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Old 20th July 2017, 07:16   #1
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Default My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017

“A cold wind was blowing from the north, Winter is coming.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones


Though the preparation was underway for over two years yet it picked up steam only in the last eight months or so but guess the gradual preparation helped and was able to cater to each point of the trek to the best of my ability. A photographic trek is like a campaign that is planned and conceptualised with attention to the innumerable details in various aspects which are critical to the successful outcome.

But on the summit of beginning the trek itself my heart was beseeched with a sense of melancholiness that I was unable to fathom, having prepared to the best of my ability for one of the most celebrated treks in the Indian subcontinent and standing on the anvil of its commencement my heart and inner conscious being was swamped with shades of gloom. It’s important to go into treks being 100% positive and focused , but though the focus was there the positivity was somehow not in the vicinity .

The human mind is a hub of various electrical signals which are involved in generation of emotions and thoughts by the conversion of these electrical signals into the above aspects. I knew that my subconscious was affected by some thought that was casting a inhibiting effect on the present and just hoped that would be able to break free of the same as the days move ahead.
The trek began from the foothills of the Western Ghats , that continuum of mountain range glorified in the ancient Vedas , known in Sanskrit as The Benevolent Mountain , running parallel to the western coast of the Indian Peninsula and as i moved towards the state of Goa , was flanked by the tourist season that had descended onto the state , i could see the revellers in shorts and brightly printed flannel shirts buzzing on the rented two-wheelers as I whizzed past them towards Dabolim airport, Goa from where i would be taking the Air Asia flight to Delhi which would be my transit hub for my connecting flight onwards to the mountains of Leh .

Arriving in Delhi, was greeted by the winter chill which told me of what the days coming ahead would be like. Karwar and Goa were left far behind basking in the glory of the tropical sun . Up ahead somewhere up in the mountains around Leh lay the Kingdom of the winter and white out where the sun was a distant shadow of his power. Here the realm of the winter god and the white out held sway over the land.

Our flight was scheduled at 0600 hrs in the morning and hence we were up by 0330 hrs to reach the airport well in advance considering that Delhi airport has some of the stringent security measures in place. The check in was a breeze and the fight left on time and comprised of large number of individuals attempting the Chadar Trek. Temperature outside temp was stated as -17 deg by the pilot as we stepped on the tarmac of Kushok Bakula Rimpochee airport, Leh and the day had begun with a bang . As the weather turned intimidating, the black clouds which were crowding my thoughts and feelings were scattered away and the sight of the beloved mountains played an immense part in it . Seeing them after a short span of 03 months i was so content to once again immerse myself in the simple rigours of a trek life.

Mr Lobzang Sherab , a gem of a person and total professional who was arranging the trek for me met me at the airport and his staff (Zanskar Kanishka Expeditions) soon whizzed us to Shanti GH where we were staying for two days for our acclimatizing period. It is very imp to acclimatize if one is arriving by air and in the winters this requirement is utmost critical as the body needs to prepare itself for the physical shock that was going to be thrust upon.

After we settled in, we spent the morning having countless cups of tea followed by a discussion with the team so that we came to know each other and understood about the trek requirements. Being a solo client this interaction gave me a chance to establish working relationships with the support team members , in the afternoon after a hot lunch we left for a visit to Phyang gompa and thereafter to Likir Monastery .

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-71-sunset-likir-gompa1.jpg

Towards Likir Gompa


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Stkna Gompa stands like the TIGER'S NOSE



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Indus freezes



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Leh city



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Mosque minaret , main market , Leh



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monochrome visuals



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Namgyal Gompa , Leh





The hustle n bustle that one associates with Leh was totally non-existent, the villages wore a deserted look while the people preferred to stay indoors considering the immense cold chill factor. The snow was not heavy on the streets of Leh but the cold was a living being in itself, it was mind numbing . It was evening by the time i reached back and hot dinner was waiting wherein the topic of discussion in the dining hall where various guests mingled centred all about the trek in hand. Queries and information being shared about the trek. It was an absolutely riveting experience. Soon after I drifted off to sleep and an end to my first winter day in Leh.


