Leh Loving! – Shraddha Srinath

No summer is ever complete without a getaway to a cool place that gives you a break from the scorching heat. In order to get some respite from the same, Shraddha Srinath, an actress who needs no introduction in the South, planned a trip with her family to Leh recently. Read on ahead to know more about her travel and how this was a perfect retreat to de-stress from the bustling city life…

Text: Anahita Ahuja 

What is your criteria before you pick a holiday place?

For me, it is important to reach my destination really quickly, so I pick a place that doesn’t need too much planning and travelling. It usually is a weekend getaway or somewhere I can get a visa to very easily. But if it is for my annual holiday, which I do with a lot of planning, then it is a dream destination – a country I want to check off my bucket list. The criteria then is for it to be a relaxing place; I like a mix of relaxing with a little bit of hustle bustle.

Leh would have been the best summer getaway. How did you end up picking it?

Six months ago we met my dad’s old friend. My father was in the army and this friend of his, still serves in the army and is posted in Leh. He insisted on us visiting him while he was still there so that he could show us around. Also, Leh was a place my mum and dad had been wanting to go for a really long time, so it just jointly ended up being this year’s pick.

Who all did you go with?

My mum, dad, sister, brother-in-law and my niece. These are generally the people I go with, on my family holidays.

How surreal was the experience?

Leh gets very touristy when you start leaving the city and driving across – but it is that haunting kind of beautiful with the stones being dark and grim but gorgeous, the mountains being brown but majestic! One feels so small when you’re up there, looking around at all this that you wonder why you’re living a life in a city, working hard, and earning money. The mountains make you question life a lot. It is a great way to soul search and all that.

Some of the places you visited there were…

Nubra Valley, Pangong Lake, Kargil and Dras

Best food there…

If you go to the hills, you automatically get a lot of Thupka, Momos and Chowmein on the menu, and of course the famous Kahwa. I did not try the tea with salt in it as it didn’t excite me at all. But to be honest, the one dish I actually enjoyed the most was Maggi– it tastes like nothing you have eaten before.

Must do at Leh…

You can always explore the Leh market as it has a lot of shops with silver jewellery, woollen stuff, leather, and Kashmiri handwork. Leh also has a lot of monasteries and they are definitely worth seeing too.

Few tips to everyone who is planning a trip there…

  • If you can drive it there, then you acclimatize better but driving there means having extra time, and in today’s world, we are all running out of time. But flying is okay too, as long as you have a day and a half to give to your body to acclimatize to the place.
  • Wear your sunscreen always! The cold weather deceives you, and you won’t realise how badly sun burnt you are getting
  • Carry layers. Don’t carry one thick cardigan as you’ll feel hot with one and cold as you take it off. So you’d rather have layers and decide how much you want to stay warm.
  • Wear sun glasses when you go towards the snowy areas as the snow can literally blind you! My dad told me this with the experience he has thanks to his army background.

What are the first few things you do as you arrive at a new place?

I park my bags and go for a walk to know what’s around me – that gives me a true sense of what is around. There is no better way to discover or know a place than walking.

Three essentials in your travel bag?

Sunglasses, a mosquito repellent and a table for menstrual cramps.

How long do you usually take to pack?

I enjoy packing! For me it is one of the most crucial things about a holiday. I actually envision my trip while packing, so like to do it slowly. Sometimes I even take a day. I start the previous night, and then revisit the entire things the following day. The longer the process takes, the better it is for me.

If you were to become a travel blogger – what would be the first three places you’d visit?

Japan, Egypt and Iceland.

Are you a hill person or beach?

All my life I thought I was a hill person as I loved the weather – the thought of the cold wind and a warm jacket; while beaches in India were always about humidity, and the harsh sun. This changed when I visited the Southern coast of France. The water there was cold and it wasn’t humid. So now, this is a very difficult question for me. But if I had to pick one, being an army kid, I’d say hills as I was born in Kashmir and raised a lot in Uttaranchal.

Who is your favourite travel company?

Anybody who isn’t fussy about food, stay and basic things like that. I like non-fussy people.

While travelling, is there anything you are scared of?

Yes! I have this phobia of losing my passport! We keep watching these films where people lose their passport and then there’s so much stuff that goes down. So I am extremely careful about that.

What is your favourite place on Earth?

Favourite place as of today would be this little village in north of France, on its border with Switzerland named Villars Sur Ollon. It is a tiny village which is so beautiful! We stayed in a wooden cottage and it had a rolling green valley in front of us. 

Have you ever done a solo trip?

Nope. I haven’t done one till now but that is something I want to do soon. I just haven’t pushed myself to do so yet.

What are the other places on your bucket list that you want to explore?

There are a lot of places on it like South of America. That area is quite unexplored as it isn’t a place that comes to your mind when you plan on travelling. So I’d love to explore that.