Day 9, 10 & 11 - More of Spirituality & Natural Wonders
Hunder has something unique in this part of the world viz. double humped camels. An early morning, timed ride on one of them in their superbly chosen playfield may not exactly fill you with a "yet to experience" kind of euphoria as they are quite unassuming creatures with the least of aggression towards even a stranger. Yet, the ideal panoramic setting is something to die for. Vast and open fields covered all around by mountains with low hanging clouds could so very easily ignite poetic thoughts in you. If you miss it you would have to visit Mangolia which is the only other place in the world where these beautiful creatures are found. I was particularly impressed with the way their masters/trainers had an agreed upon understanding among themselves as to whose turn would it be to entertain the next customer. Simplistic, as it may sound, it actually helps in ensuring that there is no bargaining on the "union rate" & everybody gets to earn equitably.
Deskit monastery is one of the major places of worship for the Buddhists. It is just 7 Kms from Hunder on the way to Leh. This monastery also has a huge 100 feet high statue of the Great Buddha and it independently sits on a hill with a lower height vis-a-vis the main monastery premises.
Any Ladakh sojourn, especially if it's the maiden one for the protagonist(s), would be considered incomplete without visiting the Pangong lake. From Leh to reach this beauteous piece of natural wonder is not a mean task when you pass through the bone crushing terrains & negotiate Changla Pass, the third highest motorable pass in the world at 17,586 feet. But as soon as you get the first glimpse of the lake from few Kms away you forget all your miseries & start anticipating a sweet, endearing encounter with one of the most elegant yet colourful splash on a water canvas one could ever imagine. I lost the count of the shades of green, blue, purple, turquioise, etc. I could decipher from the pot-pouri on display. It was the most soothing sight i have ever come across. The real fun started after the sun set when it became windy. Gradually, speed of the chilling winds must have touched 80-100 Kms/Hr & only strong-willed could hold their nerves.
On planning the Leh-Pangong return trip few of the attractions near Leh could be suitably interjected viz. Thiksey & Hemis monastries, Shey & Stok palaces, etc. I had an accidental discovery when a beautiful looking building behind the famous Druk school caught my attention. I tried to explore & was casually informed that it was just another monastry but was being managed by all lady monks. I patiently waited for its gates to be opened. When a monk saw me waiting she brought the keys herself & i could sense that she would lock it again on my exit which later she did. It was the most aesthetically planned, modern central prayer hall which had on its huge walls oil painted illustrations. In the middle were beautiful looking statues of Gods with their glittering ornaments. I am clueless why this monastery is not in the "recommended" sight-seeing by any tour operators!!
Before finally bidding Leh good bye it would certainly be worth the effort (and money) to spare at least 3-4 hours of the last evening of your stay to visit the local market. Indulge yourself in getting some good bargain deals on the world's best apricots (both dried & fresh), Ladakhi handicraft, Kashmiri woolen clothes, etc. Those with a liking for local food can of course treat their taste buds at a restaurant or at the road-side eateries.
1. Start your day even earlier for Pangong to ensure you reach there by 3 pm. If you reach late & the weather is not playing to your tunes you might have to prolong your wait for a full, unspoiled view until the next day's sunrise. At the same time if any of your group members are vulnerable/sensitive to some of the probable extreme conditions in camp stay but can sustain a same day return journey make sure you hit the road before 6 am.
2. Do not lose heart if doors of the monastry in the Druk school compound are closed. Request a passing by monk to help you with a visit & she would get the keys herself.