Madhu Latha
Incredible India ; A diverse India ; Versatile India ; Enigmatic India ; Intoxicating India ; Spiritual India

India has been called many names by those who see it. India appears as such to each as those who see it that way. Come take a look at my India through my eyes...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


A one street settlement of Sonamarg occupies a delightful mountain valley setting, but in July and August its poorly maintained hotels ratchet up their prices.

Sights and Activities
Pony riding to the Thajiwas Glacier
Piligrims heading to Amarnath depart from Baltal Camp

Where you can stay
J&KTDC Tourist Bungalows Ph: 0194/2417215
Hotel Glacier Heights Ph:0194/2417215

How to get there
Buses to Srinagar


A wild, wind-scoured cluster of low-rise Ladakhi houses is the first Buddhist village you encounter on your way from Kargil to Zanskar. To the west the mountains Nun and Kun rise spectacularly white-capped. And eastwards the horizon is an arid pastiche of oddly contorted strata fronted by the dot of Rangdum Gompa.

About 1km after Pensi La, the rugged pass that divides the Suru and Zanskar valleys, there are spectacular views down onto the long, glistening white Drang Drung glacier. Further down, the Zanskar Valley broadens with several small villages in grassy parcels of farmland hemmed by sheer mountain walls. Phey has a small gompa and homestay. At Sani, Zanskar's oldest Gompa is a small two storey prayer hall ringed by a tunnelled cloister and a whitewashed stone wall studded with stupas.

Where you can Stay
Zanskar Express Guesthouse
J&K Tourism Bunglow
Nun-Kun Delux Camp

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


In the piligrim season of June to August this quaint town is packed with Amarnath Yatri, but in early September it makes a fine spot for gentle walks or pony treks.

Sights to see
The Baisarn and Dhabyan Viewpoints
Tulyan Lake
Mamleshwar Temple

Things you can do
Jawahar Institute Ph:243129 organises fair value multiday treks, skiing, white-water rafting by Highland Excursions Ph: 01942488061

Monday, February 25, 2013


The dusty little capital of Zanskar with an awesome mountain backdrop. This cosy little town has everything you need in a crossroads.

The tourist office Ph:01983/245017

Sights to see

The crumbling 'Old Town', where we find large stupas.
To the north a more traditional village of Pibiting has a small gompa dwarfed by a large hilltop stupa topped with a becon lamp.

Around Padum
Karsha gompa - zanskar's largest Buddhist monastry, which dates back to atleast the 10th century. It's a jumble of whitewashed blocks rising almost vertically up the red rock of a mountain cliff. Concrete steps lead to the upper colister and prayer hall with cracked old murals and wobbly wooden columns. French charity Solidarijeune ( helps with it's upkeep.

Zangla & stongde - A drive to Zangla makes a fine excursion from Padum. The highlight of the trip is Stongde Gompa crowning a bird's-eye perch 300m above the valley, 12km from Padum. the entrance to Zangla is guarded by a small hilltop fortress ruin.

Raru & Bardan - Trekking between Zanskar and Darcha generally starts from Raru. The route from Padum passes the Bardan Gompa sitting spectacularly above the valley on a rocky outcrop.

Things you can do

Where you can stay
Phukthar Guesthouse Ph:01983/245226
Hotel Ibex Ph:01983/245214
Gakyi Hotel

Getting there and away
The buses are unpredictable to this place. Jeeps and Taxis are also available

Sunday, February 24, 2013


Kargil made infamous for the Kargil war that took place here claiming many brave soldiers lives on either side. This sleepy little town of Kargil can be summarized merely as a change of transport between Leh and Srinagar. Everything travellers might need is conveniently found within three short blocks of the bustling Main bazaar, with its PCOs and Internet Cafes. The bus and taxi stand is 100m towards the river, past the useful State Bank of India ATM.

Tucked behind the busstand is the Tourist Reception Center Ph:01985/232721.

Where you can stay
J&KTDC Tourist Bungalow Ph:01985/232328
Hotel Siachen Ph:01985/232221

Where you can eat
Numerous simple dhabas line in the Main Bazaar.

Getting there and away
Buses from Leh depart at 4:30 a.m. Jeeps and taxis are also an option.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Drass Valley

Drass Valley is as close as you can get to the Line of control. In 2005 meterologists have recorded a temperature of -60 degrees centigrade making it the second coldest place in the world. tourists stop to visit the various battlefields of 1999 Indo-Pak war.

There are a few dhabas here but it is better not to stay for too long.

Friday, February 22, 2013


Srinagar, with its glassy lake and colorful houseboats with its delightfully mild summer climate makes it India's top most tourist attraction. But visiting Srinagar without throughly checking the latest security situation is foolhardy.

