Ecstatic with Joy

Day 8 : 16 August 2013 : Part 1 – Leh to Khardung La Top

We got up early in the morning and had our bath etc, for this probably would probably be the last place before we reach Keylong to have a bath.

While having breakfast, we talked to the two gentleman from Mumbai who were staying in the hotel for couple of days with some expensive photography equipment. One of them was an avid bird watcher and another a hiker who were planning to camp at Tso Moriri for couple of days to locate and identify some new migratory birds. Told them about WWF camp at Korzok as they might be helpful to them in their quest. Bid goodbye to them wishing that we shall meet again at Tso Moriri.

The breakfast and chit-chat at Jorchung means that we start only by 0730. We first rush to the petrol bunk at Leh-Manali route as this is the only one in and around Leh to get relatively cleaner fuel. Getting the tank full is also necessary considering that the next fuel stop would be at Karu after two days, since we would not be coming back to Leh and going to Pangong via Wari La. This, however, also means a return journey of extra 10-12 kms.


petrol bunk at leh


By 0800 hrs, we’re back in Leh town area. We cross this gate

Leh gateway


We take right on a road which unlikely seems to be a national highway, but the signboard proclaims so and we believe it rather than the onboard MMI GPS navigator, which we know fails in Ladakh at times. The first stop is at Takski CP.

takski cp


We proceed ahead to see roads cut on mountains. These roads are different. Usually we’ve seen mountain roads going in circles around the mountain, gradually gaining height. Here, it is different – you see many switchbacks, in “Z” shape that quickly provides the elevation.



Distant Shanti Stupa
Shanti Stupa at distance

Tsemo Gompa is so near, but didn’t I said that I’m not interested!
Tsemo Gompa

The road is fully tarred and we’re are going ahead quickly gaining height.

That’s just one switchback!

Just then we hear a croak…

Khardungla frog

The Khardung La frog has just seen us. We have to meet him!

khardungla frog 1

meeting the khardungla frog


We drive ahead.. tarmac is good and numerous switchbacks provide quick elevation ensuring that we reach the clouds…

road in cloud
We have to go there

elevation through switchbacks
a look below

riding in clouds
Riding in the clouds

On the way, we also meet these..



We drive ahead and reach South Pullu CP.

South Pullu CP

And by the time permit checks are being done, these also reach South Pullu. Trekking to K-Top?

trekking to K-Top


After permit checks, we drive ahead to that the road has vanished with tracks on mud, slush and pebbles with poodles all around.

Bad roads



Yesterday, Vishwas had called up to inform that it was snowing at K-top and that it was too cold and they were hardly able to breathe. I was a bit worried whether we would be able to see some snowfall today. However, the snow all around gave some assurance. So we stop.


feeling the snow
Feeling the snow

At one point, the slush ensured that the vehicle would not move forward easily. The loss in engine power coupled with lots of luggage ensured that it would not buzz. We decided to offload 160 Kg’s of stuff then and there… So Tony and I get off 🙂

get down
Till the point that the car would be comfortable taking us in again.

The no-road continued, with some big-sized rocks falling on the road. Luckily, we escape unharmed.

landslide 1

landslide 2

landslide 3

The snow is increasing And then we saw the first traffic in opposite direction. There are some structures behind.. could that be K-Top?



We drive ahead and see a cell tower. This has to be the K-Top!

oncoming traffic


And finally we come across the signboard. Yesss! We’ve reached Khardung La Top!! The time is 1000 hrs.

khardungla gompa

Khardungla signage


Ecstatic, we jump out of the car, and yes! The snowfall is there… and so is the rains! I feel much comfortable in cold, so I was just wearing a cotton T-shirt, but the rains necessitated use of at least a windcheater!



This is the first time in life that I’m witnessing snowfall.. and I do notice that the snowflakes are exactly like the way they are depicted on Christmas Greeting Cards!



Time for some shots.. after all you don’t visit K-Top daily unless you are a tourist taxi driver in Leh!

Yayawar and Avi
Me and Avi

Cheetah & Cheena
The 2C’s – Cheetah & Cheena, posing together

Ecstatic with Joy
Ecstatic with joy.. finally I’m here!

Yayawar & Tony
Tony & me

Snowballing with Cheena
Let’s try some snowballing – Cheena & me

The Yayawars!
A group shot – me, Avi, Cheena & Tony (in that order from left)

Rest of the fellow are feeling very cold and are in need for some tea. So it’s the black tea with some good day biscuits 🙂

Some warmth


We finish the tea and plan to drive ahead, but then first we need to capture this!

Ice ice baby


I went to the souvenir shop to see if they have a cap with them as I’m not carrying one, but they say that caps and hats are out of stock. We spend around 50 minutes on the top, contrary to the advisory. Luckily, none of us feel anything unusual, not even Tony! Good signs!! 🙂


Next: Drive from Khardung La Top to Nubra Valley


Total Distance covered: Approx 43 kms

Driving Directions from Leh to Khardung La: Exiting from the Hotel gates, turn left on the Main Tukcha road and drive ahead till you reach a T-point on the Yurthung road. Take left and then drive straight to pass by Army Hospital. Take left fork just ahead of hospital to take Skara road and pass by Zorawar fort on your right. Keep on driving with the road without taking any right or left cut and reach the roundabout where Skara road joins NH1D. Take second exit from the roundabout and drive straight to pass through the Leh gate. Just ahead of the gate, keep right take the right fork and further ahead take the right fork again which seems to going into some market. Follow the road and whenever in doubt at any place, take the right fork. Keep on driving and you’d arrive at South Pullu checkpost. Driving further ahead, you reach Khardung La top.