My home in Leh on and off for a month..
With a plethora of guest houses and hotels in Leh it can sometimes be hard to pick one. I have a feeling that you can walk into any guesthouse and more often than not the place would be warm and welcoming. Atleast thats how i stumbled upon the Kurja garden guest house.
I arrived in Leh, mid-October, after cycling the Manali-Leh highway. After the long, hard journey i wanted to indulge myself in a little bit of luxury. Luxury for me would be to have a nice large room to sleep in, preferably with an attached bathroom with running water and hot showers.Â I also wanted to avoid the commercial looking establishments (like the ones close to the Leh market are) and find a more homely place to stay in. My wanderings led me to the Karzoo pond and there i was greeted with numerous signs advertising various guest houses.
Jackpot !!. The guest houses around Karzoo were all farmhouses, extended with a fee rooms in the upper floors to accomodate guests. They definitely had the homely feel i was looking for. And i picked the house with the smallest sign and walked in. The family was nice and friendly, they asked me to help myself to the apples collected from their orchard and then showed me the rooms. The rooms were all bright and roomy with spotless attached bathrooms. Some rooms even came with small working kitchens.
Since it was the end of the season, i was able to negotiate good rates for the rooms. 200Rs for the basic one and 250Rs for the one with the attached kitchen. Even though i was not planning on cooking much, i took the room with the kitchen as it would save me from the long walks to the market area on the days i was feeling lazy. And it definitely came in handy.
The room had a large double bed, kitchen and a sitting area by the window with a small couch and a traditional center table. The big ladakhi sun widows opened up to a gorgeous view of the Stok Kangri peak to the south. Every day i woke up to the sight of the morning light climbing across the Stok mountains and i never grew tired of it.
I used the guest house as my base for the next month or so. I'll stay there for a few days of rest and relaxation, and then ride out to explore a different part of Ladakh (Pangong, Nubra, the monastery circuits etc), come back stay in the guest house for a few days and venture out again.
For the first couple of weeks the weather was nice and we had running water in the bathrooms, but once the first snow fell the running water was cut off and we were left with getting hot water in buckets. This is a common issue in all of the guest houses in Ladakh as they are worried about the pipes cracking with frozen water. Only the more expensive hotels seem to have running water even in winter.
The family was nice as well. Tashi, the owner, speaks good English, so does his wife. Everyone else speaks good Hindi, so communication was never a problem. The'd always help me with the travel information for visiting different parts of Ladakh. And once in a while they'd invite me to have tea with the family and on days i arrived late from somewhere far they'd invite me to share their dinner as well.Â