NL flag Travelogue Himachal Pradesh/Ladakh June 2011

 

Part 4 - 2 Ladakh, Leh - Monastery Tour - Tour Tsomoriri(map)

 

When reading the travel report: click at a picture and it will be increased. If you see a link, like:Namasté: click on the link and it will be opened. When referring to a map, the map can be accessed by clicking on the link.

 

English is not our native language, so we apologize in advance for translation- spelling- and grammar errors

 

kaart

Day 17 - Friday, June 17, 2011 

 

A day off in Leh. We make it ourselves easy. We slept well but are still a bit tired. We have done a lot the past days. After breakfast we stay a while and relax on our balcony. We go into town and for shopping. We score a beautiful old prayer wheel, and a scarf. At noon we rest and in the evening we go to town again. Such a nice - in between - day. Oh jeh, almost forgotten, also bought 4 beautiful necklaces!

 

Day 18 - Saturday, June 18, 2011 

 

Today an excursion to three beautiful monasteries in the Indus Valley. Thinles picks us up near the hotel, this time with another driver and a van.

 

Thikse (map), at 3280 meters altitude is the first monastery we visit . The monastery is about 600 years old and consists of 12 floors which are built against the mountain culminating in the house of a reincarnated lama at the top.

 

The Gonpa contains 10 temples and in the monastery itself are houses for about 100 monks of the yellow-hat sect of Buddhism who live there. The monastery complex is very well maintained and very photogenic! In terms of structure it is reminiscent of the familiar images of the Dalai Lama's palace in Lhasa, Tibet.

The second monastery we visit is the much smaller monastery Thakthok (map).

 

Tharkthok means rock roof and the name is justified. The monastery was built in and against a rock wall at 3880 meters around a meditation cave from the 8th century Tantric Buddhist master Padmasambhava. Impressive!

The third monastery is the famous Hemis monastery (map) at 3650 meters. The Hermis monastery is the largest and richest monastery in Ladakh.

 

The monastery has a very rich collection of ancient relics. The relics are exhibited in a museum. We visit the museum and wander around for a while in the buildings and the courtyard. An old monk with large spectacles sings mantras and plays the cymbals. Monks in the courtyard are practicing for the dance with the sacred masks which is performed once a year. It was very special. the monks take no notice of the visitors. They focus on their own activities.

That gives us lots of freedom. We have lunch at the monastery.

 

In all monasteries we have visited till now a lot of renovation work is done.

 

There is also a lot of other construction work done in Ladakh. The workers usually don't use stones from a brick factory for the construction work, instead the use a blend of natural stones and clay. Regularly we see men with large water containers on a cart. They run up and down the hill with the cart and share water. In the morning we see a water truck, with a line of people waiting there to fill plastic bottles. Lining up for water? Water clearly is scarce here!

 

We both are quickly tired of walking on stairs and uneven terrain. A lack of oxygen we think in combination with a cold. But it doesn´t have a negative effect on our plans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 19 - Sunday, June 19, 2011 

 

8 o'clock in the morning we leave for a three-day Tshomoriri excursion (South-East of Leh - map). Tsho Moriri, a turquoise blue lake at 4530m altitude is at the centre of the nomads area. Thinles and Jigmet both are back again to accompany us this trip. So that will be fun. In the beginning of the route there are many arid pieces, with from time to time surprisingly shrubs with roses. Along the way here, where quite a few accidents happen, are all signs with slogans like;

 

- Better Mr. Late than late Mr!

- Drinking whiskey, driving risky.

- It´s not a rally but a valley!

- Heaven, hell or Mother earth, the choice is yours.

- Overtaken beware of Undertaker.

- Don´t gossip, let him drive.....

 

The tour is getting more beautiful. We see a small lake. Clear light blue and green shades of the water, beautiful green mountains with white snow headings, white salt rash, two huge herds of sheep with their shepherds and a few nomads tents.

 

Ladakh is truly a paradise for travellers. We stop and enjoy the view of the peaceful landscape. We are not real hikers; difficult walks are to hard for us to handle, but here deep in the solitude of the high mountains it is as if we make a trek with the car. Unique and very photogenic. We drive on and stop at a nomad tent. We visit the family.

The men are not there and Grandma guards the tent, the children and a part of the herd with just newly born goats. Nice people!

 

Thanks to Thinles we can communicate a little bit. We have balloons for the kids, always a success. Within the shortest times many screams. The children throw with the balloons.They have the space here! The goats are Pasmina goats again with a long coat. The newly born kids are adorable.

After a while we leave again.

 

We arrive at the larger Tsokar lake. (map). We pass an army tent where Mr. soldier asks whether we might want to buy something of his table ... Jan buys a porcelain plate of the Tanglang pas; We drive to a village.

 

The area we drive in is a protected nature reserve at about 4500 altitude. The large lake Tsokar is more than 95 meters deep. Last year WWF (or the UN) scientists were here to measure the exaxt depth of the lake, but a violent storm broke loose causing severe destruction. Result, the monks were very angry blaming the scientists that they have disrupted the peace of this sacred lake. They may never come back! Punishment of the gods!

