pick us up at 6 the next day for the long drive to pangong.

Stok Kangri The expedition — Day 2: The drive to LEH

It was an early morning start as Dorji the driver had arrived at the hotel at 6 as per schedule. We settled the bill with the hotel management and loaded our backpacks and got ready for the long drive to leh. A customary group shot and we were off.

All set to LEH(From L to R – Anshul, Suhas, Pradeep, Bharani and Me)

Traversing through the empty streets of sringar which would come alive in couple of hours we proceeded towards sonmarg another popular tourist spot in srinagar. An hour’s drive with a few photos of the lush green mountains enroute took us to sonmarg where we stopped for breakfast. Dorji asked us to pack anything if required as we wont be getting anything on the way.

Sonmarg and lush green mountains

Spending about half hour or we continued onwards. The scenery improved as we moved and me and anshul who had SLR cameras were busy with various compositions as the journey continued.

The roads uphill were narrow and the border roads organization (BRO) in charge of maintaining the roads in the mountains were busy with some road widening work. Naturally when any work goes on there are going to be traffic jams. We were stuck in one such jam for a short while and this gave us an oppurtunity to click a few snaps of the distant mountains while waiting for the jam to clear.

Distant Mountains and Traffic Jams

It was smooth sailing once the jam cleared and we were goin at a good speed. A couple of hours of travel and we reached Drass which is supposed to be the second coldest inhabited place on earth for lunch.


After lunch we were given the option of having namkeen chai which was supposed to be a cure of acidity and headaches. As this was new to us we decided to give it a try and though it was tasting a bit odd we enjoyed the taste. Soon it was time to move and we were off.  Another couple of hrs and we reached kargil the place where the kargil war was fought in 1999. There is a war memorial dedicated to the brave soldiers who laid down their lives to protect the country.

Kargil War Memorial

The war memorial set in the backdrop of tiger hill and tololing which were captured by the pakistan army and was taken back later by the brave jawans. A soldier was explaining about the war and the significance of the hills present. There is also a huge flag which has the indian tri-color hoisted and the names of the brave soldiers who had died during the war

Flag and names of the martyrs




There is also a museum which has scale models of the key points of the mountains and photos of the battle.

Kargil war museum

There were huge no of bikers from karnataka who had stopped by at the memorial. Many of them were doin the leh-srinagar route this year after completing the delhi-chandrigarh-manali-leh route last year. A couple of exchanges with them and we moved on.

Before leaving for the trip, I had asked few of my friends who had been to ladakh and also searched on the net regarding the stay options enroute as it would take us couple of days to reach leh, Many of my friends had recommended lamayaru which is 100 kms from kargil as the place to stay.  There is not much to do in kargil and also it would take a lot of time to reach leh in case we stayed at kargil. Those who commute by buses stay in kargil as buses tend to break their journey here before continuing to leh the next day.

It was agreed we would be staying at lamayaru and since we had enough time we headed there after completing our visit at the kargil war memorial. The drive continued and we soon passed mulbek which houses a large stone cut statue of maitrey buddha. Since this is one of the major attractions on the way, we stopped briefly.

Maitrey at Mulbek

There were already a sizable no of visitors there by the time we arrived. We didnt spend much time there as dorji we needed to go to lamayaru soon. A couple of snaps of the country side and we headed to our final destination lamayaru

Scenary outside Mulbek

It was sundown by the time we reached lamayaru. After searching for a while we found a guest house where we dumped our luggage and went out for a walk. Soon it was time to hit the couch after dinner as we had another long day of driving the next day

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