Friday, July 08, 2005

Journey to the roof of the earth

Alright. Here's yet another dream that's about to be fulfilled - a journey to the state Jammu & Kashmir. We are not likely to make it to Srinagar, but our plans are to make it to Leh, Ladakh district via Manali, close to the world's highest motorable road, through the efamous Himalayan passes (Rohtang Pass; Keylong; Namika La; Tanglang Pass) etc. Leh, the roof of the world; the Little Tibet; the Last Shangrila.

We made it to Manali and Solang last winter, and that in itself was quite a visit. This visit must be even more splendid. If words in the websites are to be believed, this must be sort of a visit to paradise - what with 10th century monastries, exposure to pure Buddhist culture, altitudes crossing 5000 meters (holy cow!), and the Himalayas and Karakoram range in vicinity.

On a somewhat (un)related note, I was going through Time's review of the battle over Siachen - War on to of the world. It's a bone-chilling description of what's happening there. Following quotes really hooked me:
Temperatures can fall below -55°C; and more soldiers are killed in avalanches than by gunfire.
Because of the lack of oxygen, attacking soldiers can climb only about five meters before they have to stop to catch their breath. If you let bare skin touch steel for more than 15 seconds—a finger on a trigger, for example—you risk severe frostbite.
And huge platoons of army fighting inspite of all this. Madness! Madness!

I really couldn't believe that we missed a Siachen-like experience by a whisker. There was a military lab in Manali that simulates Siachen-like environment for research - minus 35 degrees temperature etc - and we just sort of ran a bit unlucky not to have made it to there. The proposal - wearing a completely out-of-the-world attire, heavy duty snow boots, gloves et all - was a part of the plan. Sigh! I don't really know whether we'll get a chance again!

As usual, tips and suggestions from people who've been to these places would be great!

3 Comments:

At Sunday, July 10, 2005 12:40:00 AM, Blogger Sumit said...

Gud gud.. When are u planning to make the trip. Currently the Manali -Leh highway is closed due to flooding in Himachal. I am also planning a similar trip in September. The best trip wud be to go via manali and reurn via the Kargil-Srinagar route..

 
At Sunday, July 10, 2005 12:54:00 AM, Blogger Govar said...

@Sumit: Hey... nice to see ya back. Our trip is between 6th and 16th August. Since we ejust got 10 days, we couldnt afford the Srinagar route, which is 300 more kms than the Manali route. But planning to make it someday. :)

 
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