Sunday, May 11, 2008

Open for business

Head out on the highway
News from Ladakh

It's open! The Leh-Manali Highway, magical, dramatic and sometimes torturous route from Himachal to Ladakh, is now open after six months of Himalayan snow.

For those of you who don't know, travel to Ladakh means either a flight on Air India or Air Deccan (about $150 one way) or about 2 days in a jeep (or bus, god forbid) from Manali to Leh.
The fastest jeep trip I ever heard of was 18 hours almost nonstop. When you're not throwing up, the scenery is supposed to be breathtaking.

Ladakh, being out of the monsoon shadow, is one of the few places not affected by the heavy rains and high humidity so common in this season in the rest of India. (Lahaul, Spiti and Kinnaur in Himachal are others, I am told.)


Lekhni said...

So then, would you describe the beauty of the place as more "stomach-churning" than "heart-stopping"? ;)

Per said...

I´ve done this road a number of times , and my feelings are the opposite : going with the buses you get to hang out more with Ladakhis , which always is a bonus, and you won´t have to deal with the Cannonball Run , the non stop drive to Leh.

Taking the local bus you can stop in Keylong .... actually there are a lot of places along the road where you can stop , and see few tourists stop, and adjust to an altitude just below Lhasa´s height , before setting out for the second half (which runs up to the same altitude as Everest Base Camp).

The jeeps mostly do the Cannonball Run , or stop in Sarchu , seven hundred meters higher than Lhasa : not a good idea.

Last year my plan was to do the slowest ever run to Leh : failed miserably , since I enjoyed Spiti too much. You can learn from my mistakes on ...

Per said...

The Nepali connection : one of the last to get in to Lahaul on the road from Manali on foot was Vishnu Maya , a Nepali woman , who I imagine was involved in one of the oldest conversations on the planet :

"No , not now .. "
"Now dear , it´s not as if I can make a decision on this .."

That´s right , their baby met the light of the world at the top of of the Rothang La ("The Plain of corpses" , in popular travellers lore) at 3978 meters altitude , helped by the others on the trail , and had it´s first sanctuary at the rescue post at Koksar, May 2nd.

Yes, you are supposed to get mushy at this point, at least I do.

Sirensongs said...

and my feelings are the opposite : going with the buses you get to hang out more
---The opposite of what?
I don't recall saying that any of the ways was preferable...only that they are different.

Per said...

I was thinking of ( not that I intended to sound argumentative , sorry if I come out that way ) the "god forbid " comment.

The first bus run between Keylong and Manali has been completed , but the road beyond Keylong does not seem to be open just yet : the official road marker ( ) still shows "closed" and I got a message yesterday from a guy in Leh waiting for the road to open.