India is a diverse country, not just culturally but geographically too. Here are some interesting facts and figures about the geography of our country:

India
India

Geographical Area – With an area of 3,287,240 sqkm, India is the seventh largest country in the world by area and 2nd largest by population.

Coldest Place – Dras, located in the Kargil district of Jammu & Kashmir, is the coldest place in India. It is situated at a height of approximately 11,000 feet.

Easternmost Point – The tiny town of Kibithu in Arunachal Pradesh is the easternmost point of India. The Lohit River enters India from Kibithu.

Westernmost Point – The westernmost point of India is the small inhabited village of Ghuar Moti, located in the Kutch District of Gujarat.

Rann of Kutch in Gujarat
Rann of Kutch in Gujarat

Chadar Frozen River Trek is often considered to be one of the hardest treks due to the constant sub-zero temperatures and tough terrain. This trek is definitely not for first-timers and even if you have been on high altitude Himalayan treks before, you need to physically and mentally prepare yourself for this one.

The amazing frozen Zanskar River
The amazing frozen Zanskar River

Here are some useful tips that you can follow in order to be ready for this trek:

Fitness
Make sure you are fit. You don’t have to be a marathon runner but you have to be on your feet for a long time. Practice going for long walks (6 – 10 Kms) in the plains! Stay on your feet during the day. Do regular aerobic exercises, not weight training. Strengthen your leg, back, neck and shoulder muscles. Don’t land up for the Chadar trek unless you are a 100% fit!

My flight out of Pokhara was at 9:40 AM. When the Ultralight operator told me that I could fly with them just before my flight to Kathmandu, I was a bit sceptical. Nevertheless, I set the alarm for 6 and despite the cold, managed to get ready just in time for the car that had come to pick me up.

Ultralight flights operate from the airport and work just like an airline. So you get a boarding pass and are taken through the security to the ‘airside’. For those not used to the terminology, the ‘airside’ is a term used for the area where the flying operations take place. Anyway, I was ushered to the ultralight hanger where the Chief Pilot Alexander, a Russian expat, met me and told me all about their operations and history. They have ultralights with weight shift control as well as the conventional 3 axis control. Which one would I want to fly, he asked me! I chose the weight-shift delta wing aircraft because I had learnt to fly these machines several years back and my instructor, co-incidentally was also Russian. I was eager to try my hand at flying again after 8 years.

The visibility unfortunately wasn’t great and the airport was yet closed to traffic. It was nearly 8 by the time the fog started to lift. Alexander told me that there were two ridges at either end of the runway and the airport would open only when these two ridges were visible.

Anyway, we took off to some absolutely stunning views of of Machhapuchchhre and Annapurna. Machhapuchchhre (the fishtail mountain), when I had seen it last looked much whiter and snow covered, but despite the exposed rock, it looked absolutely majestic and very inviting.

A great view of Machepuchare (The Black sharp peak in the centre of the frame)

Flying above the clouds, in a small open cockpit aircraft is a truly amazing and unforgettable experience.

Above the clouds, Phewa Lake can be seen through the gaps.