Archive for May 2016

Day 18 - 20: After Diskit's humbleness, it's back to Leh

Day 18: A humbling experience in Diskit

My #BombayToLeh trip did indeed teach this to me - that Sky is the limit!
After returning from Turtuk, I decided to spend one more day in Diskit before bidding adieu to the Nubra Valley. There's isn't much to do in Diskit except for the monastery; I decided to explore the tiny village nonetheless. But before that, it's breakfast time. I stopped by at this lone bakery to buy some biscuits. Here's how the conversation went:

Me: "How much for these?"
Shopkeeper: "Rs. 150 per kg."
Me: "Kindly get me 100 gram."

*Shopkeeper gave me 100 gram and asked for me. I gave him a Rs. 20 note."

Him: "But I don't have change"
Me: "Neither do I."

*He gave me 10 bucks back*

Me: "But I don't have Rs. 5 for you."
Him: "It's okay, sir. You've come to our town and you came to my bakery to buy the bisuits, that's more than enough. You're our guest. We don't want to make profit out of you."

I was dumbstruck. I should've asked him to keep 20 and give me biscuits for the entire amount to make sure he doesn't suffer a loss. Or could've bought something else for those five bucks. But honestly, I was so speechless looking at the shopkeeper's humility that I didn't know what to say. Today, when everyone hates tourists visiting their city or tries to fleece them by overcharging, here's a man who truly considered tourists as guests. 

This baker was a true embodiment of 'Atithi Devo Bhava' (Guests are equivalent to God)

If you're every in Diskit, please go to this bakery (probably there's just one bakery in the village) which is on the main road which leads straight to Hunder and buy biscuits from him.

After this, I went around exploring the village. I went along a backroad and reached a Salmon farm. Curiosity kicked in and I knocked the giant wodden door. After about 10 minutes, the caretaker opened the door. As with everyone in Diskit, the caretaker was more than happy to show me the breeding tanks and explain the entire process. While most of the villagers are vegetarians, still there's a Salmon farm over here in the middle of nowhere; and all the fishes are sent out of the village. And by the way, it has received government grant. Do I smell something fishy here?

Diskit Monastery

Anyway, with not much else to do, I headed to the monastery one last time during the trip to get fleeting glimpse at the vast expanse of the Nubra Valley. While I waited for it to be dusk and to catch a glimpse of the setting sun over the horizon, I tried my hand at meditation. Not my cup of tea. Having said that, the peace that you feel at such places is something else. I'm not a religious person, but peace and tranquility is not something I'm averse to.

Nubra Valley

By evening, I returned back to my hotel, had a quiet dinner and packed my bags for my return trip for the next morning.

Day 19: Crossing the Khardungla - v1.2

With clear blue skies above me, I started my ride by 8-8.30 am and reached North Pullu shortly. I stopped by for some hot Maggi and Samosas. I was surrounded by 100+ riders of the Royal Enfield Himalayan Odyssey. All of them supported by support vehicles, mechanics and a highly-organized management that's taken care of their stay, food, wet wipes and diapers. Much badass!
Maggi at the world's higest cafetaria 

Leaving them to their shenanigans, I marched towards Khardungla top. At the top, a weather was brilliant. It was breezy but the sky was clear and the sun was shinning bright. I bought myself a Khardungla Coffee Mug - I believe I'd earned it. I got talking to a couple of boys around there and they were highly impressed learning the fact that I've been riding alone all along. After clicking a few pictures and performing the holy ritual of eating Maggi at the K-Top, I started my way back towards Leh.

Enroute Leh

Day 20: More Leh

The day started with a filling Yak Cheese Sandwich and a goey chocolate ball. On agenda that day was the Leh Palace and the Old Namgyal Tsemo Monastery (aka the Leh Monastery). 

Leh Palace
The Leh Palace is centuries old structure which has been refurbished and converted into a museum. The museum houses various artifects including Ladakhi colthing, weapons, utensiles, jewellery and a lot more. 

Shanti Stupa as seen from Namgyal Tsemo Monastery

I suggest you wear your best trekking shoes while visting the palace. The approach to the palace is fairly straight forward. But above the palace, situated on a cliff is the Namgyal Tsemo Monastery. A steep pathway connects the two. You can either hike up this walkway or take a 3 km detour on your motorized vehicle. I wanted to hike it up but thanks to my heavy biking shoes that kept slipping on the gravel-laden track, I had no choice but to ride it up to the monastery. The monastery gives great view to the city below. Towards your right, you can see the pristine white facade of the Shanti Stupa. If you're not afraid of heights, climb to the adjoining hill next to the monastery and capture panoramic view of the city of the Leh and the surrounding mountains.
Shnati Stupa
From thereon, I headed to the other end of the city to checkout the gorgeous Shanti Stupa. 

View from the Shanti Stupa

Best time to visit Shanti Stupa is either early morning (which I couldn't do) or during sunset (which I eventually did).

Do note, while there's a road leading right up to the monument, many adventurous kinds prefer to take a more testerone filled route by hiking few hundred steps up from the base of the hill where the structure is situated. You can find this entry point at the other end (not the market end) of Changspa Road.
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