An early morning chai and other stories from Leh...

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Goodbyes are difficult, especially the ones you give to cities that you love. One such city is Leh, the capital of erstwhile Kingdom of Ladakh. My first visit here was about a decade back when I was still a student at NID, always short of money, and always up for something new and adventurous. I have a steady job now and some money as well, yet every visit to Leh has been pretty much the same, as far as budget goes. And every visit also fills my life with memories to cherish.

early morning walk leh ladakh early morning photo
Morning in Leh...

With these thoughts in mind, I took one last morning walk in Leh just a few hours before my flight back to Pune. With no immediate plans of coming back to the city, I wanted to make the most of my last morning and get some more flavour of the city.

For anyone who follows my blog would know how much I love coffee, yet the fist drink of the day has to be adrak chai (ginger tea), or at least the typical Indian masala chai. This habit is fairly new to me and in fact on my first trip to Ladakh during my college days I hated tea and would not touch it at any cost. Times have changed…and so have I :)

Though my hotel was rather basic with barely any facilities, it’s location was great! I was with walking distance of the main market, so off I took in search of a perfect cup of morning chai. All the usual suspects were shut (it was barely six), so I decided to follow a bunch of Kashmiri guys who were on their way to the main mosque. And this is where I found the prefect morning chai place - Kashmire Dabha.

early morning walk leh ladakh early morning photo
Kashmere Dabha
early morning walk leh ladakh early morning photo
My chai shop :)
leh ladakh chai with kashmiri roti
Chai with Kashmiri roti
kashmiri man walking
My chai-mate giving an angry pose :)

As I walked in a smile welcomed me to take a seat. I obviously looked like a tourist and the caretaker was as curious about me as I was about the place. I ordered chai and he offered to serve it with some kashmiri roti, an offer I immediately grabbed. In fact everyone else around me was also eating this bread with their chai, some with butter while others without. My bread came with a thick layer of warm butter and it tasted heavenly with masala chai. It was a cold morning and this surprise breakfast was a blessing for me. And the grand bill for my sumptuous breakfast was Rs 30!

early morning walk leh palace early morning photo
Leh Palace ahead...
early morning walk leh ladakh early morning photo
A walk in the old town...
Happy and rejuvenated, I then decided to do a quick hike to the Leh Palace and maybe capture a few pictures of Leh from above bathed in morning light. It was also soon going to be time to head back to the hotel and then to the airport, and I was doing my best to enjoy some moments in the Leh in solitude.

Now Leh Palace is lovely building located on a small hillock in the centre of the city. You can obviously drive up to the main gate, but that’s obviously not any fun. The fun part of to climb it through the old town. The hike is not really steep, but it allows you so experience how Leh used to be long before it became a popular tourist destination. There is also good conservation work being done in this part of the city, and you will see a sign on the houses which have been restored so far.

In fact a few days back I had stumbled across one such house and after meeting the occupants realised that it was actually this group of young volunteers which was leading Leh’s conservation movement. I also made friends with a couple of young architecture students from Lucknow who had made Leh their home for a few months, along with many other architects from across the world. I hope to meet up with them and see a bit of Lucknow when I visit the city for a friend’s wedding in December. Ah…I digress…

early morning walk leh ladakh early morning photo
Walk through old town...

I walked up almost all the way to the castle, but tried back down when I realised that people will soon start looking for me. In fact it would be more worrisome if they don’t look for me and leave for the airport without me :)

It was time to say goodbye to Leh, until we meet again :)

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4 comments:

  1. Exploring the unexplored part of Leh. Nice anecdotes, Sid.

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  2. There is one more palace to visit.across river Indus opp to Akling camp on a hillock just 2 kms from airforce campus. On a Sunday in may 1985 I and my friend crossed the river on foot and returned safe. Trilled by the current of river which is dangerous.

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  3. There is one more palace to visit.across river Indus opp to Akling camp on a hillock just 2 kms from airforce campus. On a Sunday in may 1985 I and my friend crossed the river on foot and returned safe. Trilled by the current of river which is dangerous.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yeah Leh is one of the most beautiful location to travel in the india. If you have the bikes in Leh it is awesome. Thank you for sharing.

    http://sdyb.in/

    ReplyDelete