Peaks & Clouds

Day 6 : 14 Aug 2013 : Leh Permits

Although this was a day primarily for permits, we still got up early around 0600. After freshening up, we hopped on the hotel roof to see what it offers. Whoa! Amazing!!
Ice capped peaks
We can see ice capped peaks!

little closer
A little closer

Leh Palace
Leh Palace from the hotel roof

Shanti Stupa
Shanti Stupa

Hotel Jorchung
Hotel Jorchung

Other set of peaks
Another set of snow capped peaks

Peaks & Clouds
Now some more clouds

Close up 1
Li’l bit closer to one of the peaks

Close up 2
And the others

Gone Bonkers
What is this? We’ve gone bonkers, you know!!

Prayer Flags
Horses carrying prayers, everywhere

Cheena also tried some macros
Flower 1

Flower 2

It’s a chilli!


Chipped wood



insect at leaf

Flower 3

Flower 4

Meanwhile, I try a panorama shot at the roof
PanoramaClick to see the larger image

And shoot the peaks on the other side

Peaks again 1

Peaks again 2

Two tasks for the day were earmarked – 1. to get the ILP (inner line permits) and 2. to get the car serviced as we experienced loss of power yesterday. It was decided that we’d split in two’s groups, me and Tony going for the ILP and Cheena and Avi for the car service.

After getting ready leisurely, had some aloo-parathas with ample butter for the breakfast. At 1000, we thought of going to DC office, but the map showed it at some distance and there was no public conveyance available. It was decided that Cheena will drop us at the DC office before going to Lehling Nuwang. In the meantime, Vishwas called to inform that they’d be reaching DC office shortly for getting the ILP.

We reached DC office. We already had the ILP form filled in, courtesy some great posts by Tanveer. We had practically filled everything in Places to visit space. I got my ID proof copied and we went to the DC office to submit the application. The ILP were being issued in the room located left to the gate. The arrangement there was that 3 persons were sitting adjascent to each other. I had attached only one copy of the ILP form and the lady at the counter asked me to attach one more copy. A trip again to the photostat shop, came back, paid the requisite fee and everything was done within 40 minutes. Only place struck off the ILP list was Rezang La, but then I knew that ILP to Rezang La were never issued, but since the War Memorial at Chusul is also called Rezang La war memorial, hence put that. Gave a copy of our ILP to Vishwas et,el also to fill the same places since they’d also be following our itinerary. Helped a couple of more people in getting the places listed in their ILP form. Got 20 copies of the ILP done and we were all set! Yay!!
DC OfficeGoing to get the photocopies of ILP done


The ILP (permit) – stamped!

In the meanwhile, Cheena & Avi shoot the area nearby


Polo Ground

Preparation for Independence Day celebrations.

For reference, I’d put the ILP (inner line permit) process here:

  1. You write an application, addressed to the DC about your intent to visit Ladakh, number of people, mode of travel and place of stay.
  2. Attach two copies of the filled ILP application form with places to visit, name along with father’s name and address.
  3. Attach photo ID proof for each of the traveller – any government photo ID will do. Having address on the photo ID is not necessary. (We used PAN Cards)
  4. Submit the ILP application at the first counter for scrutiny. The ILP form will then be passed on to the next counter.
  5. Pay the Red Cross donation of Rs 20 per person. You’ll be handed over receipt and the ILP application will be passed to the third counter.
  6. Pay the requisite environment fee (Rs. 200 Per person), and ILP permit fee (Rs 20 per person per day) which is dependent on the number of days of your visit. You’ll be handed over a receipt, some tickets – one per person in the ILP application, and one original copy your ILP application form duly signed and stamped.
  7. Rush again to the photcopier and make 10-20 copies of the ILP to be submitted at checkposts (ID proof are not required to be submitted at chekposts)
  8. Write down the Name of the Driver, Driving Licence Number, Vehicle Number, Number of people according to gender, coming from and going to information at the back of each ILP copy and keep it handy. This would save a lot of time at the checkposts.
  9. Since the permit fee is based on the number of days and not on the number of places, my advise would be to jot down everything under places to visit – Khardung La, Nubra Valley, Turtuk, Panamik, Pangong Tso, Marsimek La, Man, Merak, Chusul, Tsaga La, Kakasang La, Loma, Nyoma, Mahe, Hanle, Tso Moriri, Hanle
  10. Since it hardly takes 1 hour of time, it would be good if you yourselves can go for the ILP application. With an agent, ILP for Turtuk, Chusul, Tsaga La and Kakasang La may not be provided (and the agents will insist that they are not required!).

