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Thursday, September 01, 2016

6. Day 7: Our Ladakh trip

Our trip to Nubra valley and Pangong had been so exhilarating that I began imagining about my next trip to somewhere, only to be chided by my wife as usual. “You are really crazy. We haven’t even completed our present trip, but you want to plan the next trip?” was her comment. So, for the time being, I decided to withdraw to myself my plans and await another opportunity to open up my plans.

On the last day of our trip to Ladakh, two of our group members – the young daredevils from Delhi – decided to have a motorbike ride to somewhere. On the previous night itself, they had arranged for their motorbike, on hire. I heard that motorbikes are available for around Rs.1200 or so, a day, for hire.

So, they joined us on their motorbike, on our way to Shan Valley, where the Indus River and Zanskar River meet.

Our first stop on the way was the Hall of Fame, a museum constructed by Indian army in memory of those who lost their lives in the Indo-Pakistan War. In the ground floor, behind several glow signboards were interesting fact-sheets about Ladakh area, its history, the history of several wars fought in the region etc.

In the first floor, there were several artefacts, weapons used in the Indo-Pak wars, chiefly, the Kargil War and weapons seized from the enemy army. Also, there were fact-sheets and pictures of how the army had struggled to build several roads, bridges, and other structures in the most difficult high-altitude-terrain. Also, there was a wall of heroes, where the pictures of several heroic army personnel were displayed.
I found an interesting signboard that talked about the Seabuck Thorn Seed Oil capsules developed by the Defense Institute of High Altitude Research, Leh. Seabuck Thorn Seed Oil is supposed to have several beneficial effects on human body, like:

     1.       Being completely herbal it has no toxic or side effect     
     2.       Has rich antioxidants, beta-carotene, vitamins and essential omega fatty acids
     3.       Improves cardiac functions, vascular health and HDL (good cholesterol) and
     4.       Reduces overall cholesterol and bad lipids

I took note of it and decided to hunt for the capsules in the market, during the evening.

A row of anti-aircraft guns mounted on vehicle or tank tops were on display in front of the imposing entrance to the Hall of Fame. Behind the main structure was the Cemetery and Memorial Arch.

Overall, the visit to the Hall of Fame was very captivating and informative. It also impelled me to desire a visit to Kargil and Siachen Glacier, time and health permitting. There was also an adventure park behind the main structure, combining assault course and archery range.

From the Hall of Fame, we – only the four of us, the other two on their bikes – drove towards the Shan Valley.

On the way, we stopped at Magnetic Hill, where for a short distance as marked on the road, a vehicle pulls itself forward uphill (even while the engine was switched off). Actually, I learnt subsequently that the area is more a ‘Gravity Hill’, where the layout of the area and its surroundings presents an ‘optical illusion’ of an uphill road, whereas, in reality, it is downhill. So, vehicles appear to roll itself uphill against gravity. In reality, the vehicle rolls itself downward.

After experiencing the magic of the magnetic hills, we drove straight to Sangam, the meeting point of Indus and Zanskar Rivers. On the way, there is Pattar Sahib Gurudwara and we decided to pay a visit on our return.

We stopped at the viewpoint from where we got a fabulous view of the rivers merging. One could see the difference in the colors of the water of the two rivers. After taking the pictures from there, the motorcyclist friends drove forward towards another scenic point, some hundred kilometers away. (I forgot the name of the place) We got down a winding road to the actual ground where the two rivers met. From there, one could go on river rafting. We were told that for the first few kilometer distance, the water would be fairly still or slow moving and thereafter, it would be adventurous, rafting through rough terrain. Somehow, none of us were ready for the adventurous river rafting.

So, we only took pictures and returned back to Pattar Sahib Gurudwara.

Like anywhere else, the Gurudwara was very well maintained, the ambiance inside invoking devotion and peace to the visitor. I had always relished a lungar (free meals) in the Gurudwaras. Yet, we decided to skip the lungar and get back to Leh.

At Leh, we had some vegetable biriyani and dosas in a Madras Café, went back to the hotel and slept in the afternoon.

In the evening, we once again strolled to the market to explore buying the Seabuck Thorn Seed Capsule and we came know that the capsule would be available only at the army institute, some distance away. So, we tried to buy the oil, instead of the capsule, if that was available. After several enquiries at various places, we found an herbal shop, and there, we could buy Seabuck Thorn Oil. A small bottle of the oil (about 50 ml, or so) was sold at Rs.480. We were advised to take just three drops, three times a day. ‘Either mix it with salad or just put three drops on your tongue; that should do,’ was the advice from the sales person in the shop.

It was nearly 8.30 at night, and yet, there was no news from our motorbike friends. They hadn’t returned back, and we were getting worried. After yet another fabulous dinner, we waited anxiously for them. At about 9.00 pm, those two came back, gleaming with great pride and excitement, and we felt relieved to see them back. They seemed to have had a wonderful riding experience.

We knew, the next morning, we must leave Leh. We had our flight to Delhi, leaving Leh at 7.00 am.

The next morning, Yaseen was there at our hotel at 05.15 am and with a heavy heart, we all reached the KUSHAK BAKULA SKALZANGLING airport. At Leh airport, one is not supposed to carry anything on hand, other than a camera, laptop, a purse or a lady’s bag, for security reason. We had known this earlier and so, we had packed our things accordingly.

During the entire trip, the other four members of the group – a young couple from Mumbai and two youngsters from Delhi – were great companions. Regardless of the huge gap in our ages, they were very friendly, accommodating, respecting, and still treating us as their equals as part of youth. I and my wife are very grateful to them for their wonderful company and wish them a very happy, prosperous, healthy and successful life ahead. I and my wife were very happy to have been blessed with four life-time friends.

After our stay during the day at one of the hotels in Karol Bagh in Delhi, we boarded Tamil Nadu Express in the night to be back in Chennai and then onward, to Tenkasi, where we live.

Overall, our trip to Ladakh was yet another memorable travel. Now, I am still searching the internet for our next trip, even while I knew my wife’s ideas on yet another travel. May God Bless Me With Yet Another Tour to Yet Another Wonderful Place on Earth!

Good Bye. Thanks for your patient reading.

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