“Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.”
David McCullough Jr.’s words describe Pandharpur-based Anup Kalyanshetti’s decision to take a trip to Ladakh with his friends through Thrillophilia. The only thing he had in his mind was to conquer the mighty Khardung La at 18,380 feet.
A Not-So-Easy Journey to the Journey
He knew that the journey was not going to be easy, but what was even more difficult was for him and his eight friends to stick to the plan after deciding to go to Kashmir and Ladakh. One after the other, his friends pulled out, but he was adamant to make this trip a success. Finally, Anup and his four friends decided to take it to themselves and not look back. “I have known them for over ten years now; I wouldn’t call them friends anymore; they’re family,” Anup says while describing his four travel partners. It is the same bond that drove them to explore various places together, and it was now time for the magnum opus trip to the Land of Mighty Passes, Ladakh!
Anup is an organised traveller who likes to plan for his trips well in advance, having finally zeroed in on the sojourn, he spent a significant time shopping for stuff he would like to carry with him to the mountains. He reached Bengaluru after a 15-hour train journey to join his friends, but every moment spent during the journey was full of eagerness for what was coming next!
Glimpses of Heaven on Earth – Kashmir
The five amigos boarded a flight to land in the paradise that Kashmir is. After an impressive warm welcome at the hotel in Srinagar, they took to the majestic Dal Lake and dressed up in Kashmiri attires. It was a moment full of joy as they posed in the colourful costumes and clicked pictures. The journey had started and it had kicked off well.
After a tiring previous day of exploring Srinagar, Anup and Co. headed to Sonmarg where they enjoyed a pony ride. “The ride will be remembered for a long, long time,” says Anup as he recalls the fun he had with friends in Sonmarg. The day had more travelling as they reached Kargil in the evening and paid respect to the martyrs at the Kargil War Memorial. A sense of pride engulfed them as they encountered the tales of our brave soldiers’ sacrifices. Back at hotel for a delicious meal, they prepared for the big next day which was as promising as it could get!
The Longing Wait Finally Coming to an End!
Getting up early wasn’t a task now, courtesy the excitement to reach Leh. The friends left for Leh en route to Lamayuru Monastery. The air here was filled with spirituality and tranquility as they had a close shave of the Buddhist culture. It was a day full of travelling to reach Leh. However, the attractive tourist spots en route to Leh kept them hooked all the time. They passed through Alchi, which gave them an insight into the village life in the mountains. At Sangam, the confluence of Zanskar and Indus rivers was a sight to behold as the waters of the two rivers could be distinctly identified.
After spending a significant time at Sangam, the group passed through the Magnetic Hill to reach Leh. It was an exhausting day, but the moments spent in the mountains ripped all their weariness off them.
The higher mountains had started calling now. They woke up the next day to reach Nubra Valley via Khardung La. Reaching the mighty Pass was an achievement Anup had longed for. He felt triumphant and entitled; he was on top of the world. While many around suffered from acute mountain sickness, Anup and friends could not sense anything beyond the feeling of achievement. For them, it was too good a feeling to lose in the extreme weather.
They arrived in Nubra Valley and took a ride on the double-humped camel at the white sand dunes in Hunder. Branding them as unforgettable moments, they proceeded to explore Hunder and Diskit monasteries, which are a popular house of Buddhist learnings.
The next day, fifth of the journey, was invested in local sightseeing as they foot-explored the markets in Leh and shopped local items. The laid back day also ensured some refreshment to Anup and his friends who had been travelling relentlessly in the mountains without dampening their spirits.
It next had picture-perfect dreams waiting to get fulfilled as they headed to the scenic Pangong Lake. The changing colours of the lake waters enthralled the visitors so much that they could not stop taking pictures. After a lasting photography session at the magnificent lake, the friends had the most amazing time camping at the lakeside that night. The next morning had a drive to another lake—the Tso Moriri—in store for them. Recalling it as the most picturesque place, Anup explains how the hailstorm and thunders made the weather extremely amusing and cold. It was -4 degree Celsius at daytime, recalls Anup. The hailstorm opened up to a clear sky with a splendid rainbow shining bright at them, which meant another photography session had to be accomplished!
The next day (day 8), they drove through the majestic mountains to reach Jispa, where a campfire assured that they recollect the moments spent during their journey. Reflecting back was a nostalgic moment for the friends as they shared life experiences, a good laugh and delicious food by the campfire. This was the last night of the journey, and they ensured to make every second of it count.
Heading to Manali was an emotional moment for Anup as the trip was coming to an end. However, the breathtaking Rohtang Pass lifted his mood as he was enchanted by the snow-clad peaks.
As Anup arrived in Manali, it was now time for him to set his eyes on his next trip—a bungee jumping and river rafting expedition in Rishikesh, hopefully soon!