INDIA GENERAL INFORMATION
LADAKH & SIKKIM
Few people realize that about a third of the Himalaya lie along the northern frontiers of India. One of the most beautiful and intriguing areas in the western Himalaya is Leh Valley. The trans-Himalayan areas of Zanskar and Ladakh, where Moslems, Buddhist and Hindus intermingle in old trading bazaars, remain relatively unexplored by Westerners. The vast mountain country in the state of Himachal Pradesh, with its idyllic valleys and friendly people, is also attracting more and more nature and mountain lovers as an alternative to Kashmir. Further east the areas of Garhwal and Uttarakhand, whence the holy waters of the Ganga and the Yamuna originate, are as inviting to the trekker looking for solitude as to the pilgrim in quest for serenity.
A new type of adventure also awaits you in the form of jeep safaris into newly opened areas and across some of the highest mountain passes in the world.
Ladakh – General Information
Accommodation in Ladakh
Leh offers a variety of accommodation to suit almost every pocket or preference. Most hotels and guesthouses are family run businesses and as such, services are more personalized than professional. The guesthouse is a less formal facility offering rooms in a part of a residential house or its annexe. The newly opened areas Nubra,Changthang and Dahanu-tourist infrastructure is not yet adequately developed. State tourism department are trying to develop the accommodation facilities like tourist bungalows or Hiker's Huts in these areas.
Our trips are equipped with all camping gears and supported by kitchen crews to prepare you the meal where accommodation facilities are not adequate or not available.
Money and Foreign Exchange
The State Bank of India has foreign currency exchange facilities at Leh. Some hotels in Leh also are licensed to deal foreign exchanges. But rates can be lower than you can have in Delhi.
Beside a General Post Office and a Central Telegraph Office, Leh has worldwide direct dial telephone facility. Some hotels also do have e-mail facilities to provide their clients.
Ladakh is a high altitude cold desert with a low level of atmospheric oxygen. Tourist reaching Leh from the plains of India by air are required to allow time for acclimatization before engaging in any physical activities. While SNM hospital in Leh is fully equipped and staffed with a team of specialists to take care of any eventuality, the rarefield atmosphere of the area may cause high altitude ailments necessating instant evacuation of visitors unable to get acclimatized.
Evacuation of Casualties
Jammu and Kahsmir Tourism initiates and co-ordinates evacuation of causalties by IAF helicopters in case of accidents or sickness while trekking, mountaineering or river rafting trips in remote Ladakh. The evacuation is subject to payment of the operatational cost of the aircraft. A written guarantee indicating the source of payment and address for billing,etc is required to be furnished to the authorized officer of the State Government while requesting for the evacuation.
Our company takes the responsibility on your behalf for all these formalities and you or your relatives or insurance company has to pay the bill after the operation..
Getting Ladakh and Away
The Route from Manali
Manali, a beautiful hill resort in Himanchal Pradesh of India is connected with Leh, the capital of Ladakh by road, which opens barely 3-4 snow-free months of the year starting from mid June to late September. Its two days bus or jeep ride, with a halt in Sarchu.
People taking a private trip also would like to halt in Jispa in order to gain acclimatization and explore the castles of Keylong.
The road is very much rugged and passes through valleys of Chandra River and Bhaga River are so barren as to be entirely without settled habitation. Right after leaving Manali, you will ride over the beautiful Rhotang Pass (13050 ft /3978m). Beyond Keylong, the road follows the Bhaga river up towards its source, passing through several villages. You will be challenged by another pass-Baralacha La (16,050 ft /4892m). This is at the crossing of Great Himalayas. Now the barren landscape becomes positively lunar, dusty plains covered with scattered boulders,stretch into the distance and only the occasional patch of pasture reminds the traveler of the existence of vegetation in the world. You will have to cross the Zanskar Ranges that involves two high passes, the Lungalacha-La (16060 ft/5059m) and the mighty Tanglang La (17469 ft/5325m). Once over Tanglang La, the descent to the Indus starts and soon the first village, Rumtse is passed. From Rupshi its all plain sailing.
The Routes from Kashmir
Travellers from Srinagar,the capital of Jammu and Kashmir state of India drive on this route by bus or jeeps taking two days and breaking journey at Kargil. It provides the best possible introduction to the land and its people. However, because of political tension in this region, tourists are recommended this route.
There are regular flights between Delhi and Leh by Indian Airlines and depending on tourist season by Jet Airways. This one hour long flight offers excellent views of the snow capped ranges, lakes and rivers.
Ladakh lies at altitude ranging from about 9000 ft (2750m) at Kargil to 25,170 ft (7672m) at Saser Kangri in the Karakoram. Thus the summer temperatures rarely exceed 27-degree celcius the shade, while in winter, the temperature may plummer to -20-degree celcius even in Leh. Surprisingly, though, the thin air makes the heat of the sun even more intense than at lower altitudes; it is said that only in Ladakh can a man sitting in the sun with his feet in the shade suffer from sunstroke and frostbite at the same time!
Best Season to Visit Ladakh
It starts snowing over the high passes from the end of September people expect it melt down by the end of June. So, the best season to travel to Ladakh is from end of June to late September. The monsoon clouds rarely make their way to Ladakh and hence it remains relatively dry.
The centuries-old culture of Ladakh has found expression in its monuments, monasteries, oral literature,arts, fairs and festivals. And in the time honored traditon of collective celebration,every occasion-marriage birth, harvesting or even the flowering of plants-is marked by feasting, dancing and the singing of folk songs that form a part of its living heritage.
Sikkim – General Information
Sikkim Entry Formalities
Along with the Indian visa, foreigners are required to obtain an inner line permit for Sikkim, which is valid for 15 days with a further extension available in Gangtok.
The permits are available at all Indian Missions, Consulates abroad and Sikkim Tourism Offices in Delhi, Calcutta, Siliguri and Gangtok.
Recently Sikkim has introduced issuing permits valid for 3 days at its’ border (Rangpo). While applying locally you must provide 2 passport size photographs and photocopies of the passport pages with the copy of valid visa. We advise you to obtain this before departing for India to avoid wasting valuable holiday time there.
However no special permits are required for traveling to Darjeeling and Kalimpong.
Sikkim-Getting there and away
Bagdogra airport of West Bengal has regular flight connections to and from Delhi, Calcutta or Guwahati. Darjeeling, Kalimpong or Gangtok are in 4-5 hours driving distance from Bagdogra.
If you want to enter Sikkim and Darjeeling region from Kathmandu, you can fly to Bhadrapur or Biratnagar airports and drive onwards to go to Darjeeling or Gangtok ( Capital of Sikkim). It takes 6 hours from Bhadrapur and 8 hours from Biratnagar to Darjeeling or Gangtok by surface.
New Jalpaiguri (NJP), 4 km away from the main city of Siliguri, has regular train connections from many parts of India.
The road in the region is fairly good, passing through very picturesque tea gardens, forests and hamlets. With flowers lending added charm. Jeeps or small coaches are provided on your tours. Both Darjeeling and Gangtok are in 5-6 hours driving distance from Kakarbhitta-the Nepalese border town.