Monday, December 16, 2013

Around Leh

My earlier posts of Leh trip are here

Day 7: Nubra Valley – An odyssey

Day 8: Turtuk – The penultimate village!

Day 9: A hard day on the wheels

The body demanded some rest so the group decided to stay back for a day to relax and visit places around Leh. There were several surprises which led to changes in our plan. Kanthanna had to fly back the next day due to some personal emergency following that was Suma who would fly back to Bangalore.

Amidst all the surprises and vague decisions we enjoyed a hot bath and some nice sleep, watching TV in the lobby with some delicious parathas and thick curd. By evening we got ready to visit Hemis, Thikshey Monasteries. The very thought of riding on bike was so painful. But the monasteries were just 45kms from Leh and promised good roads.


Hemis Monastery is around 10kms from Karu. We reached Karu and approached a army truck for the route who were selling souvenirs. We found one of them speaking in Kannada and the other fellow in Tamil. It’s easy to guess what followed after this. We bid bye to them while they instructed us to take a right to go to Hemis monastery.


After this right, the road starts climbing a mountain and there is rich greenery everywhere around which is very evident. The sky contrast which we saw here was second to none. The monastery is in Tibetan architecture which is so very colorful to add to the beauty of the nature around. Any man made structure is seldom an enriching factor for the nature but these monasteries really are. The rich colors of the Gompa, prayer flags added a great variety to the surroundings. The Gompa has a huge courtyard sided with verandahs which exhibited colorful paintings of Buddha. Below this courtyard is a museum with a rich collection of Buddha statues and several ancient remnants.


IMG_0746There were shops selling calendars, post cards and books about Leh, Buddhism which tempted most of us to grab some specially the calendars. On our way back we saw a huge army store and naturally guys wanted to stop there. They opened the shop just for us and hurried to buy whatever we wanted quickly. After grabbing some really cool stuff we rode towards Thikshey monastery which falls in between Leh and Karu. It was late evening when we reached here. This one too is on a hill which gave a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains. The moon was glittering bright against the deep blue evening sky. We stopped here clicking pictures while few of us went venturing into the monastery.


It was dark by the time we made it back to Leh. We strolled around the market and gathered at Monalisa for dinner. Next day’s plan was in drop Kanthanna to airport and then start towards Pangong Lake but since Suma had to stay alone for another day in the homestay, Me & Raja agreed to stay back in Leh for another day.


As the group departed to Pangong Tso lake, we did nothing useful other than enjoying another round of hot bath and some good food in the homestay. By evening we planned to visit Leh Palace & Shanti Stupa. The Palace, though seemed close by was quiet interior. We took small, dusty roads which dint look like belonging to Leh mainly for the sort of crowd that we saw on our way. The Palace is on a small hill and stands like and emblem for the city of Leh. It is an old structure without much of an attention given to the maintenance. Rooms are dark and windows right away into the space around. The paintings hung negligently on the wall showing the history of this place and several sketches of Buddha which does not hold your attention because of the bad ambience. Nevertheless the view of the city from the palace is something remarkable. The brown mountains spread against the blue sky and the snow mountains at far distance forms a natural collage of the beautiful city.


From here we made our way to Shanti Stupa. A circular structure beautifully lit up in the dark. A meditation hall welcomes you into the calm of the place. The moon looked almost full spilling its light all around the city. A small café in the premises of this Stupa served one of the best maggies I have ever had. After a round of hot tea we sat out watching the game of dragon formed out of clouds galloping the moon into itself setting darkness all around and after a while the moon wins over it again to celebrates its win with all the more light and the game continued for rest of the night.