This desert is something unreal - since it lies at above 3000 metres above sea level. It's located between the villages of Hunder and Diskit in the Nubra Valley, and it's surrounded by towering snow-capped peaks. There are even semi-wild camels, which were left behind by some caravan a long time ago: strangely they adapted to their new location and prospered - if you're lucky you can see them by the side of the road. And then again: the sand dunes are incredibly warm, Saharan-like I would say, although the day was quite cloudy and cool
Taktok gompa is a small gompa about 5 kilometres from Chemrey gompa, and it's also the only gompa in Ladakh belonging to the ancient Nyingmapa order . The name Taktok means "top of the rocks", which is a very accurate descritpion of the place where it's located. Access is from the village at the foot of the monastery. The main temple or prayer hall, here, is not a "building" but a cave - legends wants that Padmasambhava stopped here to meditate in the 8th century while on his way to Tibet. Aside from the cave you can admire some beautiful wall paintings
and a collection of multicoloured yak butter candle sculptures made by the head lama.
Chemrey gompa is a less visited gompa not far from Leh. If driving to Taktok it's the eagle's nest you see on your left, when the roads passes some white stupas. This little Drugpa gompa was founded in 1664 as a memorial to King Sengge Namgyal, and today houses about 20 monks and novices. The view from the monastery is among the finest I have seen in Ladakh, and inside there's an interesting collection of illuminated Tibetan books, a huge brass statue of Padmasambhava encrusted with semi precious stones and interesting murals, painted about 20 years ago by a local artist. A word of warning: the road leading to the gompa is very narrow and windy, and unsurfaced - at every turn you feel you're dropping into the abyss
Hibti village is a small place east of Hibti La. It can easily be gotten to by an unmarked trail going up from a bridge across the Indus River. In this village, there are a couple of families who need the rupees, and will let you stay with them. Be ready to camp on a roof, and to have dinner and breakfast with them Ladakhi style. A harder route there is from Mongyu Village over Mongyu La. This is the way I got there, and right after a snowstorm. The man of the house didn't believe we had come over the pass until I handed him my binoculars and he saw for himself our tracks!
This was beatiful, being with the children at school and ask them things!!!! It's amazing they speak Ladakhi, Urdu, Hindi and English. The lesson i saw it was very funny because it was the English class, and they were singing a song. The book was lovely!!!They were so cute!!!!
They told us that from January to March they can't go to school because of the snow(well, school or anywhere).
The blackboard has two sides , one was written in Ladakhi and the other in Urdu.
One of the most interesting things in Ladakh are the houses in the small villages. They have all the same square structure and are built with the same materials(i don't know in English). I had the oppotunity to see how the build a house in Markha.
Ladakh is the perfect place for adventure sports, and from the look of the shops along the streets and markets, it seems as its one of the much sought after activities.
You can arrange for treks, rafting, paragliding, etc from one of the authorised local operators. We chose to raft.
The Indus, the great river that shaped part of the history of the region, the silk route and all, flows thru much of Ladakh, and not far from Leh. The river has its origins in China, makes its way thru India and heads for the Arabian sea in Pakistan. 'The Indus Valley Civilisation', an important period of Indian history, is something that all Indians have read about in school books. It came up around 3000BC along the banks of the Indus, and is one of the earliest civilisations known to man...
A 3.5 hour trip that takes you down about 35 river miles (or is that kms?) will cost you about rs 800 per person. Pick up from hotel, lunch, and the drop back is part of the package. The ride is great, many class 2 and class 3 rapids along the way. The river has a lot of rocks along its course, and the water is very cold when it meets the cold Zanskar river, just before the trip is to end at Neemu.
Btw- an interesting bit- during winter, the top layer of the Indus and the Zanskar rivers is frozen, with water flowing underneath. Many locals use this to walk- as a shortcut. 'Chadar' treks are also conducted by adventure sports operators in Ladakh.
In the pic: husain, jitka, three czech students whose names i forget, and manish.