Ladakh – The Land of Cold Desert is a dream destinations for most travellers and we are not an exception. However considering the cost involved and other reasons, we still kept that wish of ours buried deep inside our hearts. But suddenly, considering our growing ages, Avik was the first person to convince us to approach Ladakh now, as we might not be able to approach it soon once we are surrounded with other social or family needs.

It was around November and since then we started looking at various blogs and gathering informations. Avik was still busy serving his onsite tenure back then. Finally things started materialising once he returned during December. Unfortunately Dilip Da had to back out due to some critical family related issues. Although we tried all possible methods to convince him, but all went into vein. And thus, we were in search for a couple, who are budget tourists like us and shares the same mentality. Fortunately, due to this blogs of mine, I came across Ayan, whom I met once during one of my Photowalks, showed his interest.

Finally things started falling into places and we came up with a draft itinerary that could be followed. I started calling up few drivers to get an idea of the rates, which I gathered from various blogs. Surprisingly it seemed that we could easily fit it within our budget, roughly, that we had previously thought about – which is 60k per couple (i.e. 30k per head). After discussing various possible options, of when would be the best time to travel, we fixed our dates 28th July – 12th August. Although Avik emphasised, that we cut out one day from our tour, as it’d really be hectic to join office next morning right after returning for a 16 Day long trip.

Itinerary

28th July : Day 1 : Kolkata – Srinagar / Sonmarg
29th July : Day 2 : Srinagar / Sonmarg – Drass – Kargil / Lamayuru
30th July : Day 3 : Kargil / Lamayuru – Sham Valley Sightseeing – Alchi / Uleytokpo
31st July : Day 4 : Alchi / Uleytokpo – Dha and Hanu Villages – Leh
1st Aug : Day 5 : Leh Local Sight Seeing + Arrange Inner Line Permits
2nd Aug : Day 6 : Leh – Khardung La – Diskit (Nubra Valley) – Hunder / Diskit
3rd Aug : Day 7 : Hunder / Diskit – Turtuk – Hunder / Diskit
4th Aug : Day 8 : Hunder / Diskit – Agham – Wari La – Shakti – Chang La – Durbuk – Tangste – Pangong Tso / Nubra Valley – Agham – Shyok Village – Durbuk – Tangste – Pangong Tso
5th Aug : Day 9 : Buffer Day
6th Aug : Day 10 : Pangong Tso – Man – Merak – Kakstet – Chusul – Tsaga – Loma – Hanle
7th Aug : Day 11 : Hanle – Loma – Nyoma – Mahe – Sumdo – Tso Moriri (Karzok) / Hanle – Salsal La – Charchagan La – Tso Moriri (via Chummur)
8th Aug : Day 12 : Tso Moriri – Tso Kar – Moore Plains – Pang – Sarchu – Baralacha La – Darcha – Jispa
9th Aug : Day 13 : Jispa – Keylong – Rohtang Pass – Manali
10th Aug : Day 14 : Manali Sightseeing. Manali – Delhi (Evening Volvo)
11th Aug : Day 15 : Delhi – Kolkata

NOTE : (1) For Permits, you’d need to mention the exact name of all the places, and not only the destinations. Thus it’s very important to make a note of the possible routes too. (2) In case of Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri, you may see that I have used or sign (/) as there were two possible routes, and accordingly based on various parameters we had to opt for one.

Although August is considered as Monsoon, however Ladakh being rain shed region, we thought of giving it a go. The main idea was to travel during lean season, when tourist inflow would be low, so that we can bargain and get great deals on spot to stay well within our budget. This seemed to be the best possible time, considering we are not in mood to compromise much on the weather which would allow us to experience beautiful landscape of Ladakh.

Finally on 31st Jan 2018, we booked our flight tickets, fixed the vehicle (Rigzin) and transferred the advance. And then considering the long waiting period, we even stopped waiting for the D Day!! Later around 4th of March, we booked our Bus tickets for Manali – Delhi Volvo Service from Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC).

