Thursday, 14 June 2018

Blog on Kashmir-Leh - Nubra & Pangong Valley and around Tour Jun 2018

A)  In any leisure or family tour/ visit , it is important first to know details of the general surroundings , its topology and about the important visiting points planned under a most comfortable itinerary .Cell connectivity in J&K, is available only for outside state post-paid connections  , else best is to purchase a Pre-paid local BSNL SIM at SriNagar which works in Leh and Nuvra but not at Pangong Lake.  Carrying your Aadhar or some good identity proof is a must. Road throughout the circuit till Leh/ Nuvra/ Pangong are good except in few patches and personal SUVs drive is possible under a skilled driver.

It is good idea to travel by road to Leh with multiple stops/ on-way night halts for acclimatisation cum sightseeing point of view. Once itinerary finishes at Leh, a simple  fly back is most economical and efficient travel option.

Thus please find below the general Kashmir / Srinagar map with its important locations from visitors point of view.
All the visiting points are around / adjoining the road running along the Dal Lake and thus plan your visit in a serial as per your Hotel / Stay locations. Visiting points are as below :-
1-      ShankaraCharya Temple
2-      Chasma Shahi Garden
3-      Pari Mahal
4-      Nishat Garden
5-      Shalimar Bagh
All the above visits can be made in 01 day trip with ShankaraCharya Temple needing climbing its final 300 Steps on foot. A Boat / Shikara travel in the Dal Lake in late afternoon is also very enjoying and at end of the day boatman will be very happy to take you to village cum local craftsman shop visits for an economical shopping . You don’t have to pay anything for this extra travel as boatman gets reasonable commission and is more than willing to give you this free service .
Atleast one day stay in HouseBoat / Shikara is worth enjoying. As all these House Boats can only be accessed by a boat transfer, going to market or a casual stroll often may be difficult  .Please mention free multiple transfers during discussions and this to and fro free transfers are part of their business plan. Approx cost in 2018 per room/ 02 pax is Rs 3000/-
In case you want a direct contact , speak to one below boat-owner containing 02 double bed Cabins/rooms and 01 cabin with 03 bed for total 07 pax.

With hardly any chill , strong sunshine biting the skin and night having feel of winter as if in Nov/Dec in Delhi / Rajasthan needing just a Jacket/ woolen and a monkey cap at the max (Jun 2018) including places like PahalGaon and Gulmarg .

B)              A 03- day plan as below may be most fruitful around the SriNagar.
1.       Pahalgaon :-
The travel from Srinagar to Pahalgaon and back can be enjoyed in 01 day trip where your hired Srinagar vehicle can max travel / allowed till Pahalgaon. Thereafter you will have to hire a local vehicle whose rates are settled by local union (Rs 1800/- for a Sumo as on Jun 2018 for 06/07 hrs visit to all adjoining points), unless it is a personal car/ vehicle. Visit points like Betab Valley Picnic Garden with a rivulet following, Chandanwari from where the Amarnath yatra starts  ... 

 An Old Siva temple still survived terrorist attacks and Old Temple at Mamal of Shiva under archaeological protection are some among the few.  For lunch / food do not expect anything better than standard local Dhabas as in the plains. Roads are good but are steep and needs expert driving skills.

2.       Gulmarg :-
The travel from Srinagar to Gulmarg and back can be enjoyed in 01 day trip where your hired Srinagar vehicle will be made to park locally. Roads are good but steep and need a skilled driver. Most people thereafter travel on horse/ pony to Cable Car Point locally called Gondola Phase-1 but can be easily walked on foot. However as this Phase-1 Cable Car was not working in Jun 2018, one had to ride on Horse to the Cable-Car Phase-2 start point. It is best to use the local Tourism Office help on the rates as the touts, mingled inside inseparable  crowd around you from the actual horse-owners  demand or confuse you into fleecing an amount as high as Rs 3000/- per horse for a to & fro travel inclusive of waiting time not exceeding 06 hrs window. Taking the Phase-2 Cable-Car will take you to vantage valley point with enough snow and fun area. Else the Gulmarg itself  is a valley with area of approx 25 Sq Km with Golf Club, Huge Army areas with  Mountain Warfare Training Institute , Civil Ski Training  Institute , Fisheries Institute and lot of Hotels for night stay. A Shiva Temple next to car parking is the first attraction and the full valley panoramic view from there is just breadth taking. In case you spurn the Horseback offer to the Cable Car point and simply travel to the nearby Siva Mandir  and then fake  your own visit/ travel on foot of this valley, some local Sumo owners will follow you and negotiate for valley sightseeing for an approx 03 hrs sight-seeing for mere Rs 1500/-(a full cab for max 06 persons). Personal vehicles with night stay booking/ proof, can manage to enjoy a personal drive / sightseeing in this valley. For lunch / food do not expect anything better than standard local Dhabas as in the plains.

