I decided to take a 5 day break from the madness of the city and what better place to be at than the enchanting Ladakh and Leh. Raw by nature, yet warm with its people, weather, culture and traditions, Ladakh was surely the heavenly paradise to rest my soul and yet keep my excitement high. It is the rich cultural heritage and the people of the land which makes it stand apart from other tourist destinations. Remote and pristine with its breathtaking flora and fauna around, trekking in Ladakh is an experience surely not to be missed by the young at heart.
Meandering its way through the beautiful landscape, let’s talk about the Indus experience
There are plenty of monasteries in and around Leh and Ladakh, but I chose to begin with visiting Hemis. Hemis is the wealthiest and the biggest monastery of Ladakh and sits pretty on the western end of the famous river Indus. There must be a reason as to why it sits pretty in one of the biggest gorges ever found across this landscape; maybe it doesn’t want unnecessary attention from the world, especially when it is one of the most beautiful monasteries with abundant wealth in it. As you walk in to the monastery, you would be intimidated and impressed by the state of Lord Buddha which rests within; the statue is made of copper. The Hemis festival is what you should experience if you happen to be here on a Ladakh trekking venture between June and July. And while you are here you would also be lucky to experience the famous sacred mask dance which is performed at Hemis, usually on the 9th and the 10th day of the Tibetan calendars fifth month.
The grand Thiskey
It is a 12 storey complex which I encountered while trekking in Ladakh at a height of 11000 feet to say so. The breathtaking architecture and the view from the monastery across the rugged terrains and the landscape left me spellbound. During the day I found rows of young Tibetan monks, some as young as eight years old walk silently in a line chanting Buddhist verses and prayers. It gives you a feeling of being in the heavens for some reason. At the Thiskey monastery you would find a fifteen meter statue of the Buddha, fondly called the “champa”. This statue is venerated and prayed on by the eighty monks and the twenty five nuns that reside in this monastery. The best time to come and check this monastery would be during the Gustor festival which happens in October and November. At this time you also would get a chance to interact and socialize with the friendly locals or Ladakhi’s as I lovingly call them. Have a sip of the famous black tea they serve, speak to them, eat their local delicacies and also enjoy a game of cards with them as well, they are warm and welcoming.
Some of the famous passes in Ladakh I encountered
The Khardungla Pass which I encountered while my Ladakh trekking trip was on made me shiver with joy. Be ready to be caught in a traffic jam of army trucks and convoys at the pass, one of the most delightful traffic jams you could ever imagine. Would you say the same for traffic jams in the city you live, I bet not!! And while I was trekking and mountain biking with my guide, I came across the pristine Pangong Lake, which stole my heart away. The chirping of the playful sea gulls made me forget how tired I was biking for 5 hours to reach this paradise. The lake sparkled in colors violet, purple, green and blue, thanks to the rich mineral deposits below. And if you happen to be here in winter, trekking in Ladakh over this frozen river is a treat. At this lake I also got to meet the innocent looking and very warm Chang-Pa tribal men and women. This is the place which also breeds the world famous Pashmina goats, these goats shed their coats in spring and we get Pashmina shawls.
Sad my five days finished so soon
Trust me folks when I say 5 days is not enough, because trekking in Ladakh has so much more to show you and for you to experience. I may have covered just one-fourth as told to me by my guide, but I intend on coming back for a longer period next year. What I take back with me are the glimpses of smiling folks, colorful festivals, piping food, breathtaking views across Ladakh and yes the fun filled and very exciting trekking and biking trips in Ladakh. Come and experience the velocity of this place, and see what Ladakh offers you as well!!
This post was submitted by Divij.