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Old 15th October 2013, 09:31   #31
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Default Day 8 : 16 August 2013 : Part 2.2 - Khardung La Top to Hunder

Day 8 : 16 August 2013 : Part 2.2 - Khardung La Top to Hunder


BRO working to lay fresh tarmac. We get all the raw material locally

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Twists & turns
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We have to take left today.. day after tomorrow we'll take the right fork
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The boards says it all..
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On taking the left road, towering mountains and gushing Shyok river leave you feeling nondescript. The water in Shyok is muddy which means it had rained somewhere.
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And then we take left again towards Deskit
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Just after a couple of minutes, we find ourselves on a straight road going towards the mountains on the other side. It's a river bed!!!
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Since there is no water, we're safe.. otherwise we'd have required 007's convertible car-cum-submarine to cross this. Well, lets take this opportunity for a loo break.

But then we also notice vast expanse of the river bed with sand and pebbles all over. It's a bit tricky as there is lot of area with slough. Anyways, we'll take our chances for a photo-op and some masti.
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Ok, why not put our group's name here? Avi, get on the job!
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Nah! this is too small. Do something big man!!

Yayawar's were here
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Done! But how do you photograph this as it is huge. No problemo! Tony to rescue!!
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Let's go now.. that's the way to go!
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Mountain with Buddha? Got to be Deskit.
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But before we reach, what about the reflections?
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Ok! Hunder is 7 kms from Deskit. But I knew this already! We're not staying here today or visiting the monastery. This is on the plan for tomorrow.
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First view of Hunder sand dunes.
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More dunes...
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Ok guys.. We've reached Hunder, but let's hurry to Turtuk as it is still 77 Kms ahead. It's already 1510 hrs and will take at least 2.5 hours. Better to reach there during the daylight than drive in dark. Hunder is on our plan for tomorrow in any case. (only if plan remains "the plan").
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Next: Drive from Nubra to Turtuk

CONTD....
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Old 15th October 2013, 16:40   #32
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Default Day 8 : 16 August 2013 : Part 3.1 - Hunder to Turtuk

Day 8 : 16 August 2013 : Part 3.1 - Hunder to Turtuk

So after having a short break at the Hunder view point, we drive ahead towards Turtuk. It's already past 1510 and we need to reach quickly since it is still 77 kms ahead and we don't want to miss the daylight.

Too many stay options at Hunder
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Still 77 Kms to go
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So we drive ahead, though slowly, absorbing the colours and formations of the nature.

Water, pristine and green... going to merge with muddy Shyok
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See what water and wind can do to even the mighty
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Soon we cross Partappur which is an army transit camp for Siachin. The punchline says "Home away from Home". We didn't took any pic of the army installations as it could be sensitive. As a goodwill gesture, Army is running a school.

Shikhsarth Aaiye, Sewarth Jaaiye - Come for the Education, Leave for the Service
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Buddhism is still prevalent in these areas and so are the Chortens

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The road to Thoise is good and fully tarred, though about 1.5 lanes. But when the traffic is like 5 cars in a day one way, who cares!

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Crossing some bridges over streams, which are again pristine, soon we cross Thoise.

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Pretty soon enough, we reach Skuru. Skuru seems to be a good place and someday this also will be explored. And why one shouldn't - you've got Shyok river gushing, green water streams, ice capped towering peaks and patches of green vegetation.

River stream near Skuru
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distances - halfway from Hunder
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One of the many bridges to cross Shyok, on foot
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Ice capped peaks around
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Driving ahead, we cross Changmar..

Yes, that's the bus stand. Wonder how many days you've to wait before you get a bus. We didn't crossed any yet!

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And we cross yet again a water stream. Water so clean and green that you'd want to take a sip then and there.

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The river at times flows on the road, so the highway becomes waterway. Evident from the sand on the road. This is near Chulunkha

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And then we reach Bogdang Check Post. There are 2-3 cars.. one of them has been criss-crossing us again and again as both stop for photo-ops.

Cheena waiting to submit the ILP...
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While I click this kid
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After permit check, we drive ahead. The road is miniscule in comparison to the Shyok. Who's mighty here?
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School time!
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Vistas change again just when we're about to reach Chalunka. In fact, what I notice is that wherever there is a water stream/rivulet, people have inhabited that place

Bridge to Chalunka
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This is the stream merging in Shyok. Notice the merging of green with muddy.
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Some interesting road ahead
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Road condition is still good
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Interesting formations with interesting colours.. and it has a bunker too! In fact all around us, on both sides of the road, we notice bunkers.