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Phyang Gompa


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Phyang Gompa


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sunset glory


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stakna attraction


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@Likir Gompa


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The mental wait gets you especially when the sun outside struggles to heat up the earth while the cold rules the air as you are in the second day of acclimatisation period prior to commencement of the trek. There was nothing much to do other than drink hot cups of tea and go for walks on empty streets thereby letting the body work itself. The day was an exercise in mental strength in terms of channelizing the thoughts and staying positive to get through the day.

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@ Likir Gompa

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-440-likir-gompa-1.jpg

@Likir Gompa


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Why do i want to walk on a frozen icy river in the middle of a harsh winter?
Honestly not many a satisfactory answers come to my mind other than the lure of maybe pushing the body and mind searching for that spectacular experience that adverse conditions present. In the olden days of the yore this route was done out of necessity but now this route is done as a matter of embracing the challenges.
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Old 20th July 2017, 07:33   #2
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Default Re: My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017

DAY I : Leh – Chilling – Bakula camp site

The alarm rang at 0545 hrs and trek day dawned, in the pre-dawn darkness i stretched myself and then went downstairs to the kitchen to get a bucket of hot water to start the day. Post a cup of tea and with a hot bucket of water i was ready to face the day with confidence. By 0830 hrs we were ready and after a very light breakfast boarded the tempo traveler to move towards the village of Chilling which lay more than an hours’ drive away. The roads were super smooth while the sun was feeble in its attempt to warm the surrounding, winter truly ruled the roost and the kingdom. Speeding along empty NH 1D all one could see was the presence of the army who are the ever-present quotient in the Ladakhi landscape, their presence a reassurance which was heartily felt .

After reaching the confluence of the Indus and the Zanskar, one could see the ice forming on the banks of the river, a detour from the highway saw us on a single carriageway which was totally broken down and it was a miracle that we made it though the last three km stretch though we had to change vehicles owing to a landslide. Chilling is very dusty, there is a fine dust which is everywhere and with the road construction in progress it has made matters worse. After around three km ahead of Chilling we dismounted and there after trekked for a km before gently moving downwards to the river bank of Zanskar river. The ice was formed quite well at the edges though the centre of the river was flowing with a great force. Turquoise blue, yes that is the colour of Zanskar and under the grey overcast sky the colour achieved a totally different shade of Turquoise blue. Soon we were moving along the bank on the ice, sliding our feet forward, as this is the way to walk on the Chadar .

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The Zanskar below

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The porters move

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The gorge as seen

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Change of Transport view road blocks

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perspective of human figures in the landscape

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taking the aspirations of the clients

Readers may note that the correct way of walking plays a crucial part in this trek , one needs to slide the feet forward and avoid as much as possible to break contact between the feet and the ice and distributing the weight of the body in a forward direction.

Come winter and the severe drop in temperature freezes the swift flowing waters of the Zanskar that emerges from the Zanskar region and meets the Indus at Nimmu. The cold is so severe that the river waters freeze against each other in sheets and layers resembling something like a “Chadar “(sheet of cloth/covering), hence the name of the trek being Chadar.

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Perspective in landscape

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sheets of water frozen and stacked

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formations in ice

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After around an hour or so we stopped at a place known as Zar, for a quick hot lunch of maggi and chai prepared by the cooks on kerosene fired stoves, the weather had worsened by this time and it started snowing on the distant peaks. We made our way soon thereafter as our destination for today was known as Bakula campsite where the legend of the Bakula cave was narrated by our guide Stanzin . This was reached by 1600 hrs in the evening. The entire stretch after lunch saw us walking on a well formed Chadar on the Zanskar, especially on the river bank with the ice several feet thick. The middle of the river was still fluid and the Zanskar flowed placidly with chunks of ice floating sedately on it. It was truly a magical feeling or let me put it as a truly content feeling to see the silence all around in the gorge as the Zanskar flowed carrying chunks of ice that constantly brushed against the banks as it continued its journey downwards.

The campsite was on on a tiny flat piece of river bank that was rocky and flat as the Zanskar curved in a wide curve out here. The tents were quickly set up and after a cup of piping hot tea, the team went about the business of preparing for dinner wherein some went to search for dried branches of bushes while others set up the sleeping bags for the night. Darkness came on quickly and being my first night in the open in peak winter, it truly felt intimidating. Dinner was simple yet hot that made a world of difference to the mental state. By this time the porters had a roaring fire going and I joined them for some time to hear them sing and talk about incidents in their life. Slowly they accepted me in their midst proving me an insight in to their world while the cold dark mountains all around gazed silently on us with the Chadar flowing few metres away carrying huge chunks of ice that swished in the darkness which was all around.

