Friday, 9 September 2011

La Ultra The High - In Leh

As the aircraft starts descending into Leh, there was a buzz among the passengers and everyone starts staring out the window, whips out their cameras and starts clicking away to glory.

Was something wrong? Yes! it looks like none of us on the aircraft had seen such beautiful mountains before. 

Take a look below (full size photographs are here) -

The river on the right of the picture is the Indus!

And just when I thought it couldn't get any more beautiful, we got off the aircraft and the full face of the mountains comes into view - it simply takes your breath away!!!

The only analogy I could think off was when I saw the Taj Mahal, I must have seen the Taj Mahal thousands of times on television and in photographs, but the moment you step through  the Main Gate and the Taj comes into view - you know now.

Below is a photograph once we are off the aircraft waiting for the shuttle - 

I was already fascinated by the mountains!!!

We weren't sure if the race organizers had arranged for pickup from the airport to the hotel, but  knew that the core team and the runners were arriving by an earlier flight, so we were hoping to hitch a ride to the hotel.
I did get in touch with Rajat and he said not to worry there will be transport arranged but lost contact before I could check on how do we recognize the transport. 

Sure enough, the moment we step out of the airport, number of members of the core team along with Kunal and other local crew were present.

We were welcomed with the traditional Ladakhi greeting of "Juley" - and closest description of meaning of "Juley" I can think of is that its Aloha+.

Aloha only refers to the English greeting of Hello and Goodbye in Hawaiian (although originally it means much more), Juley is used for all kinds of greeting and acknowledgement including Hello, Goodbye, Thank you and Welcome.

Vijay, one of our local contact points, also presented us with a Khata
, a beautiful ceremonial traditional Tibetian scarf.
ymbolizing goodwill, auspiciousness and compassion, it is made of silk, and white in color which symbolizes the pure heart of the giver.

Vijay, as it turns out, becomes our go to man for the entire journey, especially logistics related stuff in terms of arranging for local transport.

Finally, we meet Rajat, after having interacted with him over email and phone calls, was glad to meet him in person.

That's me with Aparna and Rajat - photo courtesy La Ultra The High

We were quickly on our way to the hotel and the moment the car comes out the airport, I see a big road sign - pointing towards Kargil!!! - we were so close to the border.
The short 10-15 minute ride, it was mountains, mountains and more mountains, all around us, a sight to behold. Also was a number of Indian army camps, grounds, hospitals which re-enforced the fact that we weren't far away from the border.

And that was when it struck me - 
never been a few hundred meters above sea-level, I am now at 11,000 ft. in a span of 2 hours and I suddenly became conscious of my breath, was I breathing too hard too quickly? running short of breath? mild headache? Nothing, so far so good...

Next up - The Hotel.


  1. Good to see you've found something you are so passionate about :)
    Looking forward to the rest o' it :D

  2. "you know now"... :)...
    i can kinda relate to this feeling when i see sunrise/sunset.. even though i have seen them thousands of times...being there watching live is still special..