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And then we take a break.. a loo break.. coupled with a photo-op as Shyok is just besides the road. Ok, you have to walk 300 meters to reach the waters!

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How high it could be?
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CONTD...
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Old 15th October 2013, 16:50   #33
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Default Day 8 : 16 August 2013 : Part 3.2 - Hunder to Turtuk

Day 8 : 16 August 2013 : Part 3.2 - Hunder to Turtuk

Vistas around...
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We drive ahead to find water flowing on the road.. and it is crystal clear

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This is how a bike should cross it... to get a much deserved bath

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And cars in this way... to get a complimentary underbody wash

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Finally, a banner on top announces that we've reached Turtuk

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We ask for Turtuk Holiday camp which is very near and park the Cheetah. We ask for Rahamatullah Khan, who is the owner of the camp. He has gone for some work, but the person attending us is his brother, Ataullah Khan. He immediately makes us feel at home, arranges our tents and orders tea and biscuits which arrive in flat 5 minutes!

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Tea gulped, biscuits bitten.. now what? The time now is 1805 hrs and there is still much amount of daylight available. Right from the cut to Deskit, we had been hearing Shyok gushing. It is still gushing and we can clearly hear. So why not we should explore the riverside? It is hardly 300 mtrs from the camp - Ataullah informs us. Let's go!

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So we explore the alleys of Turtuk in search of the river, guided by the sound. On one side, we can see a green stream merging into the river, but the access is blocked with a dead-end. So we go the other way and reach what is a residential school here, with no boundaries at all. Some boys are playing football in front of the school building some part of which seems to be under construction.

And then behold! We get the glimpse of Shyok River.
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And then Shyok in it's full glory!
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There are huge rocks in the river bed which become visible as the rapids change. These must be level 3 rapids, but with the huge rocks, it's not safe at all for rafting.
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Would we loose a photo-op here? Not at all! So here you go...

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I've got guts!
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Your's truely
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Tony is happy
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So is Cheena
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Avi the Photographer.. em.. allrounder!
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After spending a good 30 minutes at the river bank, we suddenly remember that we saw that stream with green water. We should explore that too. Let's go.

Kids busy playing football
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Cheena sneaking an opportunity to get in "the frame"
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And so we reach the pristine green stream. It is just alongside the road and there is a bridge built over the same. The road goes to Skardu. This stream is also known as Turtuk Lungpa. This one comes down from the east of Chorbat La (another La??) and flows into the Shyok river at Turtuk.

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Thinking of getting a dip, but the water is icy cool!

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One last shot for the day of the stream..

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And the receding daylight..
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Coming back to the Holiday camp, we charge our cameras, empty the datacards into the laptop as this would be the lowest that we'd get in entire Ladakh & Spiti. We have a chit-chat with the person who was criss-crossing us during the drive from Hunder. He's from Delhi, settled in the UK and has come visiting along with his wife and daughters on a zip-zap tour organised by some agent. He will be going back to Hunder for night stay before going to Pangong tomorrow.

We have our dinner around 2000 hrs which is comprised of the usual chapatis, dal, rice, salad, mix veg, shahi paneer, salad and pickles, but then we're having this stuff after 7 days and it feels good! After dinner and post a light chit-chat, we retire for the day.

Tomorrow we'll go to visit Hunder and stay overnight at Diskit.
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Old 15th October 2013, 18:32   #34
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Default Re: The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti

Awesome update yayawar, really nice pictures to boot as well. We missed Turtok this time but it sure is worth going to.
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Old 17th October 2013, 11:36   #35
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Default Re: The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti

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Originally Posted by motomaverick View Post
We missed Turtok this time but it sure is worth going to.
Thanks Hirak!

Of course Turtok is a must see place. It is included in the list of Forbes India's 7 places to see before they disappear

It's beautiful and then you get world's best apricots here. The drive also is good with tarred roads all along.

Will be doing a post on Turtuk shortly.

Last edited by Nonstop-driver : 17th October 2013 at 11:37.
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Old 17th October 2013, 11:42   #36
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Default Re: The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti

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Originally Posted by Nonstop-driver View Post
Thanks Hirak!

Of course Turtok is a must see place. It is included in the list of Forbes India's 7 places to see before they disappear

It's beautiful and then you get world's best apricots here. The drive also is good with tarred roads all along.

Will be doing a post on Turtuk shortly.
Interesting really, I didn't know Turtok comes that highly recommended that to from Forbes. If you had told us about the Apricots before Hari would have certainly loved the idea of going there.