Interestingly, Cheena and Avi decided to wait for us and since we got through within 40 minutes, we went together to Lehling Nuwang. We got the car serviced, but refused for a wash as we wanted to keep the dust as a testimony to Ladakh! When we told the head mechanic – Ravi about the power loss, he asked his people to check the Air filter and Diesel Filter. Vicky, a punjab native was the mechanic working on our Cheetah. He opened up the air filter and Oh boy! It was completely clogged with dust, even a bird feather! Change it? No! The vehicle hadn’t done even 20k so we asked just to clean it and put it back. Same goes for the diesel filter. It was clogged too and vicky advised of a replacement. A little sweet talk and he confided that a thorough pressure wash with some petrol and then diesel will make it new! So we got it done. Total dent – INR 500!

While getting the car serviced, I started talking to the head mechanic – Ravi. He came to be from a nearby place to my native. He then confided that he has his own vehicles in Leh which were mostly in service of foreigner tourists and at times he also goes with them on trips. He also informed that during November to March, he mostly works as a tour guide throughout India to his foreign friends!
Car service

After getting the service done, I checked with Cheena if we were missing anything from the checklist for the vehicle and he confirmed that he hadn’t stocked coolant. As tomorrow we’d be hitting Khardung La, I didn’t wanted to take chance and hence advised stocking at least 2 litres of coolant. Done!

By 1200 hrs, we were back at Jorchung. Now what? Nearest is Shanti Stupa which is visible from the Hotel itself. No! Being the Athiest that I am, I’m not interested. Second, I also know that there are several hundreds of steps to the stupa. Given the family pack ab that I have, I don’t want to do that either. (P.S.: I didn’t knew that there is a motorable road right up to the Stupa). Third, I have already seen world’s largest peace pagoda aka Shanti Stupa at Vaishali, Bihar.

Other places? We’ve seen the Jorawar fort on way. Ok, ok! We just passed by it. But it’s not that impressive either!!

Shey/Thiksey/Likir/Fort – No No No! I’m not interested. I’ll just lazy off and build my family pack ab! (P.S.: People who know me are very well aware that I’m too fond of sleeping. I can sleep upto 22 hours at a stretch!). And in any case, I’d been there numerous number of times. Why not have some apricots and apples instead from the hotel window?

So Tony, Cheena and Avi go to visit the Shanti Stupa and I go to my favourite passtime – deep sleep. Here are some pics taken by Cheena and Avi.
Shanti Stupa on way

vistas 1

Vistas 2

That’s Stok-Kangri on the centre-right!

Shanti stupa up close

Khardungla distance

Marker to show the direction and aerial distance to Khardung La

Peaks again

Buddha at Shanti Stupa

Buddha Statue at Shanti Stupa

Peaks & flags

Flags fluttering


By 1450, they came back while I was talking to some bees. It was decided that we will explore the market for lunch and otherwise as well.
Bees 1

Bees 2

We went along the fort road, explored a couple of shops, enquired about a couple of itmes only to realize that they were quoted too expensive. There was a Tibbetian Refugee market. We entered and enquired about some flags. 50 Rupee a piece. But the shop there was selling it for Rs 40 only. Oh! So you are here just to pass time, not to purchase anything. The lady retorted. And then obviously she went attending some foreigner customers. Cheena took offensive. I wanted to get a prayer wheel at least from Leh. No way, she’s not even looking at us, lets go!

