Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Our Tryst with Himalayas begins!!

Our main motivation in returning back to India from the USA was the fact that we could visit the Himalayas. So clearly one of the first places on our list was Leh/Ladakh. Roopa and Giri had been talking about conducting a trip there, so we joined the bandwagon.

Despite signing up with them AJ n I got very little time to even participate in the planning or even to read up on Ladakh! We had both just changed jobs and merely getting the vacation approved had been tough enough....!! One of the weekends in July when Roopa called for a meeting in Bangalore so the group could meet up, we did manage to make it to Crosswords in Bangalore. We met with a few of the guys going with us and made a hurried exit as it was a Sunday and we still had to drive back to Chennai. So technically speaking we hardly got to know anyone who was going with us!! Roopa spent considerable amount of time and energy trying to scare us stiff about this trip and warned us about everything that could possibly go wrong!! :D We were a determined gang and just managed to laugh off all her 'warnings' :)) 

Surely AJ and I were simply lookin forward to this trip...expectations were very high since almost anywhere we went, I had said to AJ - "But this is not as beautiful as the Himalayas" ...I was nervously hoping this trip wouldn't let him down...it was after all AJ's first trip to the Himalayas. It had also been a loooong time since we went with an unknown group of people.. there were bound to be times when we regretted it.. so many if's and but's.. but we had signed up and we were prepared for whatever lay ahead.. :)

So when we flew into Delhi airport we were the first ones to arrrive..the flights from Bangalore and Mumbai were coming in waaay later..we waited at the visitor lounge- picked a couple of novels at WH Smith and contd to read them. By around 2 AM on 25th Aug 2011 we met up with the 'gang' from Banglore at Gate P. We then sauntered to Terminal 39 B for our Kingfisher flight scheduled to leave at 4:45 AM :) 

Vijay- the veteran of the gang was already proving how meticulous he was, he kept insisting we go to Terminal 39 B, but the rest of us ganged up on him and made him recline in a rather noisy aisle that had some recliners...even as the ground staff were drilling away to glory we caught some sleep. Then proceeded to the terminal where we quickly realized 2 folks from Mumbai were already waiting. So another round of introductions and all was in place for us to board the flight! Hungry, sleepy and excited is how I'd describe us.. as always I managed to sleep even before the flight took off...in half hour when I opened my eyes I thought I was already in heaven.. this is the sight I woke up to!!

Wow...simply wow!! The mountains were rising above the clouds even...the size of the peaks was already an overwhelming sight!! Slowly the sky turned a beautiful golden hue...the sun was rising! We saw hundreds of snow capped peaks all bathed in the crimson rays of the rising sun.. it is a sight I'll probably never forget!!
Even as the flight got ready to land, the views of the valleys below were fantastic! Slowly but surely the flight began its descent!
The airport at Leh is really small and cramped. SO it took us sometime to retrieve our luggage. TAG had already ensured the cabs were waiting for us and soon we reached Hotel Horizon in Leh where we would spend a good number of nights in the days to come! 

Leh is not just another district in Jammu & Kashmir, infact the one thing thats strikes you about Leh is the sheer size of the district. I haven't seen any other district in India that is this HUGE! The area itself is striking in size, with mountains that have peaks going beyond the clouds SIZE does have a say in your first impressions of Leh! At an altitude of 3500m it is hardly surprising that the Himalayan Mountains are the dominant component of the landscape of Leh, what is surprising though is the variety in the landscape!! With a 'beast' like Himalayas for a backdrop and the beauty of buddhist architecture, Leh makes for a heady combination of quietitude and magnificience that is tough to define in words. For once I feel like this is a place that has me at a loss for words!! (people who know me will vouch for how tough it is to do that to me!!)
So finally our Tryst with the Himalayas had begun and we were excited!