Waiting for your Turtok log.
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Old 17th October 2013, 12:14   #37
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Default Re: The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti

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If you had told us about the Apricots before Hari would have certainly loved the idea of going there.
Yes, but since it was the bloom season, he'd not have got the dried ones :P
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Old 18th October 2013, 13:04   #38
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Default Re: The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti

great going guys , another travelogue to be relished
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Old 22nd October 2013, 12:17   #39
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great going guys , another travelogue to be relished
Thanks Behaln. Next episode coming today.
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Old 22nd October 2013, 13:41   #40
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Default Day 9 : 17 Aug : Part 1.1 : Turtuk

Day 9 : 17 Aug : Part 1.1 : Turtuk

We woke up in the morning around 0730 and completed our daily rituals. Tea was served in the meantime and having morning tea in the lap of nature with flowers, fruits, butterflies and bees was a devine experience in itself. By 0800 hrs, we were called for the breakfast.

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Last night, Rahamatullah had interacted with us briefly and I had complained to him that why we're getting the regular things to eat as we could have got that anywhere and it were the Balti dishes that we were looking forward to. Rahmatullah explained that generally Balti dishes are too rich and people from plains are not able to digest which results in upset stomach and that's why they demand usual stuff. But then, were's the fun when you're in Ladakh and doing the usual things? Even if the stomach goes topsy-turvy, I believe there are lot of avenues to keep it happy - lot of spaces with lots of water everywhere! Rahamatullah also said that he would accompany us to the village tomorrow and that we should not go back without visiting the village. village? Isn't where we are staying part of the village? What is he talking about?

So, in the morning, finally we get some authentic Balti dishes in the form of local bread called kisir which is made with buckwheat alongwith curd flavoured with tsamik - a green herb. No! It's not the mint!! The taste of the bread is somewhat familiar though. Oh yes! Buckwheat is the "kuttu ka aata"! And of course we get a full glass of the sweetest apricot juice!

Some stone carved artifacts at the dining hall.
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This is how the camp looks like from the dining hall
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After we finished the breakfast, Rahmataullah approached us to excuse him since he has to go urgently. Apparently, a mosque construction is in full swing and Rahmatullah is the architect for the same and right now, a meeting has been convened which he has to attend. He however, reiterates that we should not leave before visiting the village and that he'd arrange someone to guide us through the village.

So we meet Ghulam Hussain.

Ghulam takes us to the village and the village is located, behold, at top of this!
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Can you see two guys on top?

A shot with Ghulam Hussain
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We start climbing and half way up, we are already panting. Wonder how do the locals manage their day to day job climbing these, but then probably they are used to. We look back and this is what we see

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Ghulam explains that Turtuk is situated between two mountain ranges - The Himalayan and the Karakoram, which are separated by a gorge through which the Shyok flows.

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On right hand side is the Karakoram range. Behind those clouds is K2 which is visible if there are no clouds. Tough luck!

And we look down to have a look at Shyok

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Kids are going to school..

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We proceed further and reach the top. The view on the other side is lush green.. and orange!

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Everyone who meets us is very friendly and "Juley" is normally what they wish to visitors. However, what they wish amongst themselves, being pre-dominantly Muslims is "Assalaam Wale-i-Qum". Since one of my best childhood friend happens to be Muslim, I know the culture and therefore it is "Wala-i-Qum Salaam" for me. And then I see friendly smiling faces. People do stop and ask your general well being too.

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Agriculture wise, this area grows at least two crops of wheat in an year. So while one crop of wheat has been recently cut and stacked, another crop is already growing

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And so is some other crop, forgot to ask the name, perhaps some condiment.

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While we meet some more kids going to school.. from their dress, it appears that there are two schools.

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We take a left turn and now it's all orange spread, so low that you can easily pop one with your mouth!

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Ghulam encourages us to pluck a few, says that villagers don't mind. He says that we shall look for the ones that are already breaking, which means that they are ripe. villagers generally spread plasic sheets beneath the trees and wait for the fruit to drop by itself. Then the fruits are dried - on rooftops, on rocks or any place where they get some sunlight. Apricots are also used fresh for juice and jams.

So shall we loose the opportunity? No!

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Cheena on the job

On display!
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The taste is extraordinary! Eating out ripe apricots straightaway plucked from trees - that too world's best! Priceless!!

Apart from apricots, mulberry, almonds and walnuts are also grown in Turtuk

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Yes, it's a walnut. Alas it has too much time to ripe.

We also notice that the chicken here are different.. they're more like Gray Francolin (Teetar) in colour patterns

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We come to know that four major varities of apricots are grown here. Now to us, it doesn't makes any sense since by looks of it, we can differentiate between the varieties.

We click nonethless!

