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.

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Their masters were nearby in their make shift tent .

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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.

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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.

Camel tales

One of the highlights of the visit to Nubra valley in Ladakh was the trip to Hunder valley to see the Bactrian camels.

HUNDER VILLAGE

HUNDER VILLAGE

Other than the distinct anatomic feature I did not know much about them.So it was interesting to learn later that they belong to the critically endangered species.The humps are used to store fat  which can be converted to  energy  and  when the fat is  used up they become floppy.

 BACTRIAN CAMEL

BACTRIAN CAMEL

As it was the peak tourist season  there was a long queue for the mandatory rides.I chose not to do that and was happy just being there and observing these gentle animals.

A TENDER MOMENT

A TENDER MOMENT

Marmots of Ladakh-furry delights

Spotted this charming fellow on the way back to Leh from Nubra valley. In no time he had  attracted a lot of people who were documenting his every move and also offering him biscuits and bananas.He must be used to people gaping at him and seemed impervious  to the onlookers.After sometime he got bored and went back to his  burrow.P8150415P8150408P8150407

There are about 14 species of marmots in the world and In Ladakh one can find  two  -the long tailed and the Himalayan marmots. They live in  colonies and their burrows are  exceptionally deep ranging from 2 to 35 m.They hibernate for 6-8 months  starting from  late september and live on roots,shoots and berries.

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Wish I could get inside his cosy burrow and  meet the rest of the colony members.

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Ladakh-Living spaces

The houses are built to suit the harsh  climatic conditions in this cold desert. They are made of sun dried  mud bricks,stones and timber and are well ventilated with mud and straw.Most are  two storied  with flat roofs  as there is hardly any rainfall.There are

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Many houses have  an adjoining pen.Found this charming sheep pen on the way and the lady of the house was gracious  and invited us inside.P8160453

This is a relatively new house.

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The hotel we stayed in also has the characteristic colours.P8130312

The mystic river-Pangong Tso

One of the highlights of the Ladakh trip was the day and night spent on the Pangong Tso .It was an enchanting experience.Where does one see such  riot of colours and reflections?Where can one find such tranquility  and joy?

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This is  one of the largest brackish lakes in Asia and   two thirds of the lake is in Tibet.The lake  is completely frozen during the winter season.I met a local family there.The living conditions are harsh but  they seem to be content.

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Left the place with a last look at the shimmering lake and the cairns.

Juley Juley Ladakh-Visit to Thiksey monastery

Whenever I think of Ladakh the first image that comes to mind is the magnificent Thiksey monastery. This is the largest monastery   and is about 18 km from  Leh.It is also known as Mini Potala  as it closely resembles the Potala Palace at Lhasa,Tibet.This is a sprawling 12 storey complex in dazzling shades of yellow,ochre and maroon.

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The most striking feature in this place is the  massive 15 metre statue of Maitreya  or future Buddha.It occupies two storeys and is made  by the local artists.

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I was enchanted by the serene and spiritual aura all around and left the place feeling blessed and content.

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Stressbusters and mood elevators

I have found a way to bounce back whenever I feel out of sorts and it has always helped me. What I do is  very simple-think of  a place  I have always wanted to visit  ,read about it and see the images .This is a sure way to get the endorphins rolling and  I am  back to normal in no time.

Yesterday I  was going through  my Ladakh pictures  and made a promise to myself that I would go there again.

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Juley juley Ladakh

Ladakh is fast becoming the most favoured  destination for Indians.I was happy to see  “desis” of all age groups when I went there in August 2014.  This was on top of my wish list for a long time .Whenever I read a Leh travelogue I would tell myself that I am going there at the first  opportunity.Well ,finally I found myself in this magical land and  it was a dream coming true after months of  frenetic planning and unanticipated delays.

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How can one process so many  emotions ?Can anyone do justice to its beauty?We can take  zillion  pictures but can we capture  all the moments?You have to be there to experience the magic .I wish this land retains its purity and charm  and that  one never gets to see a KFC or Pizza hut  there.

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.You may go there with   minimum expectations  but I assure you that you will return   a different person.I have read that many  got the wander bug after being there once.As for me,I want to go back and explore more .Are you a wanderer? Do you have a dream destination?