After yesterday’s long long journey, it was time to take things a bit slowly today. However, that was not to be. I woke up at stark 630 and found that it was already sunny outside. This is one good thing about Himalayas, you peak outside, and they are just there. At least in Ladakh, they constantly are. So I was staring at a lovely morning, birds chirping, and three ranges of mountains. Brilliant.
Following a sumptuous breakfast (one of the best ones we had in our entire trip btw) we were greeted by a new pair of innovas and drivers. Today’s plan of action was in and around Leh, (basically doing the standard checking the boxes of sightseeing) and we started with the Hemis monastery, sitting pretty and high in the mountains, exhibiting the royal, age old prayer halls, line of prayer wheels and Buddhist frescos. But it also houses a museum, which exhibits the artifacts dating back multiple centuries, an interesting place to check out.
This was followed by a low-quality lunch, a monastery view from far off, a visit to an old palace named Shey and the much –famed ‘Rancho’s school’ – the Druk Padma Karpo School. It is absolutely as they have shown in the movie, and thanks to a contact I sourced, we got an inside view of the school and classrooms, with amazingly cute kids and well-designed, well-equipped building. It is a school established by the head lama of this ‘druk’ sect and howsoever they do not like it, it is true that the school has shot to fame due to movie 3 idiots which probably aids in getting donations or help.
The next stop was the confluence of the flowy, muddy Zanskar with the wide, mighty Indus. The one which has given us our name, India. It is an amazing place to just sit and reflect on life. It is one of the many more places which make you do that in Ladakh, something that we were going to explore soon.
Leaving the Confluence, we hurriedly reached the hall of fame in Leh, which is dedicated to the martyrs of all wars which happened in that region over the years. In fact, this hall of fame houses a lot of things in detail. From the geography and history and flora-fauna of the Ladakh region, to the old stories of soldiers, to the photographs and anecdotes of air operations, to the very touchy artefacts like a letter sent by a soldier some days before he died, and the answer his father wrote back. However, time was not sufficient to read each and everything fully, the museum took the shutters down at sharp 7 pm and we were forced to leave, a bit emotional.
The day was drawing to end, and we proceeded towards hotel. The dinner was as usual at the hotel, and it was followed by a customary chat session in the room. We had kept the day relatively less packed as we needed to stabilize, get adjusted to the altitude and next day onwards things were going to be hectic. The slight breathlessness was still experienced (and it continued till the last day), but none of us was too sick. We were eager for next day, aiming to traverse through world's highest motorable road- Khardung-la!