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And we also click weeds and shrubs in frenzy.

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We move ahead and see kids assembled in lines. There is a primary school here. For secondary and high, they have to go down the valley to the school near the river.

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Ghulam informs that on occassion of navroz (around 21st March), this ground is used for festivities, which include cock-fighting, traditional song and dance, with people dressed in traditional attire. It's a good time to visit Turtuk. Wouldn't it be covered in snow? We wonder. No! Actually, Turtuk being on lower altitudes, gets only a couple of inches of snow which is there from December to early February and then everything is as we see now!

CONTD...
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Old 22nd October 2013, 13:52   #41
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Day 9 : 17 Aug : Part 1.2 Turtuk

We take a left from the school into the alleys of Turtuk village and the residential houses start. Some have basement kind of structure where donkeys are kept. Wonder how they'd be sleeping when it starts braying at night as the sound would be amplified here.

What we notice is the channelization of the glacial water, which seems to come from the Turtuk Lungpa.

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Ghulam show us some low rise structures which are more like hutments. They all are locked. He asks us to put our hands in the structure through the crevices in the door and structure. It's icy cold! Ghulam explains that this is their natural refrigerator! This has been created through channelization of the glacial waters and has been in use since hundreds of years to store meat, veggies and pashmina. What ingeniousness!

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And then we see yet another ingenious use of water channelization - a flour mill! The grinder is run by the force of water, the flow of which is controlled from outside the structure and the channelized water is suddenly made to drop a couple of feet, thus generating the necessary force.

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At the flour mill, we meet this little girl, who herself asks us to click photographs and show to her. We do oblige!

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Further, we come across a mosque which has minarets entirely made of wood. This is from 16th century and still in use. Wonder whether ASI should know about this!

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We then go to visit a palace of the Khan or Raja of Turtuk. The Khan of Turtuk, Mohammad Khan Kacho of the Yabgo Dynasty of Chorbat Khaplu is the full title. His "palace" is a handsome mansion with a balcony from where the Raja greeted his people. The Khan wasn't at home when we visited, however, we were welcomed by his son, who is studying at a school at Srinagar. He is just in his teens born in 1998! He shows us around the place. There is a wooden plaque in the room, inscribed with his family genesis, dating back to 1,000 AD. Sadly, the Khan's throne, and everything else of value was looted by Pakistani officers who were stationed here during the 1965 war.

Some pics...

The gate
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Entrance
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Carvings on the door panel. Apparently they were studded with gemstones which were looted
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The genesis
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We ask for a customary photograph, to boast of the fact that we met a prince!
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We come out of the palace and then Ghulam points to the mountain on our left and asks us if we're able to see a red flag.

Can you see it?
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.40.jpg

Zoom to 190 mm.. indeed there is a red flag!
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.41.jpg

Apparently, this is the place where the Raja used to sit when he had to oversee the entire region and address his pupil. Now, I wonder why would the Raja climb such heights, where he'd be barely visible or audible. But then Ok, I believe what Ghulam is stating as I don't have any counter theory!

On return from the palace, we come across an under construction mosque. The unique thing about the construction was that there were no laborers. The entire population of Turtuk including the ladies were working there for the construction. Now we understand why Rahamatullah had excused himself in the morning.

We go ahead and see this little girl who is floating paper boats and almost about everything she can get hold of and can float in the little channelized stream

The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.42.jpg

As we advance, the girl's mother asks something to Ghulam in Balti language. Did we do anything objectionable? No! She's asking whether you'd be interested in buying a walking stick made out of Ibex's horns. Depends, let's see it first. She takes out something this is transluscent and appears to be made of plastic. Is it real Ibex thingie? I have no way to know for sure. It has intricate carvings on it. The price? 6000 Rupees! I tell Ghulam to convey that we're not foreigners and won't be able to procure this at the price. Sorry, no bargain! She doesn't allows a photograph to be taken.

We come across yet another school for kids
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.43.jpg

Seems that our tour of the village is ending. Ghulam asks if we are interested to visit the Turtuk Gompa and a waterfall which is further beyond the mountains. It will take another 3-4 hours for the tour. We have to reach Diskit for the evening and it's almost noon. So we convey and start descending through an alternate route. This route is better, stepped. We meet two soldiers who wanted to know how did we find the place. Quite good! However, they state that they want to leave from Turtuk as soon as possible. Difference of perspective perhaps!