Sights to see
Dal Lake
Parks and Gardens
Nishat Bagh
Pari Mahal
Cheshmashahi Garden
Botanical Garden
Tulip Garden
Old City
Khanqah of Shah-i-Hamadan
Jama Masjid
Pir Dastgir Sahib
Naqshband Sahib
Hari Parbat
Sri Pratap Singh Museum
Shankaracharya Hill
Around Srinagar
Gulmarg - India's famous ski-center
Srinagar to Kargil is a truely beautiful 200km drive takes you from Kashmir's very alpine valleys over the remarkable double loops of the 3529m zoji La.

What you can do
Organised Tours

Where you can stay
Houseboats - Houseboat Owners Association Ph:0194/2450326
Or you can always stay in a hotel
Humza Hotel Ph:0194/2500857;
Hotel Akbar Ph:0194/2500507;
Residency Hotel Ph:0194/22473702;
Lalit Grand Palace Ph:0194/2501001;
Where you can eat
Punjabi Rasoi (veg) Boulevard
Mughal Durbar (veg) Residency Rd
Lhasa Restaurent (veg & non-veg) Boulevard Lane 2
Coffee Arabica (coffee and cupcakes) MA Rd

Getting there and back
Indian airlines Ph:0194/2450247; Shahenshah Palace Hotel
Jet Airways Ph:0194/2480801; Court rd
Jetlite Ph:0194/2106750;

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Suru Valley

The main road tto Zanskar winds prettily threough the fertile valley of Suru Valley, where many rustic stone built villages sit beneath a panorama of high valley walls and mountains that reach a thrilling climax with amazing views of Nun and Kun. Perhaps the best panorama is approaching Panikhar. A steep but satisfying day trek crosses from the Panikhar bypass road over the 3900m Lago La then descends to Parkachik, from where a bus returns to Kargil at 7 am. Just beyond the Parkachik a large dust blackened glacier crumbles into the Suru River as the road starts to wind up to the splendid Pensi La.

Where you can stay
J&K Bunglows

Getting there and away
Busses from Kargil to Panikar and busses from Parkachik towards Zanskar can deliver you to this place.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Across the gently terraced Wakha Valley, the Zanskar Mountains rise with majesty in a series of angular cliffs and craggs. Gazing the scenic valley from the top of Mulbekh's medieval castle site of which only the two mudbricked towers remain which house two buddhist Gompas.

To see
Serdung Gompa
Gandentse Gompa
Chamba Gompa
Shargol Gompa

where you can stay
Karzoo Guesthouse Ph:01985/270027
Otosnang Guesthouse Ph:01985/270028
Maitreya Guesthouse Ph:01985/270035

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Visiting Jammu - City of Temples

Founded in 1730, Jammu and Kashmir's winter capital is still the major halt  for piligrims enroute to Vaishno Devi temple. It was the seat of power of the Dogra Rajas. Jammu lies on the bank of river Tawi. On the northern bank, climbling steadily from the bus station through narrow bazaar lanes to the Mubarak Mandi. While the train station the airport are on the southern bank.

Sights to see
NOTE: Bags, cameras, mobile phones and even pens might need to be deposited with security guards before visiting any of the main sites.

On the Northern Bank of Tawi
Raghunath Mandi
Ranbireshwar Mandir
Gupawala Mandir
Mubarak Mandi
Amar Mahal Palace

On the Southern Bank of Tawi
Bahu Fort
Har-ki-Paori Mandir
Mahamaya Mandir

Across Jammu Srinagar Route
Vaishno Devi shrine on a multishrouded  mountain of Tikri
Waterfalls of Udhampur
Kud and Panitop woods
Paragliding in Sanasar
Baglihar Dam
Jawaharlal Tunnel
The Titanic Viewpoint across the Kashmir Valley

Where you can stay
Vaishnavi Dham Ph:0191/2473275;
Fortune Hotel Ph:0191/2561415;
Hari Niwas Palace Hotel Ph:0191/2543303;
Where you can eat
Jewels's Fastfood (veg & non-veg burgers, dosas, thalis)
Falak (Indian food) KC Residency Hotel, Residency Rd.
Cafe Coffe Day (veg & non-veg)

Getting there and Back
Airlines :
Indian Airlines Ph:0191/2456086 - J&K Tourism Complex;
Jet Airways Ph:0191/2574312 - KC Residency Hotel
Trains are available from Delhi, Amritsar, Indore, Agra, Kolkatta, Varanasi.
Buses are available from major cities as well.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Jammu and Kashmir - Paradise Lost

This land has been called a paradise on earth by many who travelled here. The serene landscapes, the snow capped mountains, the fertile valleies blooming in the youth of spring, truely make us feel that Gods too came down to roam these lands. The people here are humble and modest and quiet friendly. But there has been trouble in paradise for many years. The dispute of border with the neighbouring country has caused quiet an unrest in these areas and scarred the beauty of this land. Jammu and Kashmir is suffering under territorial disputes since the independence of India and three major wars have been fought while countless minor disputes erupted since then.

