Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Back from Trekking in Zanskar - Darcha to Lamayuru

Photos from the trek are finally Up. October 18th, 2009.

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Greetings from Delhi. Hope all is well and enjoying the last days of the summer.

I have been away for a month, trekking through the Zanskar and Ladakh ranges of the Himalayas, starting in Manali and ending in Leh. The foot journey started at Darcha, covering ~350 km over 22 days and ending at the Lamayuru Monastery (a few hours drive east of Kargil). En route, we crossed 11 passes and half the foot distance was along the Zanskar river, passing some very beautiful villages, otherwise a vast land of mountains and full of stars at night.

The most notable pass was the first on the 5th day called "Shingo La" at an altitude of 5050m. This is also the birth place of the Zanskar river. The challenging part of this leg was a river crossing for which we had to be on top of glacier before 10 AM to avoid the glacier melts and the rush of the river. I did take a patel shot standing on top of the glacier, right after which I slipped a few meters towards the river. I ended up sitting there for a few seconds and started climbing again following the expert guidance from Puja. Walking on the glacier knowing that the river is flowing beneath it was exhilarating.

The scenery changes in this region every 2 hours and with every range. Every pass has its beauty trapped in the valley. The gorges with at least 500m walls of the mountains are spectacular. Though the last gorge to the Lamayuru monastery was dry, dusty, and long, which was not fun. My picture attached is from the top of the "Hanuma La" pass at 4800m, where all the eye can see was the ranges of mountains to come. The peak to the right hand side is the "Shinge La" pass, meaning "Lion's Breath" at 5230m (highest on the trek), which we climbed two days later on the Indian independence day (looks very close in the picture).

A noteworthy town after the "Hanuma La" pass is "Lingshed". The monastery is well known and old. We reached this village two days prior to the arrival of His Holiness Dalai Lama. If we had any idea of his coming, we would have planned better. Along the passes, we saw entire villages packed and moving to Lingshed to see His Holiness. Couple of well wishers were carrying sofa's on there backs, hoping that the Dalai Lama might sit on it.

The end of the journey from Lamayuru to Leh was a four hour drive along the Sindhu river. We are still sorting through the 1000 odd pictures and will post a selected bunch in the coming weeks.

One objective that we did not achieve is the weight loss. We had a fantastic support staff and the cook from Nepal even managed to bake a cake in the middle of nowhere. The menu was simple, but included pakoras for evening snacks and bed tea in the tent :-)

As beautiful a trek this has been, the sad part is the construction. There is a road being built along the sections of the trek. This will change the trek route, now supported by the horses and donkeys, to the one supported by the horse power of the jeeps and vans. At the current rate, may be in 5-10 years. On our second last pass "Sirsir La", as we reached the top of the pass, we saw a bulldozer cutting through the other side :-(

We had a fantastic time along the trek, besides complaining about waking up early and having to clear the tent in the cold. We do hope that some of you will have a chance to see this part of the world before the cars and trucks outrun them.

Cheers,
Sarath

5 comments:

Yogita said...

hey!!
this sounds lovely!
I want to see more pictures please.

would have loved to be there.

yogita

KD said...

Lovely Pictures

Vikrant said...

A vivid description of the trek. Nice pictures

Kuruvilla said...

Sarath,

This is really cool. I am amazed at some of the remoteness of this region. Thanks for sharing.

Kuruvilla

SURESH said...

Very nice.