Finally around 1540, we entered a cafe at first floor on the fort road. A gentleman came and very courteously asked us to take seats. Hmmm so the reception is good. What shall we have? Something traditional! So we enquire.. what is thupka. Noodles with soup and lots of veggies. Veggies? We are certified omnivorous. Anything with chicken? Oh yes! Thupka can be chicken thupka as well. Bring on! Anything else? This would enough for you sir! Nah!! Let us decide that part. Bring on the Thupka and we’ll decide on the next course later on. Sir! it will take 15-20 minutes if you order later. No problemo! We have all the time with us 🙂
Great hospitality

So thupka it is. Tony being the self-vowed vegetarian, goes for veg Thupka. After 15 minutes, Thupkas arrive. Yummy! We have discovered something!!

What next? Kothey? What are they? Sir these are kind of momos, fried on one side. Let’s try! Bring on! Chicken Kothey for three of us and veg for Tony. Delicious they are!! It’s again a discovery!

Being the veggie and disadvantaged, I’ll have banana chocolate pancake too – Tony argues! No problemo! We’ll share!! 🙂 Tasty it is!
Chocolate banana pancake

Now what? How can we move without having tea? Butter Tea? No sir! It won’t be available here. Ok, No problemo. Bring on the masala tea. Good it was too!

Overall, we spent 2 hours and 1200 Rupees and then started walking back to the Hotel. The time already had gone past 1745.
Sunbeam Cafe
Sunbeam Cafe it is!

Walking back, we again pass by the refugee market and I decide to take my chances. We enter again. I want the prayer wheel. It’s 950! What?? How can you charge this much when the same is available cheaper elsewhere? This is sturdy and they are not so strong, besides it seems you people are not serious on buying. How come? We came here again! We have to purchase, provided you quote reasonable rate. Ok 750 is final. No! I can pay only 600 for one and we want two of them! 50 rupaya bhi nahin bachega isme to! Koi baat nahin, hum chalte hain. Ok ok, wait. Take it. So 1200 for two prayer wheels, how much the other shop quoted? 900!! Same goes for flags.. we bag a pack of 5 for 200. Meanwhile, Cheena picks up the small flag set for 35. Done!

We walk back to Hotel. Tonight we won’t have regular dinner. We just had ample to fill the stomach. So it is just eggs, chips, salad, biscuits and juice.

And then, the disaster strikes!

Around 2000 hrs, Tony says that his head seems to be too heavy. Perhaps he’s hit by AMS!! Then goes a long discussion on what to do. Tony says that we should stick to our plan and depart for Turtuk tomorrow while he will try to get a flight to Delhi. What the hell!! We can’t just go like this! We’ve come so far, not to leave anyone behind. I reason with Tony. Look, we have got a buffer day in 20th/21st when we’ll be spending two nights at Chandratal. We can also shorten our plan from Turtuk and Deskit nights and still manage to be on the plan. Let’s stay here for tomorrow too and in the meantime, you start taking diamox. If by tomorrow night also your condition doesn’t improves, then we’ll arrange for a flight for you and then we’ll carry on further. After a lot of reasoning and discussion, we all agree on the approach.

I inform Vishwas of the situation and advise them to carry on with the itinerary and that we’ll catch up with them later, probably at Pangong. I also meet, Sonam – the owner of Jorchung to convey him the message that probably we may not be leaving tomorrow morning, but will confirm in the morning. Hope is still lingering…

Having finished everything for the day and settled for the plan tomorrow, we retire to our beds.


Total Distance from Hotel Jorchung to DC Office: Approx 4.6 kms

Driving Directions from Hotel Jorchung to DC Office: 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, take the right fork and further ahead take the left fork. Further ahead, take the left fork again to pass by Polo ground. Turn left just ahead the Polo ground and you’ve arrived at the DC Office on your right.

Total Distance from Hotel Jorchung to Shanti Stupa: Approx 3.6 kms

Driving Directions from Hotel Jorchung to Shanti Stupa: 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 right and then drive straight. Keep left where Upper Tukcha road meets at T-point to go straight. Further ahead, take the right fork to remain on Yurthung road.  Further ahead, where the Changspa road meets Yurthung road, there are steps going up to the Shanti Stupa – 500 steps in all! If you’re not sure of climbing the steps, drive straight. Further ahead, the Yurthung road takes a turn and from there itself, the road to Shanti Stupa goes on the left, take left turn to be on Shanti Stupa road. Drive following the road and you’d approach the Shanti Stupa parking.

Current weather conditions at Leh: