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Christopher Wheeler | profile | all galleries >> Rahil Aggarwal-Wheeler >> 2011 >> June 2011 >> Road Trip from Srinagar to Leh (28 May 2011 - 3 June 2011) tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Road Trip from Srinagar to Leh (28 May 2011 - 3 June 2011)

On 28 May 2011, Rahil commenced a road journey that took him from Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir to Leh, a distance of about 450 kms. He was accompanied by his and five other families, totalling eleven kids.

Day One (May 28th) began with his first shakira (water taxi) ride to a houseboat, the Royal Palace, on Dal Lake in Srinagar. Highlights included meeting his friends, hunting for non-existent tadpoles, a group lunch at the magnificent Grand Palace Hotel, and glimpsing fleeting views of fish, which he tried vainly to catch in an old water bottle. During the afternoon Nazir took all the kids for a ride ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnz4zEaFs3M).

Day Two (May 29th) commenced with a morning tour of Srinagar's Old Town, with its numerous bridges crossing the Jhelum River, its Sunday market, and its wide variety of masjids. To see what it's like to ride with a Nut Driver, watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eCdsEX8D0I. To see what appeared to be a respectful namaz morph into some gymnastics at the Jamia Masjid, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOSVxEVtLpA. After lunch, the group assembled and caravaned to Kollum, a small village about fifteen kms west of Sonamarg, where Rahil spent his first night ever in a tent safe and warm and comfortable. At the camp Rahil and many of the other kids inspected the raging Sindh River, played games, ran crazily, and endlessly chased an obliging hen. In the evening the group celebrated Imran's fifth birthday.

The entirety of Day Three (May 30th) was spent in Kollum. There was much chicken-chasing -- and catching -- as you'll see below. The group took a long walk (adults) and pony ride (kids) along the river and toured Katherine and Nazir's latest project, a luxurious, nearly-complete hotel. Some went fishing. (Click here to see Rahil fly fish for the first time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18wRAkBXP_k). Rahil made a ball disappear, at least according to him ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98X1P9pbcrw). At night the kids toasted marshmallows while the adults enjoyed wonderfully clear skies and an iPad app that helped them stargaze.

On Day Four (May 31st), Rahil's fifth birthday, the road trip began in earnest, but was quickly stymied in Sonamarg by a travel restriction that forbade vehicles from heading east until 11 am. Rahil and his friends made the most of the two-hour delay mostly by overturning thousands of rocks looking for (and finding) small lizards. At 10:57 am, traffic chaos ensued as several hundred cars, buses, minivans, trucks, and tankers jockeyed to leave through a small gate ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdtNH1N6Cag). Fortunately, Nazir had arranged for us to be near the front, but his foresight came to little because all several hundred vehicles quickly ground to a halt by road repairs on the treacherous approach to Zoji-la, an infamous pass dividing relatively lush Kashmir from the dry, arid desert plateau of Ladakh. Click here to get a sense of what the ascent was like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkr6ResGEVE. After another two-hour delay, our group, along with all other several hundred vehicles, reached Drass ("the second coldest inhabited place in the world") at exactly the same time, making finding a simple plate of dal and rice difficult. After a brief lunch break, the group sped on through Kargil, reaching the camp at Mulbek after dark. After dinner everyone celebrated Rahil's birthday.

Day Five (June 1st) began with Rahil splitting off from the main group so that he could accompany his Mom to Achinathang, the village where she did here fieldwork twenty years ago. After paying respects, Rahil carried on to Uletokpo (misspelled as "Uletopo" by the road sign painters), with its snug cabins and hot water. The team hiked down to the nearby Indus before dinner, resolving to return the following day en masse.

On Day Six (June 2nd), much of the group descended to a pristine and relatively large beach below the camp. Kids explored nooks and crannies, built sand canals, and waded. Parents simply relaxed. After lunch, we all departed for Leh, being forced to abandon plans to visit Alchi due to extortionate new taxi union rules.

Day Seven (June 3rd) marked the group's first full day in Leh. The group visited Tikse Monastery and fed fish at the Shey Holy Fish Pond ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HrhPdBAnWE). Rahil reunited with old friends, sought out as many animals as he could, and went to Shanti Stupa, which overlooks the town, for the sunset ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEETxYrUPSs).

On Day Eight (June 4th), Rahil joined everyone for lunch, following which much of the group visited LAMO, the Ladakh Arts and Media Organization ( http://lamo.org.in/). Rahil later trekked round town while his Dad rounded up several bottles of Gulbaden apple juice, a delicacy. In the evening, Rahil accompanied Tashi to toss rocks in the Indus at sunset.

Most of the group flew back to Delhi on Sunday, June 5th. To see what it's like to take off from one of the world's highest airports, with mountains both creepily close on both sides and above you as you ascend, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUCQcXBfCMk.

Thanks to all for such a wonderful trip!
Shikara ride on Dal Lake, Srinagar
Shikara ride on Dal Lake, Srinagar
Royal Star Houseboat, Srinagar 29 (May 20110
Royal Star Houseboat, Srinagar 29 (May 20110
Rahil, Imran, and Katherine in a shakira
Rahil, Imran, and Katherine in a shakira
Cancerous?
"Cancerous"?
Nazir hosting the kids on a ride
Nazir hosting the kids on a ride
Rahil running on a Dal Lake island
Rahil running on a Dal Lake island
Oliver, after accidentally falling into Dal Lake
Oliver, after accidentally falling into Dal Lake
Rahil sulking for reasons already forgotten
Rahil sulking for reasons already forgotten
Ian and Meiling
Ian and Meiling
Isabella after falling into a fountain
Isabella after falling into a fountain
Dal Lake sunset
Dal Lake sunset
Jamia Masjid, Srinagar
Jamia Masjid, Srinagar
Jhelum River, Srinagar (29 May 2011)
Jhelum River, Srinagar (29 May 2011)
Visitors are requested not to enter the shrine if naked
Visitors are requested not to enter the shrine if naked
The tolerant Jamia Masjid, Srinagar
The tolerant Jamia Masjid, Srinagar
Rahil in front of the Jamia Masjid's library
Rahil in front of the Jamia Masjid's library
Inside one of Srinagar's masjids
Inside one of Srinagar's masjids
A masjid window
A masjid window
Rahil in a Srinagar Masjid  (29 May 2011)
Rahil in a Srinagar Masjid (29 May 2011)
Last shakira ride
Last shakira ride
Day Two:  The group about to depart Srinagar
Day Two: The group about to depart Srinagar
Tea after reaching Kollum (29 May 2011)
Tea after reaching Kollum (29 May 2011)
Isabella and James
Isabella and James
Isabella and the hen
Isabella and the hen
Rahil and the patient hen
Rahil and the patient hen
Sophie and Imran and the hen
Sophie and Imran and the hen
Darragh and three Kollum locals
Darragh and three Kollum locals
Lizalou learning to walk
Lizalou learning to walk
Oliver and friend playing a group game
Oliver and friend playing a group game
Darragh and Rahil
Darragh and Rahil
Isabella preparing for a pony ride
Isabella preparing for a pony ride
Chicken hiding?
Chicken hiding?
Sindh River at Kollum (30 May 2011)
Sindh River at Kollum (30 May 2011)
Rahil's first time fly fishing
Rahil's first time fly fishing
Darragh along the Sindh in Kollum.
Darragh along the Sindh in Kollum.
Kara
Kara
Bucket o' chicken
Bucket o' chicken
Race!
Race!
Fly fishers
Fly fishers
Imran, Darragh, and Rahil in Kollum
Imran, Darragh, and Rahil in Kollum
Rahil proudly carrying the hen
Rahil proudly carrying the hen
Day Three begins with The Battle of the Car Seat
Day Three begins with The Battle of the Car Seat
Sonamarg Waiting area (31 May 2011)
Sonamarg Waiting area (31 May 2011)
Lizard while waiting at Sonamarg
Lizard while waiting at Sonamarg
Work like a coolie live like a coolie!
Work like a coolie live like a coolie!
Perhaps not quite so super fast
Perhaps not quite so super fast
Sindh River 4 km west of Sonamarg (30 May 2011)
Sindh River 4 km west of Sonamarg (30 May 2011)
King Rooster
King Rooster
Trucks awaiting 11 a.m. departure from Sonamarg(31 May 2011)
Trucks awaiting 11 a.m. departure from Sonamarg(31 May 2011)
The mad dash to leave Sonamarg
The mad dash to leave Sonamarg
Lunchtime in Drass
Lunchtime in Drass
Late afternoon:  Kargil
Late afternoon: Kargil
Mulbeck Camp (31 May 2011)
Mulbeck Camp (31 May 2011)
Day Four:  Mulbeck Chambha (1 June 2011)
Day Four: Mulbeck Chambha (1 June 2011)
Rahil's first time on a cow.  With Master Jaffar Khan, in Achinathang
Rahil's first time on a cow. With Master Jaffar Khan, in Achinathang
Chiktan Palace
Chiktan Palace
Achinathang prayer wheels
Achinathang prayer wheels
Misspelled Uletokpo road sign
Misspelled Uletokpo road sign
Uletokpo cabin
Uletokpo cabin
Kara, Rahil, Darragh, and Sophie skipping down to the beach
Kara, Rahil, Darragh, and Sophie skipping down to the beach
Rahil and Dad clowing around
Rahil and Dad clowing around
Day Five:  The group at an Indus River beach in Uletokpo (1 June 2011)
Day Five: The group at an Indus River beach in Uletokpo (1 June 2011)
Imran and Sophie in the Indus at Uletokpo
Imran and Sophie in the Indus at Uletokpo
Uletokpo
Uletokpo
Darragh
Darragh
Lulu
Lulu
King Ian
King Ian
Rahil at the Uletokpo Indus River beach (1 June 2011)
Rahil at the Uletokpo Indus River beach (1 June 2011)
Day Six:  On to Leh.  Namikala Pass, 12,198' (1 June 2011)
Day Six: On to Leh. Namikala Pass, 12,198' (1 June 2011)
Confluence of the Indus and Zanskar Rivers (3 June 2011)
Confluence of the Indus and Zanskar Rivers (3 June 2011)
Day Seven:  Leh.  View from Shanti Stupa (3 June 2011)
Day Seven: Leh. View from Shanti Stupa (3 June 2011)
Tikse Monastary Courtyard (3 June 2011)
Tikse Monastary Courtyard (3 June 2011)
Rahil at Tikse
Rahil at Tikse
Maya, Kara, and Sophie at Tikse
Maya, Kara, and Sophie at Tikse
Room with a view at Tikse
Room with a view at Tikse
Rahil at Tikse (3 June 2011)
Rahil at Tikse (3 June 2011)
Rahil and Imran at Tikse
Rahil and Imran at Tikse
Rahil at the rock carvings near the Shey fish pond
Rahil at the rock carvings near the Shey fish pond
Ditto
Ditto
Katie
Katie
Old Leh (3 June 2011)
Old Leh (3 June 2011)
Darragh sporting a bandaid after a tumble in Leh
Darragh sporting a bandaid after a tumble in Leh
Lizalou
Lizalou
Some of the kids perform an impromtu play at LAMO
Some of the kids perform an impromtu play at LAMO
Leaping
Leaping
Gaining karma
Gaining karma
Maya
Maya
Asha, Sophie, Maya, and Kara, with a yak head
Asha, Sophie, Maya, and Kara, with a yak head
Rahil and Darragh make up after a fight
Rahil and Darragh make up after a fight
Bookworm
Bookworm
Watching the dzos go by
Watching the dzos go by
Large prayer wheel in Leh
Large prayer wheel in Leh
Visiting the Indus with Tashi
Visiting the Indus with Tashi
Cheers!
Cheers!