Rise and Shine… !!! I was the first to wake up by around 6.. The sun was still rising from behind the hills and the bright rays seemed to create a shiny bridge over the waters leading upto the mountains. I grabbed by tripod and gear, walked upto the lake and got busy taking some shots. The ever changing colors of the water and the area is a treat to the eyes of any nature lover. The beauty is something i cannot begin to describe. It did take my breath away. I also found several small little chortens created on the banks by using the stones lying on the shore. These Chortens seemed to remind me of the Lagori game we used to play as kids.
While i was busy capturing the natural beauty through my lens, at a distance, i find a stranger waving a holler at me. Not sure of who it is, i ignored the person and continued with what i was doing. A lil later, the same chap walks upto me and apologizes and explains that he thought i was someone he knew.. I told him thats alright.. We spoke for a lil while and then i realized hes from a small town called Ujire near the coastal city of Mangalore. He introduced himself as Gopinath and said he knew my cousins and uncles pretty well. We spoke for quite a bit, took some pictures together and then he introduced me to his family. He was travelling with another family who happened to be relatives of his. Their son was a good friend in college and also a senior. I just couldn’t help but realize that India has one of the largest population in the world yet, its such a small world. Come on.. what were the odds of me finding a Konkani family in one of the sparsely populated areas in the world and that too the family i met turned out to be that of a close friend from college. In a way it felt nice. I bid them a safe and fun journey ahead and i started back to my tent.
Breakfast was at 8 AM.. we got a bucket of hot water, Though i felt the strange urge to take a shower 🙂 , i decided not to. Managed to take a quick wash and went to the dining area.. the breakfast though was very simple.. we had Indian Paranthas with pickle, curd and coffee.. They also have corn flakes and milk but chose the paranthas over it. We met the second Russian family during breakfast. My friend was feeling a bit sick due to the altitude and struggling with breakfast. Surprisingly we saw an elderly gentleman from the Russian group walking up to us and offered some tablets for the headache. We immediately engaged him and his family into a conversation and realised that hes been travelling to India for the last ten years. His family were in India for the last 16 days and they have been taking the trip at a light pace.. they stayed in Leh for 3 days to acclimatize and then moved to all the various locations in Ladakh increasing their altitude by a few hundred meters every day. Wish my boss could have been a lil more generous in approving a few more days of time away from work. We thanked the Good ol’man and wished them well.
After breakfast, we decided to take one last walk around the lake.. played near the banks of the lake.. had a small competition of sorts bouncing stones off the water surface.. needless to say, i won 😉 😛 . We took some more pics and decided it was time to bid the place a good bye. While we were packing up, we were approached by a lady named Tashi who asked us if we could give them a ride till Changla.. apparantly they arrived at the lake the previous day and were victims of AMS. She and her hubby were riding on a rented bike and when they reached Changla, they were too exhausted to continue. They parked their bike at Chang la cafe and hitched a ride to the lake and were hoping they would get one to go back aswell. We obliged and told them they’d need to wait until we packed up.
We packed up and started from the lake at 10:30 am and made a quick stop at the Pangong Lake Sovenir Shop. Bought some bookmarks for few of our buddies back home and headed out for Tangtse. Made another quick stop there for a cup of Chai and Biscuits while my friends called home. We had another hour and half of journey until Chang la. We came to know that Tashi and her husband are Indian-Canadians. While Tashi is a dental assistant at Toronto, Tenzin is still in school. They were recently engaged and had come to india to meet their family. We spoke for a lil while bout Canada and places to visit. For the kinda travel buff i am, i didnt have any difficulty in continuing a conversation. We spoke bout Toronto, Eaton Center, Niagara Falls, Cavalcade of Lights and much more. And before we knew, we had reached Changla. Since Tashi was still unwell, we decided to drop her till Karu while Tenzin would drive behind us on the bike he had rented the previous day.
The remainder of the journey was covered within an hour since the roads were good and it was all downhill. We dropped Tashi at Karu. We bid the couple a good journey ahead and started on our journey to the famous Hemis Monastery.
Hemis Monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery of the Drukpa Lineage, located in Hemis, Ladakh. It is situated 45 km from Leh. Though the monastery existed before the 11th century, It was re-established in 1672 by the Ladakhi king Sengge Namgyal. The annual Hemis festival honoring Padmasambhava is held here in early June-July. Hemis also could be associated with the Hemis National Park, an area that is home to the endangered snow leopard. We spent a lil while roaming around the temple halls and the museum. We also saw a huge statue of Padmasambhava in the upper floors of the monastery. There was also a renovation work taking place where we saw the artists giving finishing touches to the various Mural paintings in the monastery.
We started from the monastery at around 4 pm and reached Chospa still thinking about the time spent at the Pangong. Took a hot shower and rested for a while. The power nap we decided to take turned into a deep snooze for us waking late into the evening. We walked into the market and went to a restuarant called La Terrace. Another place overlooking the Leh Palace. For the kind of foodie i am, It was already 5 days of NO MEAT for me and i was dying to bite into some juicy chicken tikkas.. I ordered a portion for myself only to be grossly disappointed 😦 The meat seems like it was frozen and just heated. It had also gotten cold.. Decided to eat something else and ordered some rice and chowmein both of which were horribly bad. Finally we ordered a beer each and left the place.. I think there should be a travel advisory against non-availability of good restaurants which serve meat 🙂 We headed back to Chospa and called it a night. The Clickometer on my DSLR read 470 shots.
Cell Phone Coverage Alert : We had full range in Leh.. Outside of Leh.. we had the network bars at Karu and Tangtse Village. No range on the way to these places though. Also we were surprised to find a pay fone at Spangmik. BSNL threw some Connection Errors on us but we were still able to get through after trying a few times.
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