Thursday, March 14, 2013

Overview of Kashmir - Ladakh Trip



This is a series of Travel log from my Journey to Kashmir and Ladakh region. 

We started our trip from Mumbai and went to Leh , Ladakh via Amritsar- Jammu-Srinagar- Kargil and returned via Manali-Delhi route.


In this post I will just point out the overview of the whole trip which you will require to plan your own. I will indulge into as much detailed explanation as possible in following posts.

So there are just two ways to reach Ladakh.

  • One take the Plane from Delhi or Srinagar. There are also connecting flight available from other Indian metros. 
  • Take the roadway from either Srinagar to Leh via Kargil or Manali to Leh route. Roads are open during the summer time. The roads are closed when snow increases drastically then during summer as snow begins to melt the BRO clears the road. See this Official webiste of Leh which displays the current situation of roads http://leh.nic.in/ . It also gives useful information like current Taxi rates and the dates for ongoing festivals, Places of interest.   
Now there are some catch point in both of this things. 

Flight
  • Flight is certainly the fastest option and the costliest one too. If your are bent on this one see some websites like makemytrip.com or cleartrip.com to see the monthly air fare. One in a week the fare goes down something like 40-50 %. 
  • If time is your constraint do go with it. 
  • One serious medical condition that arises in Ladakh by taking a Plane is that you are prone to Altitude Sickness.  To explain simply Ladakh is at a very high altitude with average around 3505 mts. When you ascend from sea level to such heights the oxygen in the air drops and your body needs to get used to such atmosphere. The severity of it depends from people to people. It is most strictly advised to rest one day if you arrive by plane. Some get attuned after a good night sleep while some are whisked to hospital and given oxygen. There is also medication available called Diamox over the counter in India to reduce the risk of altitude sickness. Consult your physician before taking it. 
As I mentioned before the effect of Altitude sickness differs from people. I had seen some youngsters who were given oxygen cause they walked too much while some small children were totally fine running all over the place. Also no matter how much of a Macho man you are there will be experience of breathlessness and your stamina will reduce a bit. There is nothing to be ashamed of cause it's bound to happen. If you are felling seriously unwell then contact some doctors they will help you. Don't ignore it or else then the only solution left is to take you to a lower altitude to stabalise you which means getting you out of Ladakh. 

Roadway


  • Roadway is more safer with respect to altitude sickness. Because it take two days to reach Leh via road and there is a night sleepover at a place where altitude is around 2000 mts. This will speed up acclimatization process. Tip : If you watched documentaries on Journey to Mt Everest, acclimatization is an important factor for surviving the Journey. 
  • Roadways can be cheaper compared to flight if you take state transport bus or your own vehicle. If you book a Taxi the charges rise drastically.
  • These are unsafe wrt to frequent Landslides, Terrorist and accident perspective. 
  • Only open when going in summer season.      

Now there are two main Highway that connect Leh. This routes are open

  1. Srinagar-Leh : This takes two days to reach Leh with a nighover at Kargil . You can either take a taxi, jeep , your own car or the Public transport bus. To book a Public transport bus go to the Bus station opposite the Main Taxi stand in srinagar. No online option available for this. The fare as of 2012 was 970 rs per person. This bus are old ST bus . See following post to see more info about it.  
  2. Manali - Leh : This route can be covered in 18 hours straight journey. There will be some stops for stretching legs during eating time. This also costs around 980 rs per person. Same type of old ST bus. There are also some bus which stop during night making this a 2 day journey. See following post for more info. 



To plan your own trip or Go with Travel agency ?

This is a series of Travel log from my Journey to Kashmir and Ladakh region. 

We started our trip from Mumbai and went to Leh , Ladakh via Amritsar- Jammu-Srinagar- Kargil and returned via Manali-Delhi route.

So before planning anything for the trip you should ask yourself some questions like what is your budget, what is it that you want to see (ie. Religious or adventurous or breath taking beautiful sites ) , total days for trip.

In this post I will just point out the very first question of whether you should Plan you own trip or not. .

So first question you can ask is do I need to plan my own trip ? or can I just book a trip with travel agency ?
Well it depends on your conditions totally.

  1. If you have a full time job and hardly have time for planning a trip then go with the travel agency.  However I suggest you atleast read this post and some other blogs for some background imformation. 
  2. If you are travelling with family travel agency is a good option. But do read the blogs and get and estimated idea of the cost of trip so that you do not get ripped by travel agencies. 
  3. If you are travelling with friends have time to do some research in your trip do go with your own plan. 
  4. If you are low on budget you should plan your own trip as you can do the same trip that the travel agency provide with 1/10 th of the cost. However do not expect to stay in 5 star hotels and travel in A/C cars in this budget. 
Advantages of planning your trip yourself. 
  • I prefer planning my own trip. One Important reason why is that when you plan things yourself you get to choose what you want to do and leave what you don't want. The travel agency don't know what you like and what not, they just give you the standard package. 
  • Travel agency will only take you to the places which are profitable to them. 
  • When you plan your own travel you get to know things about places, culture. This way you really enjoy your trip and learn a lot about the places when you travel. It's like when in school you understood the lecture better if you have studied beforehand. 
  • And as I mentioned before it is way - way cheaper.  

Advantages of going with Travel Agency 
  • You don't have to bother about anything just pay and relax. 
  • You have someone to blame to if things go wrong. Also if there is some problem they can provide help really fast and are reliable. 

So that will let you decide the very first question of whether you should Plan you own trip or not. 
In the following post I will post the overview of my trip to Kashmir- Ladakh.