Further, we see a blacksmith working, and then we see this:

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Walking towards, the bridge, we meet and greet some village elderly
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.45.jpg

We also capture some horns and hoofs
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.46.jpg

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And finally we approach the bridge. It's a wooden structure hanging on steel wires. Of course a picture moment
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.48.jpg

The Turtuk Lungpa from the bridge.
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.49.jpg

This stream separates the village in two and we've just visited one part of the village. So there's more, but now we are loosing time. We have to go,

Apricots being laden on trucks
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.50.jpg

We descend down the bridge and again got winded with the beauty of the Turtuk Lungpa. Some final parting shots

The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.51.jpg

The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.52.jpg
So many pics of the stream? Yes! I'm in awe of it!!

We reach the Holiday Camp and ask Ghulam to arrange for a tea while we settle the bill. Some ladies are in the campus. They've come to get cement bags to take them to the under construction mosque. Every one of the ladies takes one bag in their basket and goes uphill on the same path that we took! Phew!! To think that we were panting like dogs halfway up!!!

The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.53.jpg

Finally, some apricots that we plucked.

The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.54.jpg

Settling our bill, we hop on to the Cheetah and drive on our journey. The watch reads 1200 hrs...


Next: Turtuk to Deskit

CONTD...
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Old 25th October 2013, 16:25   #42
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Default Day 9: 17 August 2013: Part 2.1: Turtuk to Deskit

Day 9: 17 August 2013: Part 2.1: Turtuk to Deskit

So after having the tour of Turtuk Village and settling the bill, we started from Turtuk around 1200 hrs. Since the plan today is to visit Hunder and then spend the evening and night at Deskit, we're not in a hurry.

So we start...

There are two areas between Hunder and Turtuk which are marked as "Shooting Stone" areas. Now, you don't shoot the stones here, rather they shoot on you and the board clearly advises to zip-zap-zoom past the area. So we pick speed and just then I notice a bunker
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.55.jpg

And then some more..
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.56.jpg

The weather is all cloudy, but then it has been so from past couple of days.
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.57.jpg

We come across a couple fetching dried wood. They have a long way to go back to Turtuk..
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.58.jpg

I've just finished clearing the sand from the road and resting now. Do not disturb!
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.59.jpg

Miles to go...
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.60.jpg

A bridge to transport materials on Shyok
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.61.jpg

Enormous mountains.. can you notice a truck?
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.62.jpg

Bunker in the river bed
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.63.jpg

This is how caves are formed
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.64.jpg

The green steam merging in muddy Shyok, once again
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.65.jpg

Clouds ain't getting any better
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.66.jpg

Have fields on the other side of Shyok? No problem!
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.67.jpg

By 1240 hrs, we approached the Bogdang village. Couple of shots

Village elderly
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.68.jpg

A fellow buying something.. it was only later that I learnt that he was our Din Malekar
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.69.jpg

Bye-bye
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.70.jpg

Buddhist markings. Who would have climbed up here?
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.71.jpg

Brown, blue, black and white...
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.72.jpg

...and some green added
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.73.jpg

various shades..
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.74.jpg

clouds still there
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.75.jpg

Some loops
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.76.jpg

Riot of colours
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.77.jpg

Glacial waters
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.78.jpg

The clouds are getting darker
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.79.jpg

The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.80.jpg

While Shyok is jumping to embrace the clouds
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.81.jpg

Other than the river, water everywhere is green
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.82.jpg

Reached halfway to Deskit
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.83.jpg

CONTD...

Last edited by Nonstop-driver : 25th October 2013 at 16:26.
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Old 25th October 2013, 16:36   #43
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Default Day 9: 17 August 2013: Part 2.2: Turtuk to Deskit

Day 9: 17 August 2013: Part 2.2: Turtuk to Deskit

Oasis in the desert
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.84.jpg

Shyok is running along
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.85.jpg

While the mountains are mighty
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.86.jpg

Clouds are aggregating
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.87.jpg

Rarely the blue sky is visible
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.88.jpg

Clouds today want to cover the entire sky
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.89.jpg

While BRO is still working...
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.90.jpg
Can you see the JCB?

The peaks are getting covered with a dark blanket
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.91.jpg

The fight between the clouds and sky is continuing
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.92.jpg

While the prayer flags are still fluttering
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.93.jpg

The clouds seem to be winning
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.94.jpg

They together give entire new colours to the vistas
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.95.jpg

And as we appear Hunder, the clouds win and it starts raining
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.96.jpg

The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.97.jpg

The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.98.jpg
Notice the downpour?

Since it was raining in Nubra, there was no point going to explore the dunes. We decided that we'll go visit the Deskit Gompa, have lunch and then come back if the rains stop.

So we drive ahead, and see this...
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.99.jpg
Fortunately it was relatively plain and the dip was just 4-5 feet, otherwise don't know what would have been the situation!