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Bakula campsite has a lore which speaks of a religious personality known as Rimpochee Bakula who was a priest of high learning and used to travel frequently from Zanskar region to Leh using the route of Zanskar river. He used to mediate at a cave out here which later came to be known as Bakula cave. There are Juniper trees out here which are considered highly auspicious in the Buddhism way of life. The trees still grow even to this day at remote ledges and ridges in this area testimony to the wanderings and teaching of Bakula.

Out here I felt so detached from the worries of life, even though I was in the midst of a huge gorge on a peak winter night with the temperature falling easily below -30 deg and darkness all around yet the heart was at peace , the vibes all peaceful and warm .

Last edited by Rudra Sen : 23rd July 2017 at 09:42. Reason: Duplicate images removed and spacing corrected
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Old 20th July 2017, 09:27   #3
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Default Re: My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017

Wow! One a kind thread on the forums I guess. The pics are breath taking and I am sure the experience in person would have been priceless too. Any details on how you went about arranging the trip?

OT - the pics of people walking on ice feels like scenes from the movie 'The Day after Tomorrow'
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Old 20th July 2017, 11:36   #4
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Default Re: My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017

The pictures are crazy good !! Rated 5 stars !
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Old 20th July 2017, 12:33   #5
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Default Re: My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017

Wow, what a travelogue. Magical destination and breathtaking pictures. Great narration too! Waiting for more :-)
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Old 20th July 2017, 20:06   #6
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Default Re: My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017

DAY II: Bakula Campsite to Tip Yokma

The alarm was set for 0645 hrs and we welcomed the day with a cup of hot tea sitting inside the sleeping bag. The night was super cold as frost had crept up slowly and covered the entire tent in fact the interiors of the tent too had a light layer of frost, something like a thin crest pizza Iit was super cold and i think this was the highest cold that i had experienced till date. The mercury had fallen drastically in the night and by a modest count the temp would have been hovering at around minus twenty-five easily on that morning. The thoughtful gears that I had invested in made their presence felt as my body was able to withstand the cold during the night reasonably well. (More on this at the end)

Post a hot breakfast consisting of broth called thupka made up of vegetables cooked in water followed by a cup of hot soup and locally made biscuits we were ready to roll. The sky was clear though the sun had not yet reached down as we were most of the time walking in the valley gorge. As we moved ahead we encountered a very well formed Chadar with deep snow and at some places the entire river stretch was totally covered with ice bank to bank. There were various patches of ice , in places it was deep ice with a good grip while in some places it was like glass and the reflection bode ill to anyone who kept his foot over it for there was absolutely no grip. Mostly we walked in a sliding manner and it is very imp to use a heavy walking stick to check the ice ahead else if would just break the moment one put its full weight on it. There was so much to see as the texture and pattern of the river, the gorges as well as the ice kept changing every few hundred metres.

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-217-3001.jpg

The play of ice n water

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Tsomopal Dhar water fall , read on below about it

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A different world altogether

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The ripples frozen

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There were not many individuals trekking and the ones who were there were evenly spaced out thus providing personal space to each and every one. After an hour and half we reached Shingra , an alternate campsite for Day I . The river took a pretty turn out here, the walk continued and soon we reached Tsomopal Dhar where there is huge cave which is again used as an alternate campsite depending on circumstances. We had a break here and had an early lunch and rested for some time prior to proceeding ahead to Hottong.

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Ice formations

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There is a small waterfall out at Tsomopal Dhar, which has an interesting tale. In the bygone history, the people of Zanskar , Nerak region had no water streams and were facing dire problems. Hence a lama (religious leader) decided to journey to Tibet to find a way to get back water. Out there he met higher beings who agreed to help him and gave him a box stating that the same to be opened only at the place where the lama wanted to water to flow. The lama started his journey back and travelled days till he reached Tsomopal dhar and seeing that his journey is nearing to an end, his curiosity got the better of him and while he was resting in the cave, he opened the box. Inside he saw that there were two fishes and one jumped out, he immediately slammed the cover of the box shut, however one fish had escaped and disappeared in to the ground. From that place a stream of water started flowing and the same flows till day irrespective whether it is winter or summer. There is no freezing of the water.

