You can lose everything, but nobody will take away what you saw and what you experienced...
Oct 11, 2012 12:00 AM Great Himalayan Circuit - new challenge!
It takes me 1,5 hours waiting patiently in the office in Kaza to get a permit for the border areas. I got it and now now I am ready for the new challenge - The Great Himalayan Circuit via the Spiti and Kinaur Valleys.
One local bus per day. The fare is almost nothing, but you should be ready for the heat, dust, crowd and thrilling moments on the edge...
In the afternoon I managed to visit two interesting tibetan monasteries close to Kaza:
Especially Ki Manastery is very live and offers great views of the Spiti Valley. Dankhar Monastery on the lonely hill is 1200 years old.
Just before sunset I reached Tabo village. Tabo Monastery is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
It suprised me: hard to say it is nice. But made of the mudbricks it is very old and very different.
Oct 10, 2012 12:00 AM High passes of the Himalaya
We started early from Manali - first climbing the bumpy road to the Rothang Pass (3978 m). Nice views. Hindi tourists are coming to the pass to touch the snow for the first time in their life! Yes there was the snoiw little temp0le and the caravans of the little horses passing by.
Then ous car started go go down in the direrction of Leh - to the Grampu junction.
We wanted to turn right to Spiti but the road was blocked by the "Raid de Himalaya" vehicles. Can you imagine? We were forced to wait there 3 hours!
Finally we started to drive to climb to the next pass. Bumpy, bumpy, oh my God! No single sheet of pavement! Crossing the streeams many times, big stones, landslides... But what a breathaking views! It was 4 pm when we reached Kunlum Pass 4551 m above sea. Picturesque chortens an praying flags. Little oxygen. Headache... But even nicer views in the Spiti Valley - on the other side of the pass.
I am in Kaza town. No electricity, 3700 m above sea, cold, dark. But what a adventure!
The owner of the cafe has the private generator so I can send you the greetings fron the remote Spiti Valley in the Himalaya!
Oct 09, 2012 12:00 AM My trekking boots stolen in the temple!
Manali, Indian Himalaya - now I am on the southern side of the main range...
I took the walk to the Hindi temple in the nice forest, then I climbed to the OLd Manali (they say marijuana is easy to get here) for the nice views and photos of the local life. Just 50 m away from the guesthouses there are traditional houses, cows and normal life to see.
Then, down in the New Manali I visited Tibetan Drukpa Temple. Great moment - some 60 monks of different age (from 6y old boys) were sitting in and praying. I was listening more then hour. Enchanting!
Then I recognized at the door that my shoes - my only trekking boots - dissapeared! I respect the rules and I always leave shoes before entering the temple - thousands of times on different continents.
But. Stealing in the holy place?!
I was desperate.
Monks helped me. I have new shoes. But why?
Oct 08, 2012 12:00 AM 12 hours in the public bus to Manali
Bye bye cozy Mc Leod Ganj! At 6.30 am I boarded public bus to Manali - they charge 450 rs for 10-hours (as they promise) journey.
Cheap! but take into account that it is local bus stopping at every corner. Dust, heat, crowd...
Landscapes will be your reward. And local people aroung (you are the only foreigner on the bus) - you are starring!
We reached Manali at the bottom of the Himalaya after 12 hours - in the dark.
Manali is a popular holiday destination for the Indian tourists. Many hotels and many offers. Ready to climb the hill for the more peaceful place - go to Old Manali!
I got the room with the mountaln view for jyst 300 rs - like 6 USD. Bit dirty, but this is the price...
Oct 07, 2012 12:00 AM Monkey in the window - Dharamssala
First I took the train from Jammu to Pathankot (only 42 rs for 2 hours journey) - I wanted to give my backbone the break after the bumpy roads.
Then I foud companions to share the taxi to Dharamssala.
We drove through the green valleys up and up. At the end it was serious climbing through many switchbacks to the little town in the green mountains. Dharamssala is picturesque but crowded little town. No reason to stay here - it is better to go directly to the Mc Leod Ganj - 10 kms up, where Dalailama has residence and many Tibetan refugees live.
I found a room in the Kailash hotel (650 rs with bath and great view). Can you imagine the monkey in my window - he escaped but the moment was exceptional. Many monkeys wonder around. And Mc Leod Ganj - "Upper Dharamssala" is like a piece of Tibet left in India.
Tibetan costumes on the streets, Tibetan handicraft, Tibetan faces of the people, Tibetan cuisine (at least I have my favourite momo dumplings - 4 for 10 rs).
But sorry, Dalailama left yesterday to the USA...