The known history of Jammu and Kashmir dates back to the post Ice age that is when they say the 140 km valley of Kashmir which was a lake back then was drained by an earthquake. In 3rd Century BC Emperor Ashoka transformed this Hindu kingdom to a major Buddist learning Center. Islam arrived into this region in the 13th and 14th century AD. 

The population of southern Kashmir is mainly Hindu and Sikh and its are visited by floods of piligrims. Zanskar is famed for its splendid isolation, the greatest attraction of this majestically mountain-hemmed, rugged Ladakhi-Buddhist valley is the week-long trek in or out. Indeed, when snow blocks Zanskar's one precarious road from Kargil, the only access is on foot along the frozen Zanskar River. Be prepared for cold nights even in summer.

The population of southern Kashmir is mainly Hindu and Sikh and its are visited by floods of piligrims.

FactsPopulation 10.1 million
Area 222,236 sq km
Capitals Srinagar(Summer), Jammu (Winter), Leh (Ladakh)
Main Languages Kashmiri, Urdu, Ladakhi, Hindi, Purig, Balti, Dogri, Punjabi and Pahari.

When to visit May to October(Srinagar), July to early September(Ladakh), December to March (skiing at Gulmarg)

NOTE: Before arriving read a wide range of sources to get a feel of the Situation. The problem is situations could esculate within hours with the intercommunal tempers ever raw, so caution must be maintained. Beware travel insurance policies might be voided if your home governament has issued specific advice against travel here.

 - Murmur meditative mantras in the mural decked gompas of the Indus valley

 - Ladakh's capital Leh is an escape from the daily humdrum of urban life. A peaceful and tranquil place to be.

 - Experience the stark magnificence of Ladakh or Zanskar on an unforgettable high-altitude trek.

 - The relaxed stay in the boat house over the silver sheeted Dal Lake in Kashmir.

 - Gasp at the unbelivebly beautiful valleies of Pangong Tso and the splendid Nubra Valley.

Festivals exclusive to Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu Festival (April, Jammu) three days of eating, drinking and dancing
Sri Amarnath Ji Yatra (Jul-Sep; Amarnath)  Especially in the eve of new moon when thousands of devotees come to venerate the Lord
Vaishno Devi Yatra (early OCt;) Hindu piligrim numbers swarming towards Vaishno Devi reach a climax in early October.

Festivals exclusive to Ladhak & Zanskar

Losar (Dec) Ladhaki New Year, celebrated in Buddhist homes  and gompas with feasts, rituals and dances.
Gu-Stor Rituals and masked dances celebrating the victory of good over evil are celebrated in gompas, including those at the following:
  • Spituk
  • Karsha
  • Korzok
  • Thiksey
Dosmoche (wide spread from feb to march) Buddist New year, masked dances, effigies representing the old year are burnt and cast into the desert.
Guru Tse-Chu (feb - mar) Masked dances and predictions of the future by oracles.
Matho Nagrang (Matho) Celebrated by monastry oracles performing blindfolded acrobatics and ritual mutilations.
Yuru Kabgyat (Lamayuru) Monastic masked dances.
Tse- Chu (Hemis) Birthday of the Padmasambhava celebrated for three days. Includes masked dances and the unfurling of Hemis famous three - storey, pearl encrusted painting on cloth called the Thangka.
Phyang Tsedup (jul-aug; Phyang Gompa) Ritual masked chaam dances celebrate the victory of good over evil and of Buddism over preexisting religions. Phyang's gaint thangka is unfurled every third year.
Ladakh Festival (1-15 sep) Unrepentingly touristy but entertaining cycle of events starting with a colourful, carnivalesque parade through Leh, then a repeating program of buddhist dances, polo, archery and music.
Chemrey Thekchhok Festival (nov; Chemrey Thekchhok Gompa) Masked dances and mystic rituals.

Trekking in Zanskar
Trekking is the area's top recreational activity. The area is filled with splendid scenery with its tiny hamlets surrounded by nature. Tents and essential provisions must be carried with you.
Summer Routes- Zanskar to Darcha
- Zanskar to Lamayuru
Winter Route- Chadar Trek