After Hotong the gorge became narrow as well as trickier and at places we needed to climb up the rock face and then descend down view the ice was just too tricky to trust. The weather turned bleak with snow on the upper reaches as we trudged in silence out here deep in the bowels of the earth. The chunks of ice kept floating sedately on the river oblivious to those who walked the banks. They were so graceful that it reminded me of the geishas of the Japanese culture renowned for their grace and symmetry while giving performances. There was something so eerily similar to them. The silent swoosh of the ice clumps that brushed against the river bank as they continued their way towards whatever destiny had in store for them was heard so distinctly considering the quietness that was omnipresent all around.

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Frozen in time

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To experience what i am writing one needs to be in that place in that moment, words don’t do justice even a fraction though we do try all the time. The end for the day was close by, it was past five in the evening as we moved ahead, the exhaustion visible in the way we moved ahead. The destination was Tip Yokma , a celebrated campsite of this trip which marked the tipping point of this trek. The criticality of Tip Yokma can be gauged by the fact that one crosses to the other bank to access the camp site and also for proceeding ahead and in case the ice on the river breaks out here while one has crossed over then he is stranded on the other side, for the route to retracing back no longer exists.

As we were in the last mile or so, the ice was indeed tricky and with the Zanskar flowing rapidly and ice formation only on the edges, this presented a walk on a narrow ledge of ice with steep rock face on one side and fast flowing icy waters on the other side as well as below the ledge on which we were walking. Definitely not a very pleasant prospect considering that one has no idea on knowing how thick is the ledge or where is the weak portion. In situations like these, it is the experience of the guide that forms the bed rock for a safe crossing and arrival to camp site.

As darkness descended we reached the campsite and the end of a super long day. The tents were already set up and it was with a grateful gesture that I unloaded my backpack and accepted a cup of steaming hot tea which marked the close of the trek of the second day. Tip Yokma is definitely unique and there are numerous caves all along the valley rock face which are utilised by the support teams of porters to light roaring fires and keep the cold and darkness at bay through the night.

Last edited by Rudra Sen : 23rd July 2017 at 09:46. Reason: Image and para spacing corrected
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Old 21st July 2017, 00:41   #7
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DAY III : Tip Yokma to Nerak Campsite

It was an early start for the day with the destination being Nerak campsite. The sky remained overcast throughout and today the path was trickier with long stretches alongside the river bank with a width of hardly a metre and to top it, the ice was super smooth. The progress was slow and with utmost care by almost all as no one wanted to tumble and then slide off over the ice into the freezing water flowing swiftly alongside. The number of trekkers were substantial as there were many trek tours in progress and everyone’s’ destination was Nerak.

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Monochrome glory

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-2581.jpg

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-2611.jpg

On the move

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Reflections

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Shades of blue

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The way points enroute were Yokma Do, psums chumo (juniper tree), and finally Nerak campsite. Mid-afternoon we reached near the Nerak fall however the path of ice was totally broken and brittle hence the detour had to be made over the adjoining the hill and so up we climbed and after an hour we descended and were back on ice and with hardly a km to reach Nerak campsite.

Way points like Yokma Do have a history of their own, tales speak of a certain Ladakhi King who while on his way through these regions stayed at this cave high up in the vertical rock face along with his cook and courtier as the night fell for which they had crossed the frozen river. However, during the night, the ice thawed out and in the morning the king saw that he was totally marooned inside the cave. Hours turned into days and slowly the food carried was exhausted, finally as the hunger reached high proportions, the King decided to sacrifice and eat the least useful member of the group and this turned out in the present circumstances to be the cook. The cook hearing this prayed that night to his Gods to help him; for next morning he was supposed to be killed. Come morning, the King saw that the ice had once again frozen in the night thereby enabling them to leave the cave and cross the river.As a result even to this day no porter or trekker stays at this cave even if the river is frozen solid and night has fallen/adverse conditions persists .