As the days started nearing by, our excitement level got boosted and a WhatsApp group was formed to keep track of all the discussions and ongoings about the trip. A week before the D Day, we payed a visit to Metro Cash & Carry. Our idea was to carry the breakfast and dry foods which can be consumed during the journey and as evening snacks, on our own, as far as possible to keep things within the budget. Although the visit to Metro Cash & Carry was more of a fun than simple shopping. It was more of a pre-trip meeting with lots of fun (or khilli as we say in Bengali).

Spending the remaining days were like counting each and every moment.

The Budget Trip To Ladakh Series :

Day 1 : Kolkata – Srinagar / Sonmarg :

Finally the D Day arrived!! Allow me to take a moment out to introduce you to our group, which consists of Me, My Wife – Suparna, Avik, His Wife – Sushmita, Ayan and His Wife – Moyitree (although I mostly call her by her pet name – Piu).

Our home being furthest from airport, we decided to stay off the night and watch some movie instead. As anyway, we’d have to get up by 2AM, as we had plans to leave by 3 O’ Clock in the morning. We had our flight to Delhi at 7:05 AM with 4 Hours layover at Delhi. Luckily, going against by my anticipation, we reached airport within 45 Minutes. Soon Avik, Sushmita, Ayan & Piu arrived gradually. Although Avik & Sushmita had a different flight which was earlier than that of mine and Ayan.

Me & Ayan went for a smoke before checking in our luggage. The security check in was smooth and quick and soon we were inside the deperture bay. It was nice experiencing the dawn, watching the flights take away, over a cup of coffee. Me & Ayan went for another smoke to kill the remaining time. Surprisingly, Ayan got a call, that our flight has been preponed, and we are the last one remaining. We were literally asked to rush to the gate in order to board the flight.

As we boarded the flight, people were looking at us like, we are some kind of aliens. Even though we were following the deperture board closely, we were not sure how the flight got preponed, and that too everyone was aware of the same except us. Anyway, glad that we didn’t missed the flight.

Next 2 hours, Me and Suparna went for a small nap, whereas Ayan and Piu constantly kept watching through the window. They being first timers, they were super excited regarding their first flying experience!!

Way to Srinagar

Soon we landed at Delhi, the capital of our country. Although I had been to Delhi earlier, twice, due to official reasons, however neither time I had a chance to explore the city. The first time in life we decided to have our breakfast at KFC!! Not because we couldn’t find other options, but because, one of my friend who had recently been to Ladakh, informed us that we’d have to survive on veg food post Leh. So we decided to cherish our love for chicken for as long as possible!!

Stumptous breakfast at KFC

In between, I got a call from Sushmita, reminding me that both of them are on prepaid mobile connection and won’t be able to contact us once they reach Srinagar. Glad that she called, else I completely forgot about the same. I asked them to wait at the Airport only, and keep an eye on the arrival board and meet us at the luggage bay.

Our deperture for Srinagar was from T2 terminal whereas we arrived at T1. After enquiring with the officials we came to know about free shuttle service for the passengers arriving on one terminal and have connecting flight departing from another one. Airpot Authority of India runs their own shuttle service for free between the terminals at Delhi. Other passengers too can use the service for a nominal ticket price. We, instead, were issued an free ticket after showing our respective boarding pass. It took us around 30 minutes to reach T2, which passes through T3 in between.

NOTE : Airport Authority of India (AAI) have their free shuttle service for passengers arriving at one terminal and having deperture from another terminal. While at airport ask for the same to any officials and they will be able to guide you.

Soon after reaching T2, we went ahead for security checkin, however this time I was stopped by the security officials, as I was carrying an L Key which belonged to my camera. According to the officials this was not allowed in hand baggage, so either I have to leave them out here or I can be allowed to go back and put it in checkin luggage. Definitely I couldn’t loose them to the security officials, so I went back again to put the same into checkin luggage.

Soon we were inside the departure bay. After some refreshments, we went ahead for a smoke. Again, surprisingly, we got a call from Indigo Officials, that we were the remaining ones to board the flight. Even we were shocked, right before few minutes, we were right on time. We still had an hour left, so we thought to reach the boarding gate well within 15 minutes. But now, we seemed to be the odd one out again. However this time, we were spared from that odd alien glance, as 2-3 more tourists were still left out!!

Flight at Delhi Airport

Finally we embarked on our journey towards our destination – Srinagar. We were very excited to fly to Kashmir!!

We had our hotel booked at Srinagar in advance. Before few weeks of beginning our journey, we decided to book hotels at Srinagar and Manali i.e. the first and last day of our journey, in order to avoid much hassles. As we thought, we’d anyway be tired and might lack such excitement to run for it. And these two being well known towns, had lots of deals at MakeMyTrip and Goibibo. Like this hotel of ours at Srinagar, we bagged in for Rs. 260/- per room!!

Although Avik suggested to move ahead to Sonamarg on the first day which would have two advantages over staying at Srinagar is (1) Sonamarg is more beautiful with green valleys overlooking the mountains, and (2) we’d be a bit ahead which would help us to reduce long journey on Day 2. However hotels at Sonamarg was out of our budget and we couldn’t find a single hotel within our budget and thus we grabbed the above offer of Rs. 260/- per room at Srinagar.

It took us around 30 minutes drive through Jannat (as Kashmir is commonly refferred) to our hotel. We noticed lots of schools throughout the way. Also the houses are beautifully decorated with flowers, so are the street lights. Well, co-incidentally, the name of our hotel too was Jannat Guest House. The owner, Mr. Bilal, is very friendly and welcoming. He showed us our rooms. Although the room is bit small, but what more can you ask for Rs. 260/-? If it’d have been fairly priced, the rooms are no less than Rs. 800/- – Rs 1200/-.

We took up our own sweet time to get freshen up and ran downstairs to a restaurant – Annapurna Bhojanalay, just beside the hotel for lunch. It was already 3:30 PM by then and we were hungry like hell. Although it was a complete veg restaurant, but we were so hungry that we were not in mood to go out and find something. Unfortunately, the food quality was not that good, but when you are hungry like hell, even bitter tastes better!!

Sun sets late in this part of the country and thus we still had a lot of daylight left, and thus we thought of exploring the town. Although we knew we couldn’t cover the sightseeing points, however our main wish was to visit Dal Lake. The owner have their own tour and travel business, so we negotiated hard for a Sikhara Ride which we could fit in our budget. This being low season, they didn’t had much option other than to agree with our rates finally.

The lake was just 10 minutes walk from the Hotel. Finally we embarked on the Shikara and the ride began!! Not all parts of the lake were beautiful, but yes we enjoyed the ride overall. We were shown some 10 points which comes over a Shikara Ride at Dal Lake. However the most annoying part was, every other minute, you’d be approached by the vendors and if you don’t buy anything they would pass on some comment. However let me give you a tip, considering the political situation at Kashmir, best is to avoid them if you are not interested, don’t even try to reply them back, as that would make the situation worse.

Dal Lake, Srinagar

Finally, you’ll be ridden through market where according to the tie-ups you’d be stopped at specific houseboats where you’ll be approached for buying authentic kashmiri garments. You can again either choose to ignore them or fall into the trap. Well it’s not a trap though, if you have an eye to determine the quality and talent to bargain it down to whatever you feel is the justified price. Me and Avik choosed to stay at the boat, whereas Ayan, Piu, Sushmita & Suparna went ahead to check things out. Piu bought a Salwar Suit for her, for which we mocked Ayan for a while!!

Well, the trick is, they would continuously request you to check out the things and that you won’t need to buy things if you don’t like them. And few would even boast about some talent they are born with. So you need to decide, either be friendly and fall into the trap or be sweet and avoid. However don’t be rude and hold your breath and keep patience!!

Finally, to keep our boatmen happy, we accepted the proposal of having Tea. He rode and parked the shikara near a houseboat. After enquiring possible options, we came across Kahwa, which is a local drink. It’s actually prepared by boiling saffron, cinnamon & cardamom. It is served with honey and crushed nuts, usually almonds or walnuts. I must say it was heavenly. Like something great we had in years. We were so pleased that each one of us ordered another.

Finally, after being dropped off, we took a stroll nearby, before proceeding towards our hotel. We noticed a lot of Dhabas and Restaurants nearby and was regretting our lunch at Annapurna Bhojanalay.

In between, we got a call from Rigzin (our driver), that Karim Ji would be coming to see our hotel. He’s the person who would drive us till Leh. Actually, Rigzin already informed us while booking, that there are various territorial restrictions in Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. So he cannot provide us pickups from Airport, for that we either have to contact our hotel or better opt for Pre-Paid Cabs at the Airport itself. Again, vehicles registered at Leh are not allowed to pickup tourists from Kashmir, thus the same would be completed by another vehicle which belongs from Kargil. Finally we collaborated with Karim Ji and he came up and spotted the hotel and informed us that he’d be here tomorrow by 6:30 AM.

Later at around 8:00 PM, we googled out few possible options for Dinner nearby and thought to explore. Although all the options we found didn’t matched our budget. And literally we were like going to a restaurant, checking out the menu and leaving. Although in Kolkata or in any major cities it’d be considered a shameful act, however here we were in tight budget and no way we could consider checking out menu as a shameful act!!

Most of them were getting bored, however Me and Sushmita kept looking through. The idea was to have kebabs, within as low as possible budget, without compromising on the quality. Just before people were about to leave, I found a restaurant where we could have our dinner. And I can guarantee that next 2 hours could have been translated into a comedy film. I’m not sure, whether Kashmiri’s are aware about food habits (or should I say intake capacity) of Bengali’s or not, but the waiters were shocked to see us kept ordering roti’s and kebabs. It was like they bring us 5 roti’s and a kebab and he couldn’t even sit for 2 min, we were ordering next.

I’m defiintely sure, they might have thought, these guys saw kebabs first time in their lifetime!! Although we decided to tip him well, for the hard working service he gave us!! Finally we returned to our hotel by 10:30 PM.

I’m not sure about the rumours and news that were being constantly shown regarding Kashmir. But I’m happy to say, we felt really safe and felt no issues. Although most of the locals there, were very sad to inform us that, most of the news that’s shown are most of them exaggerated. It’s not like everything is false, but definitely it’s exaggerated too much. Our families were more happy to know that we were safe. They were the first one to react negetively after knowing that we are visiting Kashmir.

After chit-chatting for a while, we decided to call off the day, as Karim Ji would have arrived by 6:30 AM.

Day 2 : Srinagar / Sonmarg – Drass – Kargil / Lamayuru :
We woke up by around 4:30 AM and got freshen up one by one. We were carrying Tea Bags, Sugar Cubes & Maggie for breakfast. We bought an electric kettle too for this of our purpose. Although we skipped preparing Maggie on the very first day and quickly made our arrangements for Tea & Biscuits. We were also carrying a whole bag with dry foods for snacks to munch on throughout our journey. So we fixed on a hand bag where we’d keep few cakes, biscuits, cashew nuts, dates etc. on a daily basis and will keep refurbishing the same. The cost of buying bottled mineral water on a 15 Day trip for 6 person can be huge. And thus we bought in Zeoline, a water purifier liquid which would allow us to refill the bottles whenever and wherever required. A drop of the same in 1 ltr. bottle is sufficient and make it safe for drinking.

Soon we got ready and our vehicle arrived. Finally we loaded our luggages and embarked on our journey through the beautiful meadows of Kashmir.

It took us around 2.5 Hours to reach Sonamarg. As previously said by Avik, Sonamarg is beautiful & picturesque. We halted at a Punjabi dhaba for stumpotous breakfast. We decided to make it stumptous as from next day, we’d be having Maggie that we bought!!

Soon we embarked on our way to Drass. We stopped here and there in between for a smoke & refreshment. And finally we reached Zozila Pass by around 10:30 AM. We were warned by the driver to hurry up, as he noticed an Army Convoy coming up from the other side. Considering the condition of the road, we were warned that if any vehicle gets stuck in between, we’d also be stuck with them which would hamper our plan for the day. And unfortunately the same happened.

After loosing around 30 minutes, finally we started again. The journey was becoming strenuous due to the heat which was like 30 deg C – 35 deg C. It took us 2 days to understand few things –

  • Ladakh is a land of Cold Desert, and thus during the day, it too hot. Unlike Kolkata, the humidity is very low, thus you won’t be sweating, but the heat feels like burning a hole on your skin.
  • However the nights are cold and depending on the region nights can be really chilly.
  • Most importantly, whatever it be, whether starts changing post 4:30 PM – 5:00 PM, and one shouldn’t be without a basic winter garments like pull over / windcheaters / thermals etc. As that’s the time when the weather changes and if you are not protected / covered, it easily affects you. Believe me, we are the sufferers.
  • In this part of the country, sun sets late, during 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM. However don’t be misguided that sun rise late too. Unfortunately that’s not the case and thus you get a lot of daylight to travel and explore.

Well finally by around 12:30 PM, we reached Kargil War Memorial. One needs to register with Aadhaar Card number. A common practise throughout the region that I noticed, is that, Aadhaar Card is preffered for the permits and registring at Army Camps. Although they do accept other ID Cards like Voter ID Card, however Aadhaar Number is given more preference. First we were asked to visit a hall where they were showing a documentary about the lives the brave hearts lost to keep us safe and sound. I must say, the documentary was really emotional and a matter of pride in the same time. It brought tears to our eyes. It’s always a proud feeling to see a person in uniform. A feeling of respect by default appears within your heart.

Kargil War Memorial

P.C. Avik Manna

After spending for around an hour there, we started for Kargil and reached within 1.5 hours. First thing we did is hopped over a restaurant for lunch. It was already 3:00 PM in the afternoon and by then and we were really hungry. Unfortunately we couldn’t find any good option for Non-Veg within our budget, and thus we decided to settle in for a Veg Restaurant instead.

It was already 4 PM and after several discussions between Me, Rigzin and Karim Ji, we decided to stay at Kargil instead. As proceeding further would not be possible with the remaining daylight. Well that’s a flexibility you can have if you keep your plan flexible and don’t come with your hotels booked. Based on your liking of a place, you can extend or reduce the number of days to stay and all.

While booking with Rigzin, we already informed him that, we’d need his help in order to find hotels within our budget. Accordingly, he recommended few hotels to me and Karim Ji. Finally, after bargaining hard, we settled in at Hotel Suru View. As the name denotes, it offers a view of River Suru flowing in it’s full fledged flow from the balcony. The rooms were really spacious and nice. We opted for 2 rooms, for boys and girls respectively.

Later after discussing with Karim Ji, we settled in to take us to LOC. It was a great drive through the beautiful landscape of Kargil. One can rent Binoculars for Rs. 30/- per person to check out the Indian and Pakistani Bunkers. Although the border and POK is visible through bare eyes. Unfortunately, consdiring the significance of such place, it’s not allowed to click any pictures there, and thus I won’t be able to produce any views of the place. You need to personally make it there to experience the same with your eyes.

Kargil

After spending some time there, and having Kahwa (which was not as good as we had in Dal Lake), we returned to our hotel. Later Avik went for a power nap, girls started chat-chatting amongst themselves whereas Me & Ayan went out for a small walk along the village.

Later, we decided to have our dinner at in-house restaurant and the food was quite good. It seemed like, luck is not favouring us during Lunch, as both the days we had to survive with whatever is available and however it be, whereas, Dinner is always being great!! Later we spend more than an hour, chit-chatting amongst ourselves beside the River Suru which is accessible from hotel compound, till the staffs called us, as they would be shutting down the gates.

Even though after that, we went ahead to the balcony and kept enjoying amongst ourselves till 11:30 or so. Later we hit the bed and called off the day.

