Thursday, October 06, 2011

Trip to Cold Desert - Ladakh Part2

This blog describes the journey from Day3 to Day6 of the trip which includes a trip to Ancient Village Dah, to the beautiful Suru Valley with the View of Nun-Kun peaks, Kargil-Leh travel with Lamayuru and Alchi monasteries and local sightseeing aroung Leh.

Map showing the route from Day3-Day6

Day 3 - 18th Aug - Kargil - Batalik - Dah - Kargil via Sanjak valley, Mulbek, Namikala

Started from the Hotel at 9:30am towards Dah.

From Kargil 4 roads go in 4 directions.
West road is from where we came that is Drass/Srinagar.
East road goes to Leh.
South road goes to Suru and Zanskar valley to Padum.
And North road goes to Dah village via Batalik. Proceeding on the same road one reaches Lamayuru by getting onto the Srinagar Leh highway at Khaltse. There is another road in a little bad condition which comes via Sanjak valley onto Srinagar-Leh highway just before Namikala.

This is the road we followed on the 3rd day to cover Batalik and Dah villages.

Just after leaving the road climbs up and we got some nice views of the Kargil town from this road.

Kargil Town view after just leaving the road towards Dah

There are 2 passes on this road to Simola village Hanula and Lalungla.
Simola village view from lalungla was very beautiful.

From Lalungla


It was the focal point of Kargil war being the strategic location.
It is situated on the bank of River Indus.
It is one of the 4 Brokpa villages in India but it was not accessible for outsiders being a sensitive location with vicinity of POK.

Shimola village from Lalungla

No permits are required to travel via this road to Batalik and ahead.
Just before the last loop to Batalik village entry we stopped to get the view of the village below and the mountains in front on the other side of which was POK.

Dah Village

This is another Brokpa Village.
Brokpa people are believed to be people from Alexandre's who stayed back in 1800s.
Their structure is quite different than those of Ladhaki's, with being very tall, blonde hair, fair skin and some have green eyes. But it is not yet clear if this is true.

Reached Dah village by 1pm. 
It is a very beautiful village with a narrow path leading to upwards on the hill.

Eurasian Magpie

Houses in Dah Village

As we go up we reach a little level ground which has fields mainly cultivating vegetables like tomato, cauliflower,etc.

Road to the village

There were huge number of apricot trees full of apricots. 
We just pluck a few (ofcourse with the permission of the villagers) and ate them.
Their taste was amazing.

Apricots drying in Dah Village
Tasty Apricots

Tree full of Apricots

Also met one elderly lady in their traditional dress.
She was very neatly dressed with flowers and all. It must be taking time but we were told that they dress this way daily.

Old lady in Dah village wearing their traditional dress

Sanjak Valley

Started back by 3:15pm and decided to return via sanjak valley.
This road is completely along the river Sanjak at the bottom of the valley. No passes at all till we reach the Srinagar-Leh highway.

Sanjak Valley

Chiktan Fort

Built in 16th century by Balti craftsmen it was earlier started to be built that Prince of Baltistan in 8th century. But he had a built a small palace.
There are many mystries around this fort and now it is in ruins due to lack of maintenance.
But architecturally it is supposed to be a marvel built with rammed earth and stone, wood was used to support it.

Chiktan fort in ruins

From here we start climbing Namikala (12000ft)

Srinagar Leh highway

Namikala Top


Chamba statue is a huge statue of Maitreya Buddha just besides the highway.
The town itself is situated at a height of 10,800 feet and the statue itself is of 656feet.
Some believe it is built around 1200CE by great scholar Rinchen Zangpo.

Just outside Champa statue before Mulbekh while going towards Kargil

Matriya buddha statue also called Champa statue

Prayer wheel at Champa statue

Stopped at Chamba statue  for something to eat as we had not found any suitable place to have lunch on the way.
Had maggi and coffee. It felt fantastic !!

From here moved on to Kargil and back at Hotel by evening.

Day 4 - 19th Aug - Suru valley and back

The plan for the day was to go till Parakchik to see the suru valley and get view of Nun-Kun peaks and then return back to Kargil for lunch. From here we were to proceed to Lamayuru for stay.

The road to Parkachik is not very good so we decided to leave early so that we can come back on time.
We started at 7:30am. Had breakfast at Sanku.

The scenery was beautiful. The landscape here was completely different than seen earlier.
The mountains had multi-colored rock formation and was quite green.

Suru Valley

Colorful mountains in Suru Valley

Snow peaks seen from Parkachik

From Panikhar we started getting views of snow peaks.

