Hindu Vivek Kendra
A RESOURCE CENTER FOR THE PROMOTION OF HINDUTVA
   
 
 
«« Back
 

Magical Ladakh - How the Indian Army has made visiting Ladakh into a wonderful experience

Author: Aditya Kandarpa
Publication: Myind.net
Date: August 13, 2018
URL:      https://www.myind.net/Home/viewArticle/magical-ladakh-how-the-indian-army-has-made-visiting-ladakh-into-a-wonderful-experience

Last year, over 2.7 lakh people visited Ladakh. Every single one of them was a guest of the Indian Army in those days they spent in that paradise, whether they realise it or not.

Ladakh is a place like no other. It has everything in it — water bodies, hills, mountains, snow, glaciers, valleys, deserts, wildlife, oases, rivers, rapids.. If we were to Google for all the different kinds of geological features on Earth, probably every one of them would be found in Ladakh! And then there are the man-made creations — ancient monasteries, huge statues, wonderful restaurants, great craftsmanship, Pashmina scarves, Royal Enfields.

The most amazing thing, though, is that the entire trip happens only because the Indian Army has dozens of bases in the region. If the Army wouldn’t have been present in the region, there would have been no Ladakh tourism, and that’s the truth. Let’s start at the beginning. The Kushok Bakula Rimpochee airport at Leh is under the Indian Air Force, and their mighty transport planes taxing on the runway is a sight to behold!

Once we get into Leh and get acclimatised, the first thing we’d want to do is to get those Enfields revving and head out into the hills. Almost every road leading out of Leh is laid by the Border Roads Organization, and their Himank division is based in Leh and handles all the hill routes towards Siachen. Vijayak division takes care of the route to Kargil. BRO is an integral part of the Indian Army, and the roads they laid in the whole of Ladakh (in places where roads are possible) are incredible! If BRO would be given charge of all the roads in the country, we would end up saving thousands of crores in road maintenance fees. The roads practically shine! While it is a joy to drive around the city — on the Hemis / Thiksey route, or towards Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, the army bases and the never-ending convoys of army trucks never allow us to forget the true purpose of those roads — to supply and maintain the far-flung bases in that highly strategic region. The first place one would think of once they hit the road is Khardung-La, about 39 kms away from Leh, and among the world’s highest motorable roads. The purpose of laying and maintaining Khardung-La at almost 18000 feet is for supply to Siachen. Via the Nubra Valley, that high-altitude road leads straight to Siachen Base camp, and also to numerous other army bases in the valley. Maintaining that road is extremely difficult, and yet the Army and BRO do it year-round.

Lest we forget that we are in their area, there are inline permits issued for every part of Ladakh that we want to visit. Multiple copies of the permits are necessary and need to be deposited at various checkpoints. Not only is that to keep a tab over the visitors, but more importantly, it is to take care of us in case of any emergency. Since there is barely any cell phone reception in the region, this is often the only way to ascertain which sector one is in, in case of an accident, landslide, or sickness. Every base along the way — right from Khardung-la to the farthest point the road can take us — has MI rooms and doctors available. Much of the work these medical stations do is not for the soldiers posted there, but for the tourists who come in ill-prepared. Temperatures in these areas reach -35 c, and yet the army bases are maintained year round. Till one visits the place, the strategic importance cannot be understood. The immense plains and valley floors overlooking Tibet and China on one side, and the mountain passes safeguarding our borders on the PoK side, are among the toughest terrains to protect in the world. And yet, alongside safeguarding the borders, the Army constantly looks out for tourists, to ensure that they enjoy their trip and return safely.

Most of the villages and settlements in the region are clustered around Army camps. Little restaurants serving Maggi and Thukpa dot the outskirts of checkposts, and are often the only places to eat while traveling. While in the mountains, disposing of trash is a real challenge. All tourist vehicles in Ladakh and mandated to carry trash bins, and every Army camp has a large receptacle right at the entrance so we can dispose of our trash and move on forward. The Army takes care of that too. At one checkpoint, there was a lone soldier policing the gate, and while he was checking our identities, we realized he was from our area. Chatting away in our language, he told us that barely a couple of vehicles pass the area he’s posted at each day, and for 7 months of the year, there’s almost zero tourist traffic. He’s been there for 3 years now, and had a smile on his face all through while talking to us. Real heroes.