Deskit petrol pump was closed
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.100.jpg

Approaching Deskit Gompa
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.101.jpg

The gate of Deskit Gompa
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.102.jpg

We look back and it is still raining at Hunder
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.103.jpg

Approaching the Maitreya
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.104.jpg

Chorten all along the way to Diskit Monastry.
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.105.jpg

Deskit Monastry, not a good shot, but this is all I have
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.106.jpg

So we reached the Gompa parking by 1500.

Colourful chortens
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.107.jpg

View towards the parking side (Behind the Maitreya statue)
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.108.jpg

Diskit Monastry dates back to 14th century. However, the new building with 106 feet statue of Maitreya is relatively new. The building started in 2006 and completed by 2010 to be inaugrated by Dalai Lama. The entire complex is said to be made of contributions from local people with 8Kgs of Gold being used for the decoration of the statue. The statue faces Shyok river towards Pakistan.

The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.109.jpg

Closer shot
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.110.jpg

A monk pouring oil in the lamps
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.111.jpg

While we were at the gompa for about 25-30 minutes, it continued raining heavily towards Hunder.

Trying to gauge the situation
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.112.jpg

Getting no reprive from the rains, we discussed and agreed that Hunder couldn't be done in the rains and Deskit had nothing more to offer. We could spend the night at Deskit, but still going to Hunder the next day would mean at least half a day. With so much time already lost on the plan, we can't afford the luxury. And so we decided to do something unthinkable... to proceed towards Karu crossing over Wari La during the evening.

Will we be able to reach Karu today going through a road less traversed and known to be difficult, driving through the unwanted part of the day? Stay tuned...
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Old 2nd November 2013, 12:19   #44
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Default Re: The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti

Day 9: 17 August 2013: Part 3.1: Deskit to Karu

With the rains giving no reprieve, we decided to do something unthinkable… to proceed towards Karu crossing over Wari La during the evening.

Will we be able to reach Karu today going through a road less traversed and known to be difficult, driving through the unwanted part of the day? Stay tuned...


We started around 1530 from Deskit Gompa and decided to skip going back to the Deskit market for lunch. We'll rather have something on the way as time is of essence now if we have to cross Wari La.

Sun playing games with the clouds
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.112.jpg

So we quickly cross the riverbed and go back on the same road that we traveled yesterday. At around 1600 hrs, we break at Khalsar for a bowl of maggi.
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.113.jpg

A closer look
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.114.jpg

approaching Khalsar
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.115.jpg

A notice-board at Khalsar proclaims that Nubra Valley has been declared a "no smoking" zone since 12 May 2013. However, I see many people freely roaming with ciggi in hand.
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.116.jpg

Aiwei photo.. take at the dhaba at Khalsar
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.117.jpg

Maggi devoured, we drive ahead to reach the same tri-junction of the road. The road ahead is easy. You just take left fork on the junction. Easy?

Not so though when you have 2 engineers, a lawyer and a mediaperson in the group. Just ahead, there is a checkpost which is empty and there is a road going past the checkpost and another one to another side. Is it the junction? We didn't even noticed that the signages were missing! We take the left fork road and drive ahead. However, the road starts getting narrower and bad. There are no tyre tracks whatsoever. There is no one to let us know the correct way. After 4-5 kms, we see a Lama. We're saved! We ask the Lama whether the road goes to Agham. Behold! The Lama doesn't speaks Hindi or English. He probably speaks only in Ladakhi so we're not sure whether he has understood us. We drive further and the road condition further deteriorates, with stones on the road - a clear sign of frequent shooting stones. Something is wrong.

Let's go back, we decide, till the checkpost and wait for someone to guide. But the Cheetah can't be driven for all these 15-16 kms in reverse! And there is no room on the road to turn the car! So we drive ahead to find a spot where we all get down except for Cheena and guide him to turn the car somehow. We then reach the checkpost, find no one and decide to drive on the right fork.

