Pangong lake in the afternoon

Pangong Lake – The Most Popular Lake in Ladakh

My post today is more of a picture-post about Pangong Lake, the most popular lake in Ladakh. It is definitely one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. The original name of the lake is Pangong Tso, with “Tso” being the Tibetan word for a grassland lake. One-third of the lake lies in India, and the rest in China.

A very large section of the Indian population had not heard of Pangong lake till 2009. That’s the year when the popular Aamir Khan movie “3 Idiots” was released. This lake was where the final scene of the film was shot. Since then, the popularity of the lake has grown across the country and a visit to “the 3 Idiots lake” is a must-do for practically any Indian visiting Ladakh.

Pavilions alongside Pangong lake
Pavilions alongside Pangong lake

I’ve been lucky to see the lake both in summer as well as winter. In summer, the colour of the water in Pangong keeps changing according to the level of sunlight and clouds. In winter, the water freezes over and I had a great time walking (and slipping) on the frozen Pangong lake.

Some more images from the late summer visit

Clear waters at Pangong lake
The water is crystal clear, salty and brr cold!

 

Pangong lake around sunset
The lake at twilight

 

Pangong lake at sunrise
Watching the sun about to rise over the mountains

Increasing tourism in the region has brought its own challenges of infrastructure and ecological balance. I hope the local administration will continue to keep a control over the area, and not let it get over-touristed like so many other places in the country.

Getting to Pangong:  Pangong Tso lies about a 6-hour drive away from Leh, the capital of Ladakh and the only airport in the region. Leh is connected by flight to Delhi, Srinagar and Mumbai.
Cabs or bikes can be hired from Leh for a day-trip or overnight excursion to the lake.

Stay at Pangong: During summer (Mid May until about the end of September) you will find seasonal camps set up near the lake. These will be basic tents with toilets but no other mod-cons. If you are in reasonably good health, and happy to rough it out for unforgettable sunrise and sunset views, then you might want to stay overnight. Be prepared though – the area gets terribly windy at night. Also, the lake is at a much higher altitude (14,200 feet) than Leh (11,500 feet), so you will need to acclimatize in Leh first.

If you are travelling with children or older persons, I would recommend a day trip and return to Leh, to stay at the lower altitude.

Camp at Pangong lake
Typical camp at Pangong

Whether you visit for a day-trip or brave an overnight stay, Pangong lake is an unforgettable, unmissable part of a visit to Ladakh. Do remember though that you are in an ecologically sensitive area, and act like a responsible traveller.

Pin it:

Pangong Lake is the most famous and popular lake in Ladakh

 

Two Traveling Texans

 

Qutub Minar complex courtyard

Exploring Delhi: The Qutub Minar complex

A casual conversation at work a few days ago brought up an interesting realisation – people will go far and wide to see the world, but often neglect to see their own city. Now I am not originally from Delhi, but having lived in Delhi/Gurgaon for over 15 years now, I guess I can qualify as a resident. I was quite surprised that my Delhi-ite colleagues had never been to places like Qutub Minar and Red Fort. After a quick mental inventory I realised that though I might have seen these two, there are still a number of places in Delhi that I have not explored yet. Over the next few months, I will be trying to remedy that, and also hoping to encourage others living here to explore their surroundings. This post on Qutub Minar is therefore the first of my “Exploring Delhi” series.

I first visited Qutub Minar as a young trainee in a travel agency, escorting a group of school children on a sightseeing tour of the city. Even though I didn’t get a chance to spend much time there, I remember wondering at the expanse of the site and promising myself I’d return. I returned one February afternoon, camera in tow, and ended up spending hours just wandering around the entire complex.  It was beautiful.

Calligraphic inscriptions on the Qutub Minar
Calligraphic inscriptions on the Qutub Minar

Some historical background now, for those who are not familiar with Delhi’s history.  Delhi is said to have been built not once but seven times, at different periods in history. One of these seven cities was Mehrauli (now an area in south Delhi), capital of the Slave Dynasty. The first king of this Sultanate, Qutb ud din Aibak, started the construction of the Qutub Minar in 1199 AD. His successor Iltutmish finished the job some 25 odd years later. At 73m high, this was the tallest brick minaret in India. Depending on which theory you believe, the Minar was either a victory tower or a place for the muezzin to send out his call for prayers.

qutub minar

Today, the Qutub Minar complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Later rulers (including the British) added to it, making the complex quite a mix of influences. The original sandstone tower suffered damage on multiple occasions due to earthquakes and lightning strikes; in fact the two upper stories are later additions. Apart from the Qutub Minar, the complex also has the Quwwat ul Islam mosque (said to be the first mosque to be constructed in India), various tombs and arches, and the famous Iron Pillar.

Iron Pillar
Ancient inscriptions on the corrosion-resistant Iron Pillar

The Iron Pillar of the Qutub Minar complex was originally constructed in the 4th century by Chandragupta, one of the most famous kings of ancient India and the founder of the Gupta empire. Constructed of an iron-alloy mix, it’s highlight is that it has resisted corrosion for these thousands of years. A later king brought the pillar from Central India to Delhi, and it now stands near the Qutub Minar in an unusual juxtaposition.