Most bases have a ‘No Photography’ sign on them. The more critical ones are behind barb-wire fences, and have ‘Trespassers will be shot’ signs! There are a couple of bases though, which allow photography, and say so in bold letters.

Pangong lake lies right on the border between India and Tibet, and 2/3rd of that lake is actually across the border. Bases in that region had little docks to serve as stations for boats patrolling the lakes. In winter, the lake freezes over. Patrolling becomes a trek over ice during that time. Same with the Zanskar river. It was in full flow now, but in winter it freezes over and the famous Chadar trek takes place over the frozen river!

The route from Pangong to Tso-Moriri takes us through Rezang-La. The place brings tears to the eyes and reminds us of all that we have to grateful for. Here is a little thread and some photos from the memorial to that unbelievable last man stand.

⚡️ “Never Forget Rezang-La” by @vizagobelix

Never Forget Rezang-La

Aditya @vizagobelix

Experience of a visit to the memorial
......................................................................................
Aditya @vizagobelix
Replying to @vizagobelix
There is a memorial built by the army to those brave 114 from the Kumaon regiment who chose to lay down their lives rather than retreat and give the Chinese a chance to occupy Ladakh.
The memorial falls on the road from Pangong to Tso-Moriri.
......................................................................................
Aditya @vizagobelix
Lets never ever forget Rezang La.
Read the thread 👇🏼@GabbarSanghi sir makes sure he reminds us of this act of incredible courage every year on #RezangLaDay - Nov 18th. https://twitter.com/GabbarSanghi/status/931794257970479104 …
......................................................................................
Aditya @vizagobelix
Replying to @vizagobelix
@GabbarSanghi 's post on the topic from 2015 was the first time I read the full story of this last man stand from 1962. A story of incredible bravery where 13 Kumaon simply refused to retreat.
Here's the full post - https://twitter.com/GabbarSanghi/status/666810978542092288 …
......................................................................................
Aditya @vizagobelix
Replying to @vizagobelix
In Ladakh recently, we had the privilege of seeing the location first hand, and this puts the bravery of Charlie Company of 13 Kumaon in a whole new light!
Rezang La was the gateway to a HUGE plain and if the Chinese would've made it there, Ladakh would have been lost for sure.
......................................................................................
Aditya @vizagobelix
Replying to @vizagobelix
Known as 'Ahir Dham' in memory of the Ahirs who made up the regiment, the memorial is just off the plains which were protected that day by Charlie company of 13 Kumaon, posted at Rezang La pass.
......................................................................................
Aditya @vizagobelix
Replying to @vizagobelix
At the center of the memorial are inscribed the names of all the martyrs, led by Major Shaitan Singh Bhati, PVC. 🙏🏼
......................................................................................
Aditya @vizagobelix
Replying to @vizagobelix
This is a tale that needs to be told over and over again. Never to be forgotten.
A tale of incredible patriotism and self-sacrifice in the face of unimaginable hardships. Here's a plaque with the story at the memorial.
Jai Hind 🇮🇳
......................................................................................

While the beauty of Ladakh is one experience, the privilege of being guests of the Indian Army is another wonderful experience. All the different kinds of bases we cross, all those thousands of trucks in a convoy which go past us, the hundreds of heavy earth moving equipment situated at every single crossing, every corner, every turn, all those patrolling jeeps and marching columns of men, all those national flags.

Landslides and shooting stones are quite common in that area, as are flash floods which bring in huge boulders and destroy roads in a jiffy. For half the journey, our Tempo Traveler rumbled over stones and flowing water creeks. And every few kilometers, we would see an army truck with a soldier supervising civilians to clear up a bad road or boulders, or to lay a fresh batch of sand to ease the traffic. It is continuous. We must have seen a hundred gangs of workmen working with the BRO and the Army to ensure the roads remain passable. It is a thankless job. Before they finish one part of a sector, nature takes away another part. It is never ending. And if in July it were like that, one can only imagine the hardships they encounter in maintaining those roads in the winter months. Hundreds of soldiers and civilians have died to ensure that the forward bases remain supplied. Their memorials are visible at various areas along the journey. New ones were being built when we traveled. Some hero would have sacrificed his life recently. And not just men, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police — ITBP — has women posted at its bases too. They go through the same rigmarole and remained stoic at their checkposts
 
«« Back
 
 
 
  Search Articles
 
  Special Annoucements