Finally, we reach the tri-junction with the signage marking the route to Leh and Agham. We realise our mistake! We had taken the road to Sumur/Panamik from the last point. There is an alternate route which is relatively in plains and mostly traversed. That route that we took was on mountains and hardly traversed and we had in fact covered most of the route by the time we turned back (the route is about 6.5 kms where the road from the plain meets it)!
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.118.jpg

The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.119.jpg

Anyways, we take the left fork (of course the right route) now and drive ahead. The road is tarred, but there are lots of shooting stone area and signs of landslides are quite a couple. The composition of mountains is different here, it's mostly pebbles and soil. A couple of kilometers on left of the road is all wetland area and it's lush green.
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There is some water flowing on the road, but it's nothing to be concerned about.
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.122.jpg

The road generally is good with some interesting shapes in the mountains
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.123.jpg

and at times going straight
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.124.jpg

And as usual, Shyok is giving company.
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.125.jpg

We crossed Agham and meanwhile the Sun started playing hide-n-seek with the clouds.
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.126.jpg

The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.127.jpg

Interesting formations
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.128.jpg

Remnants of streams flowing over the road. Although there is no water, still you have to steer your vehicle carefully under guidance so that to prevent underbelly hits.
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.129.jpg

And of course water streams flowing on the road
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.130.jpg

Interesting Shiv temple with a huge snake-head. Notice the switchbacks in the background
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.131.jpg

The clouds are descending..
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.132.jpg

Just then we notice a herd and two persons - one of them is a lady. The other one seems to be the shepherd. Having seen the first human being till this time, we stop for a chit-chat.
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.133.jpg

No! Wari La is still some distance. He's wearing a camo pant. We inquire about it. This one he got when he was serving for GREF. Actually, GREF creates the first roads in this region and then hands it over to the parent organisation - BRO for maintenance. In Ladakh, BRO's project Himank takes care of the maintenance of roads once handed over. This road hasn't been handed over to BRO as yet, so it means you're at your own risk if something happens. BRO won't come to your rescue if you're stuck in a landslide.
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.134.jpg

Cheena sneaks to click a special macro
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.134.tbhp.jpg

Take a look at the switchbacks
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.135.jpg

Prayer flags are strong, just as the belief in them
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.136.jpg

We take leave from the shepherd and off he goes.
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.137.jpg

The road is now engulfed by the clouds, so are the peaks
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.138.jpg

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Some riders cross us. This is the first set of travelers that we've seen on this road.
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.140.jpg

CONTD...
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Old 2nd November 2013, 13:03   #45
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Default Day 9: 17 August 2013: Part 3.2: Deskit to Karu

Day 9: 17 August 2013: Part 3.2: Deskit to Karu

We enter the clouds and cross them. And Lo! The scenario changes completely! The sky is predominantly blue splashed with white clouds, mountains brown with a layer of green grass and white snow on peaks. Moon is visible and together everything is creating a mesmerizing view. Some views

One for the Cheetah
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.141.jpg

Blue, brown and green
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.142.jpg

...and the Moon rises
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.143.jpg

lights & clouds
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.144.jpg

..and the moon
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.145.jpg

Beautiful!
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.146.jpg

molten ice running on road..
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.147.jpg

.. and the moon again
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.148.jpg

Some greenery against ice capped peak
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.149.jpg

Close-up to the peak. Ummm.. that's the zoom in work, I didn't climbed up. I swear!
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.150.jpg

Soaking in the vistas, around 1830 we reach the Wari La top. Interestingly enough, Wari La is not yet marked. It is a board for a canal to collect and distribute glacial waters and prayer flags that mark this pass. It wasn't that tough after all! It is snowing, though very little, but the strong winds are making the conditions chilly. I'm comfortable though! I'm made for this weather!!

Approaching
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.151.jpg

Photo-op!
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.152.jpg

The flag
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.153.jpg

view to the other side and snow on road
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.154.jpg

Prayer flags
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.155.jpg

We spend around 20-25 minutes at the top and then proceed towards Sakthi. It's getting darker, though there is some light remaining for the day and the pics are coming out great!
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.156.jpg

just soak in the colours
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.157.jpg

some sunlight...
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available only on tops now
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.159.jpg

but things are visible
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.160.jpg

A random shot towards the rocks. It's only later while analyzing pics that we realized - there was a group of Ibex, a full dozen of them!
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.161.jpg
Can you notice the difference between the rocks and the Ibex?

The Moon is now more clear
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.162.jpg

Last rays of the Sun are lighting some peaks and the view is AWESOME!
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.163.jpg

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Closer look, the colours are dramatic!
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.165.jpg

By 1915, we notice some settlement far away in the faint last light of the day. Perhaps it is Sakthi.
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.166.jpg

Practically it is completely dark now and the only light available is from the Cheeta's eyes. We drive carefully as the roads twists and turns. At many points, in the view of headlights, we see wild hare (or were they marmots?) jumping and leaping on the road and besides. No point trying clicking, there is no light, so cameras packed for the day.