There was lot of bird activities and at a particular spot we stopped to do some birding.
Here there were as usual Magpies all around and some very near.
Also there were European goldfinch some smaller birds at a distance which could not be identified.
Then came the biggest delight, a fire fronted serin came and sat right on the road to drink water.
Then it flew a little and sat on a rock very near giving very good shots !!

Fire fronted Serin

Eurasian Magpie (mostly Juvenile)

The landscape little before parkachik changed from tall trees along the road to a little open contryside and rocky faces.

Nun - Kun Peaks

Nun Peak

View of Nun from Parkachik

Here there were many rosefinches. Also saw many Marmots on the way.
Got our first red billed choughs also at Parkachik.

Red billed Chough

We turned back from here at 12:30 and were back at Kargil at 3:30.

We straight away started for Lamayuru and would have reached Lamayuru well in time but unfortunately just 10km before Mulbekh there was blasting done for road widening in which some huge boulders had got loose and we were told that the clearing will be complete only by 12midnight.

So the only option before us was to come back and stay at Kargil.

Day 5 - 20th Aug - Kargil - Leh via lamayuru and Alchi

Today we had to cover longer distance than planned as we were staying at kargil and not Lamayuru.

So we started at 7:15am. Stopped at Mulbekh for breakfast at 8:30.
Stopped at Namikala(12,139feet) at 9:35am for some shots and then at Fotula (13,500ft) at 11am.
Fotula is the highest pass on the Srinagar-Leh highway.

Climbing Namikala

At Namikala top

Fotula top viewable while climbing

Fotula top

Very short distance from Fotula is Lamayuru monastery.

Lamayuru Monastery

Its at 11500ft on Srinagar-Leh highway after Fotula.
Rinchen Zangpo - translator of sanskrit Buddhist text to Tibetan. (958 - 1055CE)
He built over 100 monastries in western tibet including Tabo in spiti
One of the largest and oldest gompas in ladakh with a population of 150 permanent monks.
Masked dance festival.

On the way to Lamayuru

View of top from Lamayuru Monastery

Lamayuru Monastery

Huge prayer wheel at the monastery

Right in front of the monastery is Niranjan Guest House which is run by the monastery.
It is situated at a fantastic location and have heard that it has good facilities.
Unfortunately we could not stay here the earlier day because of the blasting before Mulbekh.

Monastery on the right and Niranjan guest house on the left

Alchi Monastery

Next stop was at Alchi monastrey.
Alchi Monastery is a part of monastic complex. It is one of the oldest and most famous.
It was also built by Rinchen Zangpo.

The entrance if through the village and there are many restaurants on the way.
Had some apricot juice in one of the restaurants.
Its a big complex having a prayer hall and temple and lot many prayer wheels around the boundary of the monastery.

On the way to Alchi

The back of the monastery has the amazing view of the Indus river and there is a way to walk around the monastery.

Nimoo - Confluence of Indus and Zanskar

On the way to Leh there is a place called Nimoo which is famous for the sangam of 2 big rivers Indus and Zanskar. We reached this place at around 5pm.

As we approached Leh we started seeing Stok peak on right with greenary in front of it being Choglamsar and Shey. Leh was in the left valley and Rumbak in the right valley.

Reached Leh by 6pm and checked into Paul Guest House right in the Zangsti area of fort road. It was very reasonable at 900Rs for 3bed and Rs800 for 2bed, clean and with all basic facilities of electricity and hot water and very spacious.

Day 6 - 21st Aug Local sightseeing around Leh

Next day was kept for acclimatisation.
Ritesh and his wife had arrived at 7:35am and as they had just arrived by flight they were to take the whole day rest.
We started at 9:45am for the sightseeing.

First stop was Thiksey with a big prayer hall and a Buddha statue.

From the terrace of monastrey we got good view of the leh city and stok.

As we climbed down we got fanstastic views of Thiksey monastery from below.

Thiksey Monastery

Next we went to Shey palace where there is a 7.5m tall Buddha statue.While climbing to the shey palace we could see the shey marshes on the other side of the road, a fantastic place for birding as per reports.

Shey Marshes

Went back for lunch to Leh city and started by 4:15pm for Choglamsar for some birding.
Saw lot of wagtails, some juvenile, a rosefinch, magpies, hoppoes and mostly a mountain chiffchaff.

Mountain Chiffchaff (yet to confirm)

There were also wader sightings mainly singular - green sandpiper, black winged stilt, common sandpiper, little stint.
We also got a surprise sighting of an Himalayan Weasel.

Himalayan Weasel


Kvinayak said...

Very good photos. It is a good guidance for anyone visiting the area.

alex said...

Great post.

alex said...

Great post.