The Budget Trip To Ladakh Series :

Important Points To Stay Safe :

  1. In Jammu & Kashmir, only postpaid connection works. So get yourself a postpaid connection before hailing to Kashmir. Also throughout most part of Ladakh, BSNL is known to work best and then Airtel.
  2. Even with BSNL, you would be out of network at most regions. So inform your family beforehand about the situation. Although at places, you’d get local options to call your home and inform. Most hotels offers that service for free or for a premium for their guests. In case it’s free, use it wisely and make room for next one. Your amazing travel stories can wait.
  3. Ladakh is a land of Cold Desert, and thus during the day, it too hot. Unlike Kolkata, the humidity is very low, thus you won’t be sweating, but the heat feels like burning a hole on your skin. Use Sunscreen, Body Lotions, Lip Balms etc. daily.
  4. However the nights are cold and depending on the region nights can be really chilly.
  5. Most importantly, whatever it be, whether starts changing post 4:30 PM – 5:00 PM, and one shouldn’t be without a basic winter garments like pull over / windcheaters / thermals etc. As that’s the time when the weather changes and if you are not protected / covered, it easily affects you. Believe me, we are the sufferers.
  6. In this part of the country, sun sets late, during 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM. However don’t be misguided that sun rise late too. Unfortunately that’s not the case and thus you get a lot of daylight to travel and explore.
  7. Most regions in Ladakh is situated at very high altitude and thus Acclimatization should be given top priority if you really want to enjoy Ladakh and stay safe.
  8. Ladakh can be approached in various ways – (1) Starting from Srinagar i.e. travelling through Srinagar – Leh Highway, (2) Flying to Leh, (3) Starting from Manali i.e. travelling through Manali – Leh highway. Considering the Acclimatization, the options are given in order i.e. 1 is best, second best is 2 and worst option is 3.
  9. Unless you are travelling with very less number of days in hand, I’d always recommend Option 1 i.e. travelling through Srinagar – Leh Highway
  10. Well Ladakh is known for harsh weather i.e. too hot during the day and too cold during the night. Also the thin level of oxygen plays an important role for your dissatisfaction. Unless you are acclimatizing properly, it’s really hard to enjoy the trip. Instead you’d always think of going back. During first few days, we felt same. But when we had a first glimpse of Pangong Tso, everything changed!!
  11. There are lots of guides available in internet regarding AMS. So I’ll refrain from writing a story about the same again. In short, AMS depends and varies from person to person depending on their health, age and various other factors. However below are few important and helpful tips which would help you enjoy Ladakh safely.
  12. Never rush it. Better do it some other time with more number of days in hand and properly acclimatize at every 3000 ft gain. Although you don’t need to follow this rule hard and fast, however don’t change altitudes everyday. The idea is to acclimatize every other day with every possible altitude gain.
  13. Don’t compete. Don’t be a superhero / superheroine. Well as I said, every person is different. So is their health. So don’t compete and take your own sweet time and instead enjoy the beautiful landscape.
  14. While at high altitude, you’d feel exhausted even by going to toilet or loo. It happens because of the thin layer in oxygen. Steady and Slow wins the race. Don’t walk faster or run as you’d do in your hometown. Keep it slow.
  15. Communication is a key point. Never feel ashamed and hide it when you are having issues. AMS can strike anyone. Thus if you are having any kind of problem, communicate with your Team Members. May be you are affected with low level however if not communicated and treated in time it can turn into severe. And in that case everyone have to leave and descend.
  16. At all points you’ll come across Army Hospitals / Base Camps which can come to your rescue in case things turns worse. So there’s nothing to fear.
  17. Keep AMS Medications handy like Coca 30 / Coca 6X / Diamox. We started taking Coca 6X twice daily (5-6 drops) from Kargil onwards. Remember these medicines prepares you for the high altitude, i.e. these are considered as preventive medicine. Once AMS had striked, these might not come to resue depending on the condition. Don’t be a doctor yourself, instead in case of any issues contact the locals and go to Army Hospital / Base Camp nearby.
  18. Drink lots of water. Yes hell lot of water i.e. 3-4 lts. minimum per day. This is very important to keep yourself safe. If possible mix ORS to it, which is even better. We carried 2 packet ORS per person per day.
  19. You might be a foodie. But to stay safe the myntra is to eat light. Avoid spicy foods and avoid over eating. Infact eat a bit less than what you generally eat. When your body is getting low oxygen, most of it is driven to your brain to function properly and thus indigestion is a common issue if you are eating heavily.
  20. Very importantly, avoid Smoking, drinking Coffee (or any kind of Caffine) and Alcohol. This single point will keep you fit and fine. People have even died due to drinking alcohol. You might not face issues while drinking alcohol, however your body might get collapsed after you sleep. This has happened to a lot of people already. You might notice foreigners drinking and smoking, however again as I said don’t compete. Their upbringing and yours might not be same.
  21. Most importantly, be positive. Yes there’s no medication or nothing than being positive and believing in yourself.
  22. Last but not the least, your god’s sake keep your plan flexible and don’t be a stubborn to stick to an specific itinerary even if your health is not permitting it. You are the best person to know if your health is permitting or not. And if not, descend. Because, if you don’t, it can be a life risk and a lot more risk for other team members. And Ladakh is not a top priority than your life.