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-2811.jpg

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Frozen

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Landscape

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Perspective

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Blend into the landscape of zanskar

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One aspect I would like to bring out is the way the porters lug the loads, sometimes in excess of 30kgs itself. Now we are not talking of backpacks or ergonomically designed loads rather bulk boxes or sacks. these are carried using sledges which are fashioned by them locally which are pulled thereafter manually. At places where one has to detour and leave the ice, the sledges are so fashioned to inculcate slings which allow the entire sledge along with the load to be hosted onto the shoulder as then the porter then climbs up the mountain side in search for the alternate route. Only those who are experienced can do this kind of load pulling, for the strains on the shoulders as well as the technique of a heavy load sliding behind oneself while moving on slippery ice is a different ball game in itself. But they have a happy grin on the face and are at home in these sub-zero temperatures moving along the trek route.

The ice is a devious being, waiting to drag the unsuspecting trekker down as one is mesmerised by the landscapes and vistas displayed at every turn and it is so natural to lower the guard and focus as to where the step is being placed , is it slippery rock solid ice or brittle weak ice with swift flowing waters below and the trail has been frozen with all its undulations , twists and turns , a real challenge in itself considering that there is considerable distance between the guide /porter and the trekker, hence lessons have to be learnt on the go and all as quickly as possible.

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Some different perspective and visuals

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My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-5361.jpg

Ahead of Nerak campsite the Zanskar continues and the trek moves ahead for those who wish to reach the village of Padum thereby reaching the end of the Full Chadar trek, for then one retraces the same route back till chilling. One has to cross the Woma gorge in this sector which is the trickiest part of this full trek where in the trekker has to walk on iron poles jammed into the vertical rock face view this year the ice has not formed at this sector of the Zanskar resulting in deep water flowing below. Padum can be reached in a day trek from Nerak campsite and also the trail up for the Lingshed village also comes once this gorge is crossed. Considering the present condition, I decided to abort the goal of reaching Lingshed village and decided to instead trek up to Nerak village.

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-5011.jpg

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-5111.jpg

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-5221.jpg

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-5241.jpg

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-5561.jpg

There are many trail paths leading ahead of Padum too, for there are a series of valley systems up ahead. These include the Lunak valley, Sham valley, Stod valley etc which are interlinked and have their own tales and historical places. Padum forms a part of the Lunak valley which moves towards Darcha and further down Manali. Phuktal monastery is a part of this valley. Sham valley consists of Xanga, stongdey and is the actual valley link connecting Leh to Zanskar region using the zanskar river. Stod valley moves towards Kargil and consists of the famous Pensi La high altitude pass.

Last edited by Rudra Sen : 23rd July 2017 at 09:50. Reason: Image and paragraph spacing corrected
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Old 21st July 2017, 00:59   #8
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DAY IV : Wandering to Nerak Gongma & Nerak Yokma

Woke up to the sounds of other groups calling out for breakfast, today was a lazy day compared to the previous days. The agenda for the day was trek to the famous frozen water fall followed by a visit to the Nerak Yokma and Nerak Gogma villages situated up a steep mountain trail. The waterfall was definitely worth a visit, surprisingly it has no name and is basically spring water that freezes in the winter to create the magnificent effect. The climb to Nerak village was steep but definitely doable and after few hours i was at Nerak Gogma (Note : Gogma means upper & Yokma means lower ). The village comprised of a rudimentary health dispensary and a solar plant. The children study at the residential school at Lingshed and thereafter shift to Ladakh for further studies. In the winters they come to village for holidays. The children trek to Lingshed village crossing Zingla pass at a height of 5200 mts. Now this is definitely something to think about.

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-6561.jpg

Visuals from Nerak Village

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-6541.jpg

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-6511.jpg

Visuals from Nerak Village

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-6481.jpg

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-6471.jpg

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-6441.jpg

Visuals from Nerak Village

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-6411.jpg

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-6391.jpg

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-6361.jpg

Life is tough no doubt but the resilience of mankind makes it possible to survive here even in harsh winters. The ration comes from settlement of Wonla , a small settlement high up across the Zing La pass and in the olden days , the same used to be done as a part of community event using horses to take the load. The ration used to be purchased for the entire year view for even now Nerak village is connected to the outside world only through trails, there is no fixed roads that have been built.

