September 16, 2007

ladakh, land of peace and quiet - part II

Time to continue the Ladakh story started in the last post. So we reached our guest house in Leh on Monday night at around 10 PM. Pankaj was bowled over by the beautiful smile of the receptionist and manager of the guest house, a simple country girl. Actually, she was cute :) She was daughter of the guest house owner. The whole guest house was run by family people only - gardening, managing, cooking, cleaning everything. The people there were really nice. They cooked food just for us even though the regular dinner time was already over.

We had a good sleep that night. Next morning, after having Ladakhi breakfast (ladakhi bread, honey jam and butter), we went out to see Leh. Main market was about 20 min away from the guest house and the whole route was filled with the handicraft shops and scenic views on both the sides. We had lunch there in the market itself and came back. Then we again slept off in the afternoon. The 2-days travel was showing up on us finally. In the evening, we decided to see Shanti Stupa as it was very close to our guest house. This is one amazing place. It's where you feel the power of the space the most. We climbed about 500 steep stairs to reach there. Feeling of being at the top, strong breeze in the hair, and powerful space around you; it works on you immediately. There is also a temple there called Shanti Stupa temple. It's a "peace" temple. You just have to be there to calm yourself, nothing else is required. Since it was getting dark we came down after spending about an hour there. But, we almost resolved in our hearts to come back there again.

Next two days we didn't go for any long trip. What did we do? We got up by 7 am, had breakfast on time, played table tennis, went out to see nearby places, had lunch outside, came back in the evening, spent time in guest house library, talked to the guest house people, had dinner in the guest house, watched stars in the night sky and just relaxed. It was a retreat for us. Time was going so very smoothly. We saw Spituk and Shankar gompas (monasteries) in these two days. Spituk gompa is little far from Leh and you have to take a bus for that, while Shankar gompa was only 30 min walk away from our guest house.

On Friday, we started for Pangong Lake (Tso) in the morning after having our breakfast. It's about 5 hrs drive away from Leh. We passed mighty Chang La on the way. It's the third highest road of the world. We reached Pangong Tso by 3 PM. And what a place it is. Try to think of a huge sea like lake, surrounded by the mountains, at the height of 4250 meters, and with only 5 people for a long long distance. Yes, it's as magical as it sounds. The ultra clear water, ever-changing colors, shadow of the mountains, and sound of nothing but the soft breeze. You feel like being there always. I can't say it enough in words. You have to be there to feel it. We started back from there at about 6 PM.

On the way back, we decided to stay in Tangse village. It's a very small village, with not more than 50 houses I'd say. We found a place to stay there just for Rs 300/- a night. There was no tourist there except us. The morning there was really really pleasant. The weather was so good. Sky was absolutely clear and very blue :) After breakfast, we took a walk in the village, and met school going kids. At about 10 AM, we started back for Leh. We reached Leh by 1 PM.

That day we visited Shanti Stupa again :) This time we went little early to enjoy it for longer. We sat there and just sat there for a long time. We could see a thunderstorm coming from the mountains at the far end. It made breeze even stronger. I can remember myself lying there and singing "Trying to find, trying to find, where I've been" of Kashmir of Led Zeppelin. The feeling was absolutely great.

Now only Sunday was left. Monday morning we had to fly back to Delhi. On Sunday we went out to see Leh Palace. It was in the interiors of the city. We walked for long to reach there and to come back we walked for even longer. While coming back we found a very good and genuine handicrafts shop. It wasn't in the main market so prices were pretty OK. That's where we did our shopping. In the evening, we settled our guest house bills and asked the lady to book a cab for us for next morning. Next day we took the cab, reached airport and boarded our flight to Delhi. From inside the flight, we got some amazing views of the mountain tops.

That's how our journey ended and somewhere in our minds a new journey started.

Links to Leh albums: Reaching Leh In Ladakh