It is the great place even without Dalailama. Hope to show you the pictures...
Oct 06, 2012 12:00 AM Through the mountains to Jammu
Jammu lies down in the heat (300 m above sea only) but you have no choice to avoid it if you go further east.
I departed from Srinagar by public bus at 7.30 am and they pomise that we will reach Jammu in 10 hours.
It was another great (and very bumpy) trip across the Himalaya - withe the great views of the green ridges, valleys, rivers... But be also prepared for the dust, traffic jams on the narrow mountain roads and heat at the destination. We reached Jammu after 12 hours on the road!
In the dark it is hard too look for the accommodation but I was lucky just opposite the railway station I found a sort of new pilgrim house.
They offered a bed in the airy 20-bed dormitory for just 60 rs (slightly mor then a dollar) Ask for the clean sheets and pillow - you will get them for free giving returnable deposit... So it is still possible to sleep i India for the dollar...
Jammu on the Tawi river is not very exciting. I took in the morning a rickshaw to the top of the hill. There is well preserved fort with the temple of the goddess Kali inside. But they do not allow to climb the walls and to take the camera inside. Conclusion - not worth the effort...
Oct 05, 2012 12:00 AM Living on the houseboat - Kashmir
Dal Lake is famous for its houseboats. In Srinagar you will find hundreds of them. Now they are offered to the tourists.
Each house has verandah, living room, dining room and 2 bedrooms vith baths. Yes, they have weak electric power.
Never book in advance. They will charge twice or three times more. Go to the ghat, ask honest people. See first what they offer and then bargain,
I can recommend you shikara owner Nazir. You will find him at ghat 16 (Nehru Park). He will show you few houseboats - they are just on the other side of the channel. See, Bargain.
I make a choice of "Snow view" houseboat - old but clean. The owner charged 1000 rs per day without meals.
It is great thing to sit on the verandah and to enjoy the view of the lake, mountains and all shikaras passing by.
Great relax. Shikaras are like the gondolas of the East.
The only problem is if you want to go from the houseboat ashore - you will pay 20 rs each way!
Oct 04, 2012 12:00 AM The gardens of the Great Moghuls
Crowded local buses goes along the Dal Lake. It is worth to jump on, pay 10 rs (like 1 USD) and go to Shalimar (15 kms). Jehangir - on of the Moghul Emperors built there wonderful gardens on the four terraces, facing Dal Lake. There are fountaind, plenty of flowers and old trees. It is one opf the tourist attraction of Kashmir noc - the entry fee is just 10 rs.
On the way back it is worth to stop and visit the second garden in Nishat. It is even bigger - located on teh 12 terraces... It is worth another 10 rs entry fee.
Then the local bvus took me top the center of Srinagar. Jhellum River surroud the "downtown" but is nothing more then another India's crowded and noisy city jungle!
Long walk took me to the old town to see interesting mosques - some of the made of timber... Jami Mosque is bigger than I expected. They were praying there when I was there at the end of the day...
Busy and tiring, but what a day!
Oct 03, 2012 12:00 AM I am in the legendary Kashmir...
Why I have not been here before?
Kashmir is not a peaceful place. Fights, riots, unrest...
I was waiting for the peace. Now it looks peacefull.
Srinagar on the beautiful Dal lake was on the famous Silk Route and has great hisstory.
Surrounded by the high mountains has a balm climate and friendly inhabitants.
Picturesque shikara boats sail up and down the lake - not only with a tourists but most off all with the locals who lihe and work on the islands.
I rented shikara for an hour - 250 rs - like 5 USD and Zahir took me to the labirynth of the channels, floating gardens and houseboats.
I had a great time. Kashmir... One more dream come true...
Oct 02, 2012 12:00 AM Full moon over Himalaya
Only one public bus per day goes through this route. Lonely Planet is outdated: it departs from Leh at 2pm and should arrive to Srinagar in Kashmir 17 rours later.
I bought a ticket for 920 rs, put bmy backpack to the roof and we departed on time. Soon I recognized that the road is paved only in the valleys - first two hours of driving. But the views of the Himalaya Mts and the canyon of the Indus river were great.
Before midnight we reached Kargil. Next part of the road - very close to the control line (the border with China) is in very poor shape - one-lane only. So they decide tat in the night cars go only to Kashmir.
Fool moon was shining showing dramatic landscape when we were driving down from the Zoji La Pass (like 3600 m above sea. And me... thanks to my mp3 I was klistening to the nocturnes of Chopin...
At 2 am we were sipping the tea at Drass polisce station. It was 7 am when we reached Srinagar - the capital of Kashmir.
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