Reviews :
Jannat Guest House, Srinagar : We booked this hotel from MakeMyTrip for Rs. 781/- for 3 rooms. The property, rooms and the washrooms where quite clean and well maintained. The rooms were a bit small although, what more can you ask on that budget? The rooms were made of wooden structure and were quite warm and comfortable. The owner Mr. Bilal, is a very warm, welcoming and nice person. They have their inhouse Travel Business named Shawl Tour & Travels. They also have family run ethnic gift shop where you can get authentic hand woven clothes, bags etc. The Dal Lake is just 10 minutes walk from the hotel.

They don’t have any in-house restaurant, however there’s a restaurant just beside the hotel – Annapurna Bhojanalay. Although we didn’t liked the food much, however it served the purpose, as we were very hungry. Instead I’d suggest to look at the Dhaba’s and Restaurant’s nearby.

Jannat Guest House, Srinagar

Jannat Guest House, Srinagar

Jannat Guest House - Room, Srinagar

Jannat Guest House - Washroom, Srinagar

Hotel Suru View, Kargil : Well, we reached here based on recommendation by Rigzin and found it to be quite warm and comfortable. We just loved the view of Suru River from the balcony. Infact I’d say we got best possible option. The whole property, rooms and washrooms were very clean and well maintained. The rooms were quite spacious too. The staffs were really well behaved. Infact one can enjoy the tranquility of Kargil listening to the flow of River Suru.

Hotel Suru View - Room, Kargil

Hotel Suru View - Washroom, Kargil

Costing :

Jannat Guest House, Srinagar : Rs. 781/- (3 x Double Bed Room)
Shikara at Dal Lake : 1100/-
Hotel Suru View, Kargil : 2400 (2 x Double Bed Room + 2 Extra Mat)

We were travelling with flexible plan and had a budget of Rs. 60k per couple + Rs. 10k as buffer (i.e. Total 70k with Buffer per Couple) which we were carrying in cash accordingly, excluding Flights & Manali – Delhi Volvo Bus which we booked in advance. Finally we made it within Rs. 70k per couple for the whole tour Kolkata to Kolkata including the Fights and Manali Delhi Volvo Bus. That means we made it within 54k per couple excluding the flights and Manali – Delhi Volvo Bus.

CCU – DEL – SXR : 7334/- (For Me & Suparna)
Manali – Delhi HPTDC Volvo Bus : 2840/- (For Me & Suparna)
DEL – CCU : 5126/- (For Me & Suparna)
Vehicle : 64000/- (For the whole tour)

NOTE : I have omitted the costs of personal in nature and meals to keep things simple but informative.

Contacts :

Mr. Bilal, Jannat Guest House, Srinagar : +91-94190-03743. You may check their website at Shawl Tours & Travels.

Mr. Iftikhar, Hotel Suru View, Kargil : +91-84910-88563 / +91-1985-232128 / +91-94697-30678

Mr. Mehraj (Driver, Pickup from Airport – Hotel) : +91-99064-52409. He drives a black Innova with registration number JK 01V 4961.

Mr. Karim (Driver, Srinagar – Kargil, arranged by Rigzin) : +91-94198-43494. He drives a red Xylo with registration number JK 07 3336. He’s very friendly and co-operating.

Mr. Ibrahim (Driver cum Co-Ordinator, Srinagar – Kargil Route) : +91-94695-30951 / +91-84928-12250

Mr. Rigzin (Driver, The single point of contact, The Showstopper) : +91-96229-54779 / +91-94694-72772

The Budget Trip To Ladakh Series :