05-Aug-2008

Ladakh - Tso Moriri


This was the day when we would begin our tour of Leh’s prominent lakes. Our first stop was Tso Moriri. We began by stopping at Indus ghat, where there is a small structure on the banks of the Indus River. The drive was hot and a bit boring once we got used to the brown mountains, repeated ad infinitum. The music was none too good. I had grabbed a few assorted English CDs from my collection of ‘I don’t care if these CDs get damaged’. Madonna’s American Pie began the series and we wound our way past Pretty Woman and so on. Sandeep had earlier suggested that perhaps I should call the CDs ‘done to death’ in honour of the clichéd stuff. Pointing out that I was the only one who had got along any CDs did not help. Neither Sandeep nor Aswath understood Hindi music, so the Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeskar were ignored. There was a suggestion that perhaps the duo should buy an I-Trip in Leh for my IPod. Sachin grinned and pointed out that the Leh man normally cannot afford an I-Trip and it would be unlikely we would find one. By the time we were done with the squabbling, Chumathang and lunch had arrived. Chumathang has hot springs to its credit, but since we were running late and would be seeing some in Panamik later on, we decided to push on.

I dozed the rest of the time till Priya exclaimed ‘wow, look at the lake the colour of copper sulphate’. The vivid colours in the region were exploring long forgotten words to describe colours. It was indeed beautiful and blue but not our destination, Tso Moriri about 260 kms from Leh. The road was deteriorating. We finally pulled into a campsite called ‘Nomadic Life Camps’ at five thirty. The camp was packed to the brim. We were given slightly worn tents right at the end.

We immediately set out for the lake, not wanting to lose daylight. The lake had looked a promising Cobalt blue as we had driven down. It became better as we walked closer. The mountains were glinting red in the last of the sunlight. The lake’s blue was richer than ever. The contrast was so mindblowing, it felt like a ten year old had painted a picture and pinned it to the sky. We sat mesmerized till it began to get dark. If only, we had made it slightly earlier..

Dinner was a rip-off with a big R. I had been warned that given how remote the area is, food is expensive in the campsite. We were infact carrying cup-o-noodles and theplas. But in the gradually creeping cold, no one was in a mood to eat anything but hot food. So we ate rice, dal, sabzi and French fries at 250 Rs a head. The mess boy chatted with us and told us that he was on leave from the army and would be going back to Siachen shortly for a three year posting. Tso Moriri was cold. We could not imagine how cold Siachen could get.

I donned two t shirts, a jacket, another jacket, two pants, two socks, a cap, my gloves and got under the two blankets. It still felt a bit cold. I slept in patches, listening to noises outside my tent. Priya had it worse, being able to distinguish the sounds of animals outside. And we found out the next day that the guys had it the worst of all since the outer plastic layer in their tent had ripped off. A draft had kept them up for most of the night.

1 comment:

Anipurna said...

The one photo shows the views were worth the cold you had to endure!