The fields are tended in the monsoon and winter months; monsoon is a dichotomy for there is nothing called monsoon out here. Each family out here owns mainly yaks n sheep and maybe horses. The houses are all built using locally made material and catering to the climatic conditions. There is a satellite phone provided which is used to summon government/army helicopter assistance in case if serious medical requirement comes up. I saw a solar plant too being built in readiness to providing electricity demands through the year , a welcome step indeed.

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-6341.jpg

Visuals from Nerak Village

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-6331.jpg

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-6311.jpg

Visuals from Nerak Village

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-6301.jpg

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-6291.jpg

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-6281.jpg

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-6261.jpg

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-6251.jpg

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-941.jpg

The village comprised of around 30 families and religious belief consists of a monastery built at the upper flat land overlooking the village. There is a gigantic Juniper tree in the centre of Nerak Gogma , which is the epicentre of belief in the Buddhism sect.Yaks are the mainstay out here with each house raising at least one , there are few horses too but Yaks form the backbone of support out here from tending the fields to lugging loads to organic produce.

After the visit i was back to camp site and had a late lunch and then relaxed for the remaining day. As evening approached I wandered around the camp site seeing the activities of various other trekkers, indulging in discussions and making new acquaintances. Tomorrow we would be retracing out path back to Chilling with the first stop being Hoton ahead of Tip Yokma itself.

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-6181.jpg

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-6111.jpg

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-6071.jpg

The acclaimed waterfall below Nerak campsite

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-6041.jpg

The acclaimed waterfall below Nerak campsite

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-6011.jpg

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-5981.jpg

The acclaimed waterfall below Nerak campsite

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-5881.jpg

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-5901.jpg

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-5911.jpg

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-5571.jpg

The return leg is nothing that I would like to describe in depth rather I would work towards penning down few observations of this wonderful trek.
Attached Thumbnails
My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-6431.jpg  

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-6311.jpg  


Last edited by Rudra Sen : 23rd July 2017 at 09:54. Reason: Image and paragraph spacing corrected
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Old 21st July 2017, 01:11   #9
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Various Camp Site locations

Zar 4 kms ahead of Chilling. Water available

Bakula Open campsite. Few caves too available
Shingra Open campsite .Water available
Hoton Open campsite. Quite narrow. Water available
Tip Yokma Open campsite. Few caves available. Water available
Nerak campsite Open campsite. Two homestays also available. Ration available. Water available
Lingshed village Homestays available
Padum Homestays available.

Note on Ice. Ice is the omnipresent factor of this trek and it has a changing face every day, every few hours. It is to be understood that we are talking about ice and not snow. The ice changes as per the prevailing weather and climatic conditions. A route that was safe and secure today will be the most adverse tomorrow, few hours in the night can change a successful trek to a failure and vice versa. The ice when frozen is very hard and definitely has the potential to hurt if someone suffers a fall on it while the brittle ice ensures that it cracks and plunges the trekker into the icy river water below. Hence it is of paramount importance that the trekker understands ice and its element adapting to it in order to understand.

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-5861.jpg

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-5811.jpg

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-5631.jpg

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-5601.jpg

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-5591.jpg

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-5111.jpg

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-5511.jpg

In case one comes in contact with the icy waters, please understand that the particular wet clothing needs to be changed ASAP. If not done it would result in the water freezing thereby causing further complications to the trekker hence it is important to understand what to carry in the day backpack. Most importantly the clothing especially the lower pants have to be water proof to safeguard the inner leggings from coming in contact with water.

Critical Geographical interlocks. Critical interlocks that decided whether the trek can progress or which have the potential to impede the movement of a trekker thereby causing him personal safety hazards are:
(i) Hottong to Shingra Sector.
(ii) Tip Yokma campsite lies on the opposite bank of the Zanskar.
(iii) Stretch of river bank just prior Tsomopal Dhar.
(iv) Woma gorge after Nerak Campsite.
(v) Tip Yokma approach sector from Nerak , extremely narrow and brittle.
Attached Thumbnails
My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-124-likir-gompa1.jpg  


Last edited by Rudra Sen : 23rd July 2017 at 09:56. Reason: Image and paragraph spacing corrected
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Old 21st July 2017, 01:17   #10
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Porter’s Viewpoint.
The porter carries the aspiration of the client attempting to successfully complete the Chadar. He is a permanent fixture of this landscape and is a a part of the social fabric of this region. On his back he carries the crucial requirements of the trek group and ensures that everything is safely protected from the ice n river as much as possible. He also supports motivates and helps the client in traversing critical and dangerous stretches in the trek putting himself to danger repeatedly on these stretches. He is a proud hardworking individual and expects his due from the client in terms of respect, greeting, acknowledgement and his pay. There is a lot that he can tell about the Chadar if one makes the effort to enter his world.

