Do you know how it feels to have that rhythmic hum in your head? That was something I usually experienced when I did my breathing exercises during yoga class, especially when I repeated the words ‘Om,’ known for its positive vibrations all across a person’s body. I felt the same rhythmic hum in my whole body as I sat at the Diskit monastery the next morning, about three hours before we were to leave for Tso Moriri. The previous afternoon, this same monastery shone white in the near-afternoon sun, but the morning sun, gave the monastery a muted white, with a tinge of grey, suggesting that the sun will take some more time to cast its rays overhead. Of course, I did not know what was happening out there, because the sanctum sanctorum nestled deep within the monastery, had the monks chanting their morning prayers, leaving the world behind, just filling the atmosphere with energy. These morning prayers were a divine experience, especially having come so far.
By the time we set off from Diskit, after a heavy breakfast, I was a bit sleepy. The drive from Diskit to our next destination, Tso Moriri was going to take us almost eight hours, and with the morning chants now playing its tune in my head, I felt a bit heavy and desperately wanted to rest and calm my over active nerves. The drive was quite easy as there were well-functioning roads most of the time during the journey. The beauty of this route was that the river flowed in parallel to the road and then there were the massive, royal mountain ranges that reflected the various unimaginable colours of the sun at different times of the day. While I slept till lunch time, post that, I was absolutely alert and enjoyed the drive, deciding to take the wheel myself for quite a distance, up until we were pretty much close to the great lake.
Tso Moriri or mountain-lake is a part of the Changthang plateau & is located at a height of 4500m. The two most renowned lakes in the Leh-Ladakh belt were Pangong and Tso Moriri, however, Moriri is considered the lesser known but more picturesque of the two and is located enroute back to Manali from Leh. The lake is fed by snowmelts and tends to freeze in the winters. The lack of awareness about the beauty of this place, keeps it lesser frequented by tourists and therefore a must-visit, because one can actually enjoy the beauty and serenity of Leh and the lake right here. Just like the mountains, the lake seemed to change colours as well. When we arrived, which was nearing evening time, the lake was an interesting green. My friends and I wore comfortable clothes and immediately went into the water. It was cold but fantabulous. Apparently, this lake is frozen during the winters, so we were quite fortunate to be able to venture into it, thanks to the perfect time of our visit. After we came out of the water, I felt my skin cleaner and whiter, but it could also be partly because of how cold the water was. I changed and settled down with my favourite cup of milky-sweet tea and thought of how Tso Moriri was different from Panamic sulphur waters the previous evening, nearly same time. We were in the same state of India, but each part of the water and the mountains seemed to offer us something different and unique.
We then drove to our place of stay, the Tso moriri camp and resorts, basically large and comfortable tents in the middle of the wilderness. I think I slept the best that night. It was a combination of the reverberations of the morning chants, the cold water and the breathtaking view, not to forget some amazing barbeque dinner too, under the starry sky, which extended inside the tents too.
I woke up early the following day. Having slept extremely well, I wanted to spend an hour in the morning watching the sunrise, capturing yesterday’s experiences in my book. While I managed to write quite a bit, it so happened that everybody started waking up in order to be able to watch the sun rise by the lake, which was supposed to be a breathtaking sight. And so, over tea and biscuits served by the lake, we watched, yet again, the sky change colours from deep grey to off grey, a dash of orange and yellow and traces of blue. What a morning this was!
After breakfast, we were on our way to Jispa. It was going to be an extremely long drive. The stretch was a real beauty though and offered a breathtaking view of the valleys, mountains, river crossings, and great roads. Many of us took turns driving and it was during this drive that we passed Baralacha La, some time after lunch.
Bara Lacha La is a high mountain pass in the Zanskar range. Baralacha la is a summit with crossroads from Spiti, Ladakh, Zanskar and Lahaul that meet here and in ancient times it was part of a trade route. On the North West lies the Bhaga River while the Chandra flows south-east. Near below the Baralacha la is a beautiful emerald lake the Suraj tal (Sun lake), the source of the river Bhaga (credits: Wikipedia). These were places that we were going to visit in the next two days. For book lovers, in Rudyard Kipling’s novel Kim, there is a reference to Bara lacha la pass, the source of the Suraj Tal having been used by Kim’s Lama to enter India from Tibet. This pass is where certain scenes from the movie ‘Jab We Met’ were shot. I remembered watching the movie and wondering how one could not feel terribly cold while passing through a road surrounded by ice on three sides. Well, apparently they did not feel too cold in the movie, but I found my fingers numbing but my heart warming to the ice filled, beautiful pathway. It was a tricky road to traverse, considering the dampness and therefore the expert drivers covered this stretch. We heard stories from the drivers about adventurous people have ski-ed and hiked along the snow filled mountains of Bara lacha la.
At the end of this stretch, we stopped for our evening tea. We chatted away and were not at all tired despite all the driving and distance. We were probably a bit too hungry. Thanks to the excellent acclimatization support plan provided by our travel organizers, there was hardly any sickness due to altitudes, though one of our colleagues did find it a little difficult when we passed Bara lacha la, and this was accentuated by the closed feeling while driving through the ice. We were to reach our hotel at Jispa earlier than planned, so we decided to spend some more time at our make-shift tea stall, talking and walking around.
I penned my experiences for the day, and found most of my words centered on the abundance of ice and snow I had experienced. I was eagerly waiting to get to the waters of Chandra taal…..tomorrow!
To be continued…
PEN NAME : PENDULUM