A chilling night at Sarchu

Sarchu-the name itself sounds  sinister.We did not know what  awaited us when we halted at the Mulkila adventure camp  enroute to Manali from Leh.This is a  one of the stopovers on the Leh -Manali route and is open from May to October.It  took us 7 hours to cover the distance of 257 km from Leh.As we had gone to Leh from Srinagar, we were already acclimatised and  none of us had any symptoms of acute mountain sickness though Sarchu  at   14,070 ft is higher than Leh.The camp site was picturesque and the tents are well kept with attached bathrooms.

MULKILA ADVENTURE CAMP

MULKILA ADVENTURE CAMP

By 6 30  it was dark and we started  to hear  and feel the howling winds.It was getting bone chilling cold and uncomfortable.The temperature was 20°C and it was little comfort to know that in winter it drops to -35°C.It was the longest night  of my life.Nothing could induce sleep and I was looking at the watch every 5 minutes.Got out of the tent at 6 and went around the camp .I  found this delightful flock going about their morning  activities.

P8170033

P8170035

P8170036

image (6)

Their masters were nearby in their make shift tent .

image (4)

image (5)

These shepherds- Ram Lal and Krishna told me that this is their summer camp and during winter they will take their herd to Manali.

Soon I was witness to a  glorious sunrise.It was a real treat watching those goldren rays coming down and lighting up the  whole mountain.

image (10)

image (2)

image (1)

image

So Sarchu was  an experience I don’t intend forgetting.After coming back I had discussed my spine chilling night with veteran Ladakh travellers.All were of the opinion that one should camp either at Keylong or Jipsa which have hotels and guesthouses unlike Sarchu with its tented accommodation.

Kindertransport-A mission of hope and glory.

Have you heard of Kindertransport?I never knew .Movies have opened my eyes to  many wonders  and yesterday a  documentary made me see the horrors of holocaust through the eyes of children.

 

Into the arms of strangers-stories of the Kindertransport is a an academy award winning  documentary .It is a heartwrenching account of  those dark days  and a  rescue mission  which saw thousands of jewish children  between the age of  5 and 17 from Germany,Austria,Hungary and Czechoslovakia leaving their parents  to go to foster homes Britain-the only country which agreed to  accept them.Between December 1938 and August 1939 more than 10,000 children were brought to Britain and  this is their story narrated by the survivors in their 60s and 70s.

They recall their idyllic carefree life with parents,the preparations for the trip,final goodbyes,the journey ,discovery of a new country and learning to live with foster parents.They speak from the heart and  tell you their struggles to adjust to the new family and surroundings and living with the hopes of reuniting with their families.They come to know of their parents and siblings perishing in the concentration camps and a few fortunate ones are reunited with their families.What I find most refreshing is that  they narrate their stories with candour .They also acknowledge the foster parents and their  limitations.They are all survivors and  show immense dignity and grace.Many have settled down in UK and USA and  are shown leading meaningful lives with children and grandchildren.

There are some movies  which has to be seen by all and this is one of them.Yes,there are many popular movies like Schindler’s List,The boy in the striped pyjamas,The pianist  etc.I find this  more intense and  moving.Even if you are not a fan of  cinema please find time to watch this.

Four statues were erected to commemorate  this epic rescue mission in UK,Poland,Germany and Holland.Frank Meisler ,the sculptor   had been on kindertransport.What an irony of fate.

Kindertransport Kindertransport_holand1

Kindertransport-Meisler

Courtsey google images

 

“I ceased to be a child when I boarded the train in Prague.It is strange that it’s only six years out of a long life and  those six years will affect the rest of your life” -this is how Eva Hayman  ,a survivor recalls .

I salute all those  kind souls who made the mission possible and those  foster parents who gave them a home and life.

Floating palaces and fulfilled dreams

Kashmir conjures images of snowclad mountains,pristine lakes,,heavenly gardens ,chinar trees,shikaras and houseboats.It had been my dream to stay in one  and that finally happened in August 2014.Enroute to Ladakh, our group had an overnight stay  in a houseboat named Sea Palace.Most of the houseboats  in the vicinity were occupied as it was the peak tourist season.

image (6)

HOUSEBOATS

These houseboats   are  categorised    into luxury,deluxe and standard and they  are anchored unlike their Kerala counterparts.Our houseboat  had 3 bedrooms,dining room and kitchen and was   tastefully furnished.The boats are made of cedarwood and the accessories are from walnut. The luxury ones have 5 star facilities with  plush interiors.

image (5)

LUXURY HOUSEBOATy-google images

LUXURY HOUSEBOAT google images

P8090033

MY BEDROOM

MY BEDROOM

Got up early to watch the sun rise.Guess who  came to keep me company?

CAN YOU SEE ?

CAN YOU SEE ?

image (7)

P8090027

Though short it  was an unforgettable experience.  I wish to go back  and explore more of Dal lake .

Shikara not Shakira

A visit to Srinagar is incomplete without a stay in a houseboat and a   boat ride in the famous  Dal lake.Being a fan of movies I have seen  several   hit songs  with the hero wooing the heroine  picturised in these  popular water  boats known as “shikara”.They are the  lifeline of this huge lake and the two hour ride is a unique experience.

P8090017

image (1)

Apart from the tourists  sporting the traditional kashmiri outfits one can see  vendors with flowers,vegetables and handicrafts.

image (7)

image

unnamed (1)

Dal lake is a  birds paradise and  during winter  migratory birds from Siberia and  central Asia flock to this place.  I spotted a few egrets.

GREAT EGRET

GREAT EGRET

P8100056

P8100055

P8100057

image (3)

Floating gardens are another attraction.

image (2)

P8090018

After witnessing a glorious sunset over the lake  we made our way to the  houseboat for an overnight stay.

image (4)

Have you been on a shikara? What was your experience?