For a long time, Ladakh in the Kashmir State of Norther India had figured on my list of places to visit for many reasons. This Buddhist region in the Himalayas set against the backdrop of barren snow capped mountains and clear blue sky always had a special charm in my heart.
Sitting next to the window seat on my aircraft as it prepared to land, all I could see was cotton candy shaped clouds below us and barren snow clad peaks in the horizon. Ladakh is in one of the highest airfield of the world at an attitude of mind boggling 12500 feet; it is also one of the smallest runways and I am sure many people would wonder whether it would be safe enough to land and for the bigger aircraft.
We had booked our stay in the Grand Dragon hotel at Ladakh and were pleasantly surprised when, on arrival, we were welcomed by a group of local women dressed up in traditional clothes and performing rituals which I suppose is the age old tradition of ladakhi hospitality.
The hotel itself is beautifully placed and has a well decorated Central foyer. The visitors can come and relax here on their arrival while they are being checked in. On arrival we were given a warm soup with lot of local spices which we were told is good for acclimatizing the body so that it can cope up with the low pressure and high altitude effects.
As part of our acclimatization we were supposed to stay indoors for 24 hours; which we could spend in the luxuries of the hotel room.
The rooms were quite spacious and comfortable. The best part however was huge French window which
offered gorgeous views of the mountain ranges outside draped up in snow. I guess the hotel staff knew that if we were to stay for 24 hours in the room we would need the best of supplies as far as the room service is concerned and sure enough, we found that everything that was kept in the room and also whatever was served was of a very high standard. The washroom had 24/7 running hot water and a string of various types of aromatic oils, balms, Apricot scrubs, creams, etc.
Since breakfast was included in the cost of stay we made the most of it and were surprised to find the amount of items they had put up in the menu. It was a real mix of local cuisine as well as intercontinental items. Although there was a lineup of various varieties of tea which guests could have on personal preferences most visitors prefer to have the Kehwa (a local herbal tea made of dry fruits) which is very energizing and tasty.
One of the most surprising part of the dinner was that it was hosted in an open restaurant. This made it even more charming as we sat informally around the bonfires with a vast variety of local dishes and lively music. We were also introduces to a local drink called Chang which is traditionally served in Kore- a wooden bowl; also used for soup.
Amenities at the hotel
The hotel has all the amenities that one could wish for. The Sauna was particularly good, as was the well equipped gym. Although we didn’t use some of the services but one couldn’t help noticing the tastefully furnished conference rooms as well as meeting rooms. They also have a souvenir store within the hotel where the travelers could buy items to carry with them as part of remembrances of a wonderful stay in this beautiful place.