There’s a reason every traveler is attracted towards the mountains. There’s a certain charm and intimidation when we stare point blank at something so vastly bigger than us, towering over everyone, unbowed, unbent; consciously making us aware of our place in this world. In the face of that jagged, pointy, gigantic piece of hard earth, our everyday predicaments seem shamefully insignificant.
17th July, 2016. We reached Leh in the evening, after the endlessly exhausting journey through the highest passes of Taglang La, Rohtang La, Barlacha La, Nakee La and Lachulung La along along the Manali-Leh highway. The journey had sucked out any traveler’s curiosity we had left for the day; so all we wanted to do was find a place to rest. (where did they sleep?)(what did they eat?)
One of the best things about being in the mountains is waking up. Unlike the wretched waking up process back home, here you wake up ready to seize the day and nullify all the shiny happy people shit. We were looking forward to our road trip to Nubra Valley. It takes you about 3 hours to reach Kardunga La, the highest motorable pass, even though its barely 30km from Leh City. This was arguably the highest altitude we had travelled to, or at least it sure felt like it. At almost 18,000 ft. above sea level, the air was so thin there, it was getting harder to breathe. (how hard to breathe was it?) I don’t know if it was the excruciatingly dissipating amount of Oxygen making me delirious or the otherworldly breathtaking view from Kardungla; but there was a split second moment standing up there, with the Tiranga (Indian Flag) mounted on the edge of a mountain to my right, and the casually treacherous cliff to my left: but in that moment I understood what it actually meant to be on top of the world. You go on reading about other travelers experiences, and they all have this one exhilarating moment which justifies all the effort and feels like an accomplishment for ages to cherish. It’s ineffable, until you experience it yourself. And now every time I think about this trip, my mind goes straight to that moment, and I know this is something that’ll stay with me forever.
One of the locals brought me back to reality and told us we should leave soon to avoid any health issues, thus we kick-started our journey to Nubra valley. It was a steady descent along the way, although the roads were bumpy. After about 4 hours, we reached the Diskhit Monastry. It was a sunny day and there weren’t a lot of people around, so all we had to accompany us was the sun, the monastery, and endless picturesque landscapes. After another few miles of traversing, the landscape changed from rocky mountains to iridescent sand dunes. You never really think of sand complimenting for a beautiful sight, but when we looked upon the panoramic dunes spotted with trails of camels, their shadows washing over the surface like the most majestic creature ever; it incontrovertibly granted a breathtaking sight. We decided to find a place to rest and laze around there till sunset. It started to get really cold, really quickly there, but we waited around to witness the golden sunset over the Sand Dunes. Fulfilled yet exhausted, we reached The Great Himalayas Guest House near the Hunder Village, and got some well deserved meal and sleep for the night.
Early morning on the 20th, we started our drive to the Panamik Village, located at the northern-most ladakh region, literally at the end of the road. It’s a small preserved village, nestled under the Siachen Glacier, the highest battlefield in the world. The place is popular for its Hot Springs.
It’s made up as this clean, cozy little spot, with a large pool and a scenic view, with all the necessary facilities.
While returning we stopped by Sumur, a lesser known and peaceful village in the Nubra Valley. There, we visited the Samstem Ling Gompa, but, I couldn’t take any pictures on account of the bad lighting. Eventually, we decided to return to the Leh City, after making another brief stop via Kardungala.
Like i said in the beginning of this journal, there’s a reason every traveler is attracted towards the mountains, and it’s not necessarily the beauty or the adventure. It’s the inexplicable sense of belongingness in a remote destination that feels familiar to everyone alike. The mountains are home to nobody, so they can be home to everyone.
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