Saturday, August 25, 2012

Leh Diary 8 - Hemis, Pangong, Numbra

Link to Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6, Part 7

Everyone crashes. Some get back on. Some don't. Some can't... Don't Complain ..

Next day was an additional day we were going to spend in Leh for Hemis. Just before the trip we came to know that once in 12 years Hemis fefstival will be on 29-30 June. We thought that it will be wonderful opportunity to relax and enjoy
an incredible opportunity to experience ancient monastery culture, as well as check out local handicrafts which are also on sale. Masked dances, traditional music, and a unique setting all make for a once in a lifetime experience! 

But before reaching Hemis, we have to arrange for permits ((ILP) to visit Pangong Lake and Nubra Valley. It was a Sunday and due to festival govt permit offices were closed. Because of the injured persons and also due to tight schedule - we decided to hire an agent & vehicle. We then arranged to book a mini-bus and asked him to arrange the permits. So that we can cover Hemis, Pangong, Khardung La - Nubra in 3 days....

The largest Buddhist Institution in Ladakh – located in the highland town of Hemis at 11,000 feet altitude, 40 kms from Leh (towards Karu)– the Hemis Monastery celebrates the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava in a grand and elaborate annual 2-day festival. Main attraction of the Hemis Festival is the performance in the Monastery courtyard by the Lamas of the Monastery – a Mask Dance which depicts the victory of good over evil. 








Loooking at the above pictures, it doesn't seem to do the justice to the multi-colored event. However, we felt it was totally out-of-sync and way too slow to be tagged as once in lifetime opportunity. We left early and returned to Leh for some shopping, food and relaxation

Next day, the bus ride took us back towards Karu and then took a diversion for going to Pangong . So if you are OK with basic hotelling and small town atmosphere, Karu is more conviently located. Once can stay here and roam around before finally going to Leh and Nubra. 

The road to Pangong Tso (as its called in Ladakhi), passes through Chang La, which is the third highest motor able road in the world at 17,590 feet. Soon after we left the green Karu behind, the surrounding were first barren and then turned white. The snow has survived the scorching heat and we stopped for pictures...



The road after Chang La was bad, but was more than compensated by the surroundings that offered even more stunning views the mountains. 











We were happy for not being in the driver seat. It was like a college trip with comments, songs, fun with lot of noise. And then it happened - Pangong Tso. I don't have the words to express the blue. The blue was mesmerizing,  hypnotic, exciting, brilliant, dazzling, heavenly, sensational, smashing, spectacular, striking and after I'm done with all the these adjectives, what still can not expressed is THE blueness of the blue water. Once there, we sat by the lake on a slightly quieter side and just watched time melting in the blue...  





Its was nothing like I had seen before, the entire spectrum of violet to blue could be observed and what's more, it changed color/shade during three hours that we spent there. The magical cyan water had a soothing, calming effect.. hardly anyone spoke during the return journey almost up-to Chang La... 

The next day was set for World Highest Motorable Road/Pass - Khardung La and the sand desert in a snowy mountains - Nubra Valley. The road was equally (or more) bad. And lot stretch was still covered with hard ice - and even in a mini-bus we experienced a slipping of the tyres at few locations. 

Nubra Vallye is a weard sort-of-place which is a high altitude desert with very scant vegetation, sandy plains and even camels in the middle of mountains.



While returning from Nubra, we stopped at Maitreya Buddha (a.k.a. Future Budda) at Diskit. As per the locals, it (the statue) is believed to bring peace and prosperity to the region.



While returning we stopped at Khardung La. It was afternoon and the road which was quite solid in the morning started to turn muddy due to ice melting and at lot of places water was flowing with quite a force across the road.




After returning to Leh, we did small shopping and after dinner were early to bed. Tomorow we start again on bike for return journey and we have to cover 1200 Kms in 3 days !

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