The one who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. Those who walk alone are likely to find themselves in places no one has ever been before.”
Albert Einstein’s quote sums up the journey of Swati Bose, who took on the mighty mountains of Ladakh and explored the quaint hustle-bustle of Srinagar to quench her wanderlust.
A dog lover by heart and a movie lover by soul, the journey of this Bangalore-based software expert to the mystic land is no less than a filmy tale as she romances with her musings. Swati finds art in the smallest props of nature. When she planned this trip, she had surrendered herself to be in the arms of nature and she couldn’t be happier with her decision.
Along with her three friends, Swati explored the dream of every traveller seeking adventure as well as solace in India—the heaven in its purest form that the land of Jammu and Kashmir is.
The Always-On-The-Cards Trip
A trip to Ladakh and Kashmir had always been her dream for its ability to leave a traveller in amazement at every step. The moment she felt her dream could come true, she couldn’t contain her excitement to get surprised by the changing moods of nature. She, along with her three female friends, set off to the magnificent land in the month of April.
When it’s about travelling to places, it’s important to be surrounded by the right kind of people. Swati is all praise for the members of her girl gang, and she credits the success of this trip to Leh-Ladakh to the girls who can put the best to shame when it comes to making the most of a trip to Kashmir.
“I was accompanied by these girls who, like me, feel connected to nature in their own ways. The crazy fun that we had is an inseparable part of this journey. Everyone in our group is a different personality, and that’s what kept our spirits up all the time!” she says, hailing her friends Snigdha, Sonam and Prachi.
With the right kind of people around, she just knew she had to take this trip!
It was the last week of April, and Swati describes it as the best time to visit Ladakh as she recalls the majestic aerial views of snowy mountains during her flight from Delhi to Leh. Upon reaching Leh, the local guide helped them explore the Leh Palace and Leh market. Going to the bed, she knew that Ladakh had a lot in store for them the next morning!
After the breakfast, the girls set off to the Spituk Monastery via the Magnetic Hill, which is a wonder in itself. The highlight of the day for the girls was the confluence of Zanskar and Indus Rivers, which is a sight to behold!
“It felt like every mountain surrounding the confluence has its own story to tell,” she says, describing how she spent significant time at the spot. They also visited the banks of the Indus River at night to see the silver lining under the moonlight.
The next day was the real adventure as Swati visited the Nubra Valley via Khardung La. The most exciting moment of this journey, she describes, was when she was welcomed with snowfall at Khardung La. “The land was filled with snow everywhere around and the air was filled with a sense of achievement of arriving to the top of the world,” she says.
The descend from Khardung La towards Hunder leaves you spellbound as the snowy surroundings drastically transform into desert, and before you sense it, the double-humped camels at Hunder offer you an exciting ride through the desert.
The next morning, the girls left Nubra Valley for the picturesque Pangong Tso to experience chilling cold under the full moon. With the temperatures so low and the moon shining bright, the girls experienced solace in the profound silence. The night spent at Pangong Tso was full of tête-à-tête as the conversations had it all—moments of laughter and joy filled with excitement to experience the next day.
It was Day 5 when the girls left for Leh via Chang La. The roads at Chang La were scenic as they were covered with snow on both sides, making it a fairy-tale journey. It was now time for the girls to visit the Heaven on Earth—Kashmir.
From Kargil, they set off to Srinagar via Drass and Sonmarg. Drass, which is the second coldest inhabited place of the world, lived true to its reputation as it served severely low temperatures to the girls, who enjoyed the chill! In Kargil, the sight of the Tiger Hill gave Swati a sense of patriotism as the air was filled with pride and honour of the sacrifices of our Jawans who laid their lives in war.
In Sonmarg, they were mesmerised by the tall pine trees and white snow. After the breakfast, it was now time to head to the summer capital of the state, Srinagar, where a shikara awaited them for an immemorial ride in the Dal Lake. During their excursion at Srinagar, Swati and her friends visited popular tourist spots such as Mughal Gardens, Shalimar Gardens and Chashme Shahi. Before calling it a day, they had lip-smacking dinner at the houseboat in Dal, which gives a constant that the beauty of an old-world setup is unparalleled.
The next morning, Kashmir’s winter paradise, Gulmarg, awaited the girl gang as they prepared to experience a ride in the highest cable car in the world. Upon climbing the Phase 1 of the Gulmarg Gondola, the weather was cloudy and so mesmerizing that the girls ended up spending three hours at the top, before heading back to their houseboat in Srinagar!
The trip was coming to its end, but the quench to explore was only getting higher! On Day 9, it was time to explore Pahalgam, a town which offers spectacular views of the Valley and the popular horse-rides to tourists visiting the ever-bustling place. Not wanting to call it a day, the girls returned to Srinagar and visited the holy Hazratbal Shrine at the banks of the majestic lake.
Calling It Curtains, But with a Promise to Return
On the last day of the trip, Swati and her friends offered prayers at the Shankaracharya Temple before boarding the flight from Srinagar Airport, making the trip the most memorable one of her life. Her friends, who were awestruck by the beauty of the land, also made the trip of their lifetime!
Down the memory lane, Swati recalls each moment spent in Kashmir as an experience to bow down to. With a heart full of such memories, she, along with her friends, thanks Thrillophilia for being their backbone in this trip. Not surprisingly, she vows to visit Ladakh again, just out of her love for nature’s beauty.