Chasing Angels or Fleeing Demons…?
We all go to the Mountains
Mital and I met Rohit at the Delhi airport. It was 0730 hrs and we were, for the first time that I can remember, ready to embark on a flight to the land of Lama. YES; Ladakh!! and yes; Yet Again
To our surprise, we were not the only ones with insane ideas trying to make it to the land of sub-zero temperature. The flight was full, I barely found a place to put my hand baggage in place. The three of us had window seats. It was well planned; from 30000 feet up in the air, we did not want to miss a single snow peaked mountain and a sight of frozen river down below.
We reached Leh a few 10 min before its actual arrival time. Our ride had already arrived and we were ready to head to the hotel only to find that our confirmed booking is not confirmed anymore. After a long tiring journey, this was the last that I had to hear. The lady at the reception was kind enough to allow us free tea and use her heated dining hall to search for accommodation for the next few days. Half and hour later we were in our room, resting and taking it very easy given that the next three days were goung to be extremely hectic
This was the first time that I had gone from 1000 feet to 11000 in less than and hour. Slept the whole afternoon, had dinner at a restaurant in the market at Leh, Sky Wok
Embracing the Absurd
Day two – Tsewang Drojee, was dot on time to pick us up; we were still getting ready, he picked up the vibe pretty quickly, next day on wards he made it a point to be there but 40 mins later 😀 it worked out well for us too; at least, this way, we were not the ones causing delays 😀 😀 Dorjee, commonly known to the Non-Ladakhies as “Inder” was our guide, driver and the go to person for the next 4 day. I only pity him that he had to put up with the three of us together. He had no idea what he was getting into 😛 Well he knows it now for sure. 😀
Drive to Tso Pangong on a normal summer day would be over 5 hours and another almost 5 hours to return. The intent was to at least spend and hour on the lake and enjoy the calm frozen beauty. This was the only “First” purpose of our trip. Found a local restaurant at Karu where we had our breakfast and moved on towards Pangong.
Given an option I will avoid climbing the mighty ChangLa and yet I had no choice but to. First question I asked Dorjee was how bad are the roads? I also have this problem of being motion sick especially when I am not driving; I must say, this is a contagious problem, both Rohit and I were suddenly searching for anti nausea / vomiting / giddiness medicines in our medical kit.
Still eager to get an answer to my question I looked back at Dorjee, who was behind the wheel by now; Roads are in a much better state that they usually are in the summer, was the response we got; Reason being – the roads have now got a smooth layer of ice that has covered all the ditches and the potholes. A pleasant drive it was going to be
Next stop ChangLa. ChangLa is supposed to be the 2nd highest motorable pass; first being the Khardung La, until few months back.
It did not feel too heavy while we played around at ChangLa. Gave us the feel that the medicines had taken a good effect and we are fine with AMS by now. Moving on from ChangLa on the other side of the mountain the weather got colder and we got to see a good amount of frozen lakes and waterfalls.
I have walked down the icy roads multiple times by now; the learning was to take every step carefully. Walk like a duck and bend forward; if you know what i mean 😛 Given this as my experience, I took my first step on the frozen lake; Voila!!! My shoes were stuck on the ice and instead of slipping on it I was stuck on it 😀 The lake was our dance floor for the time we wanted to enjoy
Our destination was still very far and this pit stop had just increased the curiosity to get there before the cat died. Don’t know if words could ever express the sense of achievement I had to be right in the middle of the lake which we usually just drove by; checking the beauty all along.
Sono venuto, ho visto, ho conquistato
After spending a good amount of time at the lake we headed back to Leh. The only place we could get something to eat at this time of the year was about hour and a little more away at Durbuk. Had good lunch and we were back in the hotel few hours later. Leh at this time of the year is so quiet and peaceful; nothing really happens; Of course the Chadar Trek.
With two more days in hand and lots more to cover we decided to take our adventure trip towards Srinagar. Destination being Kargil; a close friend made arrangements for us to camp at the army guest house. Our agenda was pretty simple for this day – Ice Stupa, Magnetic hill, Pathar Sahib Gurudwara, Zanskar – Indus Confluence, Few frozen waterfalls, Lamayuru Monestary, and the Drass War Memorial
The Ice Stupa:
Ice Stupa is a form of glacier grafting technique that creates artificial glaciers, used for storing winter water (which otherwise goes waste) in form of conical-shaped ice heap. During summer, when water is scarce, the Ice Stupa melts to increase water supply for crops. Ice Stupa was innovated by Sonam Wangchuk in Ladakh, India and the project is undertaken by the NGOStudents’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh. Launched in October 2013, the test project started in January 2014 under the project name The Ice Stupa project. On 15 November 2016, Sonam Wangchuk was awarded Rolex Awards for Enterprise for his work on Ice Stupa
Magnet Hill is a “Cyclops hill” located near Leh Mera Khana in Ladakh, India. The layout of the area and surrounding slopes creates a Hill that is not a hill. that the righthill road is actually an uphill road. Objects and cars on the hill may appear to roll “lefthill” in defiance of gravity when they are, in fact, rolling downhill.
The other two such magnetic hills are in Gujarat. One is near Bhuj (Kalo dungar – the black hills) and other at Tulsi Shyam.
I was never convinced that the hill had enough power to pull a vehicle all by itself. Dorjee proved me wrong; he parked the car switched it off, put the car in neutral and let it climb the hill; YES it did. amazingly true it was
Pathar Sahib Gurudwara: A bit of background
We did a quick visit to the Gurdwara, had the parsad at the langar and moved on
Experienced the Unexpected
Kargil was on our mind as the destination for the day; all arrangements were done. The one thing I can’t get over, was the more number of times I have visited these memorials the more number of times I want to go there again. I was looking forward to it; just then – we learnt that Rohit had to return home immediately. While we debated on what next; Dorjee drove us towards the “valley of the snow flower“. Next three stops
- Confluence of the Indus and Zanskar River
- Valley of the Snow flower
- The Moonland
By this time we had decided to skip Kargil and we were on the way back to Leh. Rohit was on the early morning flight back to Delhi; Mital and I decided to spend the last day visiting other monuments and monastery around Leh
up up and away
When one has almost half of the day in hand and nothing interesting on the list to cover, what do you do?
We go up the road that takes you to the highest motorable point; yet Again – Khardung LA
Never seen this place so deserted before. The cold beauty … all to ourselves!! another feather on our hat <3