Saturday, February 19, 2011


The Himalaya Insight approach to Ladakh from Kashmir Valley via Kargil is approx. 434 Km, which remains open for traffic from early June to November. The most dramatic part of this road journey is the ascent up the 11,500 feet 3,505 m high Zoji-La, the pass in the Great Himalayan Wall that serves as the gateway to Ladakh. The J & K State Road Transport Corporation (J&K SRTC) operates regular Deluxe and Ordinary bus services between Srinagar and Leh on this route with an overnight halt at Kargil. Taxis (cars and jeeps) are also available at Srinagar for the journey. Groups can charter Deluxe and A-class buses for Leh, Kargil or Padum (Zangskar) from the J & K SRTC at Srinagar.

Manali to Leh - Since 1989, the 473 km. Manali-Leh road has been serving as the second overland approach to Ladakh. Open for traffic from around mid-June to early October. This high road traverses the upland desert plateau of Rupsho, altitude ranges from 3,660m to 4,570m. A number of high passes fall enroute among which the highest one known as Taklang-La is world's second highest motorable pass at an altitude of 17,469 feet/5,235m. Himachal Pradesh Tourism, HRTC and J & K SRTC operate daily Deluxe and Ordinary bus services between Manali and Leh. The bus journey between Leh and Manali takes about 19 hours or two days with an overnight halt in camps at Serchu or Pang. Maruti Gypsy and jeep taxis are also available, both at Manali and Leh at quite reasonable rates.

Srinagar-Leh 434 Km
Manali-Leh 473 Km
Srinagar-Kargil 204 Km
Delhi-Leh 1047 Kms
Leh-Kargil 234 Km
Kargil-Padum (Zanskar) 240 Km
Leh-Deskit (Nubra Valley) 118 Kms.

Indian Airlines operates 3 flight in a week between Leh and Delhi, 2 flights in a week from Jammu and once in a week from Srinagar. Jet Airways also operates six flights in a week between Leh-Delhi and Kingfisher Airlines operates daily flight Between Leh-Delhi.

The cheapest way to travel within the region is by public buses, which ply on fixed routes according to fixed time schedules. The most comfortable and convenient though expensive mode of travel, however, is by taxi, which are available for hire on fixed point-to-point tariff. For visits to the newly opened areas of Nubra, Dah-Hanu, Tsomoriri, Tsokar and Pangong Lakes it is mandatory to engage the services of a registered/recognized travel agency for making all the requisite arrangements including internal transport. Detailed information about bus schedules, taxi tariff, travel agencies can be obtained from the Tourist Office or Local travels guide "Reach Ladakh", available at Book Shops.


Many families along the Indus River at Spituk fell victim to unusual freeze that led to river water diverting into inhabitated places forcing many including local migrant labourers and Tibetan refugees abandon their houses caught up in the midst of ice and water. Many agricultural lands of the main village also remained covered under ice sheets until situation got better lately with melting of thick ice layers enveloping the riverbed paving way for the water flow.

While most of the families abandoned the area some four families continued to live there hoping to retrieve their belongings from delipetated houses caught in the midst of thick ice layers and flowing water underneath. "I have my tools and generator set submerged in ice, said Tsewang Rigzin a carpenter who set up a small unit here to earn his livelihood.

Similarly, Pasang had grocerries worth around 60 thousand rupees in her collapsed house and shop in the middle of ice. Things were lying all strewn in damaged shop. Another victim Tsering Dorjey from remote Sku Markah valley migrated about 14 years ago to live here with his family as he makes his living by working as labourer in nearby army establishment. His house with cracks and collapsed walls bared the room floors covered in ice.

We were caught unaware of the sudden water and ice in the middle of the night on January 24, and had to cross to safety in chest deep ice and water making our feet and body numb, Rigzin said. The water-block walls along the bank was all submerged under ice as the entire river stretch from this end to the other side was all covered by thick undulating ice sheets.

The Spituk bridge had ice layer touching beneath its surface giving an indication of the thickness of the ice that has caused the blockage of water flow underneath its sheath and then cuasing diversions at loose boundaries. Army in its bid to try blasting with explosives at certain points left one of them injured severely.

Reasons behind this unprecendented phenomenon, as per official assesment, was blockage at Phey village due to debris and boulders that came along with August flash flood in Phyang village rivulet damming the river causing the gradual freezing from that point which was exarcerbated by extreme temperature (around minus 30) in Leh at that time. NHPC on request of LAHDC Leh breached the blockage by removing the boulders with the help of a special JCB machine.

The impact has been drastic leaving many families homeless and agricultural lands covered by ice sheets, a scene never witnessed before according to Tsering Chondol 56 a resident of Spituk village, whose house also developed cracks forcing her to abandon it and live elsewhere. Three houses also got affected in the main Spituk though the other houses close to the river too were threatened by this rising of ice sheets and water seeping into lands along the river.

Gatuk Tsering (64), a Tibetan refugee working as road labourer, has been living with her three sisters. Their house was in the midst of thick ice and river water, and they were lving in a single room of relatively safer neighbor's house. Similarly four other families were using this single house as their only place to live as all their houses have either collapsed completely or submerged in ice and water.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Locals in Ladakh took part in a hunger protest to express their solidarity with exiled Tibetans protesting against Chinese oppression.

Over 200 people participated in the event.

"Our main motive is the same as sought by the Dalai Lama. We will silently sit in hunger strike and protest," said Takpa Chimet, a group leader.


Leh: Though adventure tourism has proved to be a money-spinner in Ladakh, it has also caused a major environment hazard. It is so because of the tons of garbage left behind by trekkers.

Tonnes of garbage in the form of polythene bags, soft drink cans etc. are left behind in the pristine countryside by trekkers.

Keeping this in mind, the Wildlife Department and Youth Association for Conservation and Development, a forum of youth in Hemis National Park, conducted a 10-day clean up and awareness drive between Chilling and Nimalung in Markha Valley.