Dos & Dont’s

Follow what the guide & porters tell during the trek.
Prepare well in terms of clothing, accessories.
Research well prior to selecting a trekking firm.
Ask pointed questions from the trekking firm in terms of camp accessories being provided.
Acclimatize well prior to setting up.
Avoid hard drinks and high energy drinks in the trek.
Keep the day back as light as possible however keep critical components with self rather than the main backpack.
Walking stick is compulsory
Medical kit needs to be exhaustive especially carry pain relief sprays, balms and bandages.
Diamox is not mandatory as there is hardly any elevation gain during the trek.
Avoid large groups, the price being charged will indicate the size of group irrespective of what the trekking company promises.
Body warmers are a welcome asset especially for the feet.
Hand sanitizer is a must
Don’t deviate from the group especially falling behind engrossed in clicking pics or taking a break. Chadar on the river is unpredictable, the experience and quick thinking of the guide will mean a lot in an adverse situation in sub-zero temperatures.

Commercialization of Chadar .

There are numerous companies offering this experience however the downside of this trek is a load on the region, the eco system.
Don’t damage the ecosystem, keep plastic out of this region.
Do not encourage the vegetation to be cut for camp fires.
Do not deface the caves and other places of stay.
Burn waste that is generated and I mean wrappers, tissue papers. Do not throw them behind rocks or into the rivers.

Note on selection of trekking company.

There are many a number offering this experience. Read the website carefully and enter into a telephonic conversation with them. Pls grade them on the following queries

(i) Pricing
(ii) Rating of tent ( season 3/season 4 )
(iii) Rating of sleeping bag ( to be rated till -15 deg )
(iv) How large a group
(v) How many guides ( min 02 > 09 members )
(vi) How many porters being hired.
(vii) Where stay @Leh. Hot water and room heating is important while acclimatizing.
(viii) What kind of meal composition planned.
(ix) What kind and frequency of hot tea planned.
(x) Hot water is a godsend during the trek , will it be offered.

I had opted with Zanskar Kaniska Expeditions and I must say that their professionalism, behaviour and conduct during the trek was worth every money spent.

Best time for trek : 2nd week of Jan – 2nd week of feb.

Gear Preparation.

Inner layering Should be of merino wool
Mid layering Definitely fleece lined
Outer layering Waterproof capability is critical
Gloves Inner & outer
Socks & shoes Plenty of socks needed. Two pairs for night time.
Gumboots Available for purchase at Ladakh
Glasses Essential
Head covering including the mouth n ears n nose Two layers , outer to be waterproof kinds
Hand sanitizer & toilet roll
Energy bars
Thermos for hot water Very essential in the morning & during the trek
Walking pole
Power banks

Hope this article of mine would be of assistance to those who wish to undertake this trek in the year 2018.

My Trek on the Zanskar River - Chadar 2017-chadar-2017-124-likir-gompa1.jpg

I conclude with the final visual " Belief "

Last edited by Rudra Sen : 23rd July 2017 at 09:58. Reason: Spacing corrected
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Old 21st July 2017, 10:10   #11
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 21st July 2017, 12:31   #12
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Absolutely brilliant travelogue with stunning pictures! Felt like we joined you on this trip going through your pictures! Very well deserved 5 stars!
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Old 21st July 2017, 13:12   #13
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Brilliant !! This trek is one of my favorite so far. I did the same in 2016 and as mentioned by you, it is very difficult put the experience of this in writing. One has to experience in person. Even though in terms of trekking language, this is moderate level of trek but the weather and terrain makes it most difficult. Thanks for putting this into a travelogue and reminded me on my entire chadar trek.
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Old 21st July 2017, 14:59   #14
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Travellogue of a Magical Place, breathtaking pictures. I know difficult to pen or picture the experience, but could not have been better
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Old 21st July 2017, 15:19   #15
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What an amazing exhibition of breathtaking images. WOW
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