3.       Sonamarg
       Best way to enjoy this place is with a night stay locally, as distance is bit more for an up & down travel. We however were travelling to Leh with above as our first day stop. Again we have here Horse/ Pony services to a nearby Snow point approx 05/06 Km away on a pebbled / mountain road. As usual again touts will fleece you and if you can feign walking 500 mts / 01 Km on this pony trail, the real poor horse owners now out of the union / middleman clutches offering you services at Rs 350/- per horse for a to & fro journey with approx time window of 4 hrs.

C) Travel to Leh and around :-  It is always better to travel by road to Leh with intermediate stops at i) Sonamarg  b) Kargil/ Dras . Hardly any chill , strong sunshine biting the skin and night feel of winter as in Dec/Jan  at Delhi / Rajasthan needing just a Jacket and a monkey cap  (Jun 2018) including at the following places. During season period which is a small window between end May till Jul , the hotels are in great demand , cost inflated and services dipping. In case you have your own car / travel options, many Gumfas (Buddhist Temples) have comfortable stay arrangements,  being merely outside the immediate city limits.

1- Kargil -Just few Km on way /before Kargil is the Dras where the actual firing from the Pakistan had been resorted in 1999 war/ action. Army has now built an excellent memorial open for all as seen in pic below. Best way of enjoying these  places are in their natural beauty during the travels , evening sunset and its daylight till 1945 hrs.

1-      Leh – This place which now has turned into a mini city and possibly approaching likes of Darjiling and Nainital with concrete jungle mushrooming everywhere. As you enter into the city / valley, its starts with huge garrisons / Army Cantonments for full 05 Kms and then the old city starts unfolding. It is hot and burning with sun shine and shades are like being in AC with light winds. Near the Airport / Army area has the War Museum/ Hall Of Fame with Rs 100/- tickets with details as in pic below. Adjoining this is the memorials for all who laid  their lives during Kargil war. In the evening from 1845 hrs onwards coinciding sunset, enjoy the Beating Retreat ceremony by Army men. Apricot is locally grown and we purchased best quality at Rs 550/- per Kg.

A) Nubra and Pangong Visits :-  All the below stays are in tent  under MAP plan with Breakfast and Dinner covered, while lunches are always on-way as you travel on road.
   1-  Nubra Valley with approx distance of 130 Km passes through khardungla-Top which is world highest motor able road at 18380 ft. This place has unique feature of Ash Colour and Light Brown Colour sand deserts at  above 16000 feet at its  valley base alongside with simultaneous small rivulet flowing with some greenery here and there  from its melting snow and the steep rocky/ gravel mountains with patches of snow on them.  
      Visit the Disket Gompa on the mountain top before descending to the valley where most Camping cum Stay arrangements are made. Rooms are available at this Gonpa also. 

      At end of the day at approx 1530 hrs, you will be brought to a picnic cum desert patch having Double-Hoof Camel rides regulated by local union at standard rates. Near your camp site a local Troup organises a ticketed local dance but doesn’t seem professional or inspiring.

We stayed in at Hunder Village Tent arrangements with main bedroom supplemented with a small front sit-out and  rear washroom block on cement base. Power is available from evening 1930 to 2300 hrs only with morning solar tap-hot-water at 0700 hrs. Must carry a pen torch for easy navigation and night use of toilets. May visit the blog at ..    for greater details.

2-      PanGong Lake- Stay and other amenities are same as above in Nuvra Valley. On this route we passed through the  Changla Pass at 17,766 feet , the 03rd highest pass in the world. This road on either side of the Changla-Pass is bad and under construction and convoys often getting delayed. However the breadth taking Lake view from its very approach point and thereafter the serene & crystal clear water is an absolute heaven. It is understood that local administration has taken decision not to allow any more camping in the lake vicinity from 2019 onwards. Only a day trip / visit and back may be allowed in future. A good decision as we noticed the small but multitude streams of used / soiled water being led into the lake from the very camping slopes and if this continues in this way, the place may be soon like other lakes  in Nainital or similar elsewhere.

I was extremely satisfied with the logistics , hospitality and economical charges by Subrata Pal (MD & Owner) ; Ph no : +91-8716863293 (WA),  94193-36890 of Siddhivinayak Tours & Travels, House No-21, Barmini Shiv Mandir Road, (Near PDP Office ), Green Valley Colony, Sunjwan, Jammu -180-011 ;  E-mail : ,  ;
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