Suddenly we notice something big leaping and galloping in front of the Cheetah for about 40-50 meters. Is it a dog? Ibex? "IT'S A SNOW LEOPARD", I yell! For I noticed his head and the spots on the body. And immediately we go in frenzy to pull out the cameras. But then it is "The Lord of the Celestial Mountains" and "Master of Snowy Peaks". It does what it likes. It gallops to right and in the meantime, only Tony had been able to put on his phone camera in video mode, but it has gone a bit distance.

Here's the video, which captures the frenzy and a glimpse of the Lord.



Just when we finished out trip, I remembered the event and thought that our car dvr must have captured it while it was galloping in front of the Cheetah. However, a little miscalculation on my part about the capacity of a 32GB card to record the entire journey erased all such possibilities. When taken out, the card had videos only from 21st August onwards. All previous videos were overwritten! :(

Elated on meeting the "Lord of the Celestial Mountains", we drove ahead and again noticed wild hare jumping here and there. This is a perfect habitat for the leopard! With lots of pray in vicinity, there is no wonder we met him.

Around 1945 we reached Sakthi. It had grown pitch dark by then and I wasn't in favour of driving ahead on the curvy roads in this condition. And in any case Karu was very near, which we can reach tomorrow as well. So we decided that we'll stop at the first opportunity that we can get for stay. And not too far ahead, near a turn, we read the board of JKTDC guest house. Nothing can be better than this! Let's grab the opportunity!! There is no light, and the guest house is lined by shrubs which are hiding the guest house.
The Yayawar Group wanders in Ladakh & Spiti-9.167.jpg

Me and Avi walk to the guest house and meet the caretaker.. two gentlemen in traditional ladakhi dress. They barely understand Hindi or English. Luckily, they nod affirmative when we ask for room for stay for 4 people. Says that one of the room has no tap water in the toilet and another's toilet is not in working condition. Great! But do we have a choice? Do we want to search some other place in this dark? No! We'll manage. What about parking? So the gentleman comes with us and removes the big stone which is placed to hold the gate. Vehicle in, we ask the caretaker if we can have something for food and some tea. "Why not butter tea if possible?" I suggest. Yes, dal-chawal-sabji and butter tea can be done.

Good! So we occupy the rooms happily. But not ever after! While the room occupied by myself and Tony has no tap water in the toilet, at least some water is there in two buckets and the toilet flush is working. Cheena is talking over phone to someone. After-all, you don't get regular signals while in Ladakh, and is giving minute by minute account. And then AVI does the blunder! He opens the pandora's box!! Ok, that's a mythical story. Agreed. But he opens the toilet door of the other room and immediately closes it. It's no less than Pandora's box! The entire room and the gallery is filled with an unbearable stench! Urghhh...

Avi come to us and states the situation. In the meanwhile, Cheena is still talking over phone in the other stench-filled room. It's all about mindset you know? If your neurons misfires, some sparks are not converted into electrical signals, and this is when you fail to receive the signal. And then you kick again! Talk over, Cheena comes rushing. Urghhh.. there is unbearable smell in the room. Really? You didn't felt it for last 15 minutes that you were talking over phone! What shall we do. Come what may, we will not sleep in that room - Cheena and Avi declare. We talk to the caretaker. There is no other room! Ok, if he can arrange for spare mattresses and quilts, we'll sleep in the single room. I'll light some incense sticks in the room and that shall take away the stench. NO! That would not do. We want mattresses and quilts! And the caretaker goes away without any affirmative or negative word!

The other one comes with the Butter tea. Ok, let's enjoy this. Ummm.. Yuk! I don't like the taste, even the aroma, and it's salty!!! Me too! Me three!!! What about me forth? Well, going by the feedback, I better don't even take a sip. I better be devoid of this nectar of Ladakh. Poor me!!

We're hungry, and now none of the caretakers are there. Avi goes in pursuit and returns with a news. The first one is in the toilet of the other room, probably cleaning it. 10 minutes later, he comes and proclaims that someone threw food items in the toilet which clogged it and then it started smelling as it has rotten inside, and that now he has cleaned it and going to put some more incense sticks. We tell him firmly that though we'll pay for two rooms, we would still want to sleep in one room and would require mattresses and quilts. Finally he agrees. Settling this, we go for the dinner.

It's thick rice, with some plain boiled pulses and boiled cauliflower with potato, some salt added for taste. Will make do... there is no other options. Otherwise also "jeene ke liye hi to khaate hain!".

Two morsels down, Cheena picks up a cauliflower and notices a spider stuck. Urghhh... we all were about to puke, but then apart from Tony, aren't we all omnivorous? What's about a spider? Ok, we've had enough. We'll go to sleep and take the first opportunity to get out of this disgusting place. Totally disgusting!!! :(

What next? of course the Pangong!!
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