In a simple guesthouse (Tsomo Ri Ri) in Thukje (map)we find a nice room for the night. A shared toilet at the back of the corridor, but a spacious room with a magnificent view over the lake. We are the only guests.

 

Thinles brings us mushroom soup and fresh roasted popcorn in the room. Delicious! When we go outside we walk direction lake for a while .

 

The lake turns out to be more far away then expected and the land gets swampy. This lake is also deeper and the color more darker blue than the previous lakes we saw. Jan continues to walk down to the lake. Ingrid looks for a nice stone to sit on. What a beautiful snowy mountains in the distance. When we return from our walk Thinles has dinner ready. How luxury!. The meal again was varied and delicious. At night, we did not really sleep well. A lot of suffering from thick noses and always blood when blowing. As always in the distance ... ... .... ... ... barking dogs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 20 - Monday, June 20, 2011  

 

In the morning we enjoy the view at the lake from our bed. Nice! Thinles has made a tasty breakfast, pancakes and omelettes. We eat it in the breakfast room of the guesthouse. Outside is wonderful. Such a blissful moment that you wish you could hold the feeling forever. Nice weather. Radiant !

 

Shortly after we left Thukje we stopped at some nomad tents. It shows to be a real settlement with several tents, families and herds. The men are just about to leave for the mountains with the herds. We watch them as they disappear behind the horizon. Not only the goats but also the people are very agile climbers here!

 

We note that a few women are talking excitedly to each other near a the tent. Finally one older woman steps forward and asks for a lift for her daughter and het grandchild to a settlement nearby. She is very happy that they're allowed to join us in the cas. We already had several hitch hikers. They always ask us if we have a problem with it. But we don't mind. Work is hard, traffic is little and distances are far in this area for the local people. So hitch hiking is a perfect solution when you have the opportunity.

En route we see wild asses mountain marmots and yaks. Actually we think that the first lake yesterday, because of the wonderful silence and purity of nothing more than a few tents and some animals, is more impressive than lake Tsokar.

 

The clouds above the lake provide ever-changing colors of the water. We have lunch - sitting on a mat - on the banks of Kanu Thadsan lake. We are in the middle of nowhere now, but even then Thinles succeeds to provide us a delicious meal. It is a mystery where all the food is coming from.

 

We enjoy the unique place where we sit and the care we get. When we are in the car again we drive to Tsomoriri lake (map), a salt lake. Many layers of salt around the edges of the lake.

We Proceed to a homestay in Korzok. The homestay appears to be not more then a very small dark room with no windows or anything, no seat too. We discuss and decide to drive on.

 

On the other side of the lake is a tent camp. The tent are 2 person tents and look fine. So it is camping again at 4500 meters altitude!

 

It is very windy. We take it easy. We make a long walk along one of the stupa’s, located in the beautiful evening light. Around the stupa are beautifully carved stones containing the carved mantras and prayers from here. Thinles and Jigmet also camp here just outside the camsite in their own tent. We also see a number of mountain backpack hikers come. They also put their tent outside the camp. In the evening we eat in the tent and Thinles Jigmet. A beautiful spacious tent with kitchen and “diner-room”. The iron trunk with a cloth on it as a table, candles on the table and sleeping mats as the couch. They even had backed us some Chocolate Cake! On the way to our tent we enjoy the thousands clear stars above us!!!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 21 - Tuesday, June 21, 2011

 

We slept well in our tent. Ingrid awaked around 5 am, but as there was no electricity the night before after 21.00 hours and thus no light, we had more then enough sleep.

 

At 7 o'clock in the morning we sit before the tent and enjoy in the sun, moments later we have to hide in the tent because it suddenly snows.... minutes later the sun appears again, it stops snowing and we get out again. Crazy an funny all these weather changes in such a short time!

 

Around 7:30 am we have breakfast in front of the tent of Thinles and Jigmet. Omelette and freshly baked bread. After eating we pack our bags, ready to leave we sit in the sun ans wait for Thinles and Jigmet to get ready. Around 8:30 departure. Yes, yet another beautiful ride through the rugged mountains. Seen a lot of animals, including many marmots, wild donkeys, a herd of yaks, and wild horses. We go back to the Tang Lang pass, it remains a superb spot! There is still quite a lot of snow.

 We have our lunch between the "red" mountains near a stream.

 

Picnicking with all kinds of goodies. After eating: throwing stones in the River. Always fun. Thinles and Jigmet take a bath in the river, but that really too for cold for us.

 

Around 3 pm we are back in our hotel in Leh. On the balcony of our room we rest a little from the tiring journey and drink some tea. Against 5 p.m. we leave for a short visit to Leh. Checking e-mail. A nice long mail from our daughter Marjon. Everything oké at home. We eat in a restaurant at the roof terrace with a nice view on Leh . The restaurant was just opened. To the toilet was not yet ready! Nice view on the main street and the mosque. The food was good but it lasted an eternity! Unfortunately, tonight no camera so no pictures. We end the day with a coffee moment on the balcony and then ..... it is time to pack our bags. We had great time and made some wonderful trips in Ladakh. The organization and service provided was perfect. But now it's time to say goodbye and go to bed. Tomorrow we leave for Delhi with the plane.  


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To: part 5 - Final stage fly to Delhi!