Thursday, May 21, 2009

Nubra - Valley of flowers!

Though it is famous as the valley, we could not see as much as a blade of grass over there. This was thanks to the timing of our DOCC project. We can reach Nubra valley after negotiating the Highest Motorable road in the world which passes over the mighty ‘ Khardungla Pass’. The pass is over 18000 feet and is tough to cross. Normally vehicles keep waiting for the weather to clear, which can take from few hours to few days, as it later happened in our case.
Soldiers to Siachen:
We were successful in crossing the pass on our first attempt. At the K Top we met few soldiers who were heading towards the Siachen Glacier. We all felt proud of our army again. They were dressed like Astronauts in their distinctive head gear and long boots. We had a small chat with them and learnt that the base camp of Siachen is at 16000 feet and they have to trek upto 24000 feet to reach the highest camp. The temperature is around - 40 degrees. They told us about a soldier who had removed his goggles for about 20 seconds in a hurry to read a mail from home. He was rendered partially blind for 4 days! We failed to understand the logic behind occupying such extreme terrain. Indian government apparently spends 10 crores per day to maintain the Siachen posts ! ! !
They told us that since it is not an international border, the land belongs to you if you are present there, else tomorrow some one might claim it. We are not willing to part with even an inch of our Indian soil they said. Jai Hind we replied!

Ki Ki so so Ladgyalo!

One more 'I was There' pic

We visited the villages of Pinchimik and Chemshen for our field visits. We also had a dip in the hot water springs at Pinamik which are reported to have some medicinal properties which unfortunately we could not discover.
On the ways we saw an amazing lake in the middle of a crater of a hillock. One has to climb over the hillock to reach the lake. The legend has it that on a full moon night, they can see Tibet , Potala palace and the forbidden capital of Lhasa. Needless to say, the locals throng the place and worship the lake.

In the middle of a mountain...

Udmaroo: This is definitely the most beautiful village we have seen in Ladakh. IT has to be reached after a trek of some 2 kms and crossing the river and again an uphill climb of considerable effort.

Udmaroo village

Paradise lost ... found !

Apricot blossom

Diskit Monastery:
Due to a snow storm on the Khardungla Pass, we were stuck in Diskit for about two days. We spent most of the time at the Dragon restaurant in Diskit as it had a T V and we could catch some IPL action sitting in Ladakh ! We were informed that in the monastery there is an idol of the mahakala. Some 600 years back there was an invasion of the Mongols onto Ladakh and Tibet region. The Locals won the war, and the Ladakhi king cut the head and right hand of the Mongol chieftain and placed in the hands of Mahakala. They can be seen in the pic below.

Diskit Monastery

Mahakala - The terrible god !

Cricket at 16000 feet:
Finally one day we decided to return to Leh at any cost. We proceeded towards Khardungla pass. We were stopped at the army checkpost at South Pullu. We waited long getting bored. Then we noticed the army people gathering for cricket. On requesting to join, we were told that it was part of their acclimatisation routine before they proceeded to Siachen. However they allowed us to join them. It was some experience playing cricket at 16000 feet and around -5 degrees at the least.

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