Ladakh- How green was my Valley?

The Leh valley as seen from inside a monastery.

Nothing prepares you for Ladakh- its barren yet so beautiful. Something in ur head will tell you this can’t be correct- beautiful places need to have liberal use of the green hue in their color pallete.

My decision to go to Leh/Ladakh was quite a rushed one. I had come to Delhi on a 15 day break & got really bored sitting home, twiddling thumbs… Called up a buddy to check how things were with him & he told me about a common friend who had just come back from Leh & i just decided that even I had to go there.

I spent the whole of next day convincing family that I am headed to the mountains but as luck would have it- there were blasts in Srinagar & Mumbai the same day…
I was told that the trip to any part of J&K is out of question…but being the rebel that i am- went to a net cafe & got the tickets done for the next day’s flight to Leh 🙂
But the rebel in me is mostly careless too- in my haste I didnt realise that I had booked myself in the business class !

By the time the whole $ impact of my stupidity sanked in- I had told myself that I shall make the rest of my trip a budget one & see Kashmir for the 1st time.

My first view of the Himalayas was something I would never forget- it was a great morning & the sun was shining brightly over the snow covered peaks- we were so close to the might Himalayas that I could see some of the small glaciers !

The Leh airport is a v small one & i was told by a pilot friend that the landing in this airport is called a “committed landing” (since its surrounded by mountains on 3 sides- if a plane starts descending there is no way the pilot can change his mind at the last moment)

There are numerous monastries in Ladakh & you would find prayer wheels everywhere- these come in various sizes- from handheld ones to giant 1-storeyed ones.In the local language they are called “Maanes”…. another word that would come handy is “Juley”- which is used for hi,bye,namaste & any other form of greeting !

If you havent been to Ladakh yet- get there this year or mebbe the next !

Jagah dil mein honi chaiyye

Everyone's Welcome

We were on our way to “Yelagiri”… a hill-station close to Chennai… & suddenly on the highway we came across this “thing” carrying an amazing # of ppl…. we couldn’t resist what we used to do as kids—- waving. And look at the reaction we got…smiles & waves all around…..

Amazing photography by AY…we are planning to send it to the Discovery Channel 🙂

The Mask of Zorro- Yelagiri

This is how I inspired the gang to go to Yelagiri….a nice small hill-station in Tamil Nadu…
Remember the scene from “The Mask of Zorro” when our dude lights up the hill with fire in the shape of Z?

There are 14 hairpin bends (on the road to Yellagiri) on the mountain… which are actually visible from the highway itself..& the first thing that came to my mind when I saw that was Zorro !

Yelagiri is (about 250Kms from Chennai) a small town with a pace slow enough to relax you. There are a few trekking options & you can also take a leisurely boat ride on Punganur Lake. For more details on Yelagiri click here

Pondicherry: The French loved this place….

And am sure u would too… With perfect sea, sand & sun- who wouldnt?…
Located about 150 Kms from Chennai- Pondicherry was a French occupied city & there are still a lot of French influence in the culture there. Nothing stands out as prominent as the strange hats of the policemen there:-)

The Drive from Chennai to Pondicherry is amazing on the wonderful ECR (East Coast Road)- with the highway running parallel to the sea for most part of it.

Most tourists to Pondicherry are attracted by the famous Aurobindo Ashram, but my fave excuse was brunch at Rendevous. Do check out the two famous Churches there- some inspiring architecture & stained glass work.

Other snaps of Pondicherry

Rocky Mountain High …… n a fort on top !!

Gingee is a place worth spending a day just admiring the efforts taken by the rich rajahs to build a palace (would rather not call it a fort) in such difficult terrain.

The Gingee fort is spread over some 3 hills… the climb which looks easy..can be tough during a typical bright sunny day… so carry ur fluid supplements:-)

Backwater Mangroves?? in TN ?? U sure?

Yes… and I am told that this is the only “other” place in India apart from the Sunderbans to have backwater Mangroves…

Whats fascinating is to see the vegetation just jutting out of water…& the close mesh these stems (or whatever it is thats above the water surface) make.
This place is Pechavarram… which is beyond the temple town of ‘Chidambaram’.
U can enjoy a leisurely boat ride amongst the mangroves… & the numerous channels (some of which are natural…but mostly man-made)