You don’t need to hire a guide to visit the Qutub complex. Just pick up an audio guide from the ticket office and you’re set. You can wander around at your own pace and choose how much – or little – you want to know. The complex is open from sunrise to sunset, except on National holidays. If I were you I’d go in the morning or late in the afternoon, since that’s when the light is best for photography.

If you are ever in Delhi with a couple of hours to spare and have even a little interest in history, I would recommend a visit to this medieval remnant of the city’s past.

Getting there – if you are in South/Central Delhi or in Gurgaon, the Yellow Line of the Delhi Metro will take you to Qutub Minar. Alternatively you can take an Uber/Ola cab, or get someone to drive you over.

Pin it:

Exploring the Qutub Minar in #Delhi

 

Photo Challenge: Transformation in Ladakh

This is my first attempt at participating in one of the WordPress challenges I have been following lately. The subject of this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge is transformation.

This picture is of Pangong Tso, the most famous lake in the Ladakh region of India, popularised even more after it was used as a shoot location for a hit Bollywood movie.

In summer, the tourist season for Ladakh, the lake is known for its beautiful blue-green waters that keep changing in hue, depending on the time of the day and cloud cover. It is an incredibly beautiful lake, and offers gorgeous shots of sunrise and sunset amidst the surrounding mountains.

Fewer people have been lucky enough to see the transformation of this blue water to a frozen sheet of ice. Unlike the usual Pangong images, this picture shows the lake in its fully frozen state. The lake freezes over during winter and you can easily drive a car over the frozen waters to the other side. I shot the picture in late Feb, on a day when the temperature at Pangong was an incredible -30 degrees Centigrade. Apart from the four of us, there wasn’t another soul around except for a military post some distance away. Walking on the frozen lake was an awesome experience, although the ice was so slippery that it was less of walking and more a combination of sliding, falling and stumbling, much to the enjoyment of my companions.

Someday, I hope to revisit Pangong in winter. Till then, pictures keep the memories alive.

via Photo Challenge: Transformation

Foodie Friday – Breakfastgrams!

Okay, I just invented that word. You’ve probably guessed that it refers to instagrammed images of the breakfast kinds. That’s what this new Foodie Friday breakfast post is all about.

When I travel, it’s as much about exploring the place as about trying out the food. Even though being vegetarian limits my ability to try out the entire universe of cuisines, I still manage to experiment as much as possible. Over the years, I have realised that I often skip lunch or dinner when I am out around town doing my thing. But I never start my day without a good breakfast. It’s a practice that has worked well for me.

This post is simply a recollection of some of the more interesting and memorable breakfasts I have had while travelling.

Banana Nutella pancakes from a street food stall in Phuket – Sweet and chocolaty!

The finished product!

A post shared by Neha (@nomadic_dreamz) on

Peanut butter French toast in Atlanta – Could not finish it off! That’s sweet potato pancakes on the left and eggs and toast on the right. Yes, everything was delicious. No, I didn’t order all of it for myself.

Breakfast #Atlanta #yummyfood

A post shared by Neha (@nomadic_dreamz) on

Pooris with tangy potato curry in Kolkata – Worth the early morning start

#Kolkata #foodiemoment

A post shared by Neha (@nomadic_dreamz) on

Masala dosa with sambhar and two types of chutney in Chennai – Probably one of the best dosas I have ever had

#Chennai breakfast treat #foodiemoment

A post shared by Neha (@nomadic_dreamz) on

Beignets and coffee in New Orleans – When in Rome…

The obligatory Cafe au Lait with beignets at Cafe Dumonde #neworleans #latergram

A post shared by Neha (@nomadic_dreamz) on

Naga Chilli Cheese Toast in Shillong – Spicy as anything!

img_5286

This is by no means the entire list, and I sure I will be writing more on the subject sooner or later 🙂

If you are reading this, do share some of your favourite foodie memories!

Picture Post: Andaman

Just a few of my favourite shots clicked over the last two or three years during multiple trips to the Andaman islands. More coming soon.

Andaman beach Havelock
Vijaynagar beach, Havelock
North_Bay_island_Andaman
Looking out at the North Bay lighthouse from a ferry near Port Blair
Laxmanpur_Neil_island_Andaman
Natural Rock Formation, Neil Island
Bharatpur_beach_Neil_island_Andaman
Bharatpur beach, Neil island

Of memorable sunrises…

There is something magical about sunrises. Wherever on earth you may be, watching the light change slowly around you as the sun comes up and the world slowly comes to life, can be a soul satisfying experience. The effect gets magnified if you are watching this in the vicinity of one of the “alternative” wonders of the world.

Anyone who has been to Siem Reap will tell you, you can’t miss watching the sun rise over Angkor Wat. Get a tuktuk man to drive you over at the unearthly hour of 4.30 am; any later than that, and you won’t be able to find a good “seat” for the show. Find a nice comfortable spot in the grass near the lily pond, where you will get the best view.

Since a picture can speak a thousand words, here is what it looks like

Some of the stages of an #Angkor Wat #sunrise

A post shared by Neha (@nomadic_dreamz) on

Definitely, one for the bucket list!