Escape to the Himalayas

Updated: Apr 30 2006, 05:48am hrs
The ultimate for summer getaway a driving holiday in Himalayas. What often nips such a plan in the bud is the lack of adequate informationeven with the concerned state tourism departments. International travel guides focus more on the recognised itineraries designed to lure the global-tourist-doing-India travel.

Well, here is one travel guide that can help you plan a driving holiday. Part of series called Driving Holidays in the Himalayas, which also has guides on Ladakh, Sikkim and Uttaranchal, this edition is on the captivatingly beautiful sub region of Zanskar in north Jammu and Kashmir. Travelling to off the beaten track places like the Suru Valley (very near Kargil), Padum, Sanku or Zangla would be a dream come true for many an intrepid traveller.

Part of the larger Ladakh region, the sparsely populated Zanskar and adjoining Suru Valley is a tri-armed series of mountain locked valleys.

The guide not only plans the itinerary in detail, it takes care of small things too. For example, there is a map indicating the state of roads for the entire route, or suggesting alternate itineraries.

There are the usual sections on what to carry, driving tips, travel and tour operators, even shoppingthough dont imagine the mall concept to exist there. For there are parts with no electricity yet. There are practical instructions like, there are no petrol pumps beyond Kargil. Stock up for a 700 km drive on non-metalled roads.

What adds to the guide are sections like environment and you, acute mountain sickness, trekking and rafting, and background sections travel, climate, religion, history and people, festivals.

Koko Singh Rupa
Rs 395; Pp 156
Predominantly Buddhist Zanskar is rich in religio-cultural legacies, and chortens and gompas dot the region.

The book has details on monastic festivals, and plan your schedule in such a way that you can on the days of a chaam choreographed sacred dance dramas. The author, who has edited the series, has travelled extensively in the parts he writes about, and this has helped in many crucial points for the book.

Of course the other, spectacular attraction is the landscape itself, and unlike most other guides, there are many photographs to supplement the claims of the region. Given the high quality paper used, the reproductions are excellent. The language is informal and informative, the instructions practical. Not to forget discount coupons in the book that can be traded en route!