In the span of 40 days, 40 nights we managed to visit every nook and cranny corner of Ladakh, except Zanskar valley, which is called one of the remotest places on earth. It is closed by road for around 7-8 months in a year, having access only in peak summer or peak winter.
How in peak winter?? Well the river is frozen so hard that people drive vehicles over the river!
We also managed to build a social circle in Leh. Almost the entire market knows us. Either they know us so well that they even lend the books form their shop without asking for a penny, or they are terrified of us because of our bargaining down to the penny! We used to play the ‘Student ‘Card everywhere, a certain shopkeeper was in particular scared of Hanish because he managed to bargain heavily for an artefact for which she quoted 150 Rs, he finally bought it for 15 Rs!
We made friends with a guy named ‘Namgial’ ( the most common name in Ladakh). He originally owns a business, but is temporarily driving the vehicles they own. He is a stud of his own accord. His dressing, demeanour and refined taste in music used to make us feel like rustic bumpkins in comparison. We planned to go to Tso Moriri Tsokar with him in a Scorpio with an amazing audio system. The only problem was that he loved his car more than his would be wife … this meant that whenver we came across a rough patch on road , he would inevitably slow down to speed of a caterpillar driving us impatient.
Night in the School at Sumdho:
Namgial had promised us a free stay at a Tibetan school as his cousing sister was the Principal there. Bad news was that since we arrived quite late in the evening, they had given the guest rooms to some angrez family. This meant that we were spending a night in a classroom.
It was the coldest night we spent in Ladakh, with temperature dipping certainly below – 15 or 20. The worst part was that the room was not airtight. The harder we curled in the mattress, the harder we shivered.
It was a school for kids of nomadic Tibetans. Do nomads still exist outside our social textbooks? Yes they do. They keep shifting with their cattle, their only possessions, to wherever they can find grazing grounds for their cattle. We clicked few pics with the kids. If -20 is the temperature in summer months, we can only imagine what the condition is in peak winter. They told us that if we touch any metal part with bare hands… it sticks instantly to it!!!
We decided to send our shaitan kids, in future, to this school for a month to face some realities of life! But only in peak summer if we want to see them alive.
Snow capped mountains around, vast grasslands extending till as far as your sight can go .. Wild horses grazing around lazily .. and a beautiful lake in the middle of it. It certainly looks like a hollywood set or like a scene out of Switzerland. The slight disappointment was that major portion of the lake was frozen at the time we went. It clearly wasn’t summer in this part of India, while it was a scorching 44 degrees back home in Hyderabad. Talk about geographical diversity!
Tso kar Lake
Tso Moriri Lake:
This was arguably the best thing we saw in Ladakh after the Khardungla. Deep shades of blue all around. The lake seemed to extend til miles ahead with no end in sight. It was like a sea with the ripples made by the strong gushes of wind create a feeling of waves.
It is set in a picturesque location with mountains all around it in varied shades of brown and black. Half the lake was frozen, but it was too vast to be entirely frozen at this time in the year. There a lot of camping sites around the place and as was usual with al our trips; we were the only tourists in the place.