July 13, 2008 @ 8:07 am
This is a continuation of the previous post on our short trip to Ladakh.
After seeing the Indus river on that evening, we left to see another Buddhist monument – The Shanti Stupa. The Shanti Stupa stands majestically amidst a backdrop of high peaks and the sun shone down on the monastery, giving it all a divine feel.
Treks are usually not my cup of tea (or kahwa, for that matter), but this place is too appealing to be missing out on long walks. We set out to go to the Gyamska valley (at least that’s how our driver pronounced the name) and were greeted by this structure at the entrance:
To make it even better, there was a glacial stream flowing right through this valley. The water was ice cold and crystal clear. And, of course, it was wonderful to drink it right off the stream as it gurgled downhill.
Our next stop was the famous Khardung La pass, the world’s highest motorable road, located at a height of 18380 feet above sea level. The road to get there was very scenic and I got to see some of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen in my life:
What greeted us was expanses of white snow on the sides of the mountains and a sudden chill in the air. The snow was not as clean as I had anticipated, but I managed to dig some out from below the top layers:
Here at Khardung La there is a small restaurant that serves tea and the best Maggi I have ever eaten. Seriously, there was something different about the Maggi cooked here. Or probably it was just that the cold was too much and the hot Maggi in simmering water made it feel heavenly.
Another place we visited on our way was the Magnetic Hill. Local knowledge states that when a car is placed on a particular location on the road, in neutral, it moves uphill towards a mountain which is nicknamed the Magnetic Hill. We did see the thing in front of our eyes, but one of our guides spoiled it for us by saying that some sceptics consider this to be an optical illusion. It was too cold for me to argue my thoughts on the concept of optical illusions, so I let it be.
Our organizers had arranged for a camp outing along with lunch on the banks of the Indus. This was a beautiful moment and we got to spend hours sitting alongside the river, with our legs dangling into the cold water while the mountains watched patiently.
This, the photo on the right, was the loo of our camp. It was a hole in the ground, covered with a colourful looking tent, zip et al.
After visiting the various market places, and checking out a cool restaurant called the Wonderland (cheesy name yeah, but a great roof-top seating makes up for the name), we finally had to bid farewell to this paradise of this part of the world.
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