Magnetic Hill , Leh , Ladakh

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Magnetic Hill is in Ladakh 30 km from Leh , on Leh-Srinagar Highway. It is something to experience and one of the wonders of Himalayas ,

Megnetic Hill , Leh – Srinagar Highway

It is situated on Leh-Srinagar highway about 50 km from Leh the hill is having the megenatic properties , any car parked engine off in neutral gear at a specific point marked as white box , moves towards uphill defying the law of Gravity .

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Tiger Hill, Tololing, Drass Valley,Kargil, Ladakh

Tiger Hill is over looking the  Drass Valley on Srinagar-Leh Highway 1D , it is also known as Point 5353 is the highest peak in this area (16500 feet) . It is the most dominating feature in Drass Valley , is on a confluence of number of spurs and over looks the long stretch of Srinagar-Leh highway.  In the local dialect “Baltic” Dras means “Hell”. It is at a height of 3230 meter or 10990 ft. The surrounding mountain ridges however range from 16000 feet to 21000 feet. It has become famous as the second coldest inhabited place in the world . Winter temperature is sometimes comes down to less than minus 60 degrees.  It is often called ‘The Gateway to Ladakh’ . It also became famous during mid 1999 due to invasion and capturing of surrounding tops by the Mujaheddin with the help of Pakistani army which led to a war from Indian army to recapture the territories back from the intruders.

 

My Salute to Brave Indian Soldiers , Plate at Drass Valley War Memorial

It was mid June of 2010  early morning  when we left Kargil , our driver wanted to cross the Zoji-La pass as early as possible to escape from melting snow and heavy traffic on Leh-Srinagar Highway 1D. We entered the Drass  Valley around 0530 hr. it was very cold and when I checked at the War Memorial which was closed at that time the temperature was -5 degree Centigrade , while waiting to open the gate my heart became so heavy I could not control my self and tears started rolling out of my eyes , imagining the Kargil War and my country brave soldiers who fought not only the enemy but the cold adverse weather , they preferred bullets to be carried with them instead of food. The soldier with his INSAS Rifle on duty at Memorial Gate was having a cylinder with a burner on top with a flame to keep himself warm told me that in this cold the fingers become num .

My first glimpses of Tiger Hill from Leh-Srinagar Highway

While travelling from Leh , we stayed a night at Kargil , early morning when we entered the Drass valley ,  moon was still shining over our left side of the mountains , our Ladakhi driver who was very quite since we started from Kargil broke the silence ” woh dekho Tiger Hill “ and my reaction was ” Wah” I was stunned with the beauty of it .

Beauty of Tiger Hill from Leh-Srinagar highway

Most of the Cab drivers want to cross the Zoji-La early morning because after the sun rise the warmth of sun rays causes the melting of Glaciers , and  water flows on the roads and it is difficult to drive in this patch, the War Memorial opens at 0800 hr. in the morning the war museum is worth visiting and paying respect to the Kargil War Heros.

 

Drass War Memorial , Snow cap Tololing Ridge in backdrop

If one is entering the Drass valley from Kargil , it is about 2 hr. drive,  make sure you leave from Kargil in time when you reach Drass the War Memorial is open . Take care of your woolens as Drass valley is the second highest coldest inhabited place on earth

Drass War Memorial at foot hill of Tololing Ridge, Kargil, Ladakh

“Sir, I’m on Tololing Top.” a simple message from Col. M.B. Ravindranath of  2nd Rajputana Riffles minutes after recapturing the Top ,  “Tololing being bang on the road, it choked our throats,” says a field commander. “That pressure is now off.” The victory earned by Ravindranath and his men a rare, direct “well-done” from then army chief Gen. V.P. Malik .

I could feel that chill in my body while standing at the War memorial which is just below the Tololing top.  It took just six days for Indian troops to give final touches to the  successes by evicting well-entrenched intruders on four nearby outposts with names echoed all over the World — Point 4590Rocky Knob, Hump and Point 5140. It could lead to the recapture of a similarly strategic height of Tiger Hill.

Tiger Hill Battle Plate at War Hero’s Memorial Drass, Ladakh

Tiger Hill has sharp conical features, which stands among the mountain tops a few kilometres north of Drass. During the Kargil war, the picture of Indian troops after having captured the Tiger Hill became the symbol of the Indian victory in the war. Indian Armed  forces involved  to recapture the Tiger Hill were from the 18 Grenadiers ,  2 Naga and the 8 Sikh Regiment  it was one of the costliest operations for the Indian forces in the entire conflict, with casualties of nearly forty personnel killed and nearly a hundred wounded in the entire operation.  In the 36 hour operation, the first meal our soldiers had were the dates left behind by the retreating Pakistanis.

Batra Top battle Plate, Drass Valley, Kargil, Ladakh

Captain Batra, the soldiers of 13 JAK Rifles charged the enemy position and captured Point 5140 set in motion a string of successes, such as Point 5100, Point 4700, Junction Peak and Three Pimples with fellow Captain Anuj Nayyer who was awarded Maha Vir Chakra  , Capt. Batra led his men to victory with the recapture of Point 4750 and Point 4875. He was killed when he tried to rescue an injured officer during an enemy counter attack  against Point 4875.   Captain Vikram Batra was awarded the Param Vir Chakra .

 

Tiger Hill, with Rhino Horn feature and a pimple called Batra Top

I saw very few local people in the morning , houses with door closed it was very cold , even  stray dogs or animals not visible anywhere in the valley. People I saw on the highway here either they were soldiers or truck drivers from Kashmir and Punjab.

Honor to a soldier in religious texts who lays his life in Battle field

 

Tololing Ridge and War Hero’s Memorial at Drass Valley

 

Plate , Battle of Tololing , Drass Valley, War Memorial, Kargil , Ladakh

Leading the brave men right from the front were the officers. It was the Captains and Majors considered to be the cutting edge of the Indian army who once again proved their worth . Sacrifice has the words ‘For our tomorrow, they gave their today’  this been true in the case of our gallant soldiers. And yet, the nation generally tends to forget the ordinary soldier in times of peace.

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What price we paid to in terms of  men, who laid their life just for IZZAT , Fellow comrade ,Call of Duty  keeping aside their own personal safety , it will always be in my mind that because of these above the extra ordinary men, I was able to travel to this place without any fear and took the pictures of this most beautiful place of our motherland .

On the base of Tiger Hill, Drass Valley, Ladakh

 

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Alchi Monastery , Ladakh

Alchi monastery is situated on a low land unlike the other monasteries which are constructed on  high lands or hilocks it is situated on a down stream 70 kms from Leh about 6 km from the main Leh Srinagar Highway on the banks of Indus river in the Alchi village at a height of 3100 meters from sea , it is one of the oldest well preserved dates back to about 1000 years, main attraction is thousands of minature paintings of lord Budha on a wall three large clay images of Budha in bright colours, past 500 years no religious activity has taken place here it is looked after by a monk from the Likir monastery.  The monasteries of this period did not belong to any of the established Tibetan schools, they were initially brought under the control of the Kadampa  Sect . When the condition of the monasteries deteriorated, they were mostly taken over by the Gelukpa Sect .

Wooden carvings at main entrance , Alchi monastry

Alchi is part of three villages the other two villages are Mangdu and Sumnda Chun . It was built between 958 AD – 1055AD by the great translator Guru Rinchen Zangpo, assembly hall and the main temple is three storied are built in Kashmiri style, Manjushri is the third temple , there is a huge statue of lord Budha , walls of temple have the oldest preserved paintings of that time and reflects the Hindu and Budhist artistic and spritual details, there were 108 monasteries built in the trans Himalyan region to spread  Vajrayana Budhism from Tibet also known as Lamaism , Kashmiri artists were engaged to create sculptures and paintings .

Manjushri Temple, also called ‘Jampe Lhakhang‘, is built around the four central images of Manjushri (seated back to back) seen on a common platform each of the four images is single-headed with four arms that are adorned with a sword, a book on top of a lotus, a bow and an arrow. Each wall in the shrine is dedicated to a Buddha image. Manjushri is depicted on the main wall, seated on a lion throne; the side walls have images of Amitabha  on the right and Aksharabhya on the left. The images are set around the central image of Manjushri in a niche in the wall. Manjushri is adorned with jewellery (pearls and other moulded forms) and a crown made of a flower band. In the base of the throne on which the Manjushri image is deified, is a depiction of ‘Seven Jewels’ and ‘Eight Suspicious Symbols’ (flanked by lions) enclosed in a square frame that is distinctive. The top of the throne frame has Makara mountings.

Alchi Monasrty , Information display

This village is very fertile and it is all green with apricot trees on both side of road. This region had influence of Islam , Hinduism and Budhism because it falls on the route to Turkestan of China but its isolation helped the village and gompa to keep their cultural traditions safe from the outer influnces. The effect of Tibetian culture can be seen here , there are five shrines in the Choskor temple complex.

Green fertile land at Alchi Village

Alchi , ages old Chortens

These chortens are decorated gateways known locally as Kakani Chorten  are considered unique to Alchi with historical link to other monuments. More chortens were added between the 13th and 14th centuries. In the Alchi complex, there are also three